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PM cares more about economy than quality of life

3 February 2005

PM cares more about economy than quality of life

Green MP Sue Kedgley says Prime Minister Helen Clark appears to view life through an economic lens, marginalising quality of life considerations that all New Zealanders cherish.

In a speech to Parliament this afternoon, Ms Kedgley will outline the flaws in the Prime Minister's vision for New Zealand.

"Everything this Government does is geared towards improving New Zealand's economic performance, not our quality of life."

"This Government is so focussed on economic performance measured by GDP that it is losing sight of the quality of life issues that are common to everyone. Working for Families is in danger of become Families for Work."

Ms Kedgley's comments come in light of the Prime Minister's speech on Tuesday, which outlined policies aimed at encouraging more and more women into the workforce.

"In our society, worth is measured by whether money changes hands, not by whether it contributes to genuine well-being and quality of life," Ms Kedgley said. "Nowhere is this more starkly seen than in the current debate about women's participation in the workforce. The state shouldn't be telling parents whether to stay at home or go into the workforce. Rather, they should be making both options easier for parents, by providing child care subsidies, a universal child benefit, and increasing the minimum wage."

Ms Kedgley said that because parents were not paid when at home with their kids, the Government appears to regard their invaluable work as a drag on society.

"Helen Clark is putting out the message that we should try and get these full-time parents into the workforce so that money can change hands and they can contribute to the GDP. That is a frightfully narrow view of what is valuable to society."

Ms Kedgley said that many parents felt staying home while their children were young was not a real option, because of the enormous difficulty of living on one income and the loss of identity full-time parents experience in our work-focussed society.

"Because our whole society, egged on by the Government, is geared around two-earner families, it is becoming almost impossible for a family to survive on one full-time wage. This could have drastic consequences for our kids, who risk becoming less healthy, less educated, and more prone to crime because their parents haven't enough time to take a genuine interest in their lives."

The Greens have proposed a suite of measures to help provide parents with genuine choice.

"A full-time wage should be sufficient to allow families the choice of having one parent at home while children are young. That's why we believe it is so important to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour.

"We're also pushing for a Universal Child Benefit to make full-time parenting a more viable option. Sadly, National, Labour, the Progressives, and ACT all opposed this when we proposed it in a Private Member's Bill last year. It's curious that National and ACT are now pretending to be champions of motherhood when they have opposed all attempts to make that a more viable full-time occupation."


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