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More garbage from ‘Smarmy Maharey’

Thursday, 9 June 2005

More garbage from ‘Smarmy Maharey’

Social Development & Employment Minister Steve Maharey is using dubious statistics and weasel-words to defend his government’s failure to address poverty or reduce inequality, claims ACT Welfare Spokeswoman Dr Muriel Newman.

Maharey can’t even use the 60% median income measure properly. He is comparing people’s income over time with a static base – in this case 1998 median income. It is inevitable that, as household incomes increase, their position relative to the 1998 median will improve. But that doesn’t tell us anything useful.

“Maharey might just as well have claimed that 100% of children are financially better off compared to 1898.

“Maharey then contradicts himself by claiming that the rate of inequality growth has reduced. This means inequality growth is continuing under his stewardship. He cannot credibly claim that inequality is both reducing and increasing. That is just further evidence that Maharey doesn’t know what he’s talking about at all.” Dr Newman said.

Dr Newman also criticised the focus on the 60% of median wage measure, saying this was a measure of income inequality, rather than poverty per se.

“A better measure of poverty is the living standards measure proposed by the Ministry of Social Development itself. This shows just 4% of the population in the bottom category – very restricted living standards.

“The other great myth is that working for families is the biggest policy reform since Michael Joseph Savage.

Analysis of the amount of money spent on assistance to working age families as a proportion of government spending shows it up to be nothing more than a belated inflation adjustment for families, which will take family assistance back to 5.6% of government spending by 2008 (the same level as in 1998).

“We know that Labour is good at dressing up inflation adjustments as the real deal. Just look what Cullen said in relation to tax cuts.”

“No amount of dubious election year spin of an unofficial and highly debatable poverty measure can hide the failure of Labours soft on welfare philosophy,” concluded Dr Newman.

Deciphering Maharey’s weasel words

Maharey-ism ‘The proportion of children in households below the benchmark of 60% of the 1998 median income fell from 27 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2004’

Reality As time goes by and household incomes rise, measuring against a static year (in this case 1998) will always mean the proportion of children in households earning below a dollar amount is falling. Maharey might just have well announced that he is pleased 0% of children are living in households earning below 60% of the median income in 1898.

Maharey-ism ‘The rate of growth in income inequality has slowed since the 1990s’

Reality Income inequality is still rising in New Zealand since the 1990s. this is contrary to Labour’s rhetoric about reducing inequality and closing gaps. Resorting to comment about the rate of growth of inequality is a desperate ploy to find something positive to say.

Maharey-ism ‘The proportion of low-income households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs fell from 42 percent in 2001 to 35 percent in 2004’

Reality Despite Labour’s much vaunted income related rents, more than a third of low income households are spending more than 30% of income on housing costs.


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