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Turia: 2006 Budget Address

2006 Budget Address: Thursday 18 May 2006

Tariana Turia, Co-leader Maori Party

[Check against Delivery]

Tena koe Mr Speaker. Tena koutou te whare.

“A key task the Government has set for itself is closing the divisive and debilitating gaps that have opened up throughout New Zealand. The most urgent and visible gaps exist between Maori and Pacific communities and others.

The Government will not stand back. We are determined to close the gaps. Our very foundations as a country demand it”.

In his first Budget Speech for the new minority Government in 2000, Dr Cullen made a pledge to the nation that they would ‘close the gaps’.

Yet just over a month ago, the United Nations Special Rapporteur reported on the significant disparities which continue to exist between Maori and non-Maori with regard to employment, income, health, housing, education, as well as in the criminal justice system.

And just last week, this Government’s ‘Decades of Disparities’ report, stated that “historical and social processes that systematically disadvantage Maori such as colonisation, discrimination and racism, are still having a clear impact on ethnic disparities in mortality”.

We turned to Budget 2006 with expectations that a reasonable Government would address such disparities. We hoped a responsible Government would want to achieve Genuine Progress for Aotearoa.

We assessed this Budget against our ideals to achieve sustainability, well-being and a quality of life.

What will this Budget do to ensure Maori enjoy a quality of health and life which restores their ability not just to survive but to thrive?

Will it do anything to address such issues as why is it that survival from cancer, even adjusting for age and stage, is lower among Māori than non-Māori?

Will it do anything to address the fact that Maori are dying 7.6 years earlier than the population overall?

How does this Budget benefit the knowledge and wisdom we desire in our nation? Wisdom born of the ages, and of history.

For fifteen years, Manaaki Tauira awards have been allocated based on financial need, academic merit and commitment to Maoritanga. Between eight and nine thousand awards every year have been made to support low-income Maori students in their right to achieve.

They have helped Maori achieve their educational potential. As has the Maori and Pacific Higher education scholarships of $10,000 each which have been awarded to give Maori and Pacific further access to tertiary education. These scholarships have been available since 1973.

For thirty-three years they have created opportunities for Maori to succeed. Every year they have been heavily over-subscribed by Maori aspiring to succeed even further, to take this nation forward.

And with one slash of the pen Manaaki Tauira and the Tertiary scholarships have been terminated. Or as Dr Cullen said, ‘reallocated’.

The Maori Party commends the amazing efforts of Maori in tertiary education - and we recognise the vital role of all three wananga who offer opportunities to students who have been failed before.

Students who’s success this Government is now trying to claim as theirs. Students, 35,000 of them, who through the actions of this same Government, have been condemned to be beneficiaries and dependent on the state. Students who have had the rug of hope pulled from under their feet. It’s hardly progress?

And while Labour is clapping and patting themselves on the back, has anyone noticed that the Maori Affairs Minister didn’t get a bean. How will he explain this to our people?

Two days ago, the Minister of Maori Affairs trumpeted the promotion of rawa, mātauranga, and whakamana as leading the way in a Maori Potential Framework. How hollow those words sound today. Because I understand that his money has been “reallocated” too.

This morning at the national hui to introduce a Genuine Progress Index my co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples, predicted the only time Maori would be presented in the Budget today would be the cutting of programmes designed to advance the interests of Maori. His words have rung true.

We wonder about the value of community vitality - The Maori Party is committed to recognising the importance of vigorous social support networks in maintaining a quality of life. It matters to us that people are not isolated, marginalised or outcast.

Yet this Government’s Budget puts all its emphasis on the control and punishment end of the spectrum. How does this government say it’s going to make families feel more secure?

o 500 million dollars to provide 1250 new police;

o $33.9 million dedicated to road policing;

o $9.5m to “control students who cause problems - disruption, bullying or violence”; schools will get more help to tackle disruptive behaviour. And this is all called progress.

But what is being done in the streets of those children before they get to school? In the homes? In the communities?

We are pleased to learn that Victim Support and family violence prevention services are getting a look in. These are both vital services in restoring a state of well-being for our families.

But let’s get real - $500 million goes to the police - and $20m goes to victims and families suffering the impact of violence. It hardly adds up. This Budget is about Power and Control at all costs - with only token efforts made to actually providing the tangible support that people need to take control of their own lives.

The Maori Party believes that whanau are best able to determine their own solutions, and we must support them in restoring their rights and responsibilities to do so. It is not about more speed cameras, more paddy wagons, more finger-printing, and more lock-ups. The GDP grows but the gaps that this Government claimed to want to close, will only widen.

Real progress will come when the people become aware of the need to use their lived experiences and belief in themselves - rather than having their experiences belittled and have politicians define their reality. Only those affected can make the changes necessary.

The investment that Government should be making, is in helping people to do for themselves.

It should be about acknowledging volunteers, the unsung heroes of every neighbourhood; the thousands of New Zealanders who every day are saying ‘Give us a chance; we can do it for ourselves. If we have a problem, let us be our own solution.’ But Government loves volunteers - people who do things for nothing, and they don’t care about them because they do not grow the GDP. Because no-one takes the time to cost their significant voluntary time.

Taking Care of Ourselves is also about taking care of our natural resources: So how today’s spin rate on ecological integrity?

There will be a whopping $4.5 million over the next three years through Vote Environment to clean up contaminated sites.

Little more than $1m a year to fix up thirty years of neglect at Paritutu -one of the largest historical polluters in New Zealand; to address the contamination, the waste disposal build up, occurring at Kawerau and Maketu which was so serious that it grabbed the attention of the Special Rapporteur and is now part of the international literature.

$1m is all it is worth to restore these places so that our children can inherit the legacy our ancestors left us.

The quality of our natural resources, air, water, soil, the ecological footprint we leave behind is of little consequence to this Government. We are being sold short and so is the future of this country.

Police, Pollution, Power, and Pests. All the Ps but no investment to help ‘P’ ridden individuals and communities.

Heaven forbid if I forget to mention the $13.2 million allocated for pest management and invasive ant surveillance. Although the Maori Party did wonder what Mr Anderton was getting at in his release which stated:

“The system has to acknowledge that despite our best efforts, some pests cannot be eradicated, and will instead need to be managed”.

Hello. Isn’t this the same old story, we’ve been hearing since the first pests were introduced.

A couple of days ago Dr Cullen was boasting, “We have succeeded in reducing poverty in New Zealand in the last five years, and along with it the costly social problems that are associated with it”. Is that why we need 1250 more police because our social problems are diminishing? It doesn’t make sense.

Try telling that to the 45.9% of all Maori children and the 19.6% per cent of non-Maori children, who miss out on the ‘In work’ payment because their parents are beneficiaries. The 230,000 New Zealand children living in poverty.

This morning the former Labour Cabinet Minister, John Tamihere, said on Morning Report - this Budget would be very good for the Maori Party because of its lack of attention to Maori matters.

John Tamihere is right that it does lack attention to Maori matters. He is a powerful authority on these matters because he has tried to close the gaps not only through his work with the Waipareira Trust but also in his time as a Labour Minister.

We think we have premier quality of life because we live longer and we have more possessions. But we also have more stress, less time with our families, and new categories of illness. Our immune systems are not coping, we have more inequality and more families living in poverty than in 1988.

Our natural resources are depleting and we have climate change that has been grossly affected by man-made behaviours. We are developing as a nation of exclusion where the poor are not able to participate but actually contribute to the economy through the loan sharks and does the Government do anything about it - NO - because this is how the poor contribute to the GDP including keeping numerous bureaucrats and agencies in jobs.

The Maori Party looks forward to a future budget that is about Genuine Progress for Aotearoa where the gaps can be measured, where the gaps no longer continue to exist; and we not only count what we have taken from the environment, but also what we leave behind.


ENDS

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