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Flavell, Response to Prime Minister's Address

Response to Prime Minister's Address: Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki Tuesday 19 February 2008; 3.20pm

Ten days ago, some 8,000 expatriate New Zealanders celebrated Waitangi Day in London with a rendition of the haka "Ka mate ka mate".

That action demonstrated their difference from others who live in London and it reminded them of who they were and the 'home' from which they came.

But if we were to believe all of the reports that come across our desk, we'd be all wondering what sort of home we inhabit here in Aotearoa.

The month of January, as we know Madam Speaker, wasn't good - enough to make anyone want to pack their bags. A shocking crime wave provoked an equally prolific list of causes and explanations ranging from the adverse effects of alcohol, Christmas stress, a hot summer, a full moon and so on.

As we lower the microscope on our nation, the public picture has been quite frequently negative.

Madam Speaker, what sort of home are we offering, that seven of the ten people killed in the first month of this year, were under the age of thirty?

Well the Salvation Army is just one group who describes their view on Aotearoa. Their state of the nation review described us as a nation that is "chronically indebted", detailing how home ownership rates have dropped and incomes have risen only modestly.

These are facts we cannot ignore. We must address them.

But we cannot ignore also, the facts that don't make the headlines.

For we should also acknowledge the positive, and know that some successes may have nothing to do with what we do here in Parliament.

The numbers of kura seeking to nurture new ideas, to stimulate creativity, to inspire the generations of tomorrow.

The achievements of health and social service providers who value familial and community ties.

Madam Speaker, I do not wish to minimise the sheer trauma and brutality that is associated with the pervasive impact of violence in our community.

I welcome the commitment made to community groups working to address these issues, and I commend the community and voluntary sector for their dedication in building a safer society.

But we must not ignore the greatest majority of our young people, the greatest majority of our families, by a preoccupation with the noisy exceptions.

Of course we must address the causes and consequences of boy racers, violent offenders, taggers, and others on the margins of our community.

But it is vital that we pay heed to those who have the answers - those who are involved in our communities, those who hear the dreams, and those who care.

We in the Maori Party call for a Genuine Progress Index which counts the social and environmental costs and benefits of economic activity. It evaluates the impacts of an economy which delivers on tax cuts but may at the same time be incurring hidden losses. Costs such as depleted fisheries, dirty rivers, grid-locked cities, damaged families.

As an example, full cost accounting analysis of the brand new plan to build three thousand new homes on Housing New Zealand land in the Tamaki suburbs of Glen Innes, Port England and Panmure, reveals a range of issues other than the desire to create affordable homes.

As Housing Corp chair Pat Snedden himself admitted, a couple would need to earn at least $70,000 to service a mortgage on some so-called affordable homes. What appears to be overlooked however in this bright new plan is the fact that the average household income for Maori families living in Tamaki Makaurau, based on 2006 data, was in fact $60,000 - ten thousand short of the magic threshold.

Madam Speaker, barriers towards Maori owning their own home are not only low income, but also the high levels of debt people were accumulating, poor access to information about home buying, difficulty raising a deposit and of course rising house prices.

For many Maori and Pasifika peoples, this is not affordable housing - and yet these are the very people who need the new housing most.

Who will benefit most from this proposal -Maori and Pasifika families or private investors who will reap the rewards of improved property values?

How does the sense of community identity fare in the decision to hand over parts of Tamaki to the developers?

Madam Speaker, the Maori Party is the first to acknowledge the desire for progress, the call to stimulate better employment and economic opportunities, the wish of the people to take advantage of health and educational opportunities, and to live in safety.

True progress will allow people to benefit from better access to home ownership while also maintaining community values and harmony.

We want to know that our homes are protected, and indeed that the land we call home remains ours and is not up for sale to the highest bidder.

ENDS

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