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No more poverty in a land of plenty”

“No more poverty in a land of plenty” – Maori Party

Statement by Hon Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples 28 March 2008

Maori Party Co-leaders, Dr Pita Sharples and Hon Tariana Turia, commend the ‘committed courage’ of church leaders who have called for action to restore benefit rates to a level necessary for a “just and compassionate society”.

“The drastic impact of slashing benefits in the 1991 'Mother of all Budgets' has not been reversed, despite repeated calls from many groups over the last 17 years” said Mrs Turia. “Even more alarming, over the last five years the proportion of Maori on benefits has increased across all categories, while living standards for our most vulnerable have decreased,” she said.

“Children are being denied their full potential, with more than 30% of beneficiary children in severe hardship. Poverty attacks children’s health. The evidence is that children in low-income households are far more likely to end up in hospital for illness,” said Mrs Turia.

“We welcome the strong direction of the leadership of Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches and the Salvation Army, highlighting“a society that is marked by a division into the rich and the poor” said Dr Sharples.

“A Reserve Bank study recently told us that the average Chief Executive in 2006 earned 19 times the average wage, compared with about eight times in 2000,” said Dr Sharples. “While corporate wealth has shot up, the buying power of low-income families’ incomes has taken a battering.”

“As our society sits by and watches benefit rates languish in comparison to everyone else, our capacity to care has been eroded,” said Dr Sharples.

“We salute the unified position of the church leaders’ statement, and we in the Maori Party will be the first to say we will heed their call to action, for the long-lasting benefit of a more just Aotearoa” Dr Sharples said.

“We must return to a culture of care and concern for others, which would make it unacceptable once again to see poverty in a land of plenty” concluded Mrs Turia.


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