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Tidy the spare bedroom, Maori warned!

Tidy the spare bedroom, Maori warned!

Dr Pita Sharples, Maori Party spokesperson on economy           6 October 2008

The message for Maori in the latest Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update is pretty clear – tidy up your spare bedroom and clear out the garage, because rellies are likely to want a place to stay.

That’s Dr Pita Sharples’ analysis of the complex economic data released today by Treasury, forecasting a downturn with increasing instability in the global economy.

“We face an economic downturn and job losses both here and overseas, which mean whanau members who have left home for work may turn up again looking for a place to stay,” said Dr Sharples.

“The Treasury says the Australian economy is key for New Zealand – and while it has been performing strongly, their domestic economy is slowing despite strong world demand for minerals. This could mean trouble for the thousands of Maori people who have left Aotearoa for greener pastures across the Tasman,” he said.

“In fact, in Treasury-speak, their report “assumes net inflow of permanent and long-term migrants will increase as outflows, particularly to Australia, ease and inflows, including returning New Zealanders, increase as economic growth slows elsewhere.”

“The problem for whanau here is our own economic downturn. The largest single change in government spending in the PREFU is an increase in the expected cost of benefits.

“Unemployment is forecast to rise around 50%, from 3.7% of labour force to 5.1% in 2-3 years, especially in the construction, meat and manufacturing industries,” said Dr Sharples.

“That increase is the national average. Just looking at the industries at risk, we know for certain Maori will suffer worse than that. There is a crisis looming for our people," he said.

The June 2008 Household Labour Force Survey revealed that the Maori unemployment rate at 7.1% was much worse than that for  European NZers 2.8%.

"What today's update tells us is that life is going to get pretty grim with the increasing cost pressures of electricity, fuel and food, with a much lower growth rate expected to have immediate flow on effects to the economic outlook"

“We must be strategic in our response. We will not turn our whanaunga away, but coming together also creates an opportunity to take stock and respond collectively.

"Whanau might look at who could get the best jobs, or who should get further education or training, and organise to support them with child care. Others at home could start a big garden for the whanau, and help kids with homework, shop in bulk and cook big meals for everyone. There are lots of ways to take control, cut costs, and to invest in our own future,” said Dr Sharples.

“At the same time, the government has a duty to support the most vulnerable people, and that is why we in the Maori Party are promoting bold policies to eliminate poverty and boost economic participation and performance alongside our support for whanau ora,” he said.


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