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Wealth disparities an ‘unspoken outrage’

Wealth disparities an ‘unspoken outrage’ – Maori Party

Hon Tariana Turia, Maori Party Co-leader 22 October 2008

The economics of Thatcher, Reagan and Douglas are the obvious reason why the rich are richer and the poor are poorer in three quarters of OECD countries – and both National and Labour are sticking with the failed formula, says the Maori Party.

“Labour in the 1980s and National in the 1990s were the architects of the huge and growing income gap in New Zealand – and nine years of Labour since then has left vast numbers of people trapped in real poverty,” said Co-leader Tariana Turia.

“We know, because it’s our people who are te pani me te rawakore – the orphaned and impoverished - or the working poor, unable to survive on minimum wages.

“Labour tells our people how great they have been for Maori when in reality we are worse off. We are not prepared to see our people, or any poor people for that matter, continue to be fodder for either of these two parties,” said Mrs Turia.

“20 percent of New Zealand children live in poverty – 150,000 of them in severe and significant hardship. Among families of unemployed parents, that proportion is rising. What sort of social and economic system condones that level of poverty in the midst of plenty?” she asked.

“This is not just a moral issue for all New Zealanders, but an economic problem we are creating for future generations,” said Mrs Turia.

“Poverty is a recognised contributor to poor health, difficulties at school, family stresses and potential violence, which often lead to anti-social behaviour among young people and poor employment status in later life, and a self-perpetuating cycle of deprivation.

“The OECD report says education, boosting the income of those in work, and direct measures to eliminate poverty are the solutions, but this government is unable to deliver. Half our young men leave school with no qualifications. Maori youth unemployment is over one in five, 50% higher than the national average. Beneficiaries have not gained anything from the income tax cuts which working people have received. Even our wages are on average 25% lower than non-Maori. This is an unspoken outrage,” she said.

“Eradicating poverty might have avoided the need to spend billions of dollars on building and running new prisons. Eradicating poverty is not simply a cost on current generations, it is an investment in the future health and welfare of our whole society,” she said.

“The Maori Party’s key policies are the circuit-breakers identified by the OECD – education for success, real wages for real work, and eliminating poverty. They provide a genuine alternative programme to the disastrous policies of the old parties.

“There are always people who question the cost, but so often they don’t experience the pain of living a life unfulfilled.

“What is the opportunity cost borne by our society, in failing to reach the threshold of every person achieving Michael Joseph Savage's ambitious vision for ordinary New Zealanders, to enjoy a decent standard of living and economic security?” asked Mrs Turia.


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