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Taxation (Budget Measures) Bill

Taxation (Budget Measures) Bill 2010
Thursday 20 May 2010; 5.35pm
Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party

In Maoridom we say te po uriuri, me te ao Marama, which is basically in the darkest of dark and the lightest of light.

The general concept is like the Chinese version of the yin and the yan - the need to balance and achieve a sense of equilibrium as we take a steady foot forward.

And it is in this sense of balance that I stand to speak to the Taxation (Budget Measures) Bill 2010.

I just want to refer to the previous speaker, David Parker, who talked about the high unemployment rate amongst Maori and Pacific Island people, and the need for more training.

There will be some in the room who will remembers that in the 1980s when we had really high unemployment our people knew what it was like to be on the ‘training-go-round’ through ACCESS training, through STEPS programmes, you name it, and did any of those young people get trained in real job skills? No, they did not.

Why did they not?

The union movement would not allow the kind of skills training that needed to take place for those young people, which would have given them really employable skills in the workforce, because they were afraid that by training these young people in those skills that they would take jobs away from those who were working.

It is one thing to get into this whole notion of Maori unemployment and talk about skills training and development, but our young people want training that will get them into the workforce.

They want training and education that will give them the opportunity to improve their life chances and their educational opportunities, so that they will not end up always being the last on and the first off in the job market.

I think it is really important that we had nine years of plenty yet Maori youth unemployment rates and Pacific youth unemployment rates were still incredibly high during those years.

I think it is probably a really good opportunity for those who are shouting at me in the House for them to go back and have a look at those figures. Maori youth under 24 years of age had a high unemployment rate in a time of plenty.

It is manifestly evident that something is wrong with the state of the nation when we can sit back and think that a really high unemployment rate amongst young Maori people is ok – it is not ok. If we do not have those young people contributing to the economy in the way that they should be, in productive work, we will be in serious trouble with this ageing population so that needs to happen as quickly as possible.

I will move off that take.

But something is wrong when New Zealanders are crowding the property market, feeding their own wealth, and yet no new jobs are resulting from it.

Something is wrong when our economy is trapped in excessive debt, trapped in cycles of long-term borrowing and business and investment confidence is declining with it.

We do not want to pass on this history of unmitigated spending and debt onto our young.

We will be supporting this Bill in its entirety – as is the expectation of our Coalition Agreement with National.

But in doing so we have two particular priorities that we will seek to promote throughout the passage of the debate.

The first is that we want to be sure that the new tax rates for companies and savings; the depreciation and capital contributions; the personal tax cuts and the other tax changes proposed in this bill do indeed give confidence to people to invest in businesses which will grow and strengthen the economy; and which will give confidence to employers to employ more people.

Mr Speaker I object to the person across the House making the comment that the Maori Party has sold out. I object in the strongest terms possible

The second priority is the vital need to guarantee that poverty will be addressed, and that household incomes, standards of living and economic performance will indeed be lifted.

It is vitally important to us that we do what we can to build our economy recovery and to provide more opportunities for New Zealanders to back ourselves,.

We need to have incentives in place to strengthen the economy and make a brighter future.

But it is not just about the Government tipping the scales, to create the balance we need.

This is also about us – our people, our nation, preparing for our future.

If my colleague Rahui Katene was here, she would talk to the house about Whai Rawa.

Whai Rawa is designed to provide a base level of savings for all registered Ngāi Tahu, support a culture of saving and asset building and to encourage and assist Ngāi Tahu whānui to improve their financial situation and knowledge.

Whai Rawa is about empowerment – giving Ngāi Tahu the ability to create a better tomorrow for themselves and their children.

It is about rebuilding the savings culture that we once believed in.

Maori are phenomenally thrifty people – people who can make a meal spread to feed a crowd; people who know how to make the best of what they have in front of them.

But we are also a people who focus on the future for the generations to come.

In this sense although our people did not like the proposal to increase GST, they are also not happy with the concept of leaving our grandchildren burdened by the heavy price of debt.

The Maori Party entered into coalition with National with the explicit focus that we seek significant outcomes in Whanau Ora, through eliminating poverty, advocating for social justice and advancing Maori social, cultural, economic and community development in the best interests of the nation.

These are ideals that we hold true to, as much today as did when we signed up to that agreement.

Unlike the two major parties of this Parliament, we are not afraid to say the word poverty.

Indeed in our policy manifesto we made the explicit commitment to set a deadline to eliminate child poverty by 2020; and to designate an official poverty line.

We will not resile from the challenge of preventing poverty.

There is now one million dollars invested in Maara Kai – recognising that community gardens are a key means of encouraging us to live more collectively, to live alongside of one another, restoring our families to be the gardeners, the hunters, and the gatherers that they once were.

In today’s budget we also have seen honoured one of our policy goals, to raise core benefit levels.

Over the last few months, as the policy thinking around this Budget has evolved, each of our MPs hit the roads, taking the challenge of the tax question to our constituency.

I have to say that no-one in our electorates was pleased about the proposed rise, but there was a general acceptance about the rationale for why we needed to support the tax changes.

Primarily this is an issue which is a condition of our Coalition Agreement – and to that extent our constituency told us clearly, that they want us to continue to have the influence that we do.

But there are other members who could understand the precarious financial position we are in – the situation that on average New Zealanders are spending more than we earn, some 22 cents more than every dollar we make.

So I come back to the notion of te po uriuri, me te ao Marama.

We do believe in balancing up the scales, in making things spread. And it is in this light, that we will be supporting this bill.

ENDS

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