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Hone Harawira: Response to Prime Minister's Speech

Hone Harawira: Response to Prime Minister's Speech

Hone Harawira: MANA Leader and Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau
Tuesday 28 January 2014

Tena koe Mr Speaker

It seems the PM may have missed the fact that while he was up in Hawaii playing golf and his MPs were sizing up more investment properties to buy for the biggest untaxed capital gains they could get, most Kiwi families were going backwards.

Since parliament last sat housing has become even less affordable, more families have fallen behind in their rent, more families have been evicted, more families have shifted to caravan parks, the price of food and everything else has continued to rise, more jobs have become more precarious and more have become poorly paid, more food parcels have been given out at foodbanks, more families have had their electricity cut off because they can’t pay the bill, more children are in hospital with poverty related illnesses and diseases, and more children are regularly going hungry.

Big bank economists tell us we are about to benefit from a “rock-star” economy in 2014, but that’s rubbish. Everywhere in the world the benefits of the economic recovery are going to the richest 1% while the 99% go backwards, and NZ is no exception.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer under a system where people strive to get as rich as they can and the winner is the person who has the most money when they die. How crazy is that? How does that make sense when kids go hungry because families have to pay the rent, the electricity, the petrol for the car before they can buy food for their kids?

But does this government care? Not for one second.

Take LOAN SHARKS for example. 6 years ago this government said it wanted to deal to loan sharks for preying on poor families but what did they do? Nothing! Instead they bailed out the banks and wealthy investors in companies like South Canterbury Finance, who got a $1.7 billion taxpayer windfall which in one single gift to the rich was more than the entire 22 years of Treaty of Waitangi settlements where iwi got less than 3% of what was stolen from them. Meanwhile the victims of loan sharks are told they must pay 500%+ interest rates so that a small loan to pay a power bill rapidly becomes a crippling debt to the loan sharks, with no bailouts for the poor.

In HOUSING it’s the same. Everyone knows housing is becoming less affordable - mortgages are through the roof and as interest rates go up so do rents - but this government has no plans to create more affordable housing for the low-income families who need them most. In Glen Innes and elsewhere the government is actually pushing people off the waiting lists then saying state houses are no longer needed, and then they’re bulldozing those homes so private developers can build mansions for the rich.

In EDUCATION the government is also missing the mark. Instead of ensuring every child can learn by adopting a comprehensive food-in-schools programme as recommended by their own experts, they’re focusing on a failed charter schools model from overseas and “drop-in” principals. We’ve all heard the drivel about how poverty has nothing to do with educational underachievement but that’s a refrain delivered only by commentators who choose not to hear the advice, and governments who choose to ignore the inequality which is at the heart of increased social problems in low-income communities.

And as for those JOBS Mr Key, are you happy that unemployment helps keep wages down and keep workers worried they might lose their jobs? Is it your plan that 260,000 workers can’t get a job or can’t get enough hours at work to pay for a decent chance in life for themselves and their families? Is it your plan that this government has no policy at all to create meaningful employment except to leave the fate of the worker in the hands of the free market?

Instead all we get is policy after policy, bill after bill, to take even more from low-income workers - in employment rights, social support, tax dollars - to feed oil and mining giants, property developers, foreign bankers, casino bosses, private consultants and the like.

Families are struggling - Maori families, Pacifica and increasingly more Pakeha families after decades of the deepest cuts this country has ever experienced, cuts which come from policies which have deliberately driven hundreds of thousands of families into poverty, policies which have led us in a direction that has been disastrous for all Kiwi families outside of the comfortable middle class and ruling elites, a direction which has brought us to a critical crossroad in our lives - with growing inequality, homelessness, unemployment, and a growing population of working poor who can’t even make ends meet.

At the end of last year the world mourned the loss of Nelson Mandela and celebrated his momentous life, but Mandela was not just an anti-apartheid campaigner; he was also a fighter for the poor who once said “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” Mandela considered poverty to be one of the great evils of the world and believed there could be no freedom where poverty persists.

At the beginning of this new year MANA stands resolute in our determination to find ways to eradicate poverty, and particularly child poverty, wherever and however it may exist, and we will do all we can to ensure that this issue, is the issue by which political parties are measured by voters in 2014.

MANA wants a new deal for Aotearoa - one based on everyone playing their part and everyone paying their way - not just families, but government and big business as well - an economy where everyone can live in dignity and respect; where jobs are secure, hard work is rewarded, and people can earn enough to give their families a decent standard of living.


· The building of 10,000 homes a year, especially for those on low incomes, until every child in every family is housed in a clean and warm home;

· Creating thousands of jobs in design, architecture, carpentry, cabinetmaking, painting, roofing, electrical work, plumbing, drainlaying, landscaping, roading, community infrastructure and all the related jobs that come with a strong and vibrant housing sector;

· Encouraging immigrants to build new homes rather than buy existing ones, to increase the jobs in the housing sector and to keep the current housing stock for Kiwis;

· And introducing a Capital Gains Tax to force those with too many investment properties to sell back into the housing market, drive down the prices and free up homes for those who can afford to buy but can’t find anything in the over-heated marketplace.

Mana wants JOBS FOR ALL

· Government created community work on an indexed minimum wage for everyone else who is able to work – in hospitals, schools, old-people’s homes, marae, sports clubs, local parks – giving people the opportunity to rebuild their confidence and develop basic work skills while helping to revitalise their local communities;

· Financing and mentoring for small businesses, because if you back small business owners, they commit to a future in this country rather than leave, and their success encourages their families to do so as well.


· Introducing a Hone Heke tax on all financial transactions, adding billions to the national budget and enabling government to launch positive jobs programmes, feed the kids, provide a well-resourced and positive educational environment at all levels, reduce taxes for low-income earners, and abolish GST on food and essential services.


· In today’s world access to a consistent and affordable supply of electricity is a staple part of life for all NZers. It was never envisioned that it be owned by private investors. MANA supports reclaiming all electricity assets for the benefit of all citizens of Aotearoa.

MANA’s position is clear. This is not a time for tinkering. This is a time to be bold, to chart a new path, to establish a new deal where a life of dignity and respect is a birthright afforded to everyone, and we call on all other parties to rise to the challenge rather than surrender to the squabbling.

Tēna koutou katoa


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