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Housing crisis worsens

Housing crisis worsens

The Government’s immediate plan to sell-off 68 state houses in Dunedin and 178 houses in the provincial South Island is absurd when there are hundreds of desperate families waiting for a home.

It’s very rare that my office gets inundated to quite the extent it has been since the new year. This is because Dunedin and the surrounding area is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis.

Answers to Labour’s written questions just before Christmas show that Housing New Zealand intends to sell-off 68 houses in Dunedin and 178 in provincial South Island. This is despite 62 families on the Ministry of Social Development waiting list for state housing just in Dunedin and countless others not even making the list.

I have received dozens of requests for help from families who are being blocked from even getting onto Housing New Zealand’s waiting list via their call centre. These are families on low incomes who cannot afford market rent, but are being forced into the worst kind of private rentals.

In Dunedin that means slum housing. Disturbingly, the National Government’s plan to sell-off state houses and subsidise landlords will not help these people. Instead it’s likely to drive up rents for all renters.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page: Clare Curran for Dunedin South for a series of videos exposing the true extent of the housing crisis in Dunedin. Please contact me if you know people who are struggling to get adequate housing.

The Growing Price of Free Speech

As we have settled into the new year and basked in the sun over the last few weeks, I imagine the principles of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of religion were not top of mind. Until we were confronted with the brutal murder of 12 staff, including cartoonists in the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

What seemed a distant issue suddenly became more real. Free speech comes with responsibility, but it’s a critical component in an open democratic society.

The Paris shootings came in the wake of the one year anniversary, on 29 December 2014, of the imprisonment of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, which represents an insidious abuse of press freedom that has reverberated around the world. Although the journalists have since been freed, one completely and two on bail, the battle for freedom of the press must continue, and all three journalists need to be freed unconditionally.

Freedom to believe, freedom to report, and freedom to express are all values we hold dear to our democracy. In our small part of the world there are many groups that hold dear those values, such as Lions, Rotary, RSAs and even Generation Zero. Their voices could be powerful in asking our government to stand up for what’s right.

As politicians across the world cover themselves in the flag of free speech and freedom of the press in response to the tragic murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, many are moving to stifle these same rights they claim to love. With startling hypocrisy, the UK and US are renewing efforts to support free speech, whilst implementing chilling surveillance laws affecting millions of citizens who have never been accused of terrorism. Let’s hope New Zealand does not follow with further surveillance measures.

Brighton Gala Day

The sweltering heat did not deter the big crowds at Brighton Gala Day in late January.

Stalls, rides, and plenty of entertainment ensured the family-friendly day was a roaring success.

Labour's Save Saddle Hill and Save Our State Houses petitions proved immensely popular, with queues for signatures throughout most of the day.

Well done to the organisers for a resoundingly successful event.

Dunedin Hospital needs a rebuild, not a downgrade

Dunedin Hospital needs a rebuild, not a downgrade.

As the only metropolitan hospital in NZ that hasn't had an upgrade, Dunedin Hospital requires urgent attention.

Labour made a firm commitment to rebuild the hospital in the election campaign. We stand by this, and will continue to put pressure on the Government to do just that.

Have a read of my column that appeared in The Star on the issue:

Saddle Hill Petition progress

My office has been inundated with people wanting to sign the Save Saddle Hill petition.

This issue continues to grow in importance for Dunedin residents who value this treasured landmark.

Everywhere I go, people from all walks of life and political persuasion are lining up to sign the petition.

This issue is entirely driven by the community, and I will stand alongside them until it is resolved and our precious landmark protected.

To sign the online petition click here, or to download a copy of the petition you can visit my website, or pop into my office during working hours. Please share the petition online.

The Future of Work

Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson returned to his hometown for a gathering with local members recently.

I have been lucky enough to work closely with Grant on his new Future of Work Commission, of which I will be leading the Technology work stream.

There will be four other work streams, each led by Labour MPs, looking into Security of Work and Income, Education and Training, Māori and Pasifika, and Economic Development and Sustainability.

The future of work is continuously evolving, and at a rapid pace, particularly in the ICT industry. Stable, permanent full time jobs are increasingly being replaced by an anywhere, anytime work model, facilitated by digital technology. The on-demand economy driven by smartphone technology, the role of big data and the changing nature of business are the critical dynamics to understand.

An Oxford University study tells us that 47% of jobs in the US economy are at high risk from technology.

Today's school leaver will likely have ten careers in their life. There is no time to lose in ensuring our education and training systems are geared to meet these needs.

Given that wages have failed to keep up with the growth in our economy and productivity has increased by at least 16% over the last 25 years we know that we need to test the models of distribution of wealth to stop the ever widening gaps in our society.

The Future of Work Commission is an exciting venture, and will ensure Labour is well placed to advocate for the needs of the working New Zealander throughout the next Parliamentary term.

If you are interested in contributing to this discussion please contact me.


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