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Rock star economy and the Lost Prophets

Rock star economy and the Lost Prophets

by Don Franks

British multinational HSBC Holdings, on of the world's largest banks, predict New Zealand will be the "rock star" economy of 2014, with growth set to outpace most of its peers.

HSBC forecasts the New Zealand economy will grow 3.4 percent in 2014—the fastest pace since 2007.

For 2013, the economy is expected to post growth of 3.0 percent, according to the bank.

HSBC sees the New Zealand housing boom as a key factor supporting faster expansion.

Sales figures from real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson show the average sale price of an Auckland home was $700,387 last month, up 12.2 per cent from $624,000 in December 2012.

Stick that on the T shirt !

Only one thing is wrong with our cool rock star economy.

Some of us will never get a ticket.

As Hawkes Bay paediatrician Russell Wills complained: "I see these poor preschool children in crowded homes that are cold and damp coming in with skin infections. They are filling our wards." Dr Russell Wills doubles as NZ's Childrens Commsioner. Who, because he gives a stuff, commisioned a report called the Child Poverty Monitor, after the Government rejected calls to start a comprehensive measure of child poverty.

The commissioner recruited private funding from Wellington charity J R McKenzie Trust and will now report back every year on the health and well-being of our most vulnerable children. The initial report findings included:

About one in six Kiwi children are going without basic necessities. Like not having a bed, delaying a doctor's visit or missing out on meals.

It also shows hospital admissions for children with medical conditions linked to poverty are rising. Tens of thousands of children are admitted every year for respiratory and infectious diseases associated with living in damp, overcrowded homes.

At a glance, the rock star economy is a land where:

265,000 children live in poverty, defined by income.

1 in 3 Maori and Pacific children live in poverty.

1 in 7 European children live in poverty.

1 in 6 struggle to afford basic necessities such as healthcare and clothing.

1 in 10 suffer from severe poverty, lacking basic necessities and adequate income.

3 out of 5 will be living in poverty for much of their childhood.

51 per cent are from sole parent families. 60 per cent are from beneficiary families.

How do the rock star economy's lead singers cope with this challenging material?

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the ministry was already measuring child poverty, and the commissioner's report was just "repackaged" government figures.

"We have prioritised children, particularly those most vulnerable, and we're taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to tackling complex social issues."


Still, there's an election coming up this year.

"Paula Bennett’s continued ‘she’ll be right’ response to calls to officially measure child poverty reinforce concerns that National doesn’t see it as a problem or a priority", Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“If we are to make any real inroads into tackling child poverty then we need to collect the necessary data.

“Our lack of child poverty measures makes us an outlier with other OECD countries, 29 of which specifically define and measure levels of child poverty.

“Labour has committed to introducing similar legislation here and has a Member’s Bill that sets out exactly how we would go about that.

Double duh.

Labour will get a bigger measuring stick.

And "have a strategy". One that will not cause million dollar house owners a wink of sleep.

In the dazzling spectacle of the rock star economy, three plain old things are clear.

One, poverty is not going away anytime soon, because not enough people are moved to destroy it.

Two, "child poverty" is a euphemism. The Commisioner's report showed that about two out of five impoverished kids live in working families. Most New Zealand workers don't get paid enough. The real issue is not child poverty, it's working class poverty.

Three, if we're now in the land of the rock star economy, National and Labour are our Lost Prophets.

© Scoop Media

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