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Minister fails to act on poverty issue: Labour

2000 web siteLabour housing spokesperson Graham Kelly says it is outrageous that Social Service Minister Roger Sowry has said he has neither asked for nor received advice on poverty in New Zealand.

The Minister made the comment at the Social Services Select Committee today in response to a question about the relationship between the increased cost of rental housing and poverty.

"In spite of increased homelessness and overcrowding, increasing instances of third world health problems such as TB and meningicocal diseases sweeping through low income areas of New Zealand, and the Hikoi of Hope last year drawing attention to poverty and housing costs, Mr Sowry has failed in his duty to act effectively to find solutions," Mr Kelly said.

"It is appalling that there is no research being undertaken into the causes of poverty despite social service agencies, community groups, churches, and food banks all recording an increased number of people in desperate need of assistance.

"If the Minister thinks that by closing his eyes to the problem it will go away he's in cloud cuckoo-land.

"Of all the Ministers in the government, the Minister of Social Services has the particular responsibility to find out about the causes and effects of poverty on New Zealanders and to take action.

"His failure to do so is a disgrace," Mr Kelly said.

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