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Tauranga Politicians Pressed on Living Wage at Meeting

13 August 2013

Tauranga Politicians Pressed on Living Wage at Meeting

With local body elections less than two months away, it’s time to put pressure on candidates and local politicians to do more to tackle income inequality in our community, Peter Malcolm, the organiser of a public meeting on the issue, said tonight.

Around 70 people gathered in Tauranga on Tuesday night to hear Max Rashbrooke, author and editor of the new book, “Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis”, and local political leaders discuss the inequality problem and answer questions from the audience.

Rashbrooke focused his comments on the impact inequality has on society, which he said included growing divisions within communities, declining trust and social cohesion, and sharply lower social mobility.

In less equal societies, Rashbrooke said, children from poorer families are far less likely to be able to escape poverty than their better off schoolmates.

Inequality, he said, also harms economies. “Large amounts of spare cash at the top creates bubbles,” and bubbles played a role in the global financial crisis that gathered speed in 2008.

Three local political leaders – Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby; Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor Ross Paterson; Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman John Cronin – were pressed on a range of issues, including where they stood on ensuring council staff were paid a living wage.

Meeting organiser Peter Malcolm said the response to that question was somewhat disappointing, with mayor Crosby telling the audience that the introduction of a living wage was not up to him but the city’s CEO, who had no plans to do so.

“But the local leaders did say lobbying and pressure from the community makes a difference,” Malcolm said, “which puts the onus on us – the people of Tauranga – to demand more of the people we elect.”

Our group strongly encourages Bay of Plenty residents to contact their current elected representatives as well as those standing for office and urge them to make a start toward closing the gap.

“A living wage for all, including council workers, would be a powerful first step,” Malcolm said.


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