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Maori Party fails our whanau

9 February 2009 Media Statement
Maori Party fails our whanau

The Maori Party must explain how it can reconcile today’s pitiful minimum wage announcement with its election promises of an increase to $15 an hour, says Labour’s Maori Affairs spokesman Parekura Horomia.

“National raised the minimum wage by less than a dollar during its last nine years in government, while Labour raised it each year – from $7 to $12.

“Unfortunately for low-income workers it’s obviously back to the 1990s with National, despite the Maori Party’s rhetoric,” Mr Horomia said.

“The Maori Party must explain what happened and how its partnership with National is truly beneficial to Maori, when it’s unable to convince John Key about something as basic as the need for decent, regular minimum wage rises.”

“Over 140,000 workers are on the minimum wage and Maori are disproportionately represented in that group as the Maori Party well knows.

“Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples talked at length about the need to improve incomes for our whanau at his recent Maori economic summit.

‘The children of low income families are in a precarious state with too many lives at risk as a consequence of severe and significant hardship,’ Dr Sharples said.

“Yet when the rubber hits the road, it appears National won’t listen to the Maori Party when it comes to the big decisions that determine whether our whanau can feed our families,” Mr Horomia said.

“It’s not surprising Hone Harawira has been publicly musing about whether he can stomach his party’s decision to buddy up with National. He’s obviously waking up to the realities of our parliamentary system, which is that its five MPs will have little impact with a party which favours businesses and the higher paid.

“Today’s announcement will result in less than $4 extra a week, after inflation is taken into account. At the same time Maori unemployment has risen to 9.6 per cent and is expected to grow, placing greater pressure on whanau. This makes decent minimum wages even more critical to ensuring our families weather this recession without suffering severe, long-term, socio-economic consequences.

“Labour remains committed to increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour because we remain committed to achieving equality of opportunity for Maori.”


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