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John Key’s gutless stance on poverty

Social Development Spokesperson
12 December 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
John Key’s gutless stance on poverty

John’s Key’s sudden about-face on the need for an official poverty measure is being driven purely by cynical politics as he cobbles together a deal with the same parties who have ignored the issue for the past three years, says Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson Annette King.

“John Key has repeatedly rejected calls for an official measure of poverty rates in New Zealand. On December 14 last year, I asked him in the House if he was prepared to set targets for the eradication of child poverty. He said ‘no’.

“This morning he’s woken up and changed his mind, telling Radio New Zealand that a ministerial poverty committee might want to ‘have an official way of measuring poverty’.

“He’s come to that conclusion solely because National needs to strike a political deal with the Māori Party, not because he accepts New Zealand has a serious problem with poverty.

“I’ve had an absolute gutsful of John Key talking about the underclass in New Zealand and using the issue to score political points while doing nothing about the fact that up to 270,000 Kiwi children are living in poverty under his watch.

“He has no credibility on this issue.

“John Key’s sudden decision to also set up a so-called ministerial poverty committee, something that was never foreshadowed during his election campaign, is just a sop to the Māori Party. It’s absolutely gutless.

“If he was serious about addressing poverty in New Zealand, he would be brave enough to reach across the political spectrum and welcome all parties to the table. Instead, John Key has twice rejected formal offers from Labour to work together on the issue.

“This shows the Prime Minister isn’t serious about dealing with poverty. He’s only interested when it suits his political ambitions.

“Labour is passionate about its plan to deal with poverty and will scrutinise the National-led Government’s every move on this issue. We will hold them to account for the promises they are making.”

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