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Parliament’s Chance To Help Working Poor

Dunedin North MP

28 August 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Parliament’s Chance To Help Working Poor

MPs will get the chance to take a much needed step towards addressing child poverty tomorrow, says Labour MP David Clark.

Dr Clark’s members’ bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour is likely to begin being debated in Parliament on Wednesday night.

“The Children’s Commissioner’s report on child poverty makes for distressing reading. Far too many of our children are growing up in households that can’t make ends meet, let alone give them the best start in life.

“New Zealand has always prided itself on being a great place to bring up kids. But the level of poverty, inequality and deprivation in New Zealand is shocking, and it is getting worse on the National Government’s watch[i]. It is time Parliament took action.

“The sad fact is that two out of five children living in poverty come from working families[ii]. The working poor desperately need some relief.

“A $1.50 an hour pay rise will mean an extra $60 a week for a full-time minimum wage worker. That may not sound like a lot to some people, but for struggling families it might just mean more bread, milk and cereal for the kids before school.

“The Prime Minister has admitted he couldn’t live on the minimum wage[iii]. Why does he think anyone else can? John Key and National promised Kiwis a brighter future but are failing to deliver. Supporting my bill would at least be a step in the right direction.

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“Lifting the minimum wage isn’t a cure-all for child poverty by any means, but it is a start,” says David Clark.

[i] According to the Ministry of Social Development’s Household Incomes Report, between 2010 and 2011 the average income for workers fell three per cent in real terms, and the gap between rich and poor has never been wider. The number of children living in hardship increased from 15 per cent in 2007 to 21 per cent last year.
[ii] Household Incomes Report
[iii] During TVNZ leaders debate, November 23 2011. See photo caption in NZ Herald article “Commissioner 'shocked' by police freeze claim – Nats”


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