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Poverty eradication should be a priority for all NZers

Poverty eradication should be a priority for all New Zealanders

As a nation we need to be working to eradicate poverty so that every citizen has the chance of a decent quality of life, says New Zealand's largest private sector union, the EPMU.

Tomorrow (Monday 17 October) marks the United Nation's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, first recognised in 1992.

"A lot of people think New Zealand doesn't have a poverty problem but according to latest statistics one in five children in this country are living in poverty," says EPMU national secretary, Bill Newson. "This isn't surprising when you consider that over the last 25 years there has been a massive shift of wealth to higher income earners as a result of blind adherence to free market economic policies."

"Poverty and a gross imbalance of wealth distribution have huge downsides in terms of negative social outcomes like poorer education, health and more crime. And at the end of the day, a poor quality of life for a significant chunk of the population affects everyone in society," says Mr Newson.

The EPMU is critical of government policies that impact on low income families such as the recent GST hike, paltry increases in the minimum wage and anti-worker employment law changes designed to drive down wages.

"The GST increase saw a dramatic rise in the cost of living for many working families in this country and the bulk of the tax cuts went to already wealthier New Zealanders. Not only did this leave many people worse off but the so called 'tax-switch' was a poor policy choice and not cost neutral, leaving a $1.1 billion hole in the government's accounts," says Mr Newson.

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