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A Parliamentary majority to support reducing Inequality?

Media release 22nd November 2011

Will there be a Parliamentary majority to support reducing Inequality? Late surge in support

More than 63 political leaders and party candidates from six political parties have signed up to support policies to reduce inequality if elected. They have been responding to NZ Council of Christian Social Services’ (NZCCSS) invitation to show support for their Closer Together Whakatata Mai Choice to reduce inequalities

“Income inequality is an issue that affects all New Zealanders because we all share the responsibility of making sure our most vulnerable members of society, which includes our children, have access to the resources they need. These include adequate food, water, medicine, shelter and clothing - resources that many people take for granted but, for a growing number, others cannot,” says Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer of the NZCCSS.

“Church leaders have also called on political parties to look to our responsibility to each other and the common good in ensuring a just share of society’s wealth and resources, especially the most vulnerable. This is a call we can all share in.”

What the Political Leaders told us

Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei says “I can certainly commit to encouraging our members, candidates and caucus members to pursue policy and programs that reduce inequality and alleviate poverty. We applaud your initiative and hope that you receive positive feedback from other party leaders.” She told us Green Party policy Mind the Gap is based around reducing income inequality. Fair tax (including capital gains tax), $15 hour minimum wage, progressive energy prices, In-Work Tax Credit for all families with children and 6,000 new state houses are all part of this package.

Labour Leader Hon Phil Goff has signed up and said that “Labour is committed to reducing inequality. Our policies will reduce inequality by tackling child poverty, reducing the pressure on families, creating jobs and addressing the wage gap.” He points to policies that extend the Working for Families assistance to more children, increase in the minimum wage and more apprenticeship jobs for young people as ways that Labour would help to reduce inequality.

Māori Party Co-Leader Hon Tariana Turia says “We believe the moral test of a society is not whether we add more wealth to those who are well off; but whether we provide enough for those who have too little. Our focus is on restoring our own ability to care for ourselves – in essence this is the strength of Whānau Ora, supporting our families to do for themselves.” She notes that “persistent inequalities are compounded for Māori and Pasifika populations” especially amongst children. She says “Our biggest concern is that income inequality leads to the intensification of a whole range of social issues making solutions even more complex.”

The National Party sees growing the economy as their way of reducing the gap between rich and poor While no formal response has been received from National Party Leader Hon John Key and no National candidate has signed the pledge, National List MP Jackie Blue told NZCCSS that “National believes the best way to get people out of poverty and reduce the income gap is to grow the economy. This leads to more jobs and higher wages.” She told us that National has a clear plan to grow the economy faster - “That’s the only way we can provide Kiwis with security and the opportunity to get ahead”.

United Future Leader Peter Dunne says “I very much support your call for more detailed debate around the possible ways to reduce poverty and income inequality. United Future is committed to policies which support families and boost all New Zealanders' standard of living by creating jobs, encouraging savings and investment and other wealth-creating initiatives.”

NZ First Leader Winston Peters’ reply to our request was short and to the point “NZ First has always supported reduction in income inequality policies” Similarly the Alliance Party Co-Leader Kay Murray told us of her party’s commitment to reduce inequality.

NZCCSS hopes that there will be a majority in Parliament to support reducing income inequality and we have posted party leader responses and candidate sign-ups on www.closertogether.org.nz along with other information about the impact of high inequality and poverty and policies that can reduce the inequality and make us all better off.


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