Labour comes under fire from the left
Labour comes under fire from the left for “Wellbeing Budget” -- Underfunding “is a matter of life and death”
The Labour Government’s 2019 budget has been heavily criticised by left wing organisers, activists, and academics on a special episode of the SH People’s Politburo podcast.
The episode contains 6 in-depth interviews on the topics of education, criminal justice, housing, welfare, and climate change.
“Many people on the left were hopeful about the Wellbeing Budget. However, all we saw was yet another austerity budget that places the interests of the few over the many,” says Politburo spokesperson Justine Sachs.
“A true well-being budget would have prioritised housing over prisons. It would have been willing to tax the wealthy in order to properly fund our starved education, healthcare, and welfare sectors.”
The podcast starts with an interview with NZEI organiser Ben Rosamond. Rosamond speaks to the frustration of primary school teachers about last week’s budget. “The only thing that this Labour government is willing to spend political capital on is not giving teachers a pay rise,” says Rosamond.
Nadia Abu-Shanab, an early childhood teacher and new mum, talks about her experience in the sector. Abu-Shanab argues that under-funding and understaffing of early childhood education is putting children at risk.
“We’re talking about a matter of life and death. There have been some fatalities in early childhood centres, and the reasons for those are often complex. But we know for a fact that, when centres are understaffed and under-resourced, accidents are more likely to happen,” says Abu-Shanab.
Ti Lamusse, a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland studying the New Zealand criminal justice system, talks about how continued investment in prisons undermines the health and wellbeing of poor and marginalised communities.
Vanessa Cole, also a PhD candidate at UoA, demonstrates why the government’s new spending announcements on housing don’t do enough to address the current needs. Cole argues “the government needs to be spending more money on building massive amounts of public housing instead of investing money into programmes like KiwiBuild, which is essentially middle class welfare.”
Anna Sturman, an expert in the economics of climate change, outlines why we can’t fund our way out of disaster and that the government needs to take much more drastic steps to address the impending crisis. According to Sturman, anything short of a whole systems change is “willful blindness and reckless negligence.”
Finally, Ricardo Menéndez March from Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) argues that the Wellbeing Budget dooms hundreds of thousands of people to continued poverty because of low benefit rates.
“At AAAP, when people come into our doors, what are the main reasons why their mental health has deteriorated? It’s because they’re constantly worrying if they have a place to live a week after,” says Menéndez March.
“It’s not enough to go to a free counselling session if that’s not going to address the fact that you’re going to end up homeless, and the distress that comes as a result of that. The government is not considering that it need to be putting far more money into those preventative health approaches.”