ActionStation Campaigner Ruby Powell says the organisation stands in solidarity with protests about government inaction on poverty held in Wellington and Auckland today.
“For too long people in this government have chosen to ignore the experts' advice on what would fix child and whānau poverty, like increasing income support rates,” says Powell.
Powell says instead this government is choosing to tinker around the edges.
“If Labour are serious about making Aotearoa the best place to be a child they will need to use some of their stockpiled political capital to lead, rather than waiting to be led,” continued Powell.
The Wellington protest was organised by local health advocacy organisation United Community Action Network. The Auckland protest was organised by Auckland Action Against Poverty.
All three organisations are signatories to an open letter to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni calling for income support to be increased before Christmas.
Protest organisers say they were spurred into action by the Prime Minister’s refusal to increase income support, with Jacinda Ardern stating that the Labour government may not increase benefit levels at all this parliamentary term.
"This year there will be thousands of families who won't be able to afford Christmas. They have no Christmas tree and their children will wake up on Christmas morning in a cold damp house with no presents and no food," said UCAN’s chairperson Debbie Leyland.
Protest organiser, youth advisor to UCAN and beneficiary Stacey Ryan said it wasn’t just parents and children locked in poverty by the inadequate income support rates.
“Disabled and chronically ill people all over Aotearoa need help, and we need it now. This is not just about Christmas, this is about survival,” said Ryan.