New Zealand still going backwards | The Jackal

16 Jun 2017

New Zealand still going backwards

It should come as no surprise to those who follow politics that the right wing government’s austerity measures in New Zealand have caused a marked decrease in people’s quality of life, especially for the young and already impoverished.

Over the last nine years nearly every statistical measurement has worsened, particularly those that have a direct negative impact on the most vulnerable in our society.

Yesterday, the Newsroom reported:

NZ’s appalling child welfare record

New Zealand may be surging forward economically, but in the shadows, many of our children are hungry, sick, and struggling for a quality education. A new report from UNICEF is grim reading about our children’s plight.

A common boast from New Zealanders is that it’s a great place to raise a family.

Lots of open space, great schooling, and safety are often examples given about why the country is a fantastic place for children.

But that theory may be misleading.

A new global report card from UNICEF has ranked New Zealand near the bottom of its peers, describing the country’s performance as poor.

Building of the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries was prepared by Innocenti, UNICEF’s research office.

It placed New Zealand 34th out of 41 EU/OECD countries, assessing data about how countries perform in relation to the 10 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) agreed on by the international community in 2015 as most important for child well-being.

Clearly John Key’s promise of trickle-down economics making everyone wealthy hasn't come to fruition. Nor will it. Instead, young people are earning less while having to pay even more for the basic necessities of life.

This negative dynamic is putting huge stress on young people and consequently their families, which has a direct negative impact on our society in general.

Looking at children’s health and wellbeing, New Zealand ranked a lowly 38th.

The country’s teen pregnancy, neonatal mortality, adolescent suicide, and child homicide rates all contributed to the poor ranking.

Of particular concern is the suicide rate amongst 15-19-year-olds, which is the highest in the world and more than twice the global average.

It is so bad that New Zealand’s rate alone raised the entire global average by 0.26 percent per 100,000.

What this report doesn’t tell you is New Zealand's suicide rate wasn't the worst in the world before National got into power. In 2008 it was in fact similar to the OECD median.

It's therefore pretty clear that the National led government's damaging policies have increased societal pressures, especially for young people, which has in turn led to an overall increase in New Zealand's suicide rate.

While teen pregnancy rates have reduced, New Zealand’s is still fifth highest while the child homicide rate is the seventh highest in the world.

We're middle-of-the-road when it comes to hunger, New Zealand ranking 18th with one in 10 children under 15 “food insecure”, while we are 15th in education.

When considering economic growth and work, New Zealand ranked near the bottom at 34th.

Our rate of children living in jobless households was almost twice the global average, while 7.1 percent of 15-19-year-olds were not in any education, employment, or training.

The man in charge of advocating for New Zealand children, Judge Andrew Becroft, said he found the report’s results “appalling”.

“Sadly, there aren’t any surprises here for us at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

“This is a long-standing problem that is not well understood in society, and we want to see all children lifted up to the same level.”

The Government had committed to the SDG goals and Becroft was supportive of their efforts, but the report was a reminder of the progress still needed.

“I don’t think New Zealanders know the full story, that’s what saddens me.”

With the National party still relatively high in the polls, many New Zealander’s obviously don’t know the full story. They for some reason don’t see the correlation between the increased social dysfunction and the government’s archaic policy direction.

New Zealand was one of only four countries, alongside Chile, South Korea, and Turkey, to not be included in the SDG as they only reported on one of the three indicators used in the report.

The Ministry of Social Development classifies “material hardship” as being deprived of seven or more key indicators such as nutrition, clothing, or education, while Innocenti measures “multidimensional poverty” as being deprived of only two or more similar indicators.

There was also no data on how many children are lifted out of welfare and New Zealand was also not measured on the SDG gender equality and several indicators including child obesity and the number of women sexually assaulted as a child.

Stone said these gaps were alarming and it was unacceptable that New Zealand was not providing the appropriate data.

The National led government should feel ashamed of their destructive record and perhaps them trying to hide the increased rate of child poverty is an admission of that shame.

Despite a 2015 UNICEF request for a specific measurement, the government doesn’t want to collate and provide proper data on child poverty because it will likely show that we’re the worst in the developed world once again.

Those who're getting rich off of people's suffering would prefer that such information never becomes common knowledge, because it shows that the right wing’s neoliberal experiment in New Zealand has utterly failed the people our economy ultimately relies on.

If the mainstream media highlighted and reported on the government’s failure and administrative bungling more often, the egalitarian minded people of New Zealand would vote the proponent’s of austerity, the National party, out.