Simon Bridges contradicts Stats NZ | The Jackal

21 Feb 2020

Simon Bridges contradicts Stats NZ

It’s amazing just how many attack ads $100,000 buys you these days. The National Party has really been going to town, with their latest propaganda campaign making a number of questionable and blatantly false assertions, one being that poverty has worsened under the Labour led Government.

The National Party's claim that poverty has increased by 12,000 people came as a huge surprise; being that it was made just days after the Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson, informed us that 46,000 Kiwis had been lifted out of poverty last year.

So who's telling the truth...Simon Bridges or Grant Robertson?

On Tuesday, the Minister of Finance reported:

Kiwis better off under Coalition Government 

New Zealanders are increasingly better off under this Government as wages rise and families have more disposable income, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. 
Stats NZ reported today that average household disposable incomes after housing costs rose 4.9% in 2019. This was the highest rise in four years and came as Stats NZ said average housing costs were unchanged over the year, while wages rose. 
Today’s data also showed: 
46,000 people were lifted out of poverty in 2019 based on moving above the measure of 50% of disposable income after housing costs.
The median household disposable income after housing costs has risen 10% over the past two years. In 2017, this measure had fallen 1.8%.

46,000 Kiwis better off is a damn good indication that the Coalition Government is getting things done.

National's opposition to the Government's achievements however, including their numerous attack adverts paid for by secret donations, are terribly misleading.

The problem with National’s latest attack advert, which was authorised by Simon Bridges, is that it’s plain wrong! If you read the barely legible fine print they also reference the Household Income and Housing Cost Statistics for the year to June 2019, which shows that the number of people in the low-income bracket actually declined from 18.6% to 17.5% in 2019.

It takes some serious mental gymnastics to argue that poverty under the referenced data* has increased under the Coalition Government.

So either Simon Bridges simply doesn’t understand that a smaller percentage in the low-income indicator bracket is a good thing, or National is straight up lying!

The only way you would get to the 12,000 more people in poverty figure (11,500 to be exact) is if you compared 2016 to 2017, which is a shift of 0.3% of the working population. However the data is from June each year, so we’re talking about comparing National in 2016 and 2017 with only 3 months of a Labour led Government in 2017.

Surely Bridges wouldn’t be stupid enough to count and compare what are effectively two sets of data under a National Government showing that poverty increased? Talk about an own goal.

National is clearly terribly desperate for things to attack the Government over and have perhaps gone a bit crazy! Nobody in their right mind would argue that 3 months is enough time for a new Government to effect significant administrative change to reduce poverty.

Under the Coalition Government the unemployment rate has dropped to an eleven year low and the average wage reached an all time high of $32.83 per hour in the fourth quarter of 2019. This is significant because wage increases affect the median wage. Even the MBIE understands (PDF) that the minimum wage increasing also helps people earning above that level as relative wage rates between different roles are addressed and also increase.

With more people being engaged in low paid employment and the average wage increasing significantly, we should see further reductions in the low-income poverty measure. We should also see a reduction of poverty through increased benefit payments, which the Coalition Government has tied to wage growth.

Perhaps Simon Bridges might like to actually try doing his job as opposition leader for once instead of continuously misleading the public? Otherwise all this clasping at straws and lying just looks like sour grapes from a political Party that's clearly not fit to govern.

*The percentage of people living in households that have an equivalised disposable income after housing cost of less than 50% of median household equivalised disposable income after housing costs.