Maori better off with Labour | The Jackal

5 Oct 2020

Maori better off with Labour

Jacinda Ardern - Labour Party leader
We’ve all heard the claims by the right wing that poverty and homelessness have increased under the Labour led Government. And yes! On face value a few statistics look to have worsened over the past three years. However it’s not until you dig a bit deeper into the data that the truth is revealed.

By way of an argument, WINZ hardship grants are often held up as evidence that struggling Kiwis are now in greater need. However, the only thing this really shows is that more beneficiaries are getting what they’re entitled to. Despite the title, the number of grants being provided isn’t a proper indicator of increased hardship for those on low incomes.

The same can be said about the increasing number of clients on the Housing New Zealand waiting list. What the right wing wilfully ignores is that when the National Party was last in power they removed half of those requiring affordable or emergency housing from the waiting list, saying they no longer met the revised criteria. This decision was largely reversed under the Coalition Government, which has of course led to an increase of people on the waiting list. The current increase merely better reflects the depth of need in New Zealand for state housing, a need that didn’t suddenly change in 2017 with the incoming Government.

The right wing also likes to endlessly criticise Kiwibuild as some sort of monumental failure. However what they intentionally ignore here is that the scheme has helped over 700 Kiwi families into new homes. Overall, the Coalition Government’s house building programmes have built more than 6,000 homes, with another 4,000 currently being construction.

These achievements are in stark contrast to the 40,000 Kiwis who became homeless while the National, Act and Maori Party’s were last in power. The main contributor to this social degradation was John Key deciding to sell 6,000 state houses (many under dubious circumstances), which clearly contributed to the worsening housing crisis and dramatically increased the difficulty for those seeking safe and affordable accommodation through official channels.

Then there’s the Coalition Government's child poverty reduction and wellbeing legislation to consider. This policy has helped to ensure that less New Zealand families and their children are or will be subjected to long-term impoverishment. Because of this kind of policy, we've seen an improvement to seven out of nine child poverty indicators during Labour’s first term in power.

Jacinda Ardern has also invested in healthy lunches for school children, increased paid parental leave and implemented and then doubled the winter energy payment during the COVID pandemic...just to mention a few more worthwhile left wing policies that have been achieved to date. Such socially beneficial initiatives will likely also help tackle New Zealand's stubborn and unacceptable material deprivation statistics in the not too distant future.

But wait, there's more. Healthy Homes Standards are also going to pay even more health and wellbeing dividends with Labour announcing an extra $39 million investment into the already successful scheme.

Yesterday, RNZ reported:

Labour targets rheumatic fever with new Healthy Homes pledge 

The Labour Party is promising to kit out more homes with insulation, heaters and bedding if re-elected, saying the prevalence of rheumatic fever in New Zealand is a "national shame".

The party has pledged to pump an extra $39 million over four years into the Healthy Homes initiative, which has been running since late 2013.

The scheme assesses homes in at-risk areas and co-ordinates support to make them warmer and drier.

The funding would expand the initiative from 11 DHBs to all 20. Labour would also roll out 40 more rental inspectors to ensure landlords are meeting required standards - at a cost of $16 million.

There is of course a lot more to be done, but a big difference between the two main political rivals is that Labour, unlike the National Party, will ensure that incomes for those living on the breadline will increase over the next term of their governance.

In the likely event of Labour's re-elected to the front benches, the incoming left wing government will also look into the high price of food and building materials, which was initially promised but not implemented by Winston Peters.

But what cannot be overstated is that the achievements of the Coalition Government has already caused long lasting improvements, particularly for Maori families, measurable progress which should in my opinion be allowed to continue indefinitely.