2016 Sees Greater Inequality

Let’s take a stocktake of the year and see just how well the Government has done on three simple measures;

  • Tackling the housing crisis
  • Addressing Child Poverty
  • Supporting Maori Aspiration

There has been a message delivered to the Government loud and clear – housing affordability has gone through the roof, it’s a distant dream for many whanau working hard to get ahead – and it’s not just an ‘Auckland’ problem. The provinces are feeling the increasing pressure of the Auckland investment drift. In my electorate, the push south beyond the Bombay hills of housing investment is starting to price locals out of the home ownership market. This doesn’t make sense and the Government really needs to act on improving the supply of state housing stock. Too many whanau sleeping in cars will not do, emergency housing options are limited and faith-based serviced are full to capacity in many areas struggling to fill the need. A warm, healthy home is the cornerstone for whanau to live and thrive – too many people now do not have this opportunity.

The Governments overhaul of the Child Youth and Family Act has led to widespread concern across the sector. The Ministry of Vulnerable Children got a thumbs down from the International community when the Minister of Social Development reported on the Governments progress against United Nations Rights of the Child targets. Why the Government thought it was a good idea to single out vulnerable children, ignored the systemic and broader issues impacting on the numbers of children living in poverty. The lack of leadership in this space is concerning as the Government refuses to set targets for the whole of government to monitor how their programme of action is alleviating poverty for the approximately 300,000 children. If our country is going to promote fairness and opportunity for everyone we must look to benchmark progress against that made by the most vulnerable in our society.

We have heard a lot about the gains made from sitting on the government benches. If that were the case, why has the Government steamrolled through its support for the TPPA (only dropped because of the new POTUS), creating the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary without taking into account the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Rights, reforming Maori Land rights through an imperfect process and not engaging the broad-based support of landowners. A push for charter schools without assessing what more could be done to strengthen those kura, wharekura and public schools to support their efforts to lift educational achievement. Its true there have been ‘concessions’ but no strategy to advance Maori innovation, growth and opportunity merely a piecemeal approach. We need strategic leadership to show how Maori aspiration will really drive regional economic development.

I invite you to make your mind up about 2016 – for me, the report card reads “able to articulate themselves well but must pay attention to detail and follow through”.

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