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Wellingtonians say; “Everyone deserves a home – no more homelessness!”

28 November 2015 3 comments

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“Housing is a basic human need and access to decent quality, affordable and safe housing should be seen a human right. This means that our society and more specifically the State has an obligation to ensure that everyone living in New Zealand always has access to adequate and secure housing. We further believe that this obligation means that housing needs to be considered as more than a commodity whose allocation is decided entirely by markets and the profit motive.” – Hikoi for Homes/Child Poverty Action Group

Wellington, NZ, 21 November – Around two hundred people gathered in Cuba Mall, central Wellington, as part of a nationwide day of protest at growing homelessness; poor standards of housing; state house privatisation, and lack of long-term stability in rental accomodation;

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After safety instructions were issued by Ian Harcourt, one of CPAG’s march organisers, the protesters set off through the streets of Wellington, headed to the Civic Square;

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Throughout the entire event, there was only a brief, sole police presence as one lone police car halted traffic to allow marchers to cross a busy intersection;

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Greeting the marchers at Civic Square, Nigel Parry and Ruth Prentice,  sang a song dedicated to Emma-Lita Bourne, who perished  in August 2014 whilst living in a damp, cold house infected with toxic mould. Nigel and Ruth page tribute to Emma-Lita, and to the coroner, who had the guts to speak the truth as to why Emma-Lita died needlessly;

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The number of protesters had swelled to around 300 people and constituted  a wide cross representation from the community, including many families with children. These were citizens concerned at the direction New Zealand was heading toward;

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Banners flew from the various groups involved with the day’s event, including UNICEF, one of the  organisers;

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Labour’s Grant Robertson was present;

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The first speaker, Dr Nikki Turner, from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), addressed the crowd;

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Dr Turner reminded people that twenty years ago, New Zealand signed the UN covenant on the rights of children. She said this included a duty of care to ensure safe, decent housing for children. She asked, “so why are we here today?

She said that this is a national shame that New Zealand are not providing basic human rights for families in need.

Dr Turner said that as a General Practitioner she was seeing people turning up at her clinic daily, sick, from unsafe houses. They were “sick and recurrently sick, because the houses were not adequate“.

Dr Turner listed poverty-related diseases that were common to people living in damp, cold houses; asthma, colds, chest infections, pneumonia, rheumatic fever, chronic lung diseases, saying that  “our housing makes our children sick“. She said cold affects our immune systems, making people more vulnerable to moulds  and diseases shared through over-crowding.

If we fix our housing, we’re going to go a long way to improving our health in New Zealand,” said Dr Turner.

Dr Turner then listed seven issues necessary for government to implement, saying they were achievable;

  1. To stop the sale of all state and council houses,
  2. A one billion dollar provision to build more public and social housing,
  3. Minimum standards for all rental houses,
  4. Greater tenure protection for all tenants,
  5. A rent freeze for five years,
  6. A statutory right to be housed, as a human right,
  7. State subsidies for modest income-earners for home-ownership, as New Zealanders had a right to a home.

Dr Turner said that the current situation was unfair; costly; and affecting our children. She said that many of the medical problems caused by inadequate housing led to permanent, on-going crippling that would last throughout their lives.  “We need to fix this for the future of our community.”

Dr Turner was followed by Dr Philipa Howden-Chapman, from Otago University’s Department of Public Health;

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Dr Howden-Chapman pointed out that about a third of New Zealanders lived in rental accomodation. She said that many rental homes were cold and damp, far colder than what was recommended by the UN. She said “they were built in another age, when someone was home most of the time, ventilating the house, and keeping the fires going“.

Dr Howden-Chapman said many homes were between 12 to 16 degrees, making them no warmer inside than outside. She said babies were particularly susceptible, being unable to shiver, and losing heat much faster than an adult. Older people also got colder faster than fit, younger people.

Dr Howden-Chapman said that around a third of houses had mould growing in them. She said that mould at certain times of the year release spores and toxins, some of which were the most dangerous substances known.

According to Dr Howden-Chapman, New Zealand spends $3 billion per annum maintaining the roading network.  But there were no equivalent regulations  required to maintain rentals at a set standard or provide adequate heating or ventilation. She said Emma-Lita Bourne‘s family had an insulated house, but could not afford heating. By contrast, Europe had solar-heating on houses that constantly prevented  homes from dropping below 18 degrees.

“But we don’t do any of that.”

Dr Howden-Chapman asked why we have Health officials going around coffee-bars to check on hygiene or WoF mechanics to check the brakes on our cars, but no one is responsible to check on the quality of rental housing.

It was pointed out that a third of housing-related ACC costs could be saved if unsafe steps and other parts of houses were fixed.

She asked  “does this government care”?

Dr Howden-Chapman said it was disgraceful that Bill English admitted that the National government was the biggest slumlord in the country and could “dismiss the whole housing stock”.

She said that a small country of 4.4 million people should be able to work together, with government, local bodies, and NGOs co-operating so  that everyone had access to warm, dry, safe housing.

Dr Howden-Chapman decried New Zealand in the 21st century where children were found to be living in cars, camping grounds, homeless in the streets, or containers, or crowded houses. She said it was no accident that children regularly  miss school and fall behind in their studies, or end up in hospital Intensive Care, where many die.

She said “we can do better, we must do better“.

Dr Howden-Chapman demanded security of tenure for tenants so that the problem of transient families could be reduced. She said families in Housing NZ homes should be able to stay in one house for as long as their children were at school. Dr Howden-Chapman said it was vital that families moved from a state house be re-housed in the same neighbourhood so that their community links with other people could be maintained, as well as allowing children to remain in the same school.

She acknowledged that many New Zealanders cared about this pressing social problem and asked the government, “do you care?

Ian Harcourt introduced a musical group, ‘Choir, Choir, Pants On Fire‘. He said that while this protest was about speaking truth to power, that they the singers he was introducing were here to “sing truth to power”;

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One of the group’s “novel” acts was to engage the audience with participation; to ask us to raise our hands; extend two fingers; and wave it in the direction of Parliament;

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Choir, Choir, Pants On Fire‘ was followed by Ariana, from the State Housing Action Network;

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Ariana spoke of the formation of the State Housing Action Network as a response to Bill English’s announcement that National was looking at selling up to eight thousand state houses. She called the move despicable, given that there was a critical shortage of state  housing in New Zealand.

Ariana announced a petition calling for a halt to forced evictions from state houses, calling it a form of social cleansing. She described the privatisation of state housing as National’s determination to make a profit from the sales. Ariana warned that if National had their way, they would sell the entire housing stock, worth around $15 billion.

Ariana described National’s rationale for the sale, based on the properties being “run down” as just an excuse and nothing more. She said that National had a “track record of selling state houses”. She also pointed out that lack of maintenance of state housing had been caused by successive governments.

Ariana said that it was important that not only new state houses were built, but that the current stock should be brought up to standard.

Ariana congratulated the good work done by CPAG and UNICEF, as well as political parties like Labour, Greens, and Mana giving support. She said we have to work together on this problem by forming a strong coalition to oppose the neo-liberal agenda.

Ariana further stated that when market rents for state houses were introduced in the 1990s, it was predicted that it would be the single biggest cause of poverty increasing. She said that current policies by National were an extension of  the 1990s.

She condemned taking money from those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and transferred to those who were already wealthy.

Ariana called for an introduction of a capital gain tax instead of taking money from those who could least afford it. She said National agenda would eventually lead to charities taking over the role of providing for the poor, as in Victorian times.

Ariana said that the State Housing Action Network strongly endorsed the seven points put forward by Dr Nikki Turner (see above).

Ariana then led a chant,

“Everybody deserves a home!”

Following Ariana, was Martin, a state house tenant, with Kyrie in his arms (who seemed totally fascinated by the microphone in front of him);

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Martin described  a state house with nine people living in it’s three bedrooms. He said there was now seven people living in that house, including five adults. Of those people, Kyrie, the little boy in his arms, had athsma. He said such over-crowding was not conducive to good health.

He said he contacted Social Housing Minister, Paula Bennett, to complain of an open drain that was outside the property; the rotting windows inside; and the general state of disrepair. He said Paula Bennett passed him on to Building and Housing Minister, Nick Smith. Martin said Nick Smith advised him to take his case back to Paula Bennett.

Martin invited Paula Bennett to visit Kyrie’s delapidated state house to look at the problems herself. Martin said she refused. (Though this blogger can report that Bennett is not averse to visiting state or social housing when there is a photo-op involving a “good news” story.)

Martin said he had to phone his local MP, Annette King, to try resolve the problem. He said that remedial work was undertaken, but that it was “cheap and shoddy, and they’ve done repairs that are of no fit standard for people to live in“.

He said this was happening all over New Zealand and would be our future. He said Kyrie deserves better.

He encouraged people to stand together; stand strong, and to hold this government to account.

Following Martin, ‘The Ruths‘, entertained  the crowd with some beautiful singing. The songs were delightful, as well as political in flavour, in the best tradition of 1960s singer-activists such as Joan Baez. Ruth Mundy on guitar, with Ruth Prentice on violin;

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Following ‘The Two Ruths‘, Paul Barton, from the Christian Council of Social Services addressed the crowd;

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Paul spoke on behalf on the Living Wage movement, describing it as a response to the growing gap in our society between the rich and the poor. He spoke of the top 10% over the last thirty years having enriched themselves at the expense of the rest of us who have been told “we can’t afford higher wages“.

He said that the wealth gap is shown in the  housing crisis where “literally, this hits home”.

Paul said that the Kiwi dream of home ownership is fast evaporating with house prices rising and a growing number of the population resorting to renting. He pointed out that half the population now lives in rented housing. He said renters tended to be younger, poorer, and families.

It was pointed  out that the housing and wealth inequality problem was not due to “mysterious forces beyond our control”.  He said it has been a direct result of decisions our society has made how we share the bountiful wealth we have in this country. He said we needed to find ways to do things differently.

Otherwise, Paul said, we run the risk of a generation left behind in sub-standard housing.

Paul said the living wage was one response to this problem, where employers paid an income to live, not just “get by”. He said a Living Wage would not only allow people to pay their rent, but also save to buy their own home.

“And that way, paying a living wage overcomes part of the housing affordability problem.”

Paul congratulated the Wellington City Council for having the courage to pay it’s staff and security contractors the Living Wage. He said over 500 workers had had their wages increased from just above the minimum wage, to the Living Wage. He hoped that soon cleaning and recycling-collection contractors would also soon be covered by the Living Wage.

Paul related how workers and their families who had their wages lifted to a Living Wage were motivated to persist to make their lives better.

He added that the Living Wage has not happened “by chance” and that it was the result of a building movement for change. He pointed to the “wonderful support from you people here in Wellington” and said,

“We can achieve change but we need to work together.”

Paul said that people and organisations can work together to make a difference and reduce inequality, and that we did not need to wait for a change of  government or change the law.

He said that local authorities like the Wellington City Council played a major part in the Living Wage movement, and were an important part of our daily lives.  Paul said that Wellington City Council had a role in the kind of housing that we live in. He said that at the last 2013 local body election it was the Living Wage and building warrant of fitness that were the main political issues.

Paul encouraged Wellingtonians that next year’s local body elections also made housing, warrant of fitness, and social housing a major political issue. He encourage people to  get involved in “overcoming this awful housing problem“.

“Don’t say we can’t do something, because we know we’ve already proved we can make a difference.”

Deborah Morris-Travers from UNICEF and ‘Make our Future Fair‘ was the last speaker;

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The former Parliamentarian and currently National Advocacy Manager at UNICEF NZ, told the crowd that, as part of the United Nations, her organisation was mandated to stand up for children’s rights all around the world

Deborah stated that New Zealand Aotearoa was currently breaching the rights of its children by not providing an adequate standard of living, of which housing playing a major part.

She said that we all have a part to play in creating a nation that grants all New Zealanders safe and adequate housing, that lays the foundation for our communities and our society. She encouraged people to keep working together on these issues.

Deborah revealed that “the government is madly polling and running focus groups. They’re sensitive to the mood of the public.”

She said we have to keep building the public mood to ensure that our families are kept safe.

Deborah announced that UNICEF was launching the Fair Future Campaign and said that Radio NZ would be airing a story on children’s rights. She said that UNICEF would be working hard on this issue as National was about to start work on it’s next Budget.

“We have got to keep the message upfront in the news media, in social media, in our families, in our communities, that we will not tolerate our children being left behind.”

She said that every year $10 billion was spent on  “picking up the cost of child maltreatment and child poverty.” Deborah said this was unsustainable as well as being unjust.

Deborah asked, “What do we value in Aotearoa-New Zealand? What do we stand for? Surely it is be a fairer future.”

She said, “Housing is a fundamental human right. This about rights, not favours!”

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As the event concluded, a reporter from Radio NZ interviewed one of the  participants;

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As far as could be determined, Radio NZ was the only msm that sent a reporter to cover the event. Apparently TV1, TV3, print media, commercial radio, et al, were too busy still dealing with the global fall-out from Ritchie McCaw’s resignation from the All Blacks.

As the protest event came to it’s conclusion, this blogger turned to look up at the sky which had darkened with ominous grey clouds. Fluttering atop the Wellington Civic Building were the five flag-options for the present Flag Referendum;

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It was a sobering moment when one considered the symbolism of those five flags.

Notably the $26 million price tag that went with the Referendum.

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References

Fairfax media: Toddler’s death in damp state house a ‘broken promise’, says Labour

Fairfax media: Damp state house played part in toddler’s death

Interest.co.nz: Finance Minister English says govt… wants to reform state’s role as ‘biggest slum landlord’

Fairfax media: Social housing rollout opens doors for the disabled

UNICEF: UNICEF NZ calls on PM to make good on promise to children

Radio NZ: Hundreds march to demand action on housing

Radio NZ: Insight for 22 November 2015 – What More Can be Done for Children?

Additional

Radio NZ: Community interest sought for state housing

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

State Housing Action Network

Living Wage Movement

NZ Herald: New bill to give Government control over state houses

NZ Herald: Editorial – Housing hikoi sign of rising social unrest

Other blogs

The Standard: Hikoi for Homes

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)

The cupboard is bare, says Dear Leader

Government Minister sees history repeat – responsible for death

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

Letter to the Editor – How many more children must die, Mr Key?!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

National’s blatant lies on Housing NZ dividends – The truth uncovered!

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Salvation army - bill english - sale o=f state housing

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 November 2015.

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Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – David Cunliffe

26 February 2014 Leave a comment

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

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– Wednesday 25 February 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

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On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed Labour’s leader, David Cunliffe, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…

 

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Election year interviews (27′ 50″ )

A major policy statement by David Cunliffe;

@ 22.00:  “We will create incentives for private employers to be certified living wage employers, who pay the living wage  to all their employees, by giving them a preference in  Crown contracts.”

This will not only support firms that pay their staff properly – but will de facto give preference to local businesses to supply goods and services!

If this doesn’t motivate Small-Medium Enterprises to switch their allegiances from the Nats to Labour, I don’t know what will!

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Getting to the Heart of Politics – Metiria Turei 2012 Green Party AGM Speech

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Getting to the Heart of Politics

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[Metiria Turei]

Metiria Turei, MP & Green Party Co-Leader

Sunday, 03 Jun 2012 | Speech


The future of the Green Party is to be at the heart of New Zealand politics – its pivot and its conscience.

Our challenge lies in how we transform our country where the values of compassion and justice are at the heart of all the decisions we make, as a country, as a community, as a family.

The Greens are a modern, progressive political movement. What do I mean by progressive? The past has lessons but it does not provide a road map.

Progressive means we are in the business of creating the future, of genuine transformation.

Our challenge lies in how we ready ourselves for that future.

Our challenge lies in how we transform our country where the values of compassion and justice are at the heart of all the decisions we make, as a country, as a community, as a family.

Today I want to start with the family, who are at the centre of all things. And especially children, who must be at the heart of everything we do.

But first let’s talk about their mums.

Heart of Politics: Women and Children

In 1896, the Suffragists passed this resolution at their National Conference:

“That in all cases where a woman elects to superintend her own household and to be the mother of children, there shall be a law attaching a just share of her husband’s earnings or income for her separate use, payable if she so desire it, into her separate account.”

The Suffragists were clear – women have the right to economic independence whether she chooses to stay home to care for her children or chooses to work, whether she has a partner or not.

She has autonomy. She exercises her self-determination.

New Zealand women are rightly proud to have won the right to vote, a first in the world.

That’s good, we like it when women vote. And we especially like it when women stand for parliament.

In fact the Greens like it more than any political party. While other parties lose women MPs, the Greens build women’s political power.

But discrimination doesn’t end when women win the ability to vote, to choose our own careers, the right to decide when to start a family, or the right to earn the same pay as men.

Many women in Aotearoa are still living in the shadow of discrimination, exclusion, racism. If we shine a light in their direction we find:

  • New Zealand women are still paid 13% less than men doing a similar job
  • 1 in 3 New Zealand women will have a violent partner in her lifetime
  • 1 in 5 women will experience sexual violence
  • 232,000 New Zealand women live in poverty
  • 70 percent of women’s work is unpaid

And for Māori, Pacific and disabled women the numbers are much worse.

For all the very real gains women have made in the last century, there are glaring gaps – gaps that fuel inequality, injustice and poverty.

Do we think the women who took to the streets for equal pay would have thought we’d settle for a 13% pay gap?

Would the women who campaigned to provide contraception in New Zealand, receiving death threats for doing so, be satisfied that the Government now wants to “help” but only to stop women on the benefit from having babies?

Political and economic attacks against women and their children may look different these days, but they’re no less dangerous.

And for all the modern feminist advances we have made, the solo mum remains the primary target for society’s most vitriolic personal attacks – led these days by Paula Bennett who knows only too well how much it hurts, but plunges the knife in anyway.

This is a minister who:

  • exposed two solo mums and their children to public vitriol by releasing their private financial details in retaliation for their daring to criticise the slashing of the training incentive allowance
  • attacks women, battered and bruised, as failures and pariahs
  • is linking contraception to income support in an effort to control the reproductive decisions of economically vulnerable women
  • is forcing mothers into work and their babies into day-care as punishment for getting pregnant while on the benefit
  • berates a woman, however culpable she, knows the woman is herself beaten and bruised, ignoring the fact that a safe mum means a safe child.

The principle behind these attacks on women has been summed up by Colin Craig, reportedly saying:

“Why should say a 70 year old who’s had one partner all their life be paying for a young woman to sleep around? We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”

Yes he is an extremist, but his comments are the logical summation of the rhetoric of the National Government.

The National Government tells New Zealanders every day that women, especially mums on their own, are weak, incompetent and incapable.

New Zealand women are not some statistic in a Durex survey.

We are not weak; we are not incapable of making our own choices.

When we are afforded the respect, resources and rights that we deserve, we are the thriving forces behind our families and communities.

Working equitably alongside men in our caucus and our party, the Greens are here for women, young and old, for mothers and for nannies.

Holly is touring Aotearoa showing the Inside Child Poverty documentary in a town near you so we confront and deal with the realities of poverty on women and their children.

Jan and Denise are working with women from unions and community networks to expose the impact of National’s low wage obsession on women and children.

Mojo is blazing a trail through the veil of discrimination for all women with disabilities and for the mothers of children with disabilities.

Eugenie is working with women who are standing up for our rivers so our kids can swim in clean water, women who want our rivers wild and free, where tuna can grow old and wise like our kuia.

Julie Anne has taken the government to task over failed transport plans and is championing smart green transport to make it safe for our kids to walk and cycle to school.

And Catherine is challenging the vicious cuts in education, exposing the ‘class warfare’ waged by Hekia Parata and presenting families with education solutions that respect their children’s learning.

Women are fierce. Our transformation is in our hands.

Child Poverty and solutions

Nelson Mandela once said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Twenty five years ago, New Zealand children lived in one of the most equal countries in the OECD.

Since then, the gap between those who have the most and those who have the least has grown faster here than anywhere else.

Our children now live in one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

We are staring, not into a gap but a chasm – one driven deeper and wider by a Government hell bent on making those who can least afford it pay.

Ours is a country where, for many kids, a pair of new school shoes is a pipe dream.

  • Where, just last month, a Northland doctor wrote of children in his neighbourhood seen scrabbling through a pig slop bucket for something to eat
  • Where Maori kids are 23 times as likely as non Maori to suffer acute rheumatic fever – a third world disease
  • Where poor kids are one-and-a-half times as likely to die in childhood than other children
  • Where four out of five families have struggled at some time to have enough food.

For hundreds of thousands of our littlest people, Aotearoa is empty of the hope that the rest of us base our dreams on.

But this is not a place where people are poor because they make bad choices, as Key has said.

We refuse to blame our children for being vulnerable and hungry.

We will shine the light into corners where they’ve been swept and confront the choices we can make to change their lives.

Let’s close the chasm between those who have, and those who have nothing, and fight to make this country equal again.

Let’s get fierce for our children.

I believe in a New Zealand that looks after all its children, regardless of the family they’re born into.

I believe in a New Zealand that sees its vulnerable children as the potential Hone Kouka’s, Pauline Harris’ and Jeanette Fitzsimons’ that they are.

I believe in a New Zealand which refuses to tolerate the waste of that potential.

So I’m issuing us all with a challenge.

Children should be at the heart of everything we do. When we are truly child focussed, and make all decisions with the child’s well-being as the starting point, how can we ever go wrong?

First we must put aside our political differences.

We must work to devise a cross party consensus to raise our children out of poverty – in a similar way we all reached an accord over superannuation.

The super accord has worked for older people. They have had some of the best outcomes in the OECD, while our children have nearly the worst.

All the NGOs and organisations who work for and advocate for children are clear. Children are to be the priority, the heart of politics.

So we must put our money where our heart is.

The Service and Food Workers Union have launched a campaign for a Living Wage. This is a wage set at what a family needs to provide for their kids, to live with dignity and to participate in their community on an equal footing.

What does that mean in practice for our kids?

  • Going to school every day with a full lunch box, good shoes and a raincoat when it’s wet
  • Having the right sports gear to play soccer, netball, hockey or rugby. Having the money to get to music lessons, art class, for supporting their natural talents.
  • Having a warm, dry home so sickness is not a barrier to education and just having some good old fashioned fun.

A living wage is the way that we all contribute to and share in the benefits of families who are well, healthy and respected.

We have promised to give the kids of beneficiaries the same low income top up – the in-work tax credit – that children whose parents have jobs get. That will make a real difference to alleviating poverty.

If the child is at the heart of everything we do, how can we not extend paid parental leave to six months, so all babies can have the best chance of a great life by breastfeeding – if that’s possible – and bonding with their mum.

Keeping 200,000 kids in poverty costs us $2 to $4 billion a year in crime, ill health and lack of opportunity.

We must invest cleverly, and strategically, in the early years of a child’s life.

Having a high quality public education system is one of the best investments we can make in our children.

The recent budget saw an unprecedented attack on our public schools. The Government is pumping millions into private schools and their charter school trial while increasing class sizes for the rest of our kids.

The Green Party will defend public schools.

Mums and Dads need to know that when the Greens are in Government in 2014 we will unwind National’s education changes.

We will restore public schools to their rightful position as places of opportunity and human transformation, not the second tier institutions National want’s to make them.

We will strengthen our school system, not cut it.

We will unwind the cuts and protect smaller classes

We will not force teachers to compete with each other.

We will make sure our school system moved from being the least equal in the OECD to the most equal again.

We will improve access to education at all levels and reinstate the training incentive allowance at tertiary level study to provide a real ladder out of welfare like the one that helped me, and Paula Bennett, when we were young mums.

We see public education as the backbone of a fair and equal society and we will defend it to the hilt.

We will build more warm, dry homes and insulate the cold damp ones. Our home insulation scheme, negotiated with both Labour and more recently National, has been extraordinarily successful. For the cost of 370 million dollars, the benefit to New Zealand has been 1.5 billion dollars and counting. For every dollar spent, 4 dollars is returned.

Not only that but 18 deaths have been prevented. This is the Green economy in action.

We have saved money, saved power and saved lives.

And we would fund effective and affordable primary health care to rid our families of the third world diseases that plague our children.

How can we afford all of this? The truth is we can’t afford not to.

As John Key is fond of saying, it all comes down to choice.

He chose to:

  • give tax cuts to the wealthy, which costs us $729 million a year
  • lose $200 million because Treasury failed to monitor the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee scheme
  • subsidise the agriculture sector through the emissions trading scheme at $1.1 billion
  • spend $12 billion on unnecessary roads
  • gift $34 million to massive, wealthy American film companies.

Yet the Government says that taking real steps to eradicating child poverty are not on its priority list.

Well, I say it should take heed of the wise words of Dr Seuss: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

John Key needs to remember who he is actually working for.

A government makes choices about what it values. It demonstrates what it values, above all else, in how it spends public money.

The 2012 Budget made stark choices. Public money went to pay for the hole created by tax cuts for the wealthy, 100 million to promote the sale of your energy companies, 400 million for irrigation subsidies.

Millions have been given to private schools, so private school classes can be kept small while other kids in ordinary schools are squeezed in and ultimately squeezed out.

And it is all paid for by money from ill people needing medicines, families needing early childhood education or seeking higher education. It’s paid for by families, by women and ultimately by our children.

But New Zealanders make choices too. We all choose the values on which political decisions are made.

We can choose to shift the values of politics from the corporate and the individual to the community and to the family. To the heart.

We know the costs of failure, the costs of the wrong choice.

To make this shift we need a political and community transformation.

To be a society that looks after all our people and values the diversity and beauty in all our communities. It’s a choice we make together.

The Green Party will be the pivot, the heart of New Zealand politics, a modern, progressive political movement that voices our national conscience.

And by progressive I mean we are in the business of creating the future.

Our challenge lies in how we ready ourselves, ready ourselves for the challenge of government, for the challenge of implementation.

This is new territory for the country and for us. We will have to carve out new political relationships with our communities and other political players.

What will guide us, as it always has, is our commitment to our planet, to our charter, to our people and to our country’s children.

Because that’s our reality check.

We’ll know we’ve succeeded when Aotearoa can look into its heart and see a warm, happy child smiling back.

One with a full belly and a nice, shiny, new pair of shoes.

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Acknowledgement

Reprinted by kind permission from the Green Party website

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