The world is starting to see the truth about our star-studded princess. Nowhere in the world is New Zealand viewed as a third world country, but the Daily Mail UK has picked up on the truth – that poverty in New Zealand has reached new and unacceptable heights, and that our dear leader is not doing anything about it – contrary to her promises during her election campaign.
The surging cost of living has exposed inequalities in New Zealand at a time when the local economy is doing well. Growth rates are well above Australia’s and the OECD average.
The Kiwi economy is close to full employment, with unemployment rates at an 11-year low of 3.9 per cent.
And yet we have 22,000 more people on the dole than 2 years ago.
Figures from the Ministry of Social Development reveal the dark side of New Zealand’s have-and-have-not society.
This winter, 29,000 emergency housing grants were made – doubling last year’s tally – at a cost of NZ$41 million ($A38 million).
Hardship grants for food have also soared. More than half a million food grants were made in the three months to September, costing NZ$167 million ($A155 million), a figure that’s tripled over five years.
The poverty crisis had a crash-through moment this winter when the desperation of those seeking hardship grants was revealed.
Advocacy group Auckland Action Against Poverty set up an open clinic in south Auckland – one of the country’s most impoverished areas – where people could apply for advocates to accompany them to visit social services when they apply for the discretionary hardship grant.
The public response floored both the volunteers and New Zealand.
Struggling families – sometimes with children in tow – would line up outside the office as early as 2am in the winter mornings, just to ensure they’d see a volunteer when the office opened at 9am, who could help them secure a hardship grant.
Grants are given when families don’t have enough money to eat or meet the basics.
Housing costs are to blame for a large part of it. Housing in New Zealand has become ridiculous. In a country larger than the UK, with less than 5 million people, we have a chronic housing shortage? How is this possible? And let’s not even ask about the government’s failed flagship policy, Kiwibuild. We should have 11,000 extra houses built by now.
The Public Service Association has identified three priorities for that surplus: public housing, hospitals and the implementation.
‘Too many New Zealanders are fighting to keep their heads above the water, and more of the status quo is not enough,’ Glenn Barclay, PSA national secretary said.
The government is yet to commit to raising benefit rates, despite commissioning a report that says it should.
An expert advisory group appointed by the government reported in May that it should raise benefits by up to 47 per cent.DAILY MAIL UK
Raising benefits is not the answer. All that will do is bankrupt the country. Getting all those extra people off the couch would be a good idea. Remember Shane Jones’s nephs? How much do you want to bet that they are still on the dole?
This article tells us nothing that we don’t already know. The only good thing about it is that the world is starting to see Jacinda for what she really is… someone who plays dress-ups, has pet projects, loves her overseas trips, but does all this while New Zealanders starve.
Maybe we are more like Venezuela than we ever realised.