- Don Franks
NZ Council of Trade Unions economist Peter Conway’s reponse to the Budget included a request for the minimum wage to be $15 an hour. However, the bulk of his statement was fulsome praise for Labour’s “timely” “positive initiatives”. Peter summed up the government’s record: ” In other words it has been a comprehensive and balanced approach to economic management.”
By contrast, spokeswoman for the Child Poverty Action Group, Susan St John flayed Labour¹s brutal treatment of the poor. After the budget Susan St John noted:
“Forgotten and invisible are the 200,000 children and their parents who eke out a subsistence living on benefits, propped up by a variety of income and asset tested, stigmatising special hardship payments, loans from Work and Income as well as from high-cost loan sharks. Do the needs of these families not count as much as the needs of those over 65? The relativity with net wages for those on sickness, sole parent and other benefits has been falling for some time. This Budget amplifies that fall, pushing these families further to the margins of society outside the normal standards of the community.
“It is greatly disappointing that the Government has not grasped what welfare groups, churches, doctors and nurse have been saying, in an increasingly agitated way about child poverty. Our child health statistics are appalling for a developed country and can clearly be sheeted home to the effects of poverty. How much louder do the voice have to be? Clearly, no one has been listening in this budget.”
Susan St John is also an Auckland University senior economics lecturer. CTU economist Peter Conway might benefit from attending her classes.