John Key has obviously been stung by the surge of negative publicity generated by the TV3 piece on the residents of McGehan Close. Nothing like a quick reality check to expose the lie that National has any concern for “the underclass”. And because John Key is so closely and personally tied to this particular piece of exploitative hypocrisy it risks tarnishing the sacred Key brand. Can’t have that.
So Key popped up yesterday with an attempt to defend his record:
PM defends aid for ‘underclass’ in face of attack
John Key says the Government has done as much as possible for the poor after the mother of a family he championed said he was a political “arsehole”.
In Opposition in 2007, the Prime Minister singled out McGehan Close, Mt Albert, as typical of the “growing underclass” that would be a priority for National. He visited the Nathan family and invited Joan Nathan’s 12-year-old daughter, Aroha, to Waitangi. But now Mrs Nathan says although she still likes Mr Key personally, as a politician he is an “arsehole” and has done little to help the poor. “He’s just making everything better for high earners and not the low-income ones,” she told Campbell Live. …
Mr Key said the Government had a broad approach to help those on low incomes, including lifting the minimum wage from $12 an hour to $13 an hour, across-the-board tax cuts and the 90-day trial period for new workers that has reportedly created more jobs. …
“We’ve done as good a job as we can in the conditions we’ve got to try and help low-income New Zealanders.”
Let’s check out the “broad approach to help those on low incomes” shall we?
(1) “lifting the minimum wage from $12 an hour to $13 an hour”: The minimum wage has gone nowhere. Increases have been wiped out by inflation, and the last increase (1.9%) is well behind current inflation (4%).
(2) “across-the-board tax cuts”: Across the board tax cuts that enriched the already rich, but did nothing for the underclass. As Marty G pointed out, the first 1.2 million taxpayers got less than a dollar a week, while a full-time minimum wage worker got $4.12 a week. Meanwhile rents, power, and the cost of childcare all went up too.
(3) “the 90-day trial period for new workers that has reportedly created more jobs”: Indeed there is such a report, but it is complete nonsense. There’s no proof that fire at will has increased jobs in the economy, what we do know for sure is that lots of people are being sacked because of it.
So that’s it then. That is John Key’s definition of “as much as possible”. No change in the real minimum wage, a derisory tax cut more than lost to cost of living increases, and an increased risk of losing your job. Pathetic. Compare and contrast with the previous government, which raised the minimum wage significantly, introduced Working for Families, reduced the number of families and children in poverty, and began to narrow the gap between rich and poor in this country. Draw your own conclusions.
Key will be hoping that the renewed surge of public interest in the underclass will be brief, and that he can soon get back to his core business of enriching the rich without too much scrutiny. Don’t let him. Labour, Greens, the left, media, stay on the case. People in this country are hurting. Make this the defining issue of the 2011 election…