Labour’s speeches and press releases are going to be under intense scrutiny in the months ahead, as the pundits and the public look for signs of the party’s direction. David Clark’s opinion piece in The Herald makes for welcome reading in this respect:
David Clark: The PM’s cleaner deserves more pay
It is a truth few politicians want to acknowledge. From the moment they are elected, they are on borrowed time. In the past 19 years New Zealand has had four Prime Ministers.
Each has temporarily had the keys to the ninth floor of the Beehive on loan from the public of New Zealand. Politicians come and go, but over that same 19 years one woman has had uninterrupted access to the Prime Minister’s office. She is not a household name, but most nights Jaine Ikurere turns up to work at Parliament to clean up after the politicians. It’s not a job many people would want, and particularly not for $14.60 an hour. …
And they are not alone. Currently more than 200,000 people are paid the minimum wage. Many of them will receive top-ups from the state, in the form of Working For Families or the Accommodation Supplement. They need that taxpayer support because they can’t live on their weekly pay packet.
Lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as proposed in my Bill awaiting debate in Parliament, will not change that overnight, but it is a step in the right direction.
… no direct link between lifting the minimum wage and job losses has ever been proved. What has been proved is the destructive effect of poverty and inequality. The incidence of poverty-related illness in New Zealand is a national disgrace, and costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Giving low-income workers a boost in wages will help thousands of families pay their power bills and help them afford doctors’ visits and prescriptions.
This is an issue of fairness and basic human dignity. …
Simple, direct, well researched, and thoroughly grounded in Labour values. Clark is clearly aware of research on inequality (see The Spirit Level etc.) and takes everything back to first principles. He hammered the same messages during his election campaign in Dunedin North, these are issues that he was passionate about well before he took on the minimum wage Bill. More speeches like this one please Labour!
Disclosure: While not active recently I have in the past been a member / Chair of the Dunedin North LEC, and I served on Clark’s campaign committee.