This week your Labour team and I have put all our efforts into tackling the Government’s shocking record on inequality and poverty.
New Zealand now has the widest gap ever between rich and poor. And it’s not just the poorest who are doing it tough – middle income households are being squeezed as well. One in five of our children are suffering hardship and 40% of children living in poverty come from homes where the parents are actually working. These families are working hard and yet still struggling to make ends meet. It is a National disgrace, and John Key’s doing nothing about it.
John Key’s reaction has been dismissive and disgraceful. He calmly says ‘things are just bouncing around’ for struggling families and rejects out of hand the suggestion of universal child support as ‘dopey’. Given he refuses to accept there’s even a problem, it’s perhaps not surprising he’s consistently refused Labour’s offer to work together to address poverty in NZ.
Labour will invest in our children because they deserve the best start in life. We’re working on a plan to deal with child poverty and to help hard-working Kiwis earn a decent income so they can support their families. As part of that plan Labour wants to lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour and we have a member’s bill in MP David Clark’s name before Parliament at the moment to achieve that.
We’ve had a number of MP’s individual bills come up for debate, including Louisa Wall’s marriage equality legislation, which passed its first reading by 80 votes to 40. It gives all Kiwi couples the right to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The debate around this issue has been robust but respectful and we welcome the fact that all New Zealanders will now get a chance to have their say at select committee.
Your MPs will be out working in our regions and local communities next week, with Parliament taking a break from sitting. It’s a chance for us to make another big push to get the signatures we need for the asset sales petition. We’ve collected 240,000 signatures so far, and with your support we will force a referendum and make John Key listen to the people.
Leader of the Labour Party
PS – At 2pm next Sunday, September the 9th, I’ll be giving an important speech on education at St Leonard’s Road School, Kelston, West Auckland. It would be great if you could come along. There are more details here.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Our thoughts are with the workers at Solid Energy as hundreds of them face losing their jobs. We call on the company to give workers at Spring Creek on the West Coast certainty about their future as soon as possible. Solid Energy’s woes are further proof – as if it was needed – that National’s plan for New Zealand to sell and mine its way to prosperity is a failure.
Unfortunately, Clayton Cosgrove’s bill to make it harder for our strategic state assets to be sold fell short by a single vote with National, Act and United Future opposed. The bill would have required the approval of 75% of MPs to vote for any future asset sales.
I headed down to KiwiRail’s Hillside workshop in Dunedin this week to talk to the workers about the uncertainty surrounding the business – and their jobs. The workshop is up for sale and a leaked report obtained by Labour shows that if it’s not sold, it will be shut down. We’ll see hundreds of skilled jobs lost as a result and there’s no doubt many of those workers will head to Australia looking for opportunities. We’ve lost 25,000 manufacturing jobs under National’s watch. We can’t afford to keep losing our talented and skilled workers.