The Greens are set to announce a major welfare policy from their AGM at 1pm today.
The Green Party is set to announce one of its most ambitious policies, which it hopes will put New Zealand on the path ending poverty.
It is understood the policy, to be revealed at its AGM tomorrow, will go much further than simply increasing support for lower-income families. It will also aim to change a culture of “beneficiary-bashing” in New Zealand by reversing some of the most punitive changes introduced over successive governments.
“Dad was a labourer, he left school at 15. He went to Hato Paora but spent a lot of time working on the farm there, rather than studying.
“My Mum was living independent at 14 as well.” Turei said.
“We were broke, so my parents had periods where they were living in a car, where they were living in caravans, where they were living in people’s houses. So we spent a lot of time kind of moving around a bit too – both for work and housing.”
The experiences of Turei’s family pushed her into politics and Sunday’s policy announcement is promised to be “bold” and perhaps even controversial.
“It will be families focused, and it will be about treating people with dignity,” Turei said.
Punishing people “for being poor” was something she said still happened today, and would be in her sights.
Some form of universal child payment could also form part of the Green policy.
Turei said her own policy, will set some clear stakes in the ground, while laying out a timeline for further reform down the track.
“It seems to me, totally irresponsible to not do what we can to make people’s lives better.”
I think we can safely discard the notion that the Green Party culture is solely urban and middle class, on its way to centrist neoliberalism. The Greens are pragmatic, but their values are still intact.
The party is promising to:
– increase all core benefits cent (Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support, Supported Living Payments, Student Allowances) by 20 per cent.
– reduce the bottom tax rate from 10.5 to 9 per cent for people earning less than $14,000 per year.
– raise the top tax rate to 40 per cent for people earning more than $150,000 per year.
– raise the minimum wage from $15.75 to $17.75 in the first year, and eventually to 66 per cent of the average wage.
– scrap the In Work Tax Credit and create a children’s credit for low income families worth $72 per week
– lift the amount people can earn to $200 before their benefit is reduced.
The Greens would put an end to all benefit sanctions, in particular the penalising of women who do not reveal the name of the child’s father – a measure which Turei described as sexist and punitive.
Other sanctions to go will be “excessive” appointment attendance requirements, forced budgeting appointments, work testing for solo parents when their children turn 1, repeated proof of disability or sickness.
The Green Party’s policy release Mending the Safety Net – No one in New Zealand should live in poverty.