Ad’s post on New Zealand as the very, very luck country has some good stuff in it. It’s worth reading for a nuanced take on what Labour are doing. This gem stands out,
The Cabinet paper said the pandemic was expected to cost education providers about $600 million in lost fees just for 2020, but that we stood ready to leverage its handling of the crisis to attract students. “The halt on international travel provides an opportunity to redefine how some of the sector value is generated. For example, the government can encourage the sector to rebuild in a way that is less reliant on student mobility which causes environmental strain, and place more focus on maximising the uptake of online delivery for students offshore.”
It is an economy with much clearer leadership from the state. This is affecting the companies that are already doing well out of 2021.
It’s a lovely upbeat piece given the state of the world. However it’s only a third of the story. The other two thirds are the elephants in the living room of poverty and the housing crisis, and the fact that despite Ardern’s kindness framing, going into the fourth year of her leadership we’re still talking about economics primarily in conventional neoliberal terms rather than starting to shift to models that acknowledge economics as a subset of nature and human relationships.
There are of course good changes happening, hence a cabinet paper talking about rebuilding the economy away from heavy GHG industries. These are meaningful changes, and if we had more time with the climate/ecological crises I could see a steady building over three terms to make a lot of cultural and policy change within government. I see this with the Greens too, and both now being free of the square wheel that was NZ First, we can be grateful for this reprieve.
But. It’s not nearly sufficient. With the recent publishing of the Climate Change Commission’s proposed plan for NZ to transition to a post-carbon economy, NZ is now faced with the urgent need for more rapid change. Public submissions are open, and Labour have until the end of the year to either accept the CCC’s plan or present one of its own. How much Labour water down the CCC’s proposal is going to tell us a lot about what we can expect from Labour beyond the ‘my generation’s nuclear free moment’ rhetoric and the steady as she goes policy implementation that just isn’t suited to the current world we live in.
With regards to the other third, we already know Labour’s direction on poverty and the housing crisis. They have no real plan for housing, and again while doing some good things, there is none of the transformational work being done on welfare. This sobering report , Food Hardship and Early Childhood Nutrition, on the impact on babies in New Zealand of food poverty, shows 50% of kids now experience food poverty at some point in their early life. This should be waking up left wing voters, or at least twinging their consciences,
The first New Zealand study to look at the effects of food hardship on pre-schoolers’ nutrition has found that nearly half of families struggle to access healthy food in their child’s first year of life and this can have a negative downstream impact on children’s diets.
“We discovered that food hardship was most prevalent when children were infants and this influenced the quality of nutrition children received, even once we accounted for differences in family circumstances, such as income and education,” Dr Gerritsen says.
“The first year of life is so important for a child’s immediate and ongoing health and development. It’s critical that we take steps to ensure that all families can provide their children with healthy food during this time when their brains and bodies are growing so rapidly. It’s also an important time to develop the healthy eating behaviours and food preferences that last into adulthood.”
The three types of food hardship focused on whether families had:
- Been forced buy cheaper food to pay for other things they needed.
- Gone without fresh fruit and vegetables because of cost.
- Used special food grants or food banks in the past 12-months.
The study team then looked at the link between these three food hardships and children’s nutrition, in particular the duration of breastfeeding, fruit and vegetable intake, and the consumption of unhealthy food and drinks.
Dr Gerritsen says they found that when children were nine-months of age:
- Half of mothers had been forced to buy cheaper food in order to pay for other things.
- One in eight had used food grants or food banks.
- One in eight had gone without fresh fruit or vegetables to pay for other things they needed.
Māori and Pasifika families were much more likely to have experienced all types of food hardship, and for food hardship to persist across the pre-school period.
Children living in families that experienced food hardship were more likely to have:
- Stopped breastfeeding before their first birthday.
- Tried unhealthy food and drinks early in infancy.
- Had fewer servings per day of fruit or vegetables at nine-months.
- A less varied intake of fruit and vegetables at four-years of age.
- Consumed three or more soft drinks a week at four-years of age.
However, she says the primary determinant of food hardship in families with young children is low income.
“Having young children is a financially stressful time for families, with increased costs and generally lower income. It’s clear that this has flow-on effects for household food purchases and the quality of food children are fed.
Fifty fucking percent. For those that still want to think in neolib economic terms, consider the future costs in Welfare and Health that are going to come from that. For the rest of us, I think we need to be careful not to just file this away as another appalling statistic amongst the deluge.
Not even going to link to anything about housing because the MSM and social media has been full of increasing alarm at the lack of leadership from Labour on this, and how the situation is just getting worse.
I don’t want to hear from Labourites that Labour just needs more time. If you think I am wrong about Labour not having an adequate or even any plan on housing and poverty, prove me wrong. Show me the plans. Not the rhetoric, or the parsing of vague hints, but the actual plans.
I also don’t particularly want to hear from lefties more complaints about Labour not doing enough. What I want to hear is what we are going to do about it. Because it’s plain that Labour aren’t going to sort this mess out. One very easy thing to do is gear up to shift a chunk of left wing vote to the Greens in 2023. This isn’t a partisan position, it’s from reading their policy and following their commitment to ending poverty over the past decade.
I know we aren’t supposed to criticise people’s voting preferences, so instead of me going off on that again, maybe people with better political planning skills than me can put out some ideas on how to shift the vote. Because 20 Green MPs in government in 2023 would be game changer on all thirds of the story. Yes, the Greens aren’t perfect. But I want them in power, shifting the Overton Window, and we will be free to hold them to account as well as Labour.