I was thinking the other day about John Key’s underclass speech. It was always pure gimmickry, as was the whole exploitation of Aroha. As his first major speech as National Party leader it was designed to frame Key, the multi-millionaire currency speculator, as a good, ordinary bloke. I wondered how long they had bothered keeping up the charade that Key and his party give a damn about the poor.
I’ve searched google news, the Herald, Parliament, Stuff, and johnkey.co.nz archives for the last reference to “underclass” by Key.
It was in the first Speech from the Throne of his government, back in December 2008. It is just a passing reference (“it is in the interests of no New Zealanders, and to the detriment of us all, to allow an underclass to develop in New Zealand”) not a plan to do anything for these people. And, although the Speech from the Throne is the PM’s speech on their plans for the year ahead, it isn’t delivered by them. The Governor-General delivers it. The last time the words came from Key’s mouth was probably long before that.
Anyway, at the end of the day, words are cheap. Acts are what matters. Key’s Government has done nothing. It has awarded the most pitiful minimum wage rises in years, it has sat on its arse as unemployment has doubled, it has cancelled training courses to help people (like Aroha’s mum) off benefits, increased their ACC levies, and now it’s threatening to put up their GST so rich people can have tax cuts.
So, as we wait for another Speech from the Throne by Key, I reckon we probably will see a passing reference to the ‘underclass’ for appearance’s sake but I’m just as sure that his government will continue to fail the most vulnerable members of our society.