Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pleaded poverty in the fight against poverty while, at the same time, declaring that her government remains committed to economic austerity.

IN HER first major public address of 2018 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern repeated - for the umpteenth time - her commitment to tackling poverty. Ardern has decided that child poverty rather than poverty in general is her main priority and said:

“Tackling and measuring child poverty is complicated and demanding, but our children are relying I am committed to achieving a significant reduction in child poverty and I want to create a framework that is durable enough to require future governments to do the same.'

She also said that her government "would introduce a tool and framework to include the wellbeing of New Zealanders a measure of our economic success."

"We want New Zealand to be the first place in the world where our budget is not presented simply under the umbrella of pure economic measures, and often inadequate ones at that, but one that demonstrates the overall wellbeing of our country and its people." she declared.

This grandstanding from Ardern has earned her extra magic pixie dust from her coterie of uncritical supporters but the rest of us are not so easily convinced that Labour has put three decades of slavish devotion to neoliberalism behind it.

So it comes as no surprise that Ardern's public  'feel good' commitment to the well being of the people is limited by the dictates of her government's conservative economic policies. As with many of Labour's lofty social goals its worth checking out the fine details tacked on at the end.

On TV3's Newshub Nation show Ardern told Lisa Owen that her government had a limited budget to tackle child poverty and that there was no further money outside of its Families Package.

"We don't, and I will be very upfront and honest about that' said Ardern. She went on to say she wouldn't breach the 'debt limit' in order to meet the child poverty reduction targets.

Gee, thanks Jacinda for being so upfront - but this really isn't good enough. Not by a long shot.

For Jacinda Ardern to declare that the Treasury coffers are empty while, almost in the same breath, restating her loyalty to fiscal austerity is rank hypocrisy. And to plead poverty having already walked away from increasing taxes on the wealthy adds  further insult to considerable injury.

For Ardern to severely limit any fight against poverty in a country where the one percent devoured 28 per cent of all wealth created last year while the poorest 30 per cent of the population got just one per cent, demonstrates that her government remains besotted with the dogma of neoliberalism.


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