'The combined effect is distressing. The Government is refusing to measure some data and the data that it does collect has been compromised. And meantime more and more kids are showing signs of living in third world conditions in Aotearoa while Bennett and co refuse to accept there is a problem. Paula Bennett and the entire National Government should be hanging their heads in shame.' 'Mickey Savage' writing for the Labour-supporting The Standard in December, 2013. 'Mickey Savage' is Labour Party member Greg Presland.

There are half a million New Zealanders going hungry everyday. So why aren't we seeing any criticism or concern expressed by Labour and Green supporters? Are beneficiaries and the poor just useful election campaign fodder that can be forgotten about once the election is won?

IN A COUNTRY where the rich grew richer by a record $90 billion over the past year while the poorest 50 per cent of New Zealand's population saw their total wealth actually decrease by $1.3 billion, its not surprising that an estimated half a million New Zealanders are going hungry everyday. In a country where Master Chef Australia screens on prime time television five nights a week, half a million New Zealanders are living in what is defined as 'food poverty'. That's the grim figure that has emerged from new research by the Auckland City Mission.

The Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, has again ruled out an immediate increase in benefit levels. This is in despite of a recommendation from her own welfare working group that benefits need to increase by as much as 70 percent in order to alleviate widespread economic distress.

Supporting the Labour-led Government's decision not to increase benefits has been Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, the same Marama Davidson who campaigned against the National Government's failure to act on the growing level of poverty.

Under a different government and under a different minister, like Paula Bennett for instance, this kind of negative response would have been met by a cacophony of criticism. But this Labour-led Government can seemingly get away with it. While groups like Auckland Action Against Poverty and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) continue to highlight the issue and demand action - because for them poverty is not a politically partisan issue - there has been barely any criticism from either Labour or Green supporters. While former Prime Minister John Key deservedly couldn't escape the critical flak for his failure to act on the rising tide of poverty, the only concern of Labour Party supporters is seemingly to get Jacinda elected back into office.

Liberals will admonish talkback hosts who like to regularly bash beneficiaries and the poor in order to keep their right wing audiences happy. That's fair enough, but is it any less unacceptable that beneficiaries and the poor should be used as election campaign fodder? Because that's what it looks like as this Labour-led Government moves out of what was supposed to be its 'year of delivery' and into another election year. It was, after all, Arden who emphasised during her 2017 campaign that 'tackling poverty' was one of her top priorities.

Back in 2014 David Farrar of Kiwi Blog commented:

'I know there are groups like CPAG that have advocated for particular policies to reduce child poverty, under both National and Labour Governments. But the public stuff such as marches, and rallies, I don’t think ever occurs when Labour is in. That implies for many (not all) of those involved this is a means to an end (get Labour into Government) rather than genuine concern for the issue. Some may say there is no child poverty when Labour is in Government, and it gets worse when National is in.'

The lack of protest that has been evident as far as this Labour-led Government is concerned has done nothing to disprove Farrar's argument.


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