THERE'S NOTHING IN Budget 2022 for either the working poor or beneficiaries and what economic relief that has been provided is motivated by Labour's electoral concerns.
Dropping some cash - $814 million of it - on the 'squeezed middle class' out of a leftover coronavirus fund can only be viewed as an attempt by Labour to shore up its shaky electoral support among those who might have been expected to automatically vote for it. It works out at about $27 a week which, Auckland Action Against Poverty tell me, is about the price of a block of Mainland Tasty Cheese. Let the good times roll..
When we consider the $20 billion the Labour Government funnelled to the business sector over the course of the pandemic, the $814 million earmarked for the cost of living payments is small beer from a finance minister who would not be out of place in the National Party.
But there's even less for those earning less than $70,000 and in receipt of the Winter Energy Allowance. Which means pensioners, the working poor and beneficiaries. They get nothing. They all face a bleak winter. It was probably not what they envisaged way back in 2017 when Jacinda Ardern announced her intention to deal to the poverty stalking the land.
Since Maori and Pasifika are mostly working class, they too will be doing it hard this winter. Like their Pakeha brothers and sisters, many will find themselves being forced to use the services of food banks.
Its a dire economic situation working class Maori find themselves in but the Labour Maori caucus has had nothing to say about a Budget that has provided so little for the very people it claims to represent. Indeed the leader of the Maori caucus, multimillionaire Willie Jackson, has praised the Budget because it has allocated $40 million to Maori broadcasting.
Its not quite Willie Jackson telling working class Maori to go and eat cake but getting close to it.
Ricardo Menendez of the Green Party tabled an amendment to the Cost of Living Bill so that it also included beneficiaries and pensioners. Of course it wasn't acceptable to the Labour Government and the Green Party will support the Budget anyway. Co-leader James Shaw stood up in Parliament yesterday and claimed that the Budget shows that New Zealand is '..at last heading towards future that is fairer, cleaner and more prosperous'. That he could actually say this when the level of inequality and poverty continues to grow is preposterous.
Any opposition that the Green Party displays to this Labour Government is fundamentally compromised by the co-operation agreement that the Green's signed with Labour in 2020 and which saw its two co-leaders given 'the baubles of office' in return for doing what they're told.
If we want to overcome climate breakdown, inequality and all the multiple other social problems that New Zealand currently faces, we must clearly identify those problems, ascribe blame to those most responsible for causing them, and paint a clear vision as to how we can work together to overcome them. Unfortunately much of what constitutes the left in this country has nothing more to offer than its continued support for Labour and the forlorn hope that a corporate-friendly Green Party can somehow make a difference.