Hone Harawira’s Budget Speech last night

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There are times when one of our political leaders has the courage to stand for the weakest members of our society and articulate their dreams and hopes and pain. Hone Harawira does this more often than most and his budget speech last night was another example of his civil rights leadership…

BUDGET DEBATE SPEECH 2014
Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and Tai Tokerau MP
Thursday 15 May 2014

On behalf of the MANA Movement, I rise to speak to this MORE or LESS budget presented by the National-Maori Party-ACT-United Future government, and when I say MORE, I mean things like …
MORE UNEMPLOYMENT than we had when this government took office in 2008, with official figures showing that the unemployment rate is now higher across all ages for nearly all NZers – Maori, PI and Pakeha included. The Maori unemployment rate alone is up by 8,500 to more than 40,000.

MORE YOUNG PEOPLE OUT OF WORK and not in school, training or in higher education – with Maori youth unemployment unacceptably high at 22%, nearly four times higher than the latest population wide unemployment rate – despite all the puru tutae about opportunities and all the rukahu about trade-training and cadetships;

MORE PEOPLE EARNING UNSUSTAINABLE WAGES, with statistics confirming that nearly three quarters of our entire workforce are now earning less than the average wage;
MORE OF A WAGE GAP between here and Australia – in fact the wage gap between the two countries has increased by a full 36% over that time;

MORE INCOME INEQUALITY between the rich and the poor, with National’s policies creating an environment where the richest 1% of NZers own 16% of the country’s wealth while 50% of NZers own less than 5%, and where the income of the top 1% has risen nearly 10 times faster than that of the bottom 10%.

MORE CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY up from 270,000 to 285,000 in 2014

MORE KIDS GOING TO SCHOOL WITHOUT BREAKFAST, and although KidsCan and Kickstart are helping, more than 80,000 NZ children are still going to school hungry every day;

MORE EVICTIONS OF STATE HOUSING TENANTS to help private developers buy up crown land to build high end housing for wealthy families and foreign investors, driving prices up and driving low income families out;

MORE FAMILIES BEING MADE HOMELESS through government imposing unrealistic criteria on poor people needing a home, and using reviewable tenancies to push state tenants out of their homes and into the private rental market and increasingly, into homelessness.
MORE CHILDREN HOSPITALISED with rheumatic fever and other diseases that the Child Health Monitor Report says are caused through poverty – living in cold, damp houses, and not going to the doctor because they can’t afford it.

MORE OF A GAP BETWEEN THE ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS of kids in low and high decile schools with Ministry figures showing that the gap has risen between the NCEA achievement rates of kids in decile 1 schools and kids in decile 10 schools.

And MORE PEOPLE IN PRISON and on home detention, especially Maori, with prison rates up for both Maori men and Maori women.

And that’s where the LESS comes into it, because all these problems arise as a direct result of less funding being spent where it’s needed most: on creating jobs with decent wages, building good quality homes for low income whanau, and making the health and education of our young people an absolute priority.

Government makes a big deal about having to cut spending to get the books back in the black, but all we have seen are massive cuts to core public services like housing, health, and education, and increasing inequities between rich and poor as a direct result of those cuts.
What we are seeing is financial racism imposed upon the poor to feed the wealthy; MORE to the rich and LESS to the poor.

LESS FUNDING FOR HOUSING with HNZ shutting up shop, offering people an 0800 number that nobody answers, and offloading tenancies onto WINZ. Government stripping $400m out of the purchase and upgrade of state houses and providing limited funds for Social Housing Providers who are expected to develop their own capacity, provide new homes, repair old homes, maintain homes on an on-going basis, and then cop the flak when the money runs out.

LESS FUNDING FOR EDUCATION leading to cuts in quality, poor results in international tests, the dropping of tertiary courses, the axing of Maori research funding, and an increase in course costs and student loan debt.

LESS FUNDING FOR HEALTH, leading to higher doctor’s fees and prescription charges, worse health outcomes for those in low income families, especially Maori & PI kids, and greater costs for society down the track.

AND LESS FUNDING FOR THOSE HEALTH PROVIDERS who work in the poorest communities addressing the most acute health needs, EVERY year for the past five years.

So WHAT DO WE GET FROM THIS BUDGET?

WHAT WE GET ARE MASSIVE CUTS TO PRIMARY & PREVENTATIVE HEALTH CARE, and the ridiculous sight of National and Maori Party MPs crowing about spending money on rheumatic fever, and while that’s great, because rheumatic fever is a killer in poor Maori and Pacific families all over Aotearoa, it’s also important to note that rheumatic fever is a third world disease and we’re supposed to be living in one of the most developed countries in the world. Spending money on rheumatic fever is not something to crow about; it’s an embarrassment that we should be cringing about.

WHAT WE GET IS A SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ALLOCATION whose signature policy initiative for 2014 is – wait for it folks – a $1m kutu chair!!! How’s that for innovative, targeted spending? A kutu chair for god’s sake. Oh yeah, and some money for budgeting services to cope with a growing queue of beneficiaries struggling to get by.

ALL WE’RE GETTING is the same old National-Maori Party-ACT-United Future Budgets we got in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; budgets with neither strategy nor funding for the eradication of child poverty; no plan for low cost housing; no community jobs programme; and no plan to raise the minimum wage or to introduce a living wage.
And even though the Maori Party talks about being “at the table”, the cold-hearted reality is that in all the key social areas of HEALTH, EDUCATION, HOUSING, JUSTICE, WELFARE and EMPLOYMENT, on Budget Day 2014, Maori are worse off than they were when the Maori Party first signed up to National in 2008.

On Budget Day 2014, the only places where Maori continue to soar are in unemployment, low wages, homelessness, hospitalisations, educational under-achievement, inequality, child poverty, and prison numbers.

Mr Speaker – if a budget is about how we set out our priorities and outline the financial strategies to achieve those priorities, then we must be strong enough to identify the important ones, courageous enough to allocate the money needed to achieve them, and then unwavering in our determination to realise them. Those priorities define what kind of society it is we want, and the resources we dedicate to them in a budget are an expression of our commitment to achieving them.

For MANA, those priorities are simple, because they speak of the society we would want to leave for the next generation – a commitment to feeding the kids, building homes for every family, providing jobs for everyone, and paying for it all by taxing those who can afford to pay for it. We have the means. We have the capability. All we need is the political will.
And that political will can only come when enough people in this country, Maori, Pakeha, Pacifica, Tauiwi, all those in genuine need in Aotearoa, are determined enough to want to CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT strong enough to demand that we CHANGE THE PRIORITIES and committed enough to the view that we must always PUT PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS.

16 COMMENTS

  1. A well written speech …. Hats off to whom , who wrote it…..It highlights the truth of what is actually happening in the real world of NZ …. National Party(Govt) are arrogantly grandstanding on the back of the “Sales Of NZ Assets”.
    If there were No Assets to sell , What would the 2014 Budget really look like!!!

  2. The leadership of Mana seems to have done wonders for Hone, he seems to have grown as a person almost as much as Key has diminished as one – this was an excellent speech – and one the gutless vermin on the other side of the house will not engage – their feeble efforts at misdirection would cost them more votes than silence.

  3. I thought the following point cut through all the crap and summed up well the whole fiasco that is commonly called ‘effective governing’ or ‘achievement’ by the current government:

    “…and the ridiculous sight of National and Maori Party MPs crowing about spending money on rheumatic fever, and while that’s great, because rheumatic fever is a killer in poor Maori and Pacific families all over Aotearoa, it’s also important to note that rheumatic fever is a third world disease and we’re supposed to be living in one of the most developed countries in the world. Spending money on rheumatic fever is not something to crow about; it’s an embarrassment that we should be cringing about. “

    What this government and those supporting them are achieving is shameful.

  4. Well – all very interesting and Im sure Hone thinks hes doing something worthwhile – but whats this going to achieve?

    Constant telling the population in general that the people Hone (thinks) he represents are at the bottom of society simply results in them closing their ears. We all know – even the Hones of this world – that running society costs money and it doesnt grow on trees. Someone has to earn it and then pay tax for society to operate – and just demanding more money gets nowhere.

    He should be talking to maori leadership.

    Because until that group is prepared to come to terms with the challenge then Hones people will only go further down hill.

    Only a couple of weeks ago there was the study released by an education researcher that set out teacher attitudes to maori students. They all thought most maori were a waste of time trying to educate. These teachers get their attitude in part from constantly hearing the Hones of this world tell them pretty much the same as what his speech sets out – added to which is the attitude they get from the pupils parents at the school. And there are some solid information these parents get. eg: more kids going to school without breakfast – well there is no reason in this country why a parent who cares has to send their kid to school without food. There maybe excuses – but thats simply an inability to budget and handle money.

    Yes – I am sure there are plenty of hard luck stories, but Hone has to talk to the people who can make a difference – and thats not the population in general – its Maori leadership who dont want to hear his story.
    Some used to have a common question – “how many extra fish have the average maori got out of the dedicated maori fishing quoto ? – and the answer is of course none.

  5. This entire speech could be paraphrased as follows:

    Maori are falling behind.

    We need someone to blame.

    We won’t take responsibility.

    Give us more money.

    The end.

    • Oh please! You’re just an apologist for a government so corrupt they figured it was cheaper to buy the Maori party than engage with their constituency.

      It’s cheaper to deal with real problems than do sneaky shit like that – and that’s the job dammit, but what do you care? It will be the incoming government that have to clean up your mess – as usual.

    • Absolutely correct.

      Maori leaders are some of the worst leaders in the world. They constantly tell their people that its not their fault and if they sit on their arse and complain it will all come right.

      There was a story going around about Hone a few years ago.
      He was on a vist to the native indians in Canada. Hone went around making speaches and living up the temporary fame.
      Towards the end of his visit the locals bestowed on him a honarary title. These are well known types of names that are given to chiefs. Things like Stalking Horse and all that sort of stuff.
      They gave Hone the name of “Walking Eagle”.
      A news media person latter enquired of the locals what the name meant (because all these traditonal names had second meanings). The locals explained that he was called Walking Eagle because he was so full of shit that even if he had wings he wiouldnt be able to fly!!

      • Barry,

        Would you please inform the readers of this thread what you base your conclusions on re Maori leaders are some of the worst leaders in the world.?

        Do you spend time in Maori communities listening to what these leaders tell their people?

        Or are you simply basing your views on what the media choose to report? What do they base their articles on? Do they spend time in getting to know Maori leaders and follow them around listening to what these leaders tell their people? Or do they just pick and choose, like you have on messages leaders have said when reporting on the state of their community?

        What Hone spoke about was him speaking to the house of representatives – the people that need to know how their policies are affecting their constituents. It was not a speech to his community – it was him reporting back from his community. What did you expect him to do? Lie?

      • P.s Barry,

        The earlier versions of that ‘wee story’ you told are far funnier:

        http://www.snopes.com/politics/kerry/eagle.asp

        Barry, the jokes on you.

        Barry, I think it would be more appropriate and funnier to have inserted your dear leader, Key, in that ‘wee story’.

        Barry, do you mind if I refer to you as ‘Walking Eagle’ from now on?

    • Intrinsicvalue says:
      May 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      This entire speech could be paraphrased as follows:

      Maori are falling behind.

      We need someone to blame.

      We won’t take responsibility.

      Give us more money.

      The end.

      Or, Anonymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue’s posts could be paraphrased as follows;

      We were falling behind under Labour, but National has delivered us to the Promised Land.

      We need someone to blame – Labour, beneficiaries, GFC will do nicely.

      We won’t take responsibility for National and ACT’s stuff-up.

      Give us more money, less taxes, because we can’t be arsed paying our share.

      C & P as much bullshit as I have time, in between my busy career as a landlord; businessman; share investor; early childhood centre manager; website operator; etc.

      Make sh*t up.

      Repeat.

      The end.

      There. I think that about covers it. 😀

  6. A lot of injustice clearly identified in Hone’s speech.

    Which cannot be remedied by a change of government.
    As opposed to “jobs for everyone”, Labour merely talk of reducing unemployment to 4%, without any serious indication of how that might be done.

    MANA should face up to the fact that Labour is no less committed to capitalism than National and draw some serious political conclusions from that.

  7. Hone remains one of my favourite political figures of the past 40 years (even though that’s twice my age.lol), he’s come along way and he’s the type of politician that walks the talk as well as truly representing a Kaupapa o te tangata. His budget speech solidifies his position as one of the greatest socialist leaders in New Zealand political history. I think MANA will do great this year in standing up for those marginalized by a free-market cabinet club government. “We must always put people before profits”.

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