Māori Party Co-leader and Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has today announced her party’s incomes policy, which addresses Aotearoa’s low-wage economy by lifting the minimum wage to $25 per hour and guaranteeing Māori pay equity, and fixes our broken welfare system by doubling benefit levels, removing sanctions and individualising benefits.
“Aotearoa has an economy and social security system that is broken, and that has never worked for Māori. We must ensure that everyone has enough to live on. Lifting whānau out of poverty is impossible if they do not have adequate incomes to survive with an ever-increasing cost of living,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.
“Our people are contending with a low-wage economy that is increasingly comprised of insecure jobs with no guarantee of hours and pay, forcing many to work two or three jobs. Māori unemployment is double Pākehā unemployment, while Māori disproportionately work in low-wage jobs.
“The Māori Party would immediately raise the minimum wage to $25 per hour to ensure that all workers are paid enough to provide for their whānau and we would legislate for an annual increase to keep up with cost of living increases.
“By setting the unemployment payment for people out of work from COVID at nearly double the normal unemployment benefit, the Government was acknowledging that normal benefit levels force whānau to live in poverty and hardship.
“The Māori Party will resist the Government’s attempts to entrench a two-tier welfare system and instead we would ensure no one lives below the poverty line by doubling baseline benefits levels, removing sanctions, and individualising benefits,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.
The policy package also commits to a universal student allowance, wiping living costs-related debt, and extending free public transport to all students.
“Many students, especially Māori students, are expected to go into debt and live in poverty just to get an education. We think that’s unacceptable and are committed to championing a universal student allowance, writing off student debt, and free public transport for tertiary students,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.
In summary, the policy will:
- Immediately raise the minimum wage to $25 per hour and legislate for an annual increase to keep up with cost of living increases
- Guarantee pay equity for Māori nurses and teachers
- Double baseline benefit levels
- Individualise benefits
- Remove financial penalties, sanctions, and work-test obligations
- Cancel income support related debt and ensure that additional grants do not need to be paid back in future
- Raise abatement rates for benefits and student allowances
- Create a universal student allowance and double student allowance rates
- Introduce free public transport for students at all levels
- Write off the living cost component of all student loans and work towards writing off the total student loan for those who work in Aotearoa for a period of five years