30 years of neoliberalism has failed the poor – so why is Labour continuing it?

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As a leading Labour politician, Michael Cullen has been a huge influence on social policies, some widely lauded like KiwiSaver but the most controversial being Working for Families (WFF). 

The deficiencies of WFF are apparent in this recession as families who become poor enough to qualify for welfare benefit also suffer a significant cut in WFF for their children.  It is timely to review the history of this discriminatory policy and the role Labour has played in perpetuating the worst of child poverty.  

The problem started 30 years ago. Since the late 1980s New Zealand governments have been enthusiastically wedded to patriarchal free market economic models that don’t have a place for the work involved in reproduction or nurturing healthy children. In the happy free-market family, children appear instantaneously. They are magically taken care of leaving no excuse for mothers to be out of the paid workforce, except the lucky few whose workforce attachment allows 6 months of taxpayer funded, Paid Parent Leave. 

The 1991 Mother of all budgets set the tone for what followed from National and eventually also from Labour too. But it took some time for Labour to become inured to the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s and to tolerate, and then extend a ‘deserving’ and ‘underserving’ approach to the financial support of children. 

I remember the deep shock of hearing Jenny Shipley announce prior to the 1991 budget that struggling sole parents and married couples with children would have $27 a week carved out of their meagre benefits.  Child poverty rates soared, food banks proliferated, along with an explosion in preventable and often deadly contagious diseases and overcrowding in substandard housing.

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In 1996, to provide some remedy,  Bill Birch gave tax cuts to middle and upper New Zealanders and significantly upped the weekly targeted child payment (called Family Support) by $20 a child, providing some much needed inflation catch up.  BUT this is where the ideology took hold: $15 of this payment was denied to the poorest children. This $15 carve off, (the Child Tax Credit) went only to those ‘deserving’ families who were deemed to be “independent from the state.” 

What did Michael Cullen have to say about this package?  He called it “a simplistic tangle of bigotry and ignorance … barely disguised attack on beneficiaries … mean spirited, ill thought through and punitive … unholy product of National’s deeply held view that everyone on a benefit is a bludger and Treasury’s new right agenda … based on highly questionable incentives arguments.” 

Hansard is illuminating.  What a lot of righteous indignation! From Annette King- “it makes me sick….it isolates beneficiaries from other families- treats them like lepers and worst of all it treats their children differently- what is different about a beneficiary child? Does that child look different when she or he goes to school? Yes, that child probably does look different because of the circumstances of the family—But also the government wants everyone to know that he or she is different.”

Phil Goff wanted to know why this “miserable government does practically nothing for the quarter of a million children who are the most disadvantaged in our community. Let us recognise that this package deliberately, cold-bloodedly and calculatedly discriminates against those people who through no fault of their own are not at work.”

Michael Cullen ranted still further against the CTC with his own quirky turn of phrase  “At least the strange, 19th century minds opposite are not putting those children  back up the chimneys, but they are saying that the kids should be  used to force other people back up the chimneys. Children are children are children—no matter who their parents are. To draw distinctions between what the State says should go to low-income families on the basis of the source of that income rather than on the level of that income is obscene.”

He promised that “Labour will make sure that all low to middle income families get the full benefit of the full assistance available.”  

But sadly that was not to be in spite of our child poverty rate being one of the worst in the developed world. After that crumb of an increase of $5 a child a week in 1996, children in families on benefits had to wait until 2005 for a further few crumbs. 

Under Labour’s 2005 WFF, Family Support (now called Family Tax Credit) was increased.  But the government took the opportunity to reduce core benefits: a sole parent with two children got $40 Family Support extra but lost $22 in core benefit.  

In 2006, the CTC was renamed the In Work Tax Credit (IWTC), increased to $60 a week for 1-3 children with extra for larger families, and made even more discriminatory by requiring fixed hours of paid work as well as being off benefit. The terminology disguised its child-related status and rendered invisible the important unpaid work of raising children. 

Then, in an astonishing capitulation to neoliberalism, in 2007 Labour enshrined the centrality of paid work into a new purposes and principles section of the Social Security Act.  

Rather than lifting the poorest children out of poverty by incentivising paid work, WFF acted to deepen their poverty and exclusion. More generous and more complex support was indeed available, but only for ‘deserving’ children of ‘working parents’ driving an even bigger gap between families on benefit income and those who were not.

Subsequent evaluation by Treasury showed the IWTC  failed as a work incentive and today around 170,000 of the poorest children continue to suffer this discrimination losing a much needed $72.50 or more a week just because their parents need state support in troubled times.

It is time for Labour to rediscover the passion it had in 1996 and reverse this abominable child poverty policy.  

 

 

 

32 COMMENTS

  1. -I think it is because ‘Labour’ are no longer the party for the poor and disenfranchised – for those down on their luck for whatever reason. Due to the fact they managed to convince some middle ground National voters over during the election, their focus is purely on keeping this new section of support happy, and in doing so they cannot offer more to those with nothing or virtually nothing.
    For all of Jacinda’s “vision” and rhetoric around “transformation” there is no plan for any major change. This Labour government are simply a “Lite” version of the truly transformational Lange government of 1984-1990 (except their transformation was to neoliberalism, which has been the focus of all governments in this country since 1984). Unfortunately, neoliberalism itself is not about change it is about stability and the status quo (once ground into hegemonic mindsets) – which is, of course, at serious odds with Jacinda’s twaddle about transformation.
    Maybe I need to give this government more time, after all the transformation required could not possibly be achieve in one term of government – and there have been some substantive distractions (e.g. Covid-19) along the way that have had to be dealt with. With the mandate from the most recent election we expect to see some transformation this term – what will it look like?
    Sadly, I think if Jacinda and Grant get their way, there will be very little change … which, paradoxically, will result in a much tighter election next time resulting in less of a mandate to impose change. Hmmmm.

  2. The additional “Key benefit” of WFF is it’s role as a taxpayer funded wage/salary subsidy for employers. It relieves some of the pressure for employers to provide adequate increases to meet increased living & housing costs. This is why National never removed it after severely criticizing its introduction.

    • It’s only a wage top up to those with children.

      One could argue that it is the Accommodation Supplement – paid to renters and owners that is the subsidy paid to all (lower paid) workers. But is that a “subsidy” to the employer or the landlord (or bank lending mortgages)?

      National never replaced WFF because the public voted for it over National’s across the board tax cuts in the 2005 election. And Labour has never got rid of the AS because they did not have enough state houses for those on low incomes.

      PS Oz has tax credit support to families and higher wages than us. Low wages is a function of weak unions and bringing in cheap migrant labour.

      • “Accomodation Supplement… is that a “subsidy” to the employer or the landlord (or bank lending mortgages)?”

        All the above.

  3. Work is the pathway out of poverty, not staying a beneficiary and waiting for the amount paid to go up.

    The government move increasing the amount beneficiaries can earn before the abatement regime applies, and restoration of the TIA will do a lot of good. Especially as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

    Sure one can quibble that the move to index benefits to wage movements should have started with a larger bump to base benefits ($25 was a bit small a catch up for low level CPI increases since 1991) – in particular the FTC – which should now be the focus, rather than re-litigating the WFF IWTC (which is not really a work incentive, but a support to those on low work incomes supporting families).

    For me

    1. a higher FTC (each budget).
    2. bringing the disability benefit to the super rate level and allowing those with working partners to retain a base if lower “dole” level benefit income of their own.
    3. delaying the repayment of grant money until people find work (as per Tertiary Loans)
    4. refinance of debt for those moving onto the DPB or Unemployment (JS) after loss of a working partner or employment
    5. making it easier to move from benefit to seasonal work back to benefit
    6. 12 weeks double benefit payment after the loss of employment becoming the new standard.
    7. UI for those under 25 (at the base dole rate for those under 25) – excluding those in FT employment and FT study (during the tertiary year the SA is a higher rate) and those on governmetn supported apprenticeships. Because so many are part-time/gig/casual workers/interns – and some are budding self employed. And it allows them independence from W and I and de facto apprenticeships with multiple employers.

    There is also the issue of indepependent benefit support for a person who has a working partner (allows retraining/internship back into employment while continuing to afford their housing). Currently there is only support to those with children via WFF tax credits. Such a change in that regime would have an impact on how we support sole parents who have relationships and or shared housing arrangments as it would change perception (put people in the same boat and thus improve collective empathy).

  4. The problem is that NZ has adopted NeoKindness, AKA Air NZ is a great example aka bailing out the neoliberal business, with government money https://australianaviation.com.au/2020/03/air-new-zealand-greatly-appreciative-of-900m-bailout/ minus the employees https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/air-new-zealand-make-nearly-1500-cabin-crew-staff-redundant.

    NeoKindness also somehow allows the consumers to be ripped off at the same time. Who are they actually propping up at Air NZ for example, a shell of a business run by a highly paid ex Walmart, cost cutter?

    Neither most of the employees, or the consumers are protected and taxpayers pay twice, the majority to prop up Air NZ business, while the rest to give their employees the dole. Consumers get no refund for flights obviously. https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/consumer-nz-wants-law-change-over-air-new-zealand-refund-stoush

    Same with the wage subsidies, sunset business claiming them, many filled with temp migrant labour, then as soon as possible the same businesses makes staff redundant. Then NeoKindness allows the temp workers to go on the dole too and take up NZ housing, health, roads, schooling, instead of sending them home.

    Rather than 2.4 million to fill up quarantine hotels with new Covid carrying recruits, I’d prefer the government to pay to charter non residents back home.

    Can’t remember crying for UK residency and welfare when working in the UK on my working visa. Must be NZ NeoKindness again when temp workers are used to break down the NZ welfare system.

    The woke are also propping up NeoKindness by demanding more welfare without working out logical ways to limit NZ welfare to the world, who love receiving NZ’s social welfare neo kindness (especially pensions) but overloading it thus allowing privatisation and unfairness to increasingly occur in NZ’s social welfare spaces…

    • Once again @ SaveNZ, I agree with a lot of what you post. However,

      “Can’t remember crying for UK residency and welfare when working in the UK on my working visa. Must be NZ NeoKindness again when temp workers are used to break down the NZ welfare system.”

      Could that be because
      – you were relatively well educated
      – you were coming from the land of the British settler and Noble Savage, rather than a 3rd Whurl/developing nation and AO/NZ was/is seen as that plucky little nation/ex-colony that punches above its weight
      – there was a social welfare safety net (albeit one that was about to be seriously undermined and dismantled by the neo-lib agenda and its religious devotees)
      – you were not seeking a ‘better life’ from the poverty surrounding you – regardless of the level of your education and circumstance. Rather just the big OE cos travel broadens the mind don’tcha know
      – AND residency was never presented to you as an option: Firstly by a government and its agencies wanting to prop up various shady institutions such as sham PTEs – often that provided courses which taught immigrants how to suck eggs, or cheap labour for various sectors. All in pursuit of those huge export dollars.
      And secondly by an industry of people who because of policies (usually copied from other members of the Empire, and dressed up as “best practice”), who saw an opportunity to make money through clipping the ticket.

      From memory, that’s the second time you posted something like the above. The problem isn’t the immigrant aspiring to the same things we often take for granted. It’s the fundamentally exploitative cistern that we’ve allowed ourselves to buy into. The global trickle down effect

      Btw – you’ll no doubt be interested in this (especially the 43 page table):
      https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/123475269/from-real-estate-agents-to-pet-groomers-these-are-the-jobs-that-new-zealanders-cant-or-wont-do
      I wondered whether with some occupations, they were pulling my tit. I hear there’s a shortage of bus drivers around the place which reminded me of my time driving them during the 1970s while studying. An occupation that allowed me to save and buy a house, then have kids. Even in my retirement, I wouldn’t go near the bus companies that pay the shit wages to drivers for the conditions and what’s expected of them.
      (Thanks to that failed zoologist Mr Steven Choice)

  5. Reading this, the only comfort comes from knowing that there were once decent socially responsible persons in the parliamentary Labour Party.

    I’m struggling to believe that any politician, or policy wonk, or bureaucrat, could classify children as deserving or undeserving. It is primitive and brutal, but presumably the govt knows what it can get away with.

    New Zealand’s horrific child bashing and murdering rates will have been factored in, and the long term social and economic consequences of keeping swathes of people living at permanently debilitating levels, obviously found by government to be acceptable. The fact remains though, that children are not economic units: we owe them a duty of care and nourishment at every level and that certainly doesn’t come just from flinging about pr words like ‘transformational,’ or ‘child povidy’.

    I gather that the PM has said that in eight or ten years’ time, child poverty rates will not be as bad as they are now. In the meantime, children are maturing into God knows what, carers struggling with what can be an utterly soul-destroying daily grind. We need a champion for children in Parliament, or persons personally acquainted with poor, and until we get them,need to rely on the NGO’s to do government’s job as best they can, so thank you, Susan.

    Hopefully – and soberingly – there may be circumstances which enable this issue to be advanced to a UNO body – but that’s not much of a comment on middle New Zealand.

    • Agree totally.
      NZ has some of the best research in the world about how early education affects outcomes.
      The formative age from 1-3 means everything.
      We have Celia Lashlie, the Dunedin Longitudinal study, we used to have Plunket, and what do we have now.
      Where did it all go wrong?

    • There is a fundamental lack of trust in authority these days, when authority figures are found to be so woefully lacking in even the basics of community care. Can these ‘authority’ figures even begin to wonder why they are held in such low esteem by the public, – the public that voted them in for,- when they continually demonstrate their capacity for being so out of touch with the community they are supposed to serve?

      Lets ask Evita:

      Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
      https://youtu.be/adUPdnzCAk8?t=80

      • “There is a fundamental lack of trust in authority these days, when authority figures are found to be so woefully lacking in even the basics of community care.”
        Ain’t that the truth!
        And while there are a few politicians, policy wonks, and bureaucrats (that @Snow White refers to) that do give a shit, not so others working in the cistern that’s way, way overdue for reform

  6. Because the faithful vote for them regardless.
    So long as they know even the disappointed will still vote for them, they will treat the faithful as they wish- with utter contempt as it turns out.
    They will choose the easy road to bureaucracy and change nothing.

    You must vote out a dishonest government of any persuasion to force a rethink.
    Let’s be honest, we all knew this was what would happen.

    • Agreed. But as I’ve said before, where is the real left wing party in NZ.
      They’ve just created the Works Party in the UK out of utter frustration with their Labour party. Let’s hope they do well and an equivalent is set up here. Or Bombers idea of a ‘Pa Aotearoa’ party.

  7. You write @ SSJ
    “30 years of neoliberalism has failed the poor – so why is Labour continuing it?”
    No disrespect but Jesus ! I’d a thought it was blindingly obvious by now.
    Neoliberalism fails the poor because it was a tactical weapon used against normal people to further enrich those few sociopathic narcissists.
    The arch demon of neoliberalism herself, margaret thatcher, was quoted as saying that being poor was a character defect.
    I’ve read here that some people are saying ” Time to get out the pitch forks” and ” Lets run riot in the streets.”
    etc but those people should remind themselves that that’s exactly what [they] want you to do. The end justifies the means and all that i.e. They’ll fucking shoot you. Look to the black lives matter scene in the U$A right now for example.
    In AO/NZ however there’s a difference. A huge difference.
    Revolution against the tyranny of the soulless can be achieved by eliciting the help of those with the power and the money.
    Our farmers. Like it or not. Our farmers are the solution to the problem of neoliberalism within AO/NZ.
    If our farmers can be convinced to abandon their psychological abusers in the National Party and come in from out in the cold where the national party keep them hidden away to be manipulated and exploited and instead support them into the shelter and protection that a greater Urban/ Rural Union could afford them to protect each other from this monumental cluster fuck that is ‘neoliberalism’ we’d see some seriously interesting developments over the next three years. I promise you.
    Ask yourselves? Would you prefer our economy was derived from tourists crawling all over AO/NZ and most of their money disappearing into rapacious foreign pockets or would you prefer our farmers become regenerative/organic and help feed a soon-to-be starving first world?
    Here’s three must watches.
    Regenerative agrarian systems.
    https://kisstheground.com/
    Rutger Bergman.
    Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash | Rutger Bregman
    https://youtu.be/ydKcaIE6O1k
    George Monbiot of The Guardian.
    The British government’s first disaster of 2021? A food shortage
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/17/british-government-food-shortage-uk-fresh-europe-ports-storage-space
    Now? Based on what I’ve just written and based on the compelling unarguable evidence I’ve directed you to above and based on cold, hard, unyielding common sense listen and watch what labour and national do over the next few weeks and months?
    Ask yourselves? Are national and labour working for you, you who pay them? Or are they working on other agendas for private interests which is the global neoliberal mandate, lets face it.
    They way to stamp out the scourge that is neoliberalism in AO/NZ is to starve them out. And the way to do that is to take the farmer off them and they way to do that is to ensure the farmer is included and involved in our greater society rather than having them think they’re hated as they circle around in a muddy paddock on a fucking quad bike.
    ( I never knew that falling on deaf ears could be so comfy…? )

    • In AO/NZ however there’s a difference. A huge difference.
      Revolution against the tyranny of the soulless can be achieved by eliciting the help of those with the power and the money.
      …” Our farmers. Like it or not. Our farmers are the solution to the problem of neoliberalism within AO/NZ.
      If our farmers can be convinced to abandon their psychological abusers in the National Party and come in from out in the cold where the national party keep them hidden away to be manipulated and exploited and instead support them into the shelter and protection that a greater Urban/ Rural Union could afford them to protect each other from this monumental cluster fuck that is ‘neoliberalism’ we’d see some seriously interesting developments over the next three years. I promise you”…

      —————————–

      I do believe you are quite right.

      I do believe also that Labour is just the soft cop in the soft cop- hard cop routine. When the chickens get restless? Suddenly the big business crowd gets all fawning as does the MSM. And Labour comes to the neo liberal rescue. The problem is us chickens haven’t got restless enough. And with our chicken coops spread across the country and thus divided,…it is difficult to combat 120 smarmy individuals in one building who speak for the 1%.

      They need to be told in no uncertain terms to lay an egg.

      I believe several things.

      One, – that there is no excuse for this country NOT to be like the Scandinavians. Absolutely NO excuses whatsoever with Scandinavian high wages ( and high taxes), their incredible and comprehensive welfare system, and their generally recognized highest standards of living in the world. In 1968-69? – NZ ranked 6th , – right behind Denmark . After three decades of the treasonous Roger Douglas’s neo liberalism?, – we were ranked 32nd, behind Mexico. And we have been compared to Albania as well.

      Two, – That the cornerstone of neo liberalism, the free market ideology of neo liberalism and the passing of the Reserve Bank Act ,- and the dismantling of the same, – could deal the knock out blow to neo liberalism, freeing a govt to command the Reserve Bank to essentially print money , and loan it directly to the govt, essentially loaning to itself ( and taking away the insane argument of surpluses and deficits and being enslaved to foreign bankers and financiers). This would free up finance for large public works ( including mass housing builds!) including hospitals, schools , a deep water port in northland with rail connections, the creation of employment and contracts for businesses , and so on and so forth all up and down the country, for the rural and the urban sectors. And it works. Its already been done before. By a bloke called Michael Joseph Savage and his Labour party ( Yes , – Its old history for all you young whippersnappers. Go Google it .) An economy is defined as the sum total of that economy. It is not compartmentalized and judged by benefits that only go to a small percentage of a population. It could be argued that an economy like that is a failed economy. Such a failure is the neo liberal economy. But there ARE alternatives that worked for 60 years and were the most prosperous era in history for the west and for NZ. Essentially it is Keynesian economics.

      Seeing the large wealth stored up in NZ, certain vulturous eyes watched us and waited their opportunity to plunder, – such as the Mont Pelerin society of London, to which both Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson were board members of. Both Finance Ministers in the two main opposite party’s. And then we have the Mont Pelerin society’s NZ outpost, – the Business Roundtable ( now called the NZ Initiative). And once their policy’s were cemented in? – the poverty and the plunder, the theft and the lies to justify that theft,… began. And so it has been for three decades.

      Three,- That because of the dishonesty of both Labour and National in supporting foreign investors, (swindlers would be a better term ), because of their lust for power in listening only to those with deep wallets for donations to keep them in power, because of lucrative sweetener deals they enjoy with trade deals with foreign nations, because of their disregard for a large sector of society ,- the ever growing pool of unemployed, the working poor, and pandering to the middle classes and doing nothing about housing , child poverty and poverty in itself for so many in this country, – next election I will be voting Social Credit. I enjoyed a recent article from Social Credit on TDB and was pleasantly surprised that what Michael Joseph Savages and his caucus did so many years ago with such long-lasting and incredible success is essentially what Social Credit advocate.

      ABLAN

      ANYONE BUT LABOUR AND NATIONAL.

  8. Kia ora Susan,
    Thanks so much for reminding me of the history of these terrible policies, which have had so much effect on one, and now nearly two, generations of children (and not to forget the single women on whose shoulders fell the burden of trying to manage on inadequate incomes).And tautoki to you for your tireless struggle to have these wrongs righted. And writed! There is a mood for change that the government cannot ignore. Let’s hope the response is transformative.

    • Thank you Liz and likewise tautoki for your persistent voice. Every time I write I vow it will be the last and then it just isnt. I never thought 30 years ago that things would actually be worse in 2021- especially under a Labour government. They just dont want to hear about this issue. Ironically as low income families progress downwards onto a benefit in this recession the government saves money in WFF expense.

  9. The discrimination against children of bennies by the Clark government in WFF I’m sure went against U.N. guidelines and is why I opposed in spirit her U.N. appointment.

  10. Thank you Susan for all you do. The answer to your question is ” because Labour is full of neo liberals”
    The political dial is moving right . . the left has left (disappeared, evaporated)

  11. As a bloke old enough to remember John A Lee haunting his bookshop at the top of Mt Eden Rd & who eventually summoned the courage to climb off the bus and go and talk to the man himself, I believe there was never a time when the Aotearoa Labour Party wasn’t run by kiss-arse sellouts. Maybe before they became electorally viable they were genuine, but the moment it was apparent Labour could win seats in parliament, everything changed as careerists leapt aboard and deals were done with ‘the media’ to have favourable articles about labour run.
    This is why a voting system, aka ‘democracy’ can be great for keeping things pretty much the same, but if a substantial change is required as it currently is right around this world, voting is useless. Ask the englanders’ Jeremy Corbyn who was stitched up by his own party that decided Mr Corbyn winning was a worse outcome for them and their backers/bribers than a tory party victory.

    Citizens need to wake up and take responsibility for their future instead of hand balling decisions to the biggest gang of smarmy hypocrites they can find. Post Covid when the number of employed shrink despite increased profits for the already rich and massive poverty becomes the most popular lifestyle we’re all going to have to wake up fast before the rich have time to pay the most disreputable of us to ‘police’ all the rest of us.

  12. The deal was done in the 60’s. No criticism of economic shenanigans if you grant our sexual improprieties legitimacy. Marcuse, Adorno, Foucault captain the new-left titanic. Economics were thrown overboard for relativistic sexual self love. We won’t criticize your economics, paymasters, if you let us screw anything we want. Burn morality to the ground.

    The economic rhetoric is still powerful, but the left have abandoned the high ground.

  13. ” It is time for Labour to rediscover the passion it had in 1996 and reverse this abominable child poverty policy ”
    That was never passion but political expediency and using the most vulnerable by politising them.
    If they had really been the serious about fixing the causes of poverty then why did the Alliance have to create the policies that Labour should have been advancing ????

  14. It’s being going on long enough for this problem to be installed inside famlies now. The dysfunction our economic model has caused is the greatest hurdle to social cohesion. We dont have a nation anymore, just opportunist individuals. Parents compete with children barely old enough to read, siblings with one another -worse, in lower socio-economic famlies who now believe money is the only reason to be alive. Putting faith in money makes for sociopathic people. When a government reinforces that view, the possibility for change is almost none. If we started real change today, it would still take several lifetimes to eradicate those evil perspectives. For this, the middle classes and their governments can never be forgiven. Let them ask their god. Both Robertson and Ardern make reluctant noises, but their actions reinforce the opposite. They dont want to act. Just to ease the rage I’d like to think that in 100 years a civil war would break out here and these problems would follow the way they go throughout history, but it’s unlikely. Its more likely NZ will turn into the exact same slums that people thought they could escape in the 19th century. It really is soul-destroying just to think of the vast circular loop we’ve taken away from class, poverty, and slavery, all the way back to poverty and slavery 200 years later.

  15. 30 years of neoliberalism has failed the poor – so why is Labour continuing it?

    Because the NZ Labour party have long since stopped representing labour.
    Because the current system works well for the politicians on the gravy train.
    Because the ‘politics of kindness’ is a smart sound bite with no depth.
    Because NZ’s Neo-Labour party, is as close to a blairite party as you can get on the other side of the planet.
    Because they don’t care. The ‘poor’, don’t fund them or spend thousands on lobbying them.
    Because in its dark heart NZ has a very punitive streak.

  16. What a lot of crap written by all the above. There’s no working class now just the poor. Most of you wouldn’t know what poverty is. How many have spent any time with whanau in south Auckland, Flaxmere, in the back blocks, etc. I’ve seen the poor children growing up as enthusiastic as their Pakeha classmates but get left behind after a year or three at school. From then on they are on a downward spiral. There should be a long term focus on supporting those children to give them a chance. Education is the key for getting children out of poverty and eventually into jobs, preferably a profession, business or a trade.

  17. Between the great St John and the comments I think I’d throw myself into the sea if I was Ardern but she and Grant listen to focus groups, not us. We who are interested on the Left who eviscerated her prior to this election, and I mean rightly, had no effect on her landslide. So NZers don’t think about politics anymore but politics thinks about them. Where reality presents they respond tout suite, or ASAP for those who don’t know the several adequate French terms for fast that served for centuries.

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