Over the weekend Jacinda Ardern appeared on Newshub The Nation and made some problematic comments about lifting people out of poverty, saying the Labour government has prioritised targeting families with children.
“This is the problem – Jacinda Ardern and this Labour government are ok with having some levels of poverty exist in New Zealand. They’re about reducing poverty, not eliminating it which are two very different things” says Co-ordinator and media spokesperson for Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) Brooke Pao Stanley.
It also shows the government’s ideologies and values about people are rooted in racism, because in Te Ao Māori, in Pacific communities, in ethnic communities, we don’t believe in leaving anyone behind. We don’t believe that people should go without because they can’t afford it – we share what we have to ensure that everyone has enough. We believe in valuing the existence of each other because of whānau, whakapapa and community. Jacinda Ardern and this Labour government keep talking a big game about how the changes they’ve made in the welfare space are the most significant in decades but given nothing’s been done in this space for decades, they didn’t have any competition to begin with.
The government doesn’t need more data – we’ve had years of government reports and analysis of our communities here in New Zealand. The levels of poverty that exist here didn’t happen overnight – they’ve been growing consistently and for decades now, and because it hasn’t been addressed the problem has been allowed to grow to its capacity we’re seeing now. Incremental changes and reduction targets aren’t going to be enough to meet people’s needs. We’re very aware there needs to be sweeping changes in different areas across all aspects of living. Everyone living in poverty in New Zealand should be prioritised in being lifted out, not just those with children.
We need Liveable Incomes for All – liveable in the context that people and whānau have autonomy after the rent and essential bills have been paid, cupboards are full, cars filled, public transport made accessible, healthcare and education are affordable. It’s time we moved to centering the needs of people and families. It’s time for Jacinda Ardern and this Labour government to quit talking about being transformational and just do it.