This week your Labour team and I have put all our efforts into tackling the Government’s shocking record on inequality and poverty.
New Zealand now has the widest gap ever between rich and poor. And it’s not just the poorest who are doing it tough – middle income households are being squeezed as well. One in five of our children are suffering hardship and 40% of children living in poverty come from homes where the parents are actually working. These families are working hard and yet still struggling to make ends meet. It is a National disgrace, and John Key’s doing nothing about it.
John Key’s reaction has been dismissive and disgraceful. He calmly says ‘things are just bouncing around’ for struggling families and rejects out of hand the suggestion of universal child support as ‘dopey’. Given he refuses to accept there’s even a problem, it’s perhaps not surprising he’s consistently refused Labour’s offer to work together to address poverty in NZ.
Labour will invest in our children because they deserve the best start in life. We’re working on a plan to deal with child poverty and to help hard-working Kiwis earn a decent income so they can support their families. As part of that plan Labour wants to lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour and we have a member’s bill in MP David Clark’s name before Parliament at the moment to achieve that.
We’ve had a number of MP’s individual bills come up for debate, including Louisa Wall’s marriage equality legislation, which passed its first reading by 80 votes to 40. It gives all Kiwi couples the right to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The debate around this issue has been robust but respectful and we welcome the fact that all New Zealanders will now get a chance to have their say at select committee.
Your MPs will be out working in our regions and local communities next week, with Parliament taking a break from sitting. It’s a chance for us to make another big push to get the signatures we need for the asset sales petition. We’ve collected 240,000 signatures so far, and with your support we will force a referendum and make John Key listen to the people.