The relationship between poverty and low educational achievement is complex. Education is a basic human right, and everyone should have access to good schools and tertiary training. But it is an oversimplification to say that the way out of poverty is education. People are poor because they don’t have enough money. The quickest and easiest way out of poverty is to make sure people have enough money to live on. Continue reading
The Alliance Party has come out in support of Labour’s attempts to increase the level of Paid Parental Leave to 26 weeks but believes the National Government just doesn’t want to. The Alliance introduced this policy and successfully pushed for it when in coalition with Labour during the 1999-2002 period. Continue reading
The Alliance says a documentary screening tomorrow on child poverty in New Zealand is an indictment on the failed right wing policies of the last generation. Continue reading
The Alliance Party says the credibility of the National Government is in tatters after their ham fisted smear campaign on the unemployed and solo parents comes unglued in spectacular fashion.
Many New Zealanders have condemned yesterday’s attacks on beneficiaries, including the Salvation Army, which described the plan as unworkable and a recipe for more troubled and neglected children.
Now the debacle has widened as National’s own Attorney General has admitted the plan to punish jobless New Zealanders breaches the Bill of Rights.
Alliance Economic Development Spokesperson Quentin Findlay says their attempt to use the unemployed and solo parents as economic ‘cannon fodder’ has failed miserably.
He says many New Zealanders have reacted with concern as the Government resorts to the “blame game” of the 1990s where the previous National Government attempted to cover for appalling levels of unemployment by attacking the victims of unemployment.
Mr Findlay says news the reforms breach the Bill of Rights Act on three grounds by discriminating on the basis of sex and family and marital status had blown Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s credibility out of the water.
“The fact John Key has had to prop up the plan with a rare appearance shows things have suddenly turned bad for National as most fair minded New Zealanders recall the same nasty tactics in the 1990s, which resulted in National being turfed out of office for a decade.”
“The famous Key smile is going, going . . . gone.”
Mr Findlay says this presents a problem for National, as Minister of Covering for Floundering Colleague’s Steven Joyce has already been handed so many portfolios recently he probably wasn’t available to take over from Paula.
Mr Findlay said that sanctimonious homilies from John Key and Paula Bennett about the need to find work were a transparent ruse to distract from mass unemployment.
“This Government is aware from Treasury Reports that unemployment could continue to rise and further that the Government was actually in the process of actively firing people from areas in the public service.”
“The Tories are actively pursuing an active policy of unemployment. Their reforms in the public sector are costing jobs and conditions. Every day they appear to announce a new policy that costs New Zealanders jobs.”
Instead of facing up to their lack of developed policy in these areas the Tories have returned to form by blaming the victims of Government policies for the Government’s own short comings.
“If the Government really want people off the unemployment benefit then maybe it should consider actively pursuing policies that promote full employment.”
Mr Findlay said that an active employment policy would require a u-turn on 25 years of failed monetary and fiscal policies. It would mean a complete redraft of the Reserve Bank Act, a halting of free trade negotiations and active Government investment in infrastructure.
“The Tories are pursuing the same failed market led policies that previous Governments have. The result has been the increased impoverishment of many New Zealanders.”
Mr Findlay said that the most vulnerable New Zealanders were paying the price for the poor decisions of others while the “real leeches on the economy” were given a free ride.
The Alliance asks whether the National Government wants seven year old school children coming home to a locked, empty house.
That’s what will happen if solo parents are forced into inappropriate jobs, as part of National’s latest punishment plan for struggling families announced today.
Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says the bizarre thing about John Key’s and Paula Bennett’s comments about people seeing welfare as “a way of life” was that there were currently around 170 000 people unable to find work.
He says obviously they had not visited any of the long queues of people lining up to find work in New Zealand today and were insulated by their wealth from the problems of most people.
“When New Zealand was committed to full employment in past times, there was no welfare problem. There were jobs and people went to work. We don’t have a welfare problem in New Zealand – we have an unemployment crisis which this Government has no interest in solving.”
Mr Billot says National is quite happy with unemployment because it kept the working class scared.
“There is a worldwide recession caused by unregulated capitalism, so obviously National blame the victims of the resulting unemployment. Divide and conquer is the name of the game.”
He says that in many cases, there is great benefit for schoolchildren having a parent at home.
“Parenting may not be paid work, but it is the most important job most people will do.”
Mr Billot says what happens when a child falls sick at school when a solo parent is stuck in a job miles from home, relying on public transport, with an unsympathetic employer?
“Will National have solo parents working shiftwork? Casual jobs with irregular hours? Will solo parents of schoolchildren be expected to work night shift? Who sets the rules of the game?”
He says that because some solo parents work in paid jobs, making the assumption that it is the best for all families in this situation is a stupid and harmful generalization.
A high income solo parent with support from friends and family may be able to pay for child care assistance and get home help, whereas a low income solo parent who is isolated and alone may be put in an extremely difficult position.
Some children may be troubled, unwell or have special needs, and they would be disadvantaged by National’s plan to punish their parents.
“There is an obsession with this Government in downgrading the role of parents in providing a secure family home for their children. They want to gain cheap political traction by punishing solo parents, but those who pay will be the children.”
Mr Billot says the solution lies in looking at what is in the best interests of children and ensuring all those who want to have access to paid work, and those who feel their role is caring for their children left to get on with the job.
Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says the Alliance sees young people as one of New Zealand’s biggest assets, who are in the main hard working, caring and enthusiastic, and who make a positive contribution to their communities.
“It seems like our current political leadership instead sees many young people – the future generation – as a threat and a problem. The failure here is the failure of our social system and political system, that has let down many families and communities.”
The Alliance wants to support and encourage our young people, says Ms Murray. Continue reading
The Alliance Party says education unions should be working together to push for more funding for the education of New Zealand’s children and young people.
Alliance Party education spokesperson Richard Wallis says he differs from PPTA president Robin Duff who has commented that entrenched pay parity agreements with primary schools are preventing post-primary teachers from gaining better wages and conditions.
“The Alliance says all education unions need to work together to push for a serious investment in the education of our children and young people. We strongly support the PPTA but believe a divided approach is not the best way to achieve our common goals.” Continue reading
The Alliance Party says there are no surprises following a new report that shows there was more aggression from children in the classroom.
Alliance Spokesperson for Women and Social Issues Gail Marmont says this is the result of years of neglect of childrens wellbeing.
The report commissioned by the New Zealand Foundation for Character Education said the family unit was not as strong, cohesive and functioning as it once was and the focus on raising children had weakened. Continue reading