by Jan Logie
This budget will increase hardship for many Pacific peoples.
Pacific peoples, and Pacific women in particular, tend to participate in the labour force at relatively low levels because Pacific households tend to have more children and include extended family members, which means the adults in these households are more likely to have unpaid caring responsibilities.  Caring for children and our elderly is work. It needs to be valued.
Pacific people in work are most likely to be working multiple low paid jobs. These jobs are stretching families to breaking point and destroying parents hope that things will be better for their children.
Our population is ageing as are most OECD populations. An expert in regional demography, Professor Jackson says New Zealand has a substantial deficit of people aged 20 to 40 . Because Pacific and Māori populations are still having babies we may be slightly protected from the impending crisis. But to ensure we have enough workers to pay for our older people and actually run the economy we need to value these communities and invest in them now. It’s the family that generates these future workers and taxpayers. As a country we need our Pacific families to be healthy, well and feeling valued so they don’t just get sucked into Australia when it comes time to looking for work.
So surely it would be a sensible investment in our collective future to put money into supporting these households by reducing the costs of childcare, creating more jobs with flexible hours and decent conditions, extending the in-work-tax credit to beneficiary families, and focusing on ensuring the best education possible for these young ones who will be carrying our economy in the not too distant future.
Sadly what this government has done is attack the very people who this country needs most. This budget has:
- cut few remaining tax credits that were available to low income families: the tax credit for those earning under $9880, the paper/boy girl tax, and the housekeeping tax
- put a freeze on Early Childhood Education funding which will increase costs for families
- increased class sizes
- made student loan repayments tougher for young families
- stopped student allowances for all post-graduate study
- extended work testing for the DPB
- Increased prescription charges
- Increase the length of time families will be expected to cover all costs for family settling in new Zealand
And perhaps even worse this budget has not
- Increased the availability or quality of state housing
- Increased the incomes for beneficiaries families
- Improved access to healthcare
- provided pacific language resources and teaching
- Reduced the tax burden on those least able to pay
- Created any jobs
- Increased money to the community and voluntary sectors to help support families and communities
- Increased revenue with a capital gains tax, increased taxes of our highest income earners, or taken off the subsidy for polluters or redirected money from uneconomic roads
Pacific people will carry much of the pain of this budget and will not get many if any of the gains.
This budget has cut the Overseas Development and Aid budget
by $133 million over the next three years. in real terms. *
This cut happens when our Pacific neighbours are struggling with the impacts of the global economic recession, reduced aid availability and declining remittances from family in New Zealand due to the policies above, political instability, increasing natural disasters, as well as the all too visible and real impacts of climate change.
The United Nations set a target of 0.7% of Gross National Income to aid many years ago now. Rather than moving towards this target these cuts mean New Zealand will now only pay .28% this year and .24% in 2014-15. This is close to our lowest contribution ever.
Next week a team of NZ politicians will be going off to celebrate 50 years of friendship with Samoa, the largest group of Pacific people’s in New Zealand. I can’t help but think they’ll be hoping no one has noticed.
* apologies for the mistake. I was working off a media release.