Greens slam Labour for ‘breaking core promise’ about welfare reform

The Greens have accused Labour of breaking a core promise to overhaul the welfare system, made in the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the New Zealand Labour Party and the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Yesterday Green Party unveils its candidate list for the 2020 election

The Green Party is pleased to reveal its candidate list for the upcoming election. With a mix of familiar faces and fresh new talent, this exceptional group of candidates are ready to lead the Greens back into Government.

“We are a force to be reckoned with and are entering this critically important race more united and determined than ever.”

So that has launched the greens into campaign mode, four months out from the election.

Also yesterday two Labour ministers announced New payment to support Kiwis through COVID

This was criticised as benefiting a few people while ignoring all those who were already unemployed before Covid struck, and also criticised for being more tweaking without fundamental change to how the social welfare system works.

From the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the New Zealand Labour Party and the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand (2017):

Fair Society

10. Overhaul the welfare system, ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions and review Working For Families so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity and participate in their communities, and lifts children and their families out of poverty.

Today the Greens seem to have jumped into campaign mode over this – Green Party ‘won’t give up’ pushing for benefits increase (RNZ):

The Greens have accused Labour of breaking a core promise to overhaul the welfare system, a commitment made in 2017 during negotiations to form a government.

The gripe comes after a chorus of frustration from those on the left who say the government has entrenched a cruel and dehumanising two-tier welfare system in its latest response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson yesterday unveiled a special 12-week relief payment for people who have lost their jobs due to the economic impact of Covid-19. Full-time workers can apply for $490 a week – roughly double the regular Jobseeker Support.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told RNZ the new offering was a “very clear” admission that base benefit rates were not enough to live on.

“Everybody should be able to access the support, regardless of whether they are recently unemployed or longer-term unemployed.”

Davidson said she had heard the frustration of beneficiaries who felt they had been deemed the “undeserving poor” by the latest move.

The Greens had pushed for all benefits to be increased to the new Covid-19 level, she said, but had so far been unsuccessful in getting that over the line.

“We’ve been consistently clear that this needs to happen urgently and desperately. It hasn’t happened yet, but we won’t give up,” Davidson said.

“Both New Zealand First and Labour need to come to the table on this.”

NZ First have been a problem for the Greens trying to promote their policies, but Labour has also seemed reluctant to make major structural changes, even after Covid allowed them to commit to tens of billions of extra spending.

Asked whether Labour had adequately delivered on its commitment, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had made “significant changes”.

She cited the $5.5 billion Families Package in 2018 which established the Winter Energy and Best Start payments, as well as boosting Working for Families tax credits.

The government also began indexing main benefits to wage growth from April 2020, meaning benefit payments rise in line with wages – rather than inflation.

In its initial Covid-19 economic rescue package, Finance Minister Grant Robertson increased most benefits by $25 a week and doubled this year’s Winter Energy Payment.

However, the vast majority of the 120 recommendations by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group have not been acted on.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni yesterday told media the government could not implement all the recommendations immediately.

Immediately was in 2017, or at least in 2018. The Welfare Expert Advisory Group reported in 2019 and disappointed many. See Government response to welfare expert advisory group ‘more rhetoric than action’ – Poverty group

The government’s initial response to the welfare expert advisory group’s 200-page report is “pathetic”, National says, with interest groups and the Green Party also saying more needs to be done.

The government has said it would start by implementing two of the group’s 42 recommendations, with Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni saying major change would take years.

National’s social development spokesperson Louise Upston said Labour voters should be underwhelmed.

She said the government’s response was another example of it not delivering in its ‘year of delivery’.

Greens are now also effectively saying that the Government has not delivered, and specifically that Labour has not delivered on their agreement with the Greens.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out through the campaign.

Now at the top of the Green Party list it would seem expected that Davidson would become a minister if Labour and Greens get to form the next Government. She could lead the fight from there perhaps.

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9 Comments

  1. artcroft

     /  26th May 2020

    Covid is going to be an absolute windfall for the longer bludger.

    Reply
    • If someone’s earning $2000 a week or even anything approaching that, their partner doesn’t need welfare, especially when Labour’s landed us with an eye-watering loan that will need to be paid back. Where do the Greens think that the money’s coming from ?

      Reply
  2. Reply
    • Duker

       /  26th May 2020

      [Deleted a dirty attack on a lawyer (that could be actionable) apparently because he said something you disagree with.]

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  26th May 2020

        Good moderation. We can do without his psychopathic personal attacks on everyone.

        Reply
  3. Corky

     /  26th May 2020

    Looks like the LEFT whanau has have a little rahurahu going on. Of course we are all assuming the Greens will get back into parliament.

    If this coming election was held next September, I would expect the Greens and definitely NZ1 to be gone from parliament. Voters by then must realise(?) you can’t eat climate change, worry about gender neutrality, gays rights and electric batteries.

    This election is unfortunately timed for National.

    Reply
  4. Duker

     /  26th May 2020

    ” criticised as benefiting a few people”
    The extra numbers suddenly on a benefit are around 45,000, so dont know what evidence there is for ‘a few’

    Reply
  5. David

     /  26th May 2020

    The Greens have to move away from Ardern or they will be seen for the pointlessness that their time in government has been. Its a risk either way, cuddle her or spurn her everyone knows Shaw will do as he is told after the election so why not just vote for Labour and you are rid of the Green list loons.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  26th May 2020

      Thats where their voters went last election, remember they polling may 11% and come election it was way down….
      Where do you think the 5% of their previously core support went.? Come on make a wild guess
      They dont ask me but I would try to make the association with Ardern as obvious as possible.
      If they want to be Marama Davidson type ideologues ( is that word allowed ?) they could be heading to 2% as a fringe party.

      Reply

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