Maori Party launches economic policy

Published: Tue 14 Oct 2008 05:00 PM
Maori Party launches economic policy
14 October 2008
Tax relief for those on lowest incomes, small business development and better targeting of government funding to achieve positive outcomes for Maori are three key planks of the Maori Party’s economic policies, released today in Flaxmere, Hawkes Bay.
But behind the details released today are two more ambitious goals – developing an integrated Genuine Progress Index to measure social, cultural and environmental costs and benefits as part of economic performance, and adopting a Whanau Ora approach to social policy issues.
Economic policies announced today covered taxation and social responsibility, environment and resource management, business development, and eliminating child poverty.
The party argues that the government is better placed than individuals and their families to weather an economic downturn, and it should borrow to prevent beneficiaries and low-paid workers and their children falling into poverty.
It says an official poverty level should be set at 60% of the median household disposable income, and benefit levels should match this. There should be no tax on incomes up to $25,000, and food should be exempt from GST. The minimum wage would rise to $15 per hour.
The party believes efficiences can be gained by unbundling government funding spent on Maori across the social policy sector, reviewing outcomes, and redirecting budgets into programmes to achieve positive outcomes for Maori.
Speaking at the launch today, local candidate for Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Derek Fox, said 27% of Maori children live in poverty, and 150,000 children are categorised as living in ‘severe and significant hardship’ – so the government cannot afford not to eliminate poverty.
Mr Fox quoted Child Poverty Action Group figures that the discrimination inherent in the in-work tax credit had cost the families of unemployed people $3-4 billion since 1996.
He said traditional Maori businesses in the rural sector are heavily exposed to global market forces, and the costs of policies to slow climate change. However Maori have a strong entrepreneurial tradition, and the party advocates Maori businesses co-operating to achieve economies of scale.
On the environment front, the party’s focus is sustainable development, promoting renewable energy development, cutting pollution, and minimising the impact of carbon pricing on low-income families.

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