Pacific Island Affairs Spokesperson
21 November 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
Labour will work with, not against, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
The central bridge between the Pacific Community and government may come under siege if National is allowed to continue
its agenda of state sector cut backs, Labour’s spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs Su’a William Sio said today.
The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs has been formally reviewed by the State Services Commission, which highlighted a
number of areas where the agency needs to improve.
“The role of the Ministry is to advocate for and support Pacific people in areas as diverse as education, employment,
health and immigration. Where National has let Pacific advocacy and performance indicators lapse, Labour would step in
and ensure the agency has the resources and support to perform for Pacific people,” Su’a William Sio said.
“Perhaps the recent report card is not a reflection on the agency itself, but a consequence of a government whose
policies don’t correlate with improving the lives of the Pasifika community,” Su’a William Sio said.
“How can a government agency be condemned for failing to lift the income and living standards of the Pacific Island
community when the government itself has allowed Pacific unemployment to double from 9,400 to 18,600 since 2008, more
than twice the national rate (14.4%)? How too can an agency be held responsible for lifting Pacific incomes when the
government has allowed the median Pacific income to plummet 21% since June 2008?
“Performance for our people must come first, but credit must be given where credit is due. Ironically, one of the areas
where the Ministry was applauded was its advocacy for Pacific languages, an area the National government has
continuously sought to undermine.
“Labour has announced policies which will ease the pressure on Pacific people, such as increasing the minimum wage to
$15 hour, making the first $5000 a person earns per year tax free, and taking GST off fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Labour will also work with the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and the Pacific community to create a shared vision
for Pacific peoples in New Zealand and for the next generations of leaders to pursue.
“Labour will ensure priorities for the Pacific Island community receive whole of government recognition, attention,
priority and appropriate action and resourcing,” Su’a William Sio said.