INDEPENDENT NEWS

Hidden Hunger report exposes Nats' hypocrisy

Published: Thu 21 Oct 1999 01:03 PM
"Jenny Shipley and Roger Sowry should read today's Hidden Hunger report, but they won't," says Labour social welfare spokesperson Steve Maharey.
"The report adds yet more weight to the evidence of poverty in New Zealand, but this Government is blind to it all. They will deny the existence of poverty and hunger in New Zealand until the poor go blue in the face."
Mr Maharey was commenting on the release today of Hidden Hunger, a report by the New Zealand Network Against Food Poverty. It says at least 4% of households nationwide and up to one third of households in the lowest income areas do not get the variety of foods they need for a healthy life. It finds that the major reason for this is lack of income.
"Jenny Shipley has told Parliament that "poverty is a relative issue". If she paid attention to research like this she might understand there is nothing relative about children going hungry.
"When the Hikoi of Hope came to Parliament to tell this Government about hunger and poverty, Mrs Shipley hid in her office. Roger Sowry spouted off about the pathetic Code of Social Responsibility. At every turn this Government tries to deny the social stress its policies are causing.
"Act is just as blind. Richard Prebble has said that if anyone in New Zealand can't afford to eat: "It's not the lack of money. It's the lack of ability to handle the money and handle their affairs". This is exactly what the research rejects.
"Yesterday's report from the NZ Council of Christian Social Services branded Government housing policy a failure, saying it contributed directly to rising housing costs and a shortage of decent housing. A report from Environment Bay of Plenty confirmed the existence of poverty in that region.
"Also in the past two months the National Health Committee has reported South Auckland state house tenants living in damp, cold, rat-infested homes, while Parliament's Social Services Committee has reported on people in Northland and East Cape living in caravans, sheds, garages, derelict houses and cars. The Family Centre poverty survey last month told the same story as Hidden Hunger.
"National and Act's denial of poverty in New Zealand ignores a mountain of evidence."

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