New Zealand government offers false promises to reduce poverty
30 December 2017
On December 14, New Zealand’s Labour Party-led government announced spending details for its first 100-day plan, promising to start reducing poverty. Finance Minister Grant Robertson called the Half-Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU) measures, described as a mini-budget, “the most significant package to lift children out of poverty in recent memory.”
The Labour-Greens-New Zealand First coalition took office in October after nine years of rule by the conservative National Party, which implemented drastic austerity measures following the 2008 financial crisis. The Nationals underfunded health and education, froze public sector wages, increased the Goods and Services Tax, partly privatised electricity companies and began selling off state housing.
Labour supported the austerity agenda, aimed at making the working class pay for the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. Now in government, it is desperately seeking to contain widespread anger and anti-capitalist sentiment produced by soaring social inequality and poverty.
In October, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the fact that over 41,000 people (1 percent of the population) were homeless was a “blatant failure” of capitalism. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, leader of the right-wing populist NZ First, promised to restore “capitalism with a human face.”
The government’s promises to eliminate poverty and homelessness are hollow. They are aimed at buying time while the financial and corporate elite prepares the next round of attacks on the working class.
The HYEFU included an extra $8.4 billion of spending over the next five years, funded by cancelling the National Party’s planned income tax cuts….