Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 2
Poverty : How would you ensure no one needs to live in poverty?
Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over the past 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog starting today (Tuesday 10th September), till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.
Question : What strategies would you wish to put in place to ensure no one needed to live in poverty? What steps would you advocate to significantly reduce the gap between the rich and the poor?
Submitted by : Ken Hutchison, Hastings and Bob Kirk, Auckland
Answer From David Cunliffe
Inequality is one of the biggest issues we face and we must strive to build a fairer, more inclusive New Zealand.
I am committed to a top tax rate of 39 per cent, the introduction of a capital gains tax, and making sure the wealthiest New Zealanders pay their share of tax. I will repeal National’s changes to the Employment Relations Act and I’ll ensure that we have fair employment laws, starting with industry standard agreements. I’ll raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in the first 100 days of a Labour Government and I’ll also invest in a living wage for all Kiwis – our government will set the standard.
We will need to create decent well-paid jobs. My aim is full employment, with every New Zealander who is ready, willing and able to work in a job or training for one. Creating these jobs will require an economic development package that gets Government off the side-lines and into new partnerships with the community, the regions, and local government to create economic and social value.
Answer from Shane Jones
The minimum wage should be lifted to $15per hour. However as our housing policy, power policy, early childhood education, primary health care improvements roll out, household budgets will improve.
A review of supermarket behaviour is vital because the cost of food in NZ is absurdly high. The cost of rental property must come down.
I understand the need for a living wage. I would start by implementing such a policy in the aged care sector as per the report by Judy McGregor.
I do not have the fiscal data to offer an open ended commitment beyond that point. I am concerned that this policy could be seen as good for State employees but will not apply to those in the private sector. We must remember it will be paid for by tax payers not employed by the Government.
Answer from Grant Robertson
Growing inequality is the most urgent issue facing our country.
We must have the courage to be bold and tackle it head on. This includes giving all children a good start in life in a warm, dry safe home. And it means lifting wages.
We can directly influence this by lifting the minimum wage immediately to $15 per hour, and supporting the Living Wage Campaign.
The government should show leadership to lift the wages of those who work for us, and send the clear signal that anyone who contracts to government should pay the Living Wage.
We also need to build a productive, people centred economy that will deliver higher wages. This includes giving workers back some power in wage negotiations through collective bargaining and industry standard agreements.
I will introduce legislation in my first 100 days, developed with unions to make this happen. We must also use the tax system to ensure everyone pays their fair share. This includes a capital gains tax, cracking down on tax evasion and lifting the top rate for high income earners. If everyone pays their fair share, everyone can have a fair go.