GREEN MP, Holly Walker is warning that inequality poses a major threat to social cohesion and peace in New Zealand.
Speaking to the bi-monthly meeting of the Waiwhetu – Lower Hutt Peace Group, Ms Walker said she is passionate about, “closing the gap between the haves and the have nots.”
Those gaps have consequences for all levels of New Zealand society, she said.
She felt the situation has “reached a crisis point,” and children are bearing the brunt of the inequality trend.
“Every child deserves the same essentials and politicians should be in the business of providing those,” she said.
Ms Walker, who grew up with a mother on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPS) in Moera, knows first-hand the benefits of a functioning welfare system.
She said she was often concerned at the way Prime Minister, John Key and Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett have highlighted their welfare backgrounds as examples that hard work will get you anywhere.
Instead, Ms Walker said she believed that such experiences should be held up as examples of how government resources can and do make a difference to social inequality.
“After all, children have no control of the income status of their parents,” she said.
Ms Walker stressed the human cost of that inequality is a serious issue in New Zealand today.
“There are kids without a warm home, or enough food, that are facing grim futures.”
Ms Walker pointed out New Zealand’s poor international rank in terms of equality.
New Zealand is currently 10th on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) list of nations with the worst inequality in terms of income.
Nonetheless, Ms Walker said she holds hopeful that public recognition of issues of inequality is growing.
Ms Walker is planning on screening the documentary ‘Inside Child Poverty: A Special Report’ to as many groups as possible in an attempt to move the issue up the agenda.
The Waiwhetu-Lower Hutt Peace Group is a small group dedicated to matters of peace within New Zealand.
The chairman of the meeting noted that “a trend of arrogance associated with wealth and a lack of concern with equality ” currently existed in New Zealand.