Like many other migrants, I moved to New Zealand for its stunning natural beauty, a world class education system and its reputation as a safe, fair society. New Zealand is a wonderful country and staying on and making it my home was the best decision I have ever made.
However, there’s so much more we need to do to ensure that everyone regardless of their socio-economic status or background have the same opportunities and access to services. As many have said, the greatness of a society and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats it's most vulnerable.
In New Zealand today, we have 75,000 children who live in cold, damp, mouldy homes – over half of them have at least one parent who is working. Every year, 40,000 children are hospitalized with preventable respiratory illnesses largely caused by substandard rental homes. Homelessness figures have been rising and we now have 41,000 people who are living in cars, garages and tents or sleeping rough on the streets. Most people my age can’t even dream of buying a home unless their parents can afford to help them out financially.
On the campaign trail, I meet young mums who tell me they have to choose between putting food on the table. More than 500,000 New Zealanders can’t afford to see their GP. New Zealand has got the worst access to equitable primary health care in the developed world, second only to America. Since 2009, there has been a 51 per cent increase in total mental health callouts to the Police, who call it an ‘indictment’ on the wider mental health service that Police are left to care for the most vulnerable.
In 2016, then Police Minister Judith Collins signed off a four-year Police strategic plan that stated there would be no increase of Police numbers for the four-year duration. After considerable opposition from Labour, the government decided to increase Police numbers by 880. Unfortunately, according to NZ Police an increase of just 880 meant “there will be no dedicated extra resources for rural New Zealand or Auckland and limited additional crime prevention capacity.” NZ Police asked for an increase of 1165 Police to make even a ten per cent reduction in serious crime.
Labour’s fiscal plan focuses on addressing the Government’s chronic underfunding of health, community safety, education and housing instead of giving tax cuts to the rich. The next Labour-led government will ensure that our nation once again treats its most vulnerable with dignity. In September, please use your vote to change the government to one that works for the many, not the few.
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