We can be justifiably proud of our Government’s approach to the Covid 19 virus crisis. It has acted quickly recognising the WHO recommendations. The country “lock-down’ will do much to stop the spread of the virus and the Government support for people and businesses is to be commended. This will hopefully put us in a better position to face the future and recover from the damage that the virus is doing and will certainly continue to do. Further, most are following Government instructions and people are working together in their communities to make the best of their situations, by forming neighborhood support groups.
However some cracks are opening and even though the Government is responding with changes to the support packages, many would describe the crisis as a three way issue.
First is the virus and the damage it is doing to people. Then there is no doubt that there will be long term damage to the economy. But thirdly, many people concerned about social justice are now describing the crisis as an inequality crisis and the Government must recognise this.
Those most impacted are those on basic incomes or benefits. Many cannot store food and must visit supermarkets every few days. At present they find that shelves are empty of many basic needs, owing to an excess of panic-buying by selfish hoarders. Many cannot afford to top up their cellphones, do not have IT devices for their children to access educational programs, have no internet access and do not have strong neighbourhood support groups.
Many of those with mental health problems feel powerless, especially if they live alone. There are still many uncertainties about what will happen as well as the anxieties of subsisting on a very low benefit or income. And the stress levels for many young people are very high.
And what about the homeless? Those sleeping rough, couch-surfing and living in overcrowded accommodation will further struggle to self-isolate and survive.
Covid-19 is impacting unequally on those most vulnerable. Those at the lower end are suffering whereas those who are well-off have the resources to cope much better. So it is an inequality crisis and the Government must do something about it. In the GFC the poor suffered most and took much longer than the wealthy to get over the impact.
The Government must among other things:
• Significantly increase benefits. The recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group would be a great start.
• Increase the incomes of the low paid by increasing the Working For Families Tax credits, making them available to all and not just those in the workforce. Actual government grants to all these people.
• Ensure that there are enough well stocked food outlets so that all can get food when they need and ensure that panic buying does not result in empty shelves
• Ensuring that the homeless are well looked after. This will significantly slow the spread of the virus, and benefit us all.
• Encourage the establishment of neighbourhood support groups.
With this further support from Government we can get through this together and significantly reduce inequality of outcomes for Covid 19.
Dr. Prudence Stone for the Equality Network. 0272898987
The Equality Network is grouping of 36 New Zealand organizations all of whom promote social justice. It operates under the principle that more equal societies are better for all. For more information visit our website: www.equalitynetwork.org.nz
Tax Justice Aotearoa is planning an active year, including:
• Producing more policy briefs. We want to examine income taxes, a land tax, Te Tiriti and tax, environmental taxes, international taxation and a financial transactions tax. Get in touch if you have any interest or expertise in these areas, and would like to help.
• Building on the success of Tax on Tuesdays with two more series. The first will focus on environmental taxes; the second on tax, benefits, in-work poverty and housing.
• Running a modest social media campaign to show people what their taxes get them – the quality public services we all value so much.
• Continuing to meet with ministers, parliamentarians and policy-makers to talk about how to reduce and prevent inequality with taxes.
• Continuing to engage with others, grow our network and membership, and share messaging. [email protected] for more details or to join the campaign.
Living Wage are holding an election forum on 20 August: 6:30pm – 8:00pm at St. Matthew in the City Auckland
Together with Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga they will also be facilitating a 2-day Community Organising Foundation Training on 26 & 27 March, 9:00-4:30pm, Manurewa Baptist Church, 9 Lopton Road, Manurewa. Refer www.livingwage.org.nz for more details
Want to be sure that your messages get across? The Workshop is offering appropriate training sessions in Wellington and Christchurch, with more to come this year! Given it is election year, the year ahead will be filled with public (and private) conversations about the big issues that affect New Zealanders and the world. Leading those conversations in ways that deepen people’s understanding of the problem and motivates them to support the most effective and inclusive solutions, is critical to ensuring your work brings about positive change in the world.
We are continuing to grow the evidence base of how to do this work with our unique research and integrate it into our training. Book your team into one of our strategic communication sessions to build your skills. Introductory sessions for the first timers, and Masterclasses for those who want to further their learning and practice. Or you can talk to us about in-house sessions.
The last in the Tax on Tuesdays series is on Tuesday 12 November: Where’s the Party At? NZ Herald journalist Hamish Rutherford chairs political party representatives David Seymour, James Shaw, Deborah Russell and Paul Goldsmith as they share their views about tax, present and future, as well its relationship to equality, climate and economic productivity.
12:00 – 1:30pm, Rutherford House Lecture Theatre 2, Pipitea Campus, Victoria University of Wellington.
CPAG is holding a Summit in November and all are welcome. See. https://www.cpag.org.nz/cpag-summit-2019-november-18-whakamana-tangata/ for details.
There are two ways that you can help the campaign for PAY EQUITY
1. Sign the CTU’s petition calling on the government to fix problems with the Amendment Bill before it goes to its third reading.
2. Sign the Human Rights Commission’s petition calling for a Pay Transparency Office and additional requirements for 100+ employers (to review, report and take action on gender pay gaps).
Volunteering New Zealand has its annual conference ‘Pivot’ coming up from 15-17 October in Wellington. The Pivot Conference theme “Linking vision to action” challenges leaders and managers of volunteers to translate new ideas shared at Pivot into action within their organisation and practice. Learn more and book tickets here
Wellington Time Bank are hosting an annual film fundraiser on October the 9th, screening the very relevant film: 2040, with a speech from feminist and activist Lily Parkin, from the Climate Strike Movement, from 5pm. More details here
Tax on Tuesdays has been launched by Tax Justice Aotearoa, Victoria University’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies and the PSA to encourage debate and discussion.
Tuesday 8 October: A Slice of the PIE: Creating a more productive, inclusive economy. Join Bernard Hickey, Geoff Bertram and Alison Pavlovich to consider what the ideal tax system looks like to support a productive, inclusive economy. 12:30-1.30pm, Government Buildings Lecture Theatre 4, Pipitea Campus, Victoria University of Wellington.
Tuesday 12 November: Where’s the Party At? Political party representatives tell us NZ Herald journalist Hamish Rutherford chairs a panel of political party representatives as they share their views about tax, present and future, as well its relationship to equality, climate and economic productivity. 12:00 – 1:30pm, Rutherford House Lecture Theatre 2, Pipitea Campus, Victoria University of Wellington.
Hui E! is currently having conversations with interested groups on how to follow up on the Voluntary National Report on the Sustainable Development Goals and the civil society Alternative Report. If you want to be involved or are interested in staying informed, sign up to the SDG Network List here