Recently, I launched one of our key election packages – ‘Mending the safety net.’
This is an ambitious package which would go a long way to fixing the poverty which harms too many communities in New Zealand today.
This plan will help more than 200,000 children who are living in poverty through no fault of their own. It will put more money in the hands of people who need it the most – low income communities trying to get ahead and ensure that their children have the best possible start in life.
We will do this through a combination of raising benefit levels, increasing Working For Families payments, and encouraging people to study and work.
Working more when you are on income support has meant losing income – often making work not pay off financially.
We will change the rules so that you can keep more of your money if you choose to work.
Communities around New Zealand know that education is often a way out of poverty and a great way to expand your circle and your world view.
When I was on the benefit, I used the Training Incentive Allowance to study.
Eventually, I became a corporate lawyer for Simpson Grierson, then a Green Party MP and then Co-Leader.
This would have been so much harder – perhaps impossible without the Training Incentive Allowance to help me and my kids while I was studying.
The Green Party wants to support people who want to get ahead through studying and we will bring back the Training Incentive Allowance to enable New Zealanders to achieve their full potential.
We will also increase the student allowance by 20% because while costs are rising – student incomes have stagnated.
We are on the side of people who are studying – whether they a single mum doing a law degree part time or someone just out of high school studying a trade.
We know from census data that Asian New Zealand communities have one of the lowest levels of median personal income in New Zealand at $20,100.
This is well below the European average at $30,900.
We will help close this gap by increasing Working For Families payments and reducing the bottom tax rate.
The Greens at the heart of Government will not use poverty as a weapon against our own people. Not now. Not ever.
We are proud to stand alongside people who are struggling and change New Zealand so that the poorest in society, and all New Zealanders can thrive.
Metiria Turei is Co-Leader of the Green Party of New Zealand.