4 November 2008 - As a way to provide temporary relief to families during the upcoming Christmas holiday period, the Maori Party has suggested that a $500 payment, tax free and in a lump sum, be paid in the first week of December 2008 to the families of all 230,000 children living in poverty. This will mean that some welcome financial relief during these hard economic times.
"$500 per child is a much needed boost to families struggling to pay the bills and feed the kids. It is only a temporary measure but one successfully applied in Australia this month to keep the economy moving and to support families during an already high-stress period" says Angeline Greensill, candidate for Hauraki-Waikato.
"The Maori Party believes in whanau ora and what better way to show that than by offering every child in poverty the chance to have a summer holiday, free from the stresses and strains of economic violence".
"And we are not stopping there."
"The Maori Party would also like to see a similar $500 one-off, lump sum tax free payment made to all 43,000 superannuates who have struggled over these last few months, so that they can also find temporary relief" says Ms Greensill.
Whanau ora means nobody gets left behind
"Our major policy focus throughout the 48th Parliament, and continuing throughout the election campaign, has been to address child poverty" said Hon Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party.
"The Maori Party has pledged to set a deadline to eliminate child poverty by 2020" said Mrs Turia. "We have also pledged to designate an official poverty line and to restore hope to the families of the 230,000 children who have been denied the support of Working for Families, by extending the in work payment to all families".
"We are calling on the next Government to demonstrate leadership by investigating the reintroduction of a universal child payment, in order that we tackle poverty comprehensively, once and for all".
"In our policy manifesto, we proposed the establishment of an 'Every Child Matters" fund. This was a concept to act quickly and appropriately, where help is required most" said Mrs Turia.
"What better, than to focus on our children, as our greatest hope?"
The courage to make a difference
"Our supporters see the Maori Party as the champions of the poor and the elderly, as we believe in the potential of the next generation and acknowledge the hard work of our superannuates".
"We have costed this at around $136.5m - less than 1% of the $150b offered the current Government to support and strengthen banks" said Dr Pita Sharples, co-leader of the Maori Party.
"This is the multiplier effect - we see supporting children in poverty and superannuates as our commitment to whanau ora and to strengthening the New Zealand economy."
Dr Sharples continued "This money will keep people buying; it will help businesses and workers by stimulating the economy, retailers will benefit from increased turnover".
The proposal is part of the economic package designed by the Maori Party, alongside removing GST from food, raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, encouraging greater business incentives and reduced tax on $25,000 income.
"Food bank use and loan sharking is on the rise and this is but one measure to alleviate that pressure. It will be up to the next Parliament to exhibit the courage to make this radical stand and to offer $500 to children in poverty and to our superannuates" says Greensill.
"In the spirit of Christmas, we hope they agree."
Ms Greensill will be announcing the policy proposal at Enderley Park Community Centre, 66 Tennyson Road; Hamilton at 3.30pm today.
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