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Employment

Parliamentary matters 02 February 2018 (Edition 2/2018)

Parliament resumed for the calendar year this week.  Some items of note were:

  • On Wednesday the Child Poverty Reduction Bill was introduced to Parliament (see article above.)
  • On Tuesday the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill was read a first time and referred to the Health Committee. This is a Labour Party bill that proposes amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act, allowing terminally ill people to use cannabis-based products, and to legalize and regulate medical cannabidiol (CBD) products.  A supplementary Green Party Bill introduced on Wednesday that sought to allow people suffering from a debilitating condition to use cannabis if supported by a registered medical practitioner failed at its first reading, and will not be considered further.  (I.e. the Labour Party bill is centered on developing and regulating cannabis-based medicine, the Green Party bill had been centered on allowing usage of cannabis (quality and quantity unknown) by anyone with a medical certificate.   We have included the issue here given the Māori population has a high cannabis usage rate.  (The New Zealand Health Survey indicates up to 25% of Māori adults used cannabis at least once within a twelve month period.)
  • On Tuesday the Employment Relations Amendment Bill was introduced.  According to the Government the purpose of the bill is to “restore key minimum standards and protections for employees, and to implement a suite of changes to promote and strengthen collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace.”  Pānui edition 1/2018 advised many of the changes proposed will support low income workers, and Māori are over-represented in that area.  e. one-in-five Māori (circa 50,000) are in ‘low skilled occupations’, such as labourers.
  • On Tuesday the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill was read a first time and referred to the Justice Committee. This bill aims to prevent a person from remaining in Parliament if they leave the Party in which they stood for.  We note National’s Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako, has advised he considers this ‘waka jumping bill’ to be bad for Māori representation, and Māori MPs have a duty not just to their party, but also to act in the best interests of Māori, and this bill could prevent that.

Low Pay Research Released 02 February 2018 (Edition 2/2018)

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has published research it has commissioned on low pay. The research was undertaken by Auckland University of Technology, and is entitled, ‘Low Pay in New Zealand’.  The findings are derived from tax data MBIE accessed from Inland Revenue for 2015, so a much better source than other surveys.  The researchers use two definitions of low pay:

the ‘OECD method’ of anyone who earns less than two-thirds of the median wage (in 2015 the median wage was circa $23.50 per hour  so anyone who earns circa $15.65 per hour or less);

anyone who earns less than 120% of the minimum wage.  In 2015 the minimum wage was $14.75 per hour, so anyone who was earning less than $17.70 per hour at that time is included in this research definition.  (The minimum wage is now $16.75 per hour so it currently refers to people earning less than $20.10 per hour.)

Māori, Pacific and Asian workers are identified as groups with high proportions of low income earners (i.e. ‘being non-European’). Other linkages were shown with ‘being female’, working part-time, aged 20-29 years or over 65, and low education attainment.  As shown in the table below, the report indicates (in 2015) 31% of Māori earned less than 120% of the minimum wage.  We calculate that to be circa 84,000 tangata Māori.  Below is a table we constructed from data in the report, matched with Statistics New Zealand employment data.

Low Pay 2015 – Proportion of Employed
  All employed Māori* European NZ*
OCED low pay measure 11.1%  (206,300) 14% (37,900) 9% (158,100)
120% Min Wage low pay measure 24.9%  (463,000) 31% (83,800)

 

22% (386,600)
*Percentages herein are from a graph within the research report.  Numeric estimates are from Household Labour Force Survey September 2015 data. The Labour Force Survey counts people who were unemployed. I.e. 270,400 Māori and 1,757,200 European NZers.  The sources mean there will be small sample size differences.

Overall we advise this is a technical report, and the findings above perhaps says it all – one in three Māori are likely to be on low wages, compared with one in four non-Māori. We have no issues with the methodology, and the report is a useful contribution to employment and minimum wage policy debates currently occurring between political parties.
http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/employment-skills/labour-market-reports/low-pay-in-new-zealand/?searchterm=low%20pay%2A

Employment Sector – Policy Changes Underway 26 January 2018 (Edition 1/2018)

For the Labour Party, employment and labour laws have traditionally been a central policy theme. This Government is clearly returning to that core political platform, with a number of labour market policy changes announced and underway.  Many such changes are focused on ‘vulnerable’ employees, such as those on lower wages or challenging employment conditions.  Māori are over-represented in this group, and for example 19% of Māori (52,300 people) worked in ‘low-skilled occupations’ (mainly as labourers) in 2016 and 39% (111,000 people) worked in ‘semi-skilled occupations’, compared to 10% and 35% for all New Zealanders .  This means the cumulative effect of these policy changes has the potential to make a lift in overall Māori household incomes and well-being.  Because of this we intend to provide a more detailed analysis on these issues in April.  However key changes underway in this area include:

  • raising the minimum wage to $16.50 per hour on 1 April, and continuing to increase it to $20 by 2021 (Māori are over-represented on or near the minimum wage);
  • reconvening the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles as the next step in pay equity for New Zealand women. (Māori women are, collectively one of the lowest paid groupings in the workforce.)   This group will be (a) determining the merit of a claim as a pay equity claim, and (b) considering how to select appropriate male comparators when assessing the work subject to a pay equity claim.  The group needs to work fast, and report to Ministers by the end of February, so that legislation can be introduced in the middle of this year.
  • removing the 90-day employment trial for businesses with over 19 staff, meaning people gaining employment with larger organisations have more immediate job security – so this incoming legislative change will apply to about 71% of all workers, but to only about 3% of all businesses/employers. (This is because 97% of employers have less than 20 staff, but these companies only engage 29% of all employees).

 

Māori News Stories for the Weeks Ending 15 May and 22 May 2015

Social Matters

Valuation of the Benefit System

Last Thursday the Minister of Social Development, Anne Tolley, released a summary of key findings from the report Valuation of the Benefit System for Working Age Adults: as at 30 June 2014. The report was prepared by Taylor Fry (a consultancy firm) and was published on the Ministry of Social Development website in February. 

The report outlines the lifetime costs of approximately 570,000 working-age Work and Income New Zealand clients who received income support for the year ending 30 June 2014.  The total estimated cost (liability) of benefit payments and related expenses for clients who received income support until they reach retirement age is $69 billion.  Key Māori findings of note are:

  • 38 percent of Work and Income New Zealand clients aged 18 to 24 years are Māori;
  • intergenerational benefit receipt was highest amongst Māori; with 87 percent of Māori clients aged 18 to 24 years having at least one parent receiving a benefit. The rate was 65 percent for non-Māori;[1]
  • 54 percent of Māori clients aged 18 to 24 years are clients with intensive family benefit history. A client with intensive family benefit history is described as a client whose parent was intensively in the benefit system during the years the client was aged 13 to 17 years.
  • Māori are disproportionately at risk of longer benefit reliance compared with non-Māori. The report identifies a correlation between intergenerational benefit receipt and longer benefit terms;
  • The concentration of Māori beneficiaries is highest in Northland, East Cost and Bay of Plenty regions;
  • Māori living in Auckland or Northland will receive on average $40,000 more in benefits than other ethnic groups in these regions.Despite these marked disparities between Māori and non-Māori, the study does not propose any solutions or recommendations for change.  We also advise, Minister Tolley’s press release on this matter failed to identify any issues presenting in relation to Māori – like her Ministry she remains silent on ethnic differences in this area.  That is, within the welfare sector there is still no formal acknowledgement of the need to consider and address Māori welfare dependency as a unique policy matter.The report can be viewed here:

http://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/newsroom/media-releases/2015/valuation.pdf

Census – Education and Training Data Released

Last Tuesday Statistics New Zealand published, 2013 Census – Education and Training Data.  The publication provides information on education, training engagement, and formal qualifications attained for people aged 15 years and over, derived from census data.

Overall the proportion of people with formal qualifications increased to 79 percent in 2013; up from 75 percent in 2006. For Māori 67 percent held a formal qualification in 2013; up from 60 percent in 2006. Noteworthy is the increase of Māori with bachelor degrees – increasing to 7.5 percent (27,057 people) in 2013, from 5.5 percent (17,907 people) in 2006.   Other findings of note were:

  • 30 percent of Māori aged 15-years and older have no formal qualifications;
  • the highest qualification for 41 percent of Māori (147,900) was a level 1–3 tertiary certificate; and
  • 48 percent of Māori aged 15 to 19 years were enrolled in school or tertiary study (circa 35,000 people).

The publication can be viewed here: http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/profile-and-summary-reports/qstats-education-training.aspx

 

Māori Life Expectancy

Earlier this month Statistics NZ published, The New Zealand Period Life Tables: 2012–14.   Findings show that the difference between Māori and non-Māori life expectancy at birth has reduced to 7.1 years (it was previously 7.3 years).  Male Māori life expectancy at birth is now 73 years, compared with 79.5 years for all males.  Māori female life expectancy is 77.1 years, compared with to 83.2 years for all females.

Quarterly Labour Market Scorecard – March 2015

Last Thursday the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released a Labour Market Scorecard for the quarter ending 31 March 2015. The scorecard is a one-page summary on labour market statistics and indicators. The key Māori statistics and indicators for the March 2015 quarter are:

  • 63.3 percent of Māori 18 year-old school levers in 2013 attained NCEA level 2 or higher;
  • 29.6 percent of Māori school levers in 2013 did not attain NCEA level 1;
  • the Māori unemployment rate is 12.6 percent; and
  • the Māori Labour force participation is 66.5 percent.Pānui has already advised on these matters as the data was released,referto Pānui 15/2015 for details.

     

    Economic Matters

    FoMA Members – Agricultural Production Tables as at 30 June 2014

    Last Monday Statistics New Zealand published agricultural production tables from a survey of farms owned by members of the Federation of Māori Authorities (FoMA), as at 30 June 2014.

    Key findings show the average size of a FoMA member farm is circa 2,260 hectares – approximately nine times larger than the average New Zealand farm size.  Federation members own and manage 266,400ha of farm and forestry; which represents 1.9% of New Zealand’s total farm and forestry production land.[2]  Federation members also own 0.9% of deer; 1.9% of sheep; 1.9% of beef cattle, and 0.6% of dairy stock in New Zealand.

    Pukeroa Oruawhata Group Receives Tourism Funding

    On Wednesday the Minister of Tourism, John Key, announced the Pukeroa Oruawhata Group and its business partner, World Spa Ltd, will receive $350,000 from the Tourism Growth Partnership fund.  The funding will be invested in the first stage of a proposed large scale health and well-being complex on the Rotorua lakefront.

    Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study Published

    Last Tuesday a Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study was published on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website. The report was prepared by MartinJenkins (a consultancy firm) and commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

    The report is the third in a series of regional growth studies, which have the purpose of “identifying the sectors and commercial opportunities in each region that have the potential to sustainably grow incomes, jobs and investment”.   We are reviewing this document to determine relevance for Māori, and will advise further.

    The report can be viewed here: http://www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/regions-cities/research/regional-growth-studies/toi-moana-bay-of-plenty-regional-growth-study-opportunities

     

    Ngāi Tahu Tourism Wins Trade Award

    Ngāi Tahu Tourism has won the Auckland International Airport Award for Excellence in Tourism at the HSBC China Business Awards.

     

    Te Tatau Pounamu – Māori Representation and Participation Conference

The New Zealand Māori Council will be hosting a one day Māori Representation and Participation Conference, 31 May 2015 in Palmerston North.  The conference is entitled Te Tatau Pounamu to register or view the full conference programme athttp://www.maoricouncil.com/2015/05/12/te-tatau-pounamu-conference-programme-and-registration/

 

 

Treaty Matters

Araukuku Hapū – Urgent Hearing with the Waitangi Tribunal Declined

This month Araukuku, a South Taranaki hapū lodged an application with the Wellington High Court seeking a review of a Waitangi Tribunal decision not to grant an urgent hearing into its claim (Wai 552) to have the hapū removed from Ngāruahine Deed of Settlement.  The Deed of Settlement was signed in August 2014, but the Tribunal application was only lodged in February 2015 (with Tribunal decision being released on 7 May).

 

The Crown purchase Battle of Ōrākau site

The Crown has purchased a 9.7 hectare property at Ōrākau near Kihikihi. The property was the site of the 1864 Battle of Ōrākau. The land will be placed in the Office of Treaty Settlements Landbank and maintained by the Crown while consultation with iwi, the Heritage Society and Waipa Council continue on its future governance and management.

 

Appointments

Dame Tariana Turia has been appointed to the Superu Board – Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit.

 



[1]Note, this is inclusive of beneficiaries aged 24 years.

[2]Federation members also own 0.9% of deer; 1.9% of sheep; 1.9% of beef cattle, and 0.6% of dairy stock in New Zealand.

 

Parliamentary matters and Māori news stories for the week ending 21 September 2012

  • On Wednesday the Local Government and Environment Select Committee tabled their report on the Mount Maunganui Borough Reclamation and Empowering Act Repeal Bill.  The Committee have recommended that the Bill is passed with minor amendments.  (This is supported by Tauranga Moana iwi, refer to E20/2012 for details.)
  • On Thursday the Commerce Select Committee heard oral submissions for the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill.  The purpose of this Bill is to increase community say over gaming machines within local authority areas, and includes a proposed power for communities to reduce the number of gaming machines.  The Committee will report back to Parliament by 9 November 2012.  (For details on this matter refer to Pānui E12/2012.)
  • On Thursday the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill was read for a first time and referred to the Social Services Committee. The Bill passed by 69 votes to 50 with National, New Zealand First, Act and United Future voting in favour; whilst the Labour, Green, Māori and Mana parties voted against it.  (Refer to Pānui E32/2012 for details on this matter.)

Māori news stories for the week ending 21 September 2012

  • John Bishara has been appointed Chairman of the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board.
  • Des Ratima has been elected Deputy Chairman of the New Zealand Māori Council.
  • On Tuesday the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) held a hui with Iwi leaders.  The focus of the hui was to discuss the potential of building a stronger relationship between iwi and the Council in order to improve the working lives of Māori workers.  This follows mediation from some iwi leaders in relation to Affco strikes and lockouts (refer to Pānui E15/2012 for reference notes).
  • On Tuesday Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust completed presenting their case against the Ministry of Social Development in the Auckland High Court.  Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust are challenging the Ministry’s decision to end a Family Start contract, valued at circa $1.4 million.  The parties are now awaiting the judges’ decision.
  • The Tainui Group Holdings Te Awa Retail Centre (‘the Base’) has won a silver award at the International Council of Shopping centres Asia Pacific Awards, in Shanghai.

Māori news stories for the week ending 31 August 2012

  • Tina Ngatai has been appointed General Manager of Ngāti Whakaue Tribal Lands Incorporated. 
  • On Monday an application for bail for Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara (two of the Urewera four) was declined in the Court of Appeal, Wellington.  The men were seeking bail while they wait to have an appeal hearing against their convictions for their involvement in military style camps in Te Urewera National Park in 2007.
  • On Monday Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust commenced its claim against the Ministry of Social Development in the Auckland High Court.  Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust are challenging the Ministry’s decision to end a Family Start contract, valued at circa $1.4 million.
  • On Wednesday the University of Otago hosted, Hui Poutama Research Symposium – Māori research symposium.
  • This week Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust hosted, Ngā Whetū Hei Whai: Charting Pathways for Māori Industry Futures Conference.
  • This week the annual Māori Medical Practitioners’ Association conference is being held at Ahipara.
  • This week the Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett, announced that some beneficiary jobseekers will be required to take a pre-employment drug test from July 2013.  Jobseekers will be sanctioned if they refuse or fail a drug test.  Sanctions have three degrees of severity; (first) a warning, (second) loss of 50% of benefit payment, (third) loss of full benefit.  Given Māori comprise 32% of beneficiaries, it is possible this policy will affect greater proportions of Māori than others. 
  • Iwi delegates attending the Pacific Island Forum (in Rarotonga) have expressed an interest in joining the forum’s Polynesian Leaders’ sub-group.
  • On Wednesday the Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister, Steven Joyce, and the Education Minister, Hekia Parata, released action plans on the Better Public Service targets relating to boosting skills and employment.   The information presented is largely a reiteration of existing planning in these areas.  There is some Māori-focused content, but it is not significant.  We are presently reviewing these materials, along with the recently released Māori Strategy of the New Zealand Qualification Authority.  

Māori news stories for the weeks ending 13 and 20 July 2012

  • Timoti Te Heuheu passed away last Thursday.
  • Philip Broughton (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāi Tahu) has been appointed as a member of the Education New Zealand Board.
  • Dr Selwyn Katene (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāruahine, Ngāti Tama) has been appointed as the Massey University Assistant Vice-Chancellor – Māori and Pasifika.
  • Enid Ratahi–Pryor (Ngāti Awa) has been appointed to the Housing New Zealand Corporation Board. 
  • On Monday Nelson’s first Kura Kaupapa Māori was opened, (Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tuia Te Matangi).
  • Last weekend an official opening was held for Pipiriki forest, Taranaki.  (Pipiriki is twenty hectares of Māori owned wetland. The area has been fenced and stock-proofed with assistance from the Māori Trustee, Te Puni Kōkiri, and other organisations.)
  • Last Monday the Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Steven Joyce, confirmed that $1 million would be invested into He Toki 2.0, a Canterbury Māori Trade-Training initiative.  He Toki 2.0 will be offered through Te Tapuae o Rēhua with support from Te Puni Kōkiri, which will oversee the initiative, along with the Ministry for Social Development and the Tertiary Education Commission.
  • On Monday the Glenn Family Foundation announced the launch of the ‘Otara Project’.  The project is focused on child and community wellbeing (reducing child abuse and domestic violence), and will receive $8 million from the Foundation.  The Glenn Family Foundation has pledged $80 million to national initiatives of this nature.
  • Te Whānau ā Apanui and Greenpeace are appealing the High Court’s decision not to overturn a permit to drill for oil off the East Cape, which has been issued to Petrobras (a Brazilian oil company).  The Gisborne District Council has also approved, without public notification, a consent for TAG Oil and the Apache Corporation to construct an oil drilling platform on a property north-east of Te Karaka.
  • Enviroschools Taranaki and Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre have signed new agreements to provide agricultural training on Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation farms.

Māori news stories for the week ending 4 May 2012

  • The Auckland Independent Māori Statutory Board has commenced a series of six hui to consult on health and wellbeing issues such as Te Reo Māori, housing and co-governance of natural resources.  Feedback from hui will be used to develop the Tāmaki Makaurau – Māori Wellbeing Plan.
  • Ngāti Kahungunu iwi continues to support locked out AFFCO (Wairoa) workers and their whānau through the provision of weekly food parcels and welfare advice.  The AFFCO  (Wairoa) plant is now in its tenth week of industrial action.
  • On Tuesday, Just Speak, the youth arm of Rethinking Crime and Punishment released a preliminary position paper called Māori and the Criminal Justice System: A Youth Perspective.  The position paper is highly supportive of research and recommendations made in Moana Jackson’s 1988 report He Whaipaanga Hou.

Māori news stories for the week ending 9 March 2012

  • Retired High Court judge and historian Sir Rodney Gallen passed away last Saturday.
  • Te Putea Whakatupu Trust will be offering up to ten Rona scholarships to Māori students completing a degree in fisheries, aquaculture, or marine sciences.  The value of each scholarship is $10,000.
  •  The Bay of Plenty Regional Council will host Te Tōanga Mai o Te Ra, a one-day conference to promote and enhance ways to build Māori capacity and capability to contribute to Council decision-making.  Te Tōanga Mai o Te Ra is to be held on April 23, in Tauranga.
  • An interim report on the Rena grounding was publicly released yesterday by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.  It has found the Rena was taking shortcuts to enter Tauranga harbour, in order to save time and beat the changing tide.
  • The Cabinet Office has posted Ministerial delegations on its website.  We note, of particular interest, that Tariana Turia’s role as Associate Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister has a delegation for leading the development of strategies and programmes to enhance and improve employment outcomes for Māori and Pacific peoples.  This is a new delegation and fits with the expressed intent in the National / Māori Party confidence and supply agreement to focus on employment programmes, and other comments from the Māori Party proposing that Te Puni Kōkiri be reoriented towards this task.  

Act Party: manifesto commitments:omnibus excerpt

ACT Party – Māori focused matters

The ACT Party has nineteen policy statements, and Māori interests are captured almost exclusively in one of these, entitled the ‘One Law for All’ policy proposal.  (The only other place the word Māori appears is under Welfare where ACT notes the high numbers of Māori on welfare.)  The ‘One Law for All’ proposal is, as the name suggests, a proposition that Māori-focused representative interventions are not required, and should be abolished from legislative frameworks at all levels.  For example, removal of Māori electorate seats in parliament, no Māori-wards at local government level, removal of Māori consultation requirements from the Resource Management Act, etc.  

Although not accepting Māori-specific representative mechanisms, the ACT Party does acknowledge the existence of Treaty of Waitangi grievances, and supports the acceleration of Treaty compensation processes.  (We note other parties tend to speak of Treaty settlements not ‘compensation’ per se, in recognition of the low value of settlements relative to the scale of the grievances, and value of assets lost through Treaty breaches.)

The ACT Party notes significant disparities between Māori and non-Māori in the social sector, and suggests the solutions to these are increased choice for Māori, in order to access better services.  Increased choice, however, does not extend to Māori language in schools, which Party Leader, Don Brash, yesterday dismissed as a policy option.

In our assessment, the ACT Party policy positions on Māori interests are reflective of two bygone eras.  First, limited Māori-specific input on social representative structures is reflective of the 1950s and 1960s when Māori had little input in macro policy developments, such as urban planning.  Subscribers familiar with Māori history will be aware this was a period of intensive (and facilitated) Māori urbanisation, and decision-makers (non-Māori) deliberately elected a Māori ‘pepper-popping’ housing approach.  This period is now acknowledged as a central disconnecting point for Māori communities, contributing significantly to the breakdown of inter-generational Māori language transmission, and a loss of iwi and marae identity amongst Māori at that time.  Given those types of historic negative outcomes, it is difficult to see any usefulness for Māori in foregoing representative models of decision-making in today’s context.     

The second aspect of ACT’s policy position is to create ‘market-choice’ in the social sector.  This is reflective of social policies attempted in the mid-1980s.  Again, the historic experience for Māori during this time period was significant social upheaval with negative social policy outcomes, such as record (25%) Māori unemployment.   There is no evidence that market-choice at that time improving Māori wellbeing – in fact the results of this policy era lead to a ‘closing the gaps policy in the mid-1990s.  As an example, research shows ‘choice-theory’ in the school lead to school selection of students and ‘white-flight’, leading to resources actually being shifted away from Māori – and consequently less educational provisions for Māori communities (and ultimately educational results for Māori learners did not improve).  Again then, the historic experience of this type of policy framework does not demonstrate policy advancements for Māori.

Although we have tried to highlight potential positives and negative  aspects within the policy framework of all parties reviewed, in the case of ACT it is challenging to see any degree of responsiveness to Māori collective issues based on historic evidence or stated Māori aspiration.  This is, of course, part of the political positioning of this party, on the political right, with a focus on individuals (not groups), and a focus on market driven choice (not targeted interventions). 

From week ending 11 November 2011

Mana Party: manifesto commitments: omnibus excerpt

Mana Party – Māori focused matters

Despite its relative newness, the Mana Party has developed twelve broad policy platforms, all of which take into account specific Māori interests.  These policies, and salient features, are highlighted in the table that follows.

Mana Party Notes – salient aspects of Māori-focused policy proposals
Livelihoods and Economic Justice policies Abolish GST, and replace with a transaction tax, to increase Government tax revenue; introduce a requirement for all SoE and Māori corporate entities to prioritise the employment of New Zealanders, or face financial penalties; increase the minimum wage
Treaty Settlement policy (Draft) Increasing resourcing to the Waitangi Tribunal and empower the Tribunal to make binding decisions; establish an independent Treaty of Waitangi Commissioner; increase the value of treaty settlements by removing the ‘full and final’ aspect of existing settlements
Welfare and housing policies Provide a $1,000 one-off grant to all earning less than $30,000 before 25 December 2011; raise welfare payment levels, build 20,000 new state houses in two years
Te Reo Rangatira – Te Reo Māori policy Establish an independent Te Reo Māori Authority, elected by Māori to administer all government funding in this sector; target is for all New Zealanders to speak Māori by 2040
Education policy Free early childhood education; reduce costs of tertiary study; fund Māori providers (wānanga) as Treaty partners
Health and Disability Issues policies Reduce access to tobacco; ban the advertising of alcohol; community veto on ‘pokie’ machines; free medical care for under 16s and senior citizens; free family planning and contraceptive advice
Environment and Energy policy Iwi and hapū to have decision-making powers in local government environmental policy (and be resourced for this), ban deep-sea oil drilling; stop the partial sale of State-owned Enterprises

 

A number of these policies are similar to other parties that are positioned on the political left (e.g. increase the minimum wage, Māori representation at local government, increases in support for those in receipt of welfare, etc).  The unique stand-out feature, however, is that the Mana Party proposes that these initiatives be funded through a new transaction taxation system, with GST being abolished altogether. 

In our assessment, overall the Mana Party proposals suffer from the same lack of resource considerations as the Green Party. That is, no costings and little implementation information is provided, which shifts ideas away from robust policy analysis, and towards the realm of political platitudes.  For example, the Party’s most radical suggestion, a new transaction tax, has no research or evidence-base published with it.  This means it is entirely unclear how this might function to replace the $15 billion per annum the Government receives in GST payments.  A second example is that there are no details on how existing ‘full and final’ treaty settlements might be amended.

Mana Party – economic and social policies of interest

Within specific Māori economic areas, we are unconvinced that the Mana Party proposal to impose financial penalties on Māori corporate entities (iwi-owned companies) that do not first employ New Zealanders is neither required, fair nor useful, in improving productivity.  In our view, placing more restraints on Māori entities than others will actually disadvantage those Māori interests.

In the social policy realm, we note the Mana Party is alone in prompting the replacement of The Māori Language Commission with an independent, Māori-elected Te Reo Authority.  In our assessment, policy changes in this area are long overdue.  As discussed more fully previously (pānui 29 April 2011), there is little justification for current arrangements, where Māori have such limited say in this sector.  The current Māori Language Commission is a Crown Entity, and Māori/iwi have no formal role in the appointment process, nor in directing its business planning or language services.  Accordingly, in our assessment, the Mana Party is ahead of other parties in giving this matter greater consideration. (Although the Mana Party target of 100% of New Zealanders speaking Māori within three decades does read as overly ambitious). 

From week ending 11 November 2011

Green Party – manifesto commitments: omnibus excerpt

Green Party Māori focused matters

This election the Green Party is the only ‘mainstream’ political party to produce clear Māori specific policy.  It is noteworthy that both National and Labour have, since the last election, jettisoned specific Māori-related policy documentation.  We consider the size of the Māori voting electorate (15%), and the significance of issues (constitutional reform, treaty settlements, etc), to be sufficient to warrant policy views from all three of these larger political parties.

The Green Party has identified twelve key principles which lead to five ‘policy points’.  These policy areas are noted in the table below, along with salient aspects of the proposals.

Green Party – Māori Policy Salient aspects of the proposed policy
Respecting Rangatiratanga Legislative recognition of the Māori language version of the Treaty of Waitangi; entrenchment of Māori seats in parliament; new processes for Māori engagement in local government
Affirming and supporting Kaitiakitanga Rejecting the use of conservation land for Treaty settlements; processes for shared guardianship (with iwi) of natural heritage
Ensuring Access to Economic Prosperity Focus on increasing Māori employment levels via ‘sustainable’ employment; protection of Māori cultural intellectual property
Supporting Whaungatanga Māori language to be taught more in schools and within the wider community, whānau interactions with schools to be improved, Māori (restorative) justice initiatives to be advanced, recognition of the leadership role of Māori wahine
Health as Taonga ‘build capacity of Māori to manage their own health’; support rongoa Māori practitioners; greater funding for Māori health initiatives

 Overall the emphasis within the Green Party documentation is for greater Government resources to be spent on Māori areas of interest (for example Māori language, rongoa, etc);, and for increased Māori autonomy and representation (e.g. local government representation, restorative justice, etc).  We note most of these ideas have the potential to improve the wellbeing of Māori.  However we also note the documentation does not provide any actual quantitative measures for these ideas (e.g. how much more Te Reo in schools), and most importantly, it does not provide an estimate of resource to be set aside to achieve these outcomes. In our assessment, political parties that are serious about their policies provide ‘projected’ costings, and seek to demonstrate how they will reallocate resources or increase revenue to accommodate their proposed initiatives.  Because the Green Party does not do this with its specific Māori-focused policy the actual statements read closer to ‘wish list’ ideas rather than an actual policy programme.

We also note that the Green Party’s strong environmental focus permeates throughout its Māori-policy, and this has the effect of portraying Māori interests in a particular light – typically as ‘kaitiaki’ (guardians/carers) only on resource matters.  This is narrow, and ignores the diversity of Māori interests, including Māori industry developments and agricultural activities (refer to the Ngāi Tahu farming article below as an example).  This limitation extends to Treaty matters, with the Green Party indicating that they see Crown Conservation land as sacrosanct, and unavailable for settlement redress (regardless of how it was sourced); and that iwi and hapū have rights under the Treaty of Waitangi to manage their resources “within the constraints of sustainability”.   While this might be a good idea, we are fairly certain this concept is not contained within either linguistic version of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Green Party – economic and social proposals of interest

The Green Party’s key social policy proposal is to reduce child poverty, which is estimated at 235,000 children.  You will be aware from the pānui of 16 September, that financial hardship is disproportionally affecting significant numbers of Māori children (potentially circa 90,000).  Accordingly the Green Party social policy framework is focused on an issue of direct interest to Māori.

Proposals for reducing financial hardship for families include: (i) extending Working for Families tax credits to beneficiary families, (ii) increasing training opportunities for sole parents, (iii) raising the minimum wage, and (iv) creating health standards for rental properties.  To pay for this social programme, the Green Party proposes the creation of 100,000 new jobs within the renewable energy sector (with tax takes from these jobs creating Government revenue).  For example, the Party believes 20,000 new jobs can be created by extending the home insulation programme, and rebuilding in Christchurch, and a further 20,000 can be created in bio-fuel creation.  Consistent with other political parties, there is insufficient data to review this in full, but on the surface, these jobs creation numbers appear exceedingly optimistic.

From week ending 11 November 2011

National Party proposed changes to youth welfare payments

On Sunday the National Party  announced proposed changes to Youth Benefits under the Future Focus – welfare policy reform.  The changes proposes a shift to a job-focused benefit approach and is directly targeted at approxiamately 4,000 beneficiaries aged 16 -17-years receiving the Youth Benefit and 18-year-old parents receiving  the Domestic Purposes Benefit.    

The changes align with the Working Welfare Group’s view that the welfare system must not allow teenagers to conclude that long -term welfare dependence is more attractive than education, training or paid work.   

The National Party propose a more managed system of welfare payments which will include essential costs, such as rent, phone and power, being paid directly on the young person’s behalf.

Other basic living costs such as food will be paid for through an electronic voucher system.  This system will lessen opportunities for the user to purchase alcohol or tobacco products, and limit the amount of welfare money available for the young person to spend at their own discretion.

Criteria for welfare support will include engaging in education, training or work-based learning. To assist youth and youth parents transition into education or training  they will receive more focused case management and support, and childcare assistance will be made available for teen parents.

National have also propose amendments to the Privacy and Education Act, to allow for better tracking of students when they leave secondary school.  The amendments would require schools to inform the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development when a young person leaves school.

Household Labour Force Survey

Yesterday Statistics New Zealand released the Household Labour Force Survey for the quarter to the end of June 2011. 

Overall the survey shows a slight decrease in unemployment to 6.5% of the workforce, down  from 6.6% in the previous quarter.  For Māori the survey shows the unemployment rate is 12.6% – down 1% from the December 2010 quarter  (1.6 times higher than the overall rate). 

 Māori Youth unemployment remains high at 24.8% despite a 2.6% decrease since December 2010, the overall youth unemployment rate is 17.4% .