The Green Party is putting a Member’s Bill into the ballot today which will be a significant step towards overhauling the Social Security Act by embedding a tikanga Māori framework into the welfare system.
Green Party spokesperson for Social Development & Employment Ricardo Menéndez March will submit his Social Security (Purpose and Principles for the Elimination of Hardship) Amendment Bill today that will incorporate recommendations one and two of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s 2019 report. The key changes will be to embed Kia Piki Ake Te Mana Tāngata and Te Tiriti o Waitangi into the welfare system.
The Bill will also mandate the welfare system to “eliminate hardship”, rather than just “help alleviate hardship” as the Act currently says.
“Everyone deserves to live with dignity. But our current social safety net doesn’t do enough to help people get by and fully participate in their communities,” Ricardo Menéndez March says.
“Any changes to our social security need to centre whānau, hapū and iwi, as we know our system disproportionately affects Māori because of the ongoing impact of colonisation had on Tāngata Whenua.
“My Bill will be a significant step in our plan to totally rewrite the social security legislation and eliminate hardship, not just alleviate it.
“This Bill will be the start of changing the way Work and Income works on a day-to-day basis and the decision-making framework they must use when assisting people.
Green Party Māori Development spokesperson Dr Elizabeth Kerekere says this Member’s Bill will mandate the welfare system to whakamana tāngata.
“It is important we utilise the mātauranga Māori we have on what works for us. Our tikanga is something sacred and concepts like Tino Rangatiratanga, Mana Motuhake and Manaakiitanga need to be at the heart of changing our welfare system.
“As a party, we are committed to ensuring all New Zealanders and specifically Tāngata Whenua have a say on the issues that affect them, especially in the welfare system,” Dr Elizabeth Kerekere says.
As well as this Bill to change the purpose and principles of the Social Security Act, the Green Party will begin work on completely rewriting the legislation to be fairer and simpler, along the lines of our Poverty Action Plan, including a Guaranteed Minimum Income.
“We will work with Māori, disabled people and other affected communities, plus other experts, to develop new social security legislation. New Zealanders have been waiting too long for the Government to make the Social Security Act fairer and simpler, so the Green Party is going to do it.” says Ricardo Menéndez March.