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'Blame the Planner' bizarre approach to child poverty

The National Government is stooping to a bizarre new low in blaming “planning processes” for  poverty and inequality, after spending six years doing nothing about either the housing market or child poverty, the Green Party said today.

Finance Minister Bill English reportedly said today that urban planning processes had done more to increase income inequality and poverty in New Zealand than “most other policies,” saying that inequality would have been improving if it wasn’t for growing house prices.

“After spending the last six years denying child poverty and inequality, it is just bizarre for the National Government to now not only admit there’s an inequality problem, but to blame it on urban planning processes,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“This looks suspiciously like National is using its new found acknowledgement of child poverty as an excuse to rip the guts out of the Resource Management Act,” Mrs Turei said.

“National has received report after report about child poverty and not one has blamed planning processes. It’s not ok to use child poverty as an lever for property developers to make more money.

“It is true that families are struggling under rising housing costs and MSD’s own data shows this is making child poverty and inequality worse. But severely low income is also to blame as well as a complete lack of a Government strategy or targets to reduce poverty at its source.

“The key recommendation from all the experts is that the Government adopt a child poverty strategy that measures and sets targets for ending poverty. The Green Party has offered to work with all other parties, including National on a cross-Parliament long term plan, which is what the experts say is needed.

“The fact is New Zealand desperately needs more affordable homes, but for the past six years National has sat on its hands while the housing market gets out control and home ownership becomes even further out of reach. National has failed to curb speculation in housing investment, and its Housing Accord has not resulted in even one house being built.

"The Green Partly believes central and local government should take the lead in building more affordable housing. We would build more state houses and fund third parties to provide affordable housing. It’s not an either or – both need addressing if we’re going to address our housing crisis, ” Mrs Turei said.