Media releases

For Immediate Release

Tuesday 15 August 2017

TIME TO TURN UP THE PRESSURE ON CANDIDATES

Polls are showing that inequality is a top voter concern (Roy-Morgan and UMR Polls). The income equality group Closing the Gap is urging New Zealanders to push parties and candidates hard on inequality in the last few weeks of the election campaign.

Spokesperson Peter Malcolm said New Zealanders see the harms around them every day — from homelessness to child poverty to teen suicide — and all of us need to make clear we want serious action from the next Government.

“At Closing the Gap, we’re really heartened by surveys showing how much New Zealanders care about inequality, and it’s clear to us that their concern is making a difference to party policies,” he said.

Mr Malcolm said some parties were coming up with some good initiatives around things like building more social housing and raising benefit levels, but voters needed to keep the pressure on.

“We need firm commitments to raise taxes on the rich — higher income taxes and wealth taxes — as well as to boost the pay of low income earners, who right now simply can’t earn enough to feed and house their families,” he said.

As researcher Max Rashbrooke told us, since the mid-1980s, the inflation-adjusted annual incomes of the poorest 10th of New Zealanders have increased by no more than $2,000 while those of the richest 10th of New Zealanders have increased by $60,000.

Growth has delivered inflation and hard times rather than prosperity to people at the bottom of the barrel.  All of us bear the burden of that outcome, and that has to change. New Zealanders get it. We have to make sure every candidate running for office gets it, too.

LINKS:

Polling on issues:

http://closertogether.org.nz/roy-morgan-poll/

Max Rashbrooke on Inequality:

http://www.closingthegap.org.nz/inequality-stagnation-is-no-success/

ENDS


For Immediate Release

1 August 2017

CALLING ALL PARTIES: DO YOU SUPPORT A FAIR NZ OR NOT?

The urgency of New Zealand’s crisis of inequality and poverty has prompted the income equality group Closing the Gap to join more than 35 other organisations in calling for immediate action on three fronts: incomes, housing and taxes.

Spokesperson for the group, Peter Malcolm, said all 37 members of the Equality Network including Closing the Gap, agreed that this crisis demands urgent action, and that cross-party commitments are essential.

“New Zealanders of all political stripes are worried about the damage being done by our high levels of inequality, especially around homelessness and child poverty,” he said. “Crises like earthquakes and floods, even overseas wars, have brought us together in the past, so why can’t we come together to make a fairer society?”

Mr Malcolm said Closing the Gap, and the Equality Network, are calling on all parties this election season to commit to action in three key areas:

  • Income for all through a living age and fairer income support
  • A Government-funded house building programme
  • A tax on very high levels of wealth and higher tax rates on the highest incomes

The Equality Network is presenting these issues to Parliament from the parliamentary grounds at midday today.

“All of us need to put pressure on candidates and parties to commit to taking action in these three crucial areas, and if they won’t, to explain themselves,” he said.

“Now is the time to demand change, and all of us are the ones to do it,” he said.

LINK: Equality Network:

http://www.equalitynetwork.org.nz/


For Immediate Release

28 July 2017                                

BAD TAX POLICY FEEDING INEQUALITY, STUDY SHOWS

A new study from Oxfam shows the government’s failure to introduce fair taxes is a key cause of New Zealand’s persistently high level of inequality, Peter Malcolm, spokesperson for the income equality project Closing the Gap, said today.

The report by Oxfam and Development Finance International ranked 152 countries on their commitment to reducing inequality. New Zealand’s overall ranking is 30, but when it comes to progressive taxation, we rank a dismal 115th.

” The latest Household Incomes Report, released last Tuesday, shows how entrenched inequality has become in this country, and reinforces Oxfam’s assessment that this Government has failed to tackle inequality ,” Mr Malcolm said.

“Taken together, these reports demonstrate the need for a determined shift towards a steeply progressive tax regime targeting high earners, coupled with significant income increases for low earners and those on benefits,” Mr Malcolm said.

The Household Incomes Report explores how much housing costs are contributing to both poverty and inequality. “The lowest fifth of income earners are now paying more than half of their incomes for housing,” Mr Malcolm said, “compared with less than 30 percent in the 1980s.”

“In its response today, the Government focused on a paltry three percent rise in median household incomes, while downplaying the huge increases in housings costs, unacceptable levels of poverty, and the fact that there’s been absolutely no progress toward making New Zealand a more equal society,” he said.

“The level of inequality we have in New Zealand is bad for us all. The well off and the poor are happier, and more   healthy in a more equal society. This is a reminder of how this country was built on egalitarian values. Increases in benefits, the wages of the low paid, a wider, fairer, more   progressive, all encompassing—a tax on all capital gain—tax would go a long way to a more equal and fairer society.” Mr. Malcolm concluded..

Links/References: