Amid a growing need for food banks, exacerbated by the pandemic, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she’ll need more than one term in Government to reduce poverty.
On the election campaign trail in Auckland today at Buttabean Motivation in South Auckland, Ardern said there were numerous reasons why families were facing food insecurity, like low wages and the lack of state housing.
“We can do things about that like lifting the minimum wage … by building more state houses,” she said.
“It does take time, though, to turn around long-term problems, so that’s why we do food banks in the meantime.”
She said Covid-19 “has really exacerbated the need [for food] that’s out there”, which was why the Government allocated $32 million in Budget 2020 for food banks.
When asked whether the next Government would inherit a food crisis, Ardern said there was “of course” a need.
“That is why we have said that we need to focus on lifting the incomes of our families. That’s how we’re going to overcome these issues.
“We need more than one term to do that, and that’s why we’re also seeking re-election.”
Seven out of nine of the poverty indicators has improved under her Government, Ardern said.
That's despite the Child Poverty Action group predicting 70,000 more children are expected to plunge into poverty due to the pandemic.
That would bring the number of children living in poverty in New Zealand to at least 300,000.
Ardern said “not all” of her Government’s policies “have worked as well as we intended”.
“But that is not a reason to do what the last Government did and ignore the problem and hope it will go away.
“But it does take time though, to turn around long term problems. So that’s why we are supporting food banks in the meantime.
When asked whether KiwiBuild, which didn’t meet Labour’s 2017 election promises, would still be a flagship policy, Ardern said it was important to look “across the board” and close tax loopholes and stop foreign house buyers and increase state housing stock.
“Through the Covid-19 response, our substantive plan, which is to increase public housing places, we have said that we want an extra 8000.”