WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Budget 2017 needs to focus on wellbeing of communities says social justice agency

WelCom May 2017:

Roger Ellis –

‘A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress. Frequently, in fact, people’s quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth.’ Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ #194, 2015

Cardinal John Dew talks with Kaikōura residents following the earthquake in the region last year. Photo: Supplied

With Budget 2017 being delivered on 25 May Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand echoes Pope Francis’ warning about development, and is urging the government to promote human dignity, participation and supporting vulnerable communities.

The Budget is about how to fairly allocate resources available to the government and needs to focus on the common good of all New Zealanders – especially the poor and vulnerable.

In its written submission on the Budget Policy Statement, the social-justice agency focuses on four areas in its call for the government to ensure economic growth brings a better quality of life for everyone in New Zealand and that no one misses out on essentials for wellbeing. The four areas are: the wellbeing of vulnerable communities; homelessness; protection of migrant workers; and climate change.

Following the major earthquake last year in the Kaikōura region Caritas welcomes the government’s support for the Kaikōura community as a strategic priority for Budget 2017. But local voices, including tangata whenua, must be included and guide the direction of the immediate and long-term recovery for the region and its people.

Caritas is advocating affordable and stable homes for all, for healthy communities and for families to flourish. While the government’s planned increase in the social-housing stock is necessary, it must also recognise the significant needs of low-income families and individuals.

The government has a responsibility to be proactive in upholding and protecting the dignity and rights of migrants in the workplace. Since 2013 an average of 600 complaints involving migrants has been placed each year to the Labour Inspectorate. In 2014, the inspectorate resolved 950 complaint cases – more than half involved migrant workers.

New Zealand needs to invest in mitigating and adapting to climate change and move towards a low-carbon economy to have a long-term productive and resilient economy. Caritas reiterates the recommendation for the government to set aside funds to help ensure this future.

Those affected by natural disasters, those who cannot afford to put a roof over their heads, migrants, and those impacted by climate change, need to have their voices heard and concerns addressed. By amplifying those voices and ensuring their needs are brought to the attention of policymakers, Caritas aims to ensure all New Zealanders have access to life’s essentials and that their dignity is enhanced rather than eroded.

Roger Ellis is Community Engagement Manager for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.