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Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party
Thursday 20 May 2010; 4pm
The Maori Party joins with the Government to congratulate the Minister of Finance for his leadership in trying to chart a pathway forward in this 2010 Budget statement.
The challenge that we in the Maori Party face every day in this House – is to lay the whariki for the long-term; to create the foundation for the generations to come.
We have every reason to believe, that with this Budget, and the emphasis accorded to Whanau Ora, that this is a Government prepared to invest in that foundation.
Whanau Ora is evidence of a Government prepared to back whanau; to back families; prepared to let the people determine their own solutions.
This is a Budget which has given a clear direction to providers and agencies alike, that we want to see outcomes; outcomes which derive from families having real ownership of their solutions.
The transformation that we seek through this approach is that in building whanau capability and nurturing resilience we are restoring to families that sense of collective responsibility to take care of their own.
From the Government’s perspective, $134 million dollars is an investment in outcomes achieved for whanau, for providers, and we believe the nation as a whole.
But most of all – this is an investment in how they do it – how we make the difference by placing trust in people.
The Minister of Finance has laid out the challenge for Aotearoa emerging from the sharper edges of a global recession.
We have an opportunity as a Parliament to sink further into a cycle of ever-spiralling debt, or to take some initiatives to back ourselves.
The changes that the budget brings with it, and I am thinking particularly of the tax impact, will not be universally popular; despite the acknowledgment from Mr English that at all taxable income levels, tax cuts will more than offset the GST rise.
We know that the biggest challenge will be in encouraging our constituency to look broader at the whole picture of the budget – rather than focusing on one measure in isolation.
And I am reminded of the wisdom of our rangatira from Whanganui, Dr Whakaari Rangitakuku Mete Kingi who told us,
Ko te pae tawhiti whaia kia tata,
Ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tina.
Seek out the distant horizons,
Cherish those that you attain.
The grim reality is we are in a situation in which we have been spending more than we earn.
If the horizons we seek are for a stronger economic outlook, a future in which our tamariki and our mokopuna will achieve the jobs, the incomes and the living standards that they aspire to, then we must be prepared to take bold action now.
Lifting long-term economic performance will require a careful balancing of measures of restraint and of support. But it is not as if whanau Maori are not used to the concept of making the most of meagre resources.
The mastery of Maori in managing massive crowds through tangi, whanau reunions, or events such as the Koroneihana, Poukai, iwi festivals and the Ratana church celebrations are legendary.
Our Maori incorporations have acquired a distinctive reputation for being conservative by nature. And at a whanau level, making do with what we have got is part of our history.
But we do not resile from a major issue which neither National nor Labour have ever responded to well – and that is the challenge to close the gaps. We have constantly argued for a more equitable society, where social and economic justice count for something.
In our Coalition Agreement we made the call to eliminate poverty and we will not resile from that challenge either.
And so we have advocated, ferociously, for this Budget to protect the most vulnerable and the immediate lift in benefits, Superannuation, student allowances and Working for Families to offset the GST increase.
But there are some aspects of this Budget that will help to focus on growth to help our families get ahead.
There is allocation of new funding to grow Maori productivity and export growth and support Maori innovation.
The $4.5million allocated for skills and training for Maori in the primary sector and Maori innovation; and the $4.5 million to support initiatives to strengthen and promote Maori tourism are key achievements for the Minister of Maori Affairs, and will help to build the recovery that we need.
There is twenty million dollars over four years for the Maori Innovations Fund in Vote Health which will support Maori service providers with the funding and resources they need to build, pilot and implement innovative whanau ora services.
The Housing Innovation Fund has been lifted with another boost of twenty million dollars to extend the fund for another year, thereby growing the supply of affordable housing for whanau.
The emphasis on the building blocks for families is also evident with an additional sixteen million dollars for grants and loans to support social and affordable housing.
And of course the additional twenty four million dollars to grow the Warm-Up New Zealand Heat Smart home insulation programme is immensely important to our families.
The Maori Party is very proud that we were able to increase the number of low income households that will benefit from this scheme by at least 8,500 - that’s about making a lifetime difference to every aspect of whanau wellbeing, including health, education and employment participation.
In the disability sector, the lifetime difference has been supported through the $1.5 million invested in promoting accessible housing for disabled people through the Lifetime Design Standard.
It will also be made through the three million dollars that has been allocated towards improving attitudes towards disabled persons; and the $2.34 million invested in promoting, protecting and monitoring the rights of disabled persons.
A key priority for me – and this Government – is to ensure that the voice of disabled persons is heard – and this Budget does that.
And while there is $93 million more for disability support I want to particularly draw attention to the very substantial injection of an additional twenty million dollars over the next two years for home modifications and equipment.
This will have a considerable impact on the waiting lists, and mean that people can access equipment and home modifications much sooner than they can now. While this is fantastic, there is so much more that we need to do and it will remain a key priority for me to continue this work.
We welcome the injection of ninety million dollars in community led participation in early childhood education and believe that this will have particular relevance for Maori and Pasifika families.
The increase of another $48 million dollars for Youth Guarantee will help our rangatahi to go forward on a more secure footing and I know that Dr Sharples is particularly pleased about the $12.6 million that will enable kura to benefit from specific and specialised Maori medium assessment tools – which will tell us whether there has been any difference has been made.
I am particularly pleased with an initiative within the Community and Voluntary Sector to support whanau to access the information highway through $7.9m to increase the Computers in Homes and Computer Club House initiatives.
Finally, Budget 2010 is about putting the support where it is most needed, and so I want to also acknowledge the initiative pioneered by Dr Sharples, with close to twenty million set aside for Whare Oranga Ake – rehabilitation centres which have beeen founded on kaupapa Maori, to help pre-release prisoners in their re-entry to their communities.
The Minister of Finance has talked about the goals of economic transformation. For the Maori Party, we see this Budget as about a transformation of another kind – the transformation of attitude.
An attitude which backs ourselves, an attitude which supports potential; an attitude which is about being self-sustaining and in charge of our own destiny; a Government attitude that trusts family and community to know best what their needs are.
We are in this for the long haul – and it is about that context that we, the Maori Party, support Budget 2010 for investing in the future for the next generation, nga taonga tuku iho.