'Outdated, unfair and unliveable' - Greens announce sweeping new policy targeting poverty reduction

Source: 1News

The Green Party has announced a sweeping new policy aiming to reduce poverty in New Zealand, ahead of the 2020 General Election.

Party co-leaders, Marama Davidson and James Shaw made the announcement today, Ms Davidson saying their Poverty Action Plan will replace New Zealand’s "outdated, unfair and unliveable welfare system with real, unconditional support for all of us”.

The plan includes a Guaranteed Minimum Income which would provide anyone not in fulltime paid work, including students, at least $325 per week. It would replace both the student allowance and the basic jobseeker benefit, which pays $250 per week. 

Changes to abatement and relationship rules would mean people and their partners can earn more from paid work without their benefit entitlements changing.

Ms Davidson said the current system is "rigged, so few have more than they will ever need, while far too many will always struggle".

If elected, it would also introduce a new tax of 1 per cent on an individual’s net wealth above $1 million and 2 per cent over $2 million. The tax would affect the top 6 per cent of the wealthiest New Zealanders.

“This is about a creating a society where we can all move forward, not just the wealthiest few,” Ms Davidson said.

The welfare reforms would be paid for by taxing the wealthy, its policy outlined.

“We tax work but we don’t tax wealth,” the Party said in a policy summary.

“Those with a lot of wealth will pay it forward. This is about sharing what we have," Ms Davidson said.

“Those who have large amounts of wealth are not asked to contribute to help everyone else. This hole in the tax system has allowed most of Aotearoa’s wealth to accumulate with a small number of people.”

The Policy Action Plan would be expected to raise $7.9 million in its first year, covering the Guaranteed Minimum Income’s costs.

Other reforms included replacing the Working for Families tax credits with a single Family Support Credit of $190 a week for the first child and $120 a week for subsequent children.

Single parents would also receive more support and would get an extra $110 a week to “recognise the incredibly difficult task of raising children on a single income,” according to the policy.

The Best Start payment would also be increased to $100 per week for each child under three; currently it's $60 per week. 

ACC would be reformed into an Agency for Comprehensive Care, meaning that people who are injured or sick would receive a guaranteed payment of at least 80 per cent of the fulltime minimum wage.

“By simply supporting people to look after themselves and their family we are protecting future generations,” Ms Davidson said.

“We are moving further and faster to dismantle generations of systemic poverty and create a country where we can all live with dignity.”