“Families on low incomes are doing it tougher than ever before. They can’t absorb the rising cost of living, and by the end of the week the food runs out. It’s an awful way to live.”
KidsCan founder Julie Chapman made this comment in a news story about King Country families in Kāwhia, who are at breaking point, as New Zealand’s cost of living crisis bites.
KidsCan is dealing with those at the very heart of New Zealand’s current cost of living crisis and her organisation is overwhelmed. Already helping to feed a record 44,000 children via schools and ECE centres, thousands more are on a waitlist.
It is a telling call for help. And it’s not the only one.
Throughout my electorate, Parliament, and the places I go in between, food and fuel prices are the biggest topics of conversation.
Given what I do, talks quickly turn to another F word — failure.
Failure by the Government to do anything remotely useful to address the crisis we’re all living in.
Wages are falling rapidly behind rising interest rates due the inflation rate, the highest in our history. Businesses are fighting major skill shortages, desperate for workers, and facing increased costs across the board.
Labour has also presided over the single worst yearly increase in rents since records began. The average median rent is now an eye-watering $540 a week — up $50 on the previous year — again, the highest ever yearly increase on record.
The Government likes to put all this down to global conditions, to COVID-19, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and anything else that comes mind, rather than its poor fiscal management.
Statistics NZ’s latest figures show food prices are now 6.8% higher than this time last year.
The breakdown is alarming — fruit and vegetables up 10%, meat, poultry and fish up 7%, grocery food prices up 7.4%, ready-to-eat meals up 6% and non-alcoholic beverages up 2.7%
The reality is mothers are eating less so their growing children can eat more; families can’t afford speciality foods needed due to allergy/health problems, and tenants are planting vegetables, if they have a back yard, while trying not to breach tenancy agreements.
Labour puts our astronomical food prices down to decisions made by our supermarket duopoly, while failing miserably to own the starring role it has taken in creating the cost of living catastrophe, in which we are living.
Instead of producing an economic plan to tackle all of the above, the response of late has been to introduce a jobs tax, continue the major restructuring of our health and water systems and announce billions of dollars more in spending.
On June 28, the Commerce (Grocery Sector Covenants) Amendment Bill to stop supermarkets from using covenants in an anti-competitive way was passed.
But it will do little to help our current state of affairs.
New Zealanders are struggling, and suffering, under the yoke of this kind of governance.
National has offered several constructive policies and a five-point plan to fight inflation to Labour.
That plan is:
- to refocus the Reserve Bank on price stability;
- stop adding unnecessary costs to businesses and employers;
- reduce the bottlenecks that are holding back growth, including addressing labour shortages;
- restore discipline to Government spending and
- inflation-adjust tax brackets to increase Kiwis’ disposable incomes.
A National Government would be focused on removing bottlenecks in our economy – improving immigration pathways, eliminating deadweight regulations, and ending plans for new taxes.
But the Government refuses to accept the help and the reality of the economic situation they have created.
And for that, they must accept the blame.
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