A coalition of social action groups in New Zealand has called on the country’s politicians to deliver fairer income distribution and better quality of life for New Zealanders, as the country prepares for next month’s General Election. The Equality Network (EN) brings together some 37 social service and advocacy organisations from across New Zealand, and includes the Anglican Diocese of Wellington and Auckland Anglican Diocese’s Social Justice Council; alongside the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services, Every Child Counts, Child Poverty Action Group, Living Wage Aotearoa, ActionStation and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.
In their pre-election statement, the Network is calling for the introduction of a living wage and fairer income support; a government-funded house building programme; and higher tax rates on higher income levels “to ensure that everyone contributes their fair share and enables our families . . . to thrive.”
“These key ideas, if enacted immediately, will help create a more equal New Zealand, one where everyone can pursue their dreams, a country where everyone has the resources they need to build a good life for their families and [community], where income and wealth reflect fairness and balance,” EN representatives said as they launched their report at the country’s parliament yesterday (Tuesday).
The Diocese of Wellington says that the housing crisis “the key issue” in the election. “We all know the stories: friends who can’t afford a home or struggle to pay their rent, families forced to pay for a motel or sleep in their car because of the lack of social housing, children getting sick because their home is too damp and cold,” the Bishop of Wellington, Justin Duckworth, said.
He is calling on the diocese to join a period of prayer, reflection and action ahead of the election. “As church members – homeowners, renters, landlords, communities and voters – we will consider the part we can each play, and listen to God’s call,” he said.
Throughout August, the diocese is encouraging Anglicans to use “reflection, resources and videos of other Christians’ creative responses to open our hearts and lives to personally respond to this crisis.”
It is hosting a Housing Election Forum on next Wednesday (9 August) and at the end of the month (27 August) it wants churches to hold “services of lament for New Zealanders living without stable or adequate housing.”
New Zealanders will elect 120 parliamentarians for its House of Representatives in the country’s general election on 23 September.