Friday, December 16, 2011

A Trojan horse

Over the weekend the government signed a confidence and supply agreement with the Maori Party [PDF]. A core provision of this agreement was a "Ministerial Committee on Poverty". You'd think from its title that this committee would be about finding ways to reduce poverty, but you'd be wrong. Instead, its about finding ways for the government to save money:

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is clear what the new ministerial committee on poverty he heads won't be about - it won't set about throwing money at the problem of what he calls "hand-wringing or writing strategies".

It will be concerned with getting the best results from the hundred of millions of dollars being spent on social service delivery, he says.

In other words, "efficiencies" and cuts. And actual poor people and their lives and life-chances? They will be sacrificed to the almighty god of austerity. So much for the Maori Party actually helping its people.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill English, who will be chairing the Committee, seems to think that they won't need to actually measure poverty in any way because "a lot of that is already reported in the MSD's Social Report that it puts out each year" [audio, about 2 minutes in]. I guess he didn't get the memo that the Social Report has been cancelled, precisely to stop it from reporting those measures. Which doesn't exactly give us reason to have faith in him or his committee.