Wednesday 16 November 2011

Policy Watch


Those in need have gifts to bring also, including exposure of hypocrisy and greed, and challenging unfair systems which become embedded in our societies.

Church Leaders statement 30 October 2011

We vote in less than two weeks. Policies, personalities, debates, not to mention cups of tea dominate the media. It’s easy to get confused or just plain irritated. This Policy Watch provides the NZCCSS-Election- Info- One-Stop- Shop: an easy access guide to issues, what the parties are saying, and where to get some good information.

Not enrolled? Find out what to do here

So what to think about when voting in the election?

1. Is it fair? The politicians choice
NZCCSS is using a Fairness Test to assess policies and asking how policies will increase or decrease fairness: whether they will lead to an increase or decrease in inequality of incomes, assets or access to services. Find out more.

Political candidates are committing to “building a fairer New Zealand and actively supporting policy measures to reduce inequality and bring people closer together.” It’s exciting stuff. Find the list of political candidates who have signed up so far here.

2. The Three Biggies: Inequality, Welfare and Children

Inequalities: “Responsibility is shared and reciprocal between those with resources and those with few; between those who make decisions and those with less influence. Responsibilities arise out of a sense that we are members of a single human family. Those in need are not burdens to be borne grudgingly, but brothers and sisters to be welcomed and accompanied.” So say the church leaders in their recent statement.

NZCCSS members also want a fairer society. The Salvation Army suggests thinking about “our collective ambitions for the economy.” ‘Are we are achieving a fair distribution between the various groups and interests in our society? Rather than leaving it to the market to decide, why isn’t it a conscious choice through democratic processes like voting?’

Caritas seeks some of the qualities seen during the Rugby World Cup: equality, teamwork, participation and inclusion.

Welfare reform: It’s been coming this way for a while now. Future focus policies require people to reapply for unemployment benefits after one year, and increased work testing for DPB and Sickness benefit recipients. It will continue to be on the agenda, whoever becomes the Government. A guide to the welfare debate can be found here.

Caritas has put out a guide to the welfare debate, the Salvation Army ask if we can afford our welfare system, and Christchurch’s Methodist Mission have produced a welfare fact sheet.

Laura Black from the Methodist Mission explains that the “welfare system isn't broken and it is working as intended”. She argues ‘Government should be focusing on the other half of the equation: job creation’ instead.

Children: Submissions on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children  are due on 28 February. Children are at the centre of election debates this year, and NZCCSS is pleased they are.  Our children don’t vote and depend on the rest of us for our wellbeing. A big issue is do we focus on the relatively few children that are described as the “most vulnerable” or do we focus on policies that seek to look after every child well with the aim that no child ends up among the “most vulnerable”? Resources in this area include Anglican Social Justice info on Family violence; Presbyterian resources on child and family election issues, and an Otago University Centre for public theology document entitled Working for families. The Salvation Army ask us to consider the ‘realities children and young people are face rather than the perceptions and sexy political and media headlines.

3. The inter-generational divide, and hoping for a house
Supporting older people – sharing our responsibility for care and support. This means planning for and adequate funding for services that assess older people’s needs appropriately, provide the kind of support that is needed where it is needed (in the home or in residential care), and care and support workers receive fair pay for their work. There is potential for the over-45s to be divided against the under 45s. There will be a debate about superannuation which is long overdue. A wise colleague asks us to make “this debate a constructive and compassionate one, where no child or older person gets left behind and all of us share fairly in the ample resources of our country.”

Age Concern issues –loneliness and social isolation, ageist attitudes, affording the basics, getting the care they need

Grey Power – see their position on the issues

NZ Aged Care Association (aged residential care) – funding to build more rest homes and who is going to pay? They are calling for the asset-testing threshold be to reduced, so that older people with assets pay for their own care.

NZ Nurses Organisation Election Manifesto

See a report on the Great Debate between unions and employers in aged residential care from InSite online

We all need a house. But is housing becoming an unaffordable dream?  More about the housing problems here.

4. Hotline to party policies

Here they are. Party policies from the highest profile parties:

National - Building a Brighter Future
Labour - Own Our Own Future
Greens - For a Richer New Zealand
Maori - Our Whānau; Our Future
Mana - movement of the people
United Future - Fairness and Choice
ACT -Your Party Vote
NZ First - For a Fair Go

5. Keep MMP

We also vote on MMP at election time. Info on the referendum on the voting system and different types of electoral systems is here .

MMP has resulted in a parliament which better represents our population than the old First Past the Post system. Info on the MMP campaign is here.

6. Rebuilding Canterbury

Methodist Mission info sheets on building a better city



Age friendly

Affordable housing


Food security

Health inequalities

Social capital

7. Election quick links – more info on more policy areas

Prisons and the Justice System
Rethinking Crime and Punishment

The Salvation Army Resource

Justice, Judgement and Jails

Alcohol Law Reform - Alcohol Action NZ and Unfinished alcohol debate

University Centre for Public Theology: Alcohol and advertising

Debt and Loan Sharks - action still needed

Gambling - Problem Gambling Foundation with fact sheets, latest news , and info on getting help,271,1132,00.html

Public Service Cuts – A Vision for a modern public service and 10 principles for Keeping NZ Working

ACC policy changes - ACC Futures Coalition

Community Sector ComVoices 2011 Pre-Election Briefing Election Year Messages

Election / voting generally

The Salvation Army – questions to think about before we vote.

Securing the Common Good: Catholic Bishops election statement.

Caritas Election Guide.

Info from the Methodist church on health, housing, welfare and children.

Baptist church – thinking about election issues.

Presbyterian Church newsletter with election issues

NZCCSS acknowledges and gives a big thank you to all those organisations who have worked so hard to help us understand election issues.


Health and Pacific Peoples in New Zealand presents findings on ‘Pacific peoples’ health outcomes, discusses the socio-economic factors that influence these outcomes, and offers suggestions for improving ‘Pacific peoples’ health.

The NZ General Social Survey - information from the 2010 survey. It includes info on overall life satisfaction; financial well-being; levels of social contact and isolation; elf-assessed safety and security; problems with housing; and self-assessed health etc.


“Inside Child Poverty” by Bryan Bruce will screen 7.30 on TV3 on the 22nd November.

Last word

Please vote

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in government to the utmost.


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