Tara Dalefield reports from a Christchurch meeting with Metiria Turei last month.
On the 31st of August, former Green party co-leader Metiria Turei spoke in the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral about poverty in New Zealand and the fallout from her confession to benefit fraud six weeks prior.
She spoke extensively of the ways in which our welfare system works to punish the most vulnerable in society, citing not only her own experience but that of many who have come forward to tell her their stories.
One of the most interesting yet unsurprising parts of the event was when Turei described the fruitless attempts of Green party members to sway the minds of those on the right.
“We have seen in New Zealand that the right don’t care. I’ve spent fifteen years in Parliament. And I have tried every possible argument with those people. I’ve helped in little efforts. I’ve done speeches on the deaths that inequality causes, but obviously mostly in children. I’ve had work across parties on solutions. We’ve put up legislation. We’ve done everything we can with the right, and they refuse to accept the possibility that their decisions hurt our people.”
A week later, the National party made that plainly obvious themselves by refusing to attend an election forum on the sale of state houses. According to the organiser John Minto, Amy Adams had been given repeated invitations which were all refused. The Christchurch Progressive Network (CPN) went as far as to ask Adams to give a date and time most convenient for her, so that they could set up the forum for that particular time, yet she refused that as well.
Two days later, the CPN was among several groups holding protest signs (about Operation Burnham, water pollution, and the sale of state houses) outside the Arden/English debate venue. Of the various MP’s that passed us, some gave a quick wave or other show of support, but Adams coldly ignored us and our loud protests.
The picture could not be clearer. National doesn’t care about the poor. National has nothing but contempt and disdain for the poor and their supporters. Whether this will have an effect on the outcome of the election remains to be seen.