As we head into the last day of the election, it is important that we season some of the rhetoric with a little reality, rather than blanket, great sounding statements that have no substance, we need to put some practical solutions in place that will make a difference.
Socialism has tried to make everyone the same to eliminate poverty and it has never worked. Pol Pot tried it in Cambodia, Stalin in Russia, Chairman Mao in China and Ceausescu in Romania, all with disastrous results like mass deaths and abject poverty.
Reality teaches us that as long as people have choice, we will have the poor. Some people will choose alcohol and drugs over food and exercise, gambling over investment and apathy over industry. Government’s role is to provide an environment where there is opportunity for all to succeed and there are some safety nets for those that don’t.
So what are some practical steps that the next government can take to reduce poverty?
Making education attractive and relevant to all. Early trades streaming for hands on learners will keep them engaged in education and provide them with the skills that they will need to succeed, while keeping them out of crime. Introducing budgeting advice would also help, as does supporting Charter schools which continue phenomenal success with young people whom the Ministry of Education refer to as, ‘priority learners’.
Limiting interest charged in relation to the OCR. Loan sharks target the poor and keep them trapped in the prison of poverty with crippling interest rates. Government can help here with some protection for the vulnerable.
Relationship training in schools. Children brought up in homes with a mum and dad in a loving relationship are far less likely to end up in poverty, so let’s give our young people the tools to build, develop and maintain healthy relationships.
Stable housing and employment allow families to put down roots and plan for the future. Rent to own state housing would give struggling families hope and a future, and hope is a key ingredient in avoiding poverty.
The Conservative Party recognises that New Zealand is a great place to live, with plenty of natural resources and opportunities, by working together we may not eliminate poverty, but we can certainly make success available to everyone.