Kiwi dream 'slipping away' Parliament told
By Peter Wilson
Parliament's first debate of the year has shifted from the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the economy, government policies and inequality.
MPs today resumed the debate on Prime Minister John Key's opening speech with Labour's deputy leader Annette King opening the attack.
She said that when she was growing up New Zealand had the highest home ownership in the world, job security, free tertiary education and affordable healthcare.
"Now the Kiwi dream is slipping away," she said.
"It's like the Government saying it's not there anymore... we have become a meaner, more selfish country and our values have changed."
Ms King said the economy was weighted in favour of those already doing well and the Government had given billions in tax cuts to those who didn't need it.
The Greens' Julie Anne Genter said the Government was doing nothing to reduce inequality.
"After eight years of governing, not much has changed except Auckland house prices have gone up and there are more children living in poverty."
Her colleague Kevin Hague said the Government had a fetish about economic growth.
"They put economic growth as their entire goal, and people and the environment have to serve that goal."
National's Louise Upston said the Government focused on growing the economy because of the benefits it delivered.
"Guess what? A growing economy is good for jobs, our children and our country," she said.
"It lifts children out of hardship; it grows our incomes".
Ms Upston said people and businesses in her Taupo electorate knew the way to grow the economy was to sell more to the world.
"The atmosphere is one of quiet confidence," she said.
Her colleague Sam Lotu-Iiga said a Labour government negotiated the China free trade agreement but now opposed the TPP.
"In 2008, trade with China was less than $9 billion a year, now it's over $20b," he said.
"I don't get the argument that seven or eight years later all this has changed."
National's Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said New Zealand was in good shape.
"The Kiwi dream is alive and well. More children are in early childhood education than ever before, more children are reaching NCEA level two than ever before," he said.
"Real incomes outpace inflation, people in all walks of life are better off than they were in 2008."