The topsy-turvy world of NZ politics in 2007 continues with Labour taking up the conservative position of being 'underclass deniers', and National making the most of highlighting the country's poverty. In terms of evidence against Labour's underclass denying, we had the KidsCan charity suggesting that 15,000 children are going hungry, then some analysis of Ministry of Health data that suggests the figure might be 80,000. Now one of the leading paediatricians at Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital says that the hospital alone admits more than 5000 malnourished under-2-year-olds each year.
It's great to see the Labour Government being held to account, but some of the heat should be applied to National as well. The best analysis I've seen of the issue so far is from John Minto, writing in the Press who says that it was the National Party's policies 'which drove working class New Zealanders into poverty in their hundreds of thousands'. He also makes the important point that we can no longer evaluate poverty levels through unemployment figures, and that 'Various combinations of low-paid, part-time, insecure, rostered, anti-social work are at the heart of social dysfunction'.