- By Naisi Chen, Botany-based Labour List MP
Since coming into Government, Labour has worked hard to support low and middle income Kiwis.
This week, we’ve taken another step to make things a bit easier, in light of the additional pressure families are feeling as a result of the Ukraine invasion.
The war in Ukraine has had a big impact on fuel costs around the world, causing a global energy crisis that has been felt across New Zealand. I know this spike has been tough for many people here in east Auckland.
While we can’t control global events, we can control the support we provide New Zealanders. That’s why we’ve taken action to provide immediate relief.
We’ve cut petrol excise duty by 25 cents a litre for three months, to make filling up a 60 litre tank more than $17 cheaper. I’m glad to hear this is already making a difference for many families in our community.
We’ll shortly announce equivalent reductions in road user charges.
We’ve also made it cheaper for people who catch a bus or a train. Half-price public transport fares will remain in place for the next three months, making getting to and from work more affordable for many.
Alongside Stage 1 of the Eastern Busway, this is a great incentive to get out of our cars.
These changes are designed to help ease the immediate pressure on Kiwis. But they’re just one part a broader programme of long-term work to reduce cost pressures on New Zealanders.
This includes a suite of changes that will be coming into force from April 1, giving the majority of Kiwi families, along with pensioners, a significant income boost.
Our improvements to Working for Families alone will see around 60 per cent of all families – more than 300,000 households – better off by an average of $20 per week. On top of that, our changes to Childcare Assistance income thresholds will benefit around 1000 families.
Those on Superannuation will see an income boost of $52 a fortnight for a single person and $80 for a couple, while full-time minimum wage workers will see their pay lift by $48 a week.
In addition, from May 1, the Winter Energy Payment will kick in again, to assist more than a million people – seniors, veterans, and those on a benefit – with heating bills through the colder months.
There’s no silver bullet for the current cost-of-living pressures but these measures, when taken together, will make a difference for people in our community and across the country.
They build on actions we’ve taken since 2017 to ensure Kiwi families have more in their pocket to get ahead -policies like the family tax credit, free school lunches, cheaper doctors’ fees, and the removal of school donations.
We’re committed to securing a recovery from Covid that leaves no one behind – and the work we’re doing to support families with the cost of living is just one way we’re making that a reality.