This election we’re asking the politicians to commit to providing a collection of public services that will help ensure the wellbeing of New Zealanders.
The Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment was unveiled at the launch of our Let’s Do Even BETTER Election Campaign.
Healthcare, education, housing, income support, public transport and internet are the services we believe government should commit to providing for all its citizens.
These basics of life are key to giving each of us the opportunity to reach our potential and enable communities to flourish.
A FAIRER SOCIETY
At the campaign launch, PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk said our members in community and public services always do brilliant work, but it has become more visible during the Covid Crisis.
Erin says our members don’t just expect a pat on the back for their contribution - but they do want to reduce the inequalities that existed pre-Covid.
“They want a fairer society and a more equitable society out of this and the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment does that.
“We can start looking at universal and genuinely free health care and internet and other public services.”
UNIVERSAL BASIC SERVICES
The launch also heard how providing universal basic services through the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment would be the most efficient and cost-effective way of meeting the needs of all our people.
University College of London Institute of Global Prosperity director Andrew Percy has been considering what a modern society needs to provide to maximise the potential of its citizens.
After five years of researching how services are delivered in different countries he’s come to a firm conclusion.
“How can we afford what citizens cannot afford to build themselves?
“If you look at what’s working where, you’ll see that if you build it as a service and distribute it universally, you end up having much better reach, costs are kept low, and you tend to have much lower carbon intensity.”
Andrew says research shows distributing money to individuals to pay for services through a universal basic income does not deliver the same results.
“By taking away those unavoidable costs and replacing them with services, you are delivering a social wage, boosting peoples’ incomes in a way that is much more effective, especially at the lower end of the income scale.”
CLOSING THE GAP
During the launch academic and commentator, Max Rashbrooke spoke about the inequalities that already existed in Aotearoa pre-Covid and how they will be exacerbated by increasing unemployment.
Figures show 51,000 working households were living in poverty prior to lockdown, while almost 600,000 hardship assistance grants were made in the March quarter this year.
The Welfare Expert Advisory Group says benefits need to be increased by 12-47% to make them liveable.
“What is really important about the idea of universal basic services, the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment, is that it’s a statement about wanting to ensure the collective success of society,” Max says.
“A genuine commitment through politics to ensuring... support is delivered to those that have helped create the society that we work in, and that is the most vulnerable, just as much as it is the most wealthy.”
BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Greenpeace journalist Amanda Larsson told the launch she “loves” the idea of universal basic services.
Amanda highlighted the potential environmental benefits, including the reduction in carbon emissions that would result from providing universal access to public transport.
Good quality housing would be more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and cut emissions by decreasing the use of coal and gas.
Amanda says the rebuild from Covid also provides an opportunity to create employment opportunities that will address the challenges of climate change and ecological devastation.
“Putting in solar panels and insulation in hundreds of thousands of homes, building wind turbines, railways, cycleways, restoring nature.. this is really jobs rich work.”
She says when people’s basics are covered they have the ability and energy to look up.
“They’ll have time to fight, to protect our children’s future, protect our treasured places.”
British researcher Andrew Percy says political support is increasing globally for growing public services.
Universal basic services were at the core of the UK Labour Party’s manifesto last year, while analysis of Britain’s digital inclusion policy found there was a £15 benefit for every £1 invested.
The President of Ireland is also calling for universal basic services, while US Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has announced a $770 billion childcare and adult social care package.
“These ideas are at the centre of what people are looking at,” Andrew says.
“Major institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are advising governments to create a new social contract, build up your safety net, and increase the resilience in communities.”
For more info on the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment go to https://www.letsdoevenbetter.nz/about
Main photo caption: Greenpeace journalist Amanda Larsson, PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk, support worker delegate Simone Best, and MC Jess Bates at campaign launch
PSA Pasefika union members have been voicing their support for the Pasefika community during the latest Covid outbreak.