31 May 2019

Budget welfare changes pass under urgency

9:05 pm on 31 May 2019

Parliament has passed welfare changes announced in yesterday's Wellbeing Budget under urgency tonight.

The 2019 budget in the debating chamber

Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

The changes include indexing main benefits to wage increases instead of inflation, lifting abatement thresholds, and removing the sanction on solo parents who do not name the other liable parent of the child.

At Parliament tonight, the bill passed its third and final reading 63 votes in favour, with 48 against.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson gave this response when the opposition questioned whether welfare could be described as wellbeing.

"What do you call entrenched generational poverty, then? What do you see that as? Instead see this as an understanding that people will go through different phases of their lives and at some point will need some support and that those who are so-called successful did not get there on their own backs."

She said the Green Party was supporting the bill because "people just want to be able to live decent lives".

"Not extravagant lives, my goodness - decent, low emission lives actually ... not just those fortunate enough but for the grace of; who happen to be okay right at this moment but could end up not being okay in any other moment.

"The welfare expert report Whakamana Tāngata was very very clear that incomes are inadequate and so while we support the indexing of income increases to the growth of average wages we know that that can only be a first ... a vital, but a first, step."

Watch Ms Davidson's full speech:

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