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Budget impact on Maori a contentious issue

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Pita Sharples
Pita Sharples

Wellington, May 21 NZPA - The impact of the budget on Maori is becoming a contentious issue with Labour saying most will be worse off.

There is also friction within the Maori Party, as co-leader Pita Sharples insists there are many benefits while MP Hone Harawira says the increase in GST will hit poor people the hardest.

Mr Harawira wanted to cross the floor and vote against the budget but his party's support agreement with the Government stops him doing that.

Labour's Maori affairs spokesman, Parekura Horomia, said last night the real winners were the very highest earners and only a handful of those were Maori.

"The average wage for Maori over the age of 15 years is less than $29,000, when you take into account their tax cut and 6 percent inflation, they still come out worse off," he said.

"The unemployment rate for Maori is forecast to increase and there are 20,000 Maori still out of work. This budget does nothing to help them."

Labour is using the 6 percent inflation rate, which it says will be a consequence of the tax cuts, to argue that everyone except high income earners will lose out.

Dr Sharples, who is Minister of Maori Affairs, yesterday cited the new Whanau Ora welfare system and money in the budget for two new Whare Oranga Ake, reintegration units for prisoners, as evidence that there were gains for Maori.

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