The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Budget 2017 must prioritise community wellbeing

Event date: 
08 Feb 2017

Echoing the words of Pope Francis, who has warned that economic progress that diminishes people’s quality of life is no progress at all, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is urging the government to attend to the wellbeing of vulnerable communities when considering the 2017 Budget.

In an oral submission to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee today, the Catholic social justice agency highlighted the local Kaikōura community affected by the earthquake and communities in New Zealand who will be most affected by climate change as examples of vulnerable groups that should be prioritised. 

“We support the government prioritising a response to the Kaikōura earthquakes, but the response must also address the impact on the health and psychosocial well-being of people and their communities,” says Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Director Julianne Hickey.

“Right now, our staff are in Kaikoura with Te tai o te Marokura Health and Social Service, looking at how the earthquake has impacted kai moana in the area, and how this has in turn impacted whānau health. We have heard from local tangata whenua that they are concerned the iwi voice is missing in the decisions made in the earthquake recovery.”

Mrs Hickey also drew the committee’s attention to the lack of consideration given to climate change impacts on New Zealand’s vulnerable communities, despite Dr Jan Wright (Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment) discussing last year with the same committee the fiscal implications of sea level rise and the importance of central government leading adaptation efforts. 

“We see that it is inconsistent to prioritise paying down debt in order to increase our resilience to economic shocks and natural disasters, and then to not prioritise mitigating and adapting to climate change,” Mrs Hickey says.

“If we fail to take actions now, it is low-income communities, in low-lying regions who will struggle the most. Prioritising our mitigation and adaptation efforts is vital on so many levels. We need to act now for the resilience of our economy and for vulnerable communities in New Zealand.”

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