Salvation Army social policy and parliamentary unit
director Major Campbell Roberts addresses a large group of
people gathered for the Dunedin launch of the Salvation
Army's 2013 state of the nation report. Photo by Craig
A Dunedin theologian believes the system of government in
New Zealand is ill-equipped to deal with reports such as the
Salvation Army's recently released 2013 state of the nation
report, which tend to get swept under the rug.
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership principal the Rev Dr
Graham Redding said there was growing frustration the
''government of the day'' was failing to respond to good
initiatives and recommendations made within reports.
He believed establishing something similar to Australia's
State Senate would provide another forum where reports of
this nature could be ''discussed and debated in a
''Reports like this, and others, represent grass-roots
statistics and voices that the governments of the day need to
''We're often frustrated that particular recommendations and
suggested policies are not taken up by the government.
''I'm not suggesting we pursue a house of representatives in
New Zealand, but I would like to see some kind of forum where
these reports are taken up in a more formal way.''
He was not sure what form that could take, but ''it would
make sure reports like this don't get a polite reception
before being dismissed or ignored''.
Dr Redding aired his views during a panel discussion in
Dunedin yesterday with Green co-leader Metiria Turei and
Labour MP David Clark about the Salvation Army's 2013 state
of the nation report.
The report, titled ''She'll be Right'', identified
significant positive progress in areas of pre-school
education and crime and punishment.
However, the performance in housing, child poverty and youth
employment had been less than satisfactory.
Through reference to social and economic data, it identified
how little had been achieved over the past five years in
areas of serious social need.
The report said New Zealand's popular ''she'll be right''
mantra was a somewhat sceptical reference to what appeared to
be a making-do, getting-by sentiment in some vital areas of
social policy and human need.
Salvation Army social policy and parliamentary unit director
Major Campbell Roberts said it was time to stop the ''she'll
be right'' approach to child poverty, youth unemployment and
affordable housing and to attack these problems with the same
leadership, vigour and drive that had brought success in
other areas of New Zealand's public policy.
''It is not an excuse to do nothing about pain and suffering
in our communities. All of us have to say, 'She'll be right
is not right'.''
Ms Turei said one of the main challenges was trying to make
change without harming others.
''We know what needs to happen. The question is, do the
people in power have the guts to do it?''Dr Clark believed
fairer tax laws might provide a solution.
''If the whole pot grows, it's easier to make sure those less
well off are looked after.''