MPs hear of concerns for the poor

Listening to church leaders' concerns at a meeting yesterday are (from left) North Dunedin MP Dr David Clark, university chaplain the Rev Greg Hughson and National MP Michael Woodhouse. Photo by Craig Baxter.Two Dunedin politicians heard news from the coal face of social services yesterday, as they took in the views of the city's churches.

Experiences of teenage mothers, hungry children in poverty and a small pool of funding for those helping out took the reality of some residents' lives to National list MP Michael Woodhouse and Labour's North Dunedin MP Dr David Clark.

The event at Burns Hall yesterday was an interdenominational breakfast meeting of about 25 church leaders connected through the Dunedin Inner City Ministers Association and the Dunedin Pastors Network.

The organiser, university chaplain the Rev Greg Hughson, said the idea was to develop ''a greater sense of understanding'' in the politicians of issues faced by churches working in the community.

Those included the increasing gap between rich and poor, poor quality housing, unemployment and the cost of food.

Those issues meant the need for ''comprehensive support'' for those struggling, work done by agencies including the Salvation Army, Presbyterian Support, the Methodist Mission, Catholic Social Services and others.

Presbyterian Coastal Unity Parish child and family co-ordinator Mary Somerville told the meeting she ran a holiday programme for children.

She said more and more children she saw had just one meal a day because their families could not afford three.

Children at the programme were supposed to bring lunch, but some came without it.

''That's a concern.''

Salvation Army Gardens centre leader Nolan Hill said his organisation had run a programme for teenage mothers, helping them continue education or train for the work force.

That programme had to close, because of the small pot of funding available.

Funding was a continual challenge, Mr Hill said.

While the meeting was intended to be ''dialogue'', both politicians used to opportunity to push their parties' policies.

Dr Clark spoke about Labour's plan to increase the minimum wage to $16.25, and criticised Government tax cuts that had benefited the rich rather than the poor.

Mr Woodhouse countered a minimum wage increase could not be done ''without impact''.

He said the Government wanted children to grow up in ''loving, well insulated homes, with food in their tummies''.

''For far too many, this isn't the case.''

What does he do?

But what does Woodhouse actually do for the poor in Dunedin ? Has he ever spoken in Parliament about the poor in Dunedin? Please, please somebody tell me including Woodhouse himself! Is this an example of representation of the people, for the people? He does not represent Dunedin North. He represents Teflonman.


Nature alert

Previously thought to be extinct, there was an extremely rare sighting of the animal known as "Mr Woodhouse MP" . This animal is known by the latin name "NationalMPius Invisablius" and is rarely seen (due to what is thought to be the ability to turn invisible) in its native habitat except in the defence of its Pack Leader. 


It may have escaped the attention of most, but Dunedin North now takes in a large chunk of North Otago which was in the Waitaki electorate. It should be called Dunedin and North, as far as Herbert. It will be very interesting to see how much Woodhouse benefits from this as Labour had their majority in the previously safe seat cut to 3500 whereas Jacqui Dean had an increased 14,000 vote majority in Waitaki and claims she won the booths that have been swallowed by Dunedin North. 

A sighting!

Wow - a Woodhouse sighting! he looks a bit disdaining though, I guess dealing with poor is hard.

Being a National minister I'm not sure he understands what being poor is all about - so in small words: poor people don't have a lot of money, if you can't afford enough food or a warm home then you need more money, if you're earning the minimum wage you are very poor, increasing it makes you less poor. That's a good 'impact' - If Mr Woodhouse has a different plan to provide food and warmth to our most needy I look forward to him announcing it

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