The Government's drive for a low-wage economy was exacting a high cost on New Zealanders and their families, Green Party MPs at a presentation in Dunedin said this week.
Communities and families were suffering in a hopeless financial straitjacket, new Green MPs Denise Roche and Jan Logie said at the Dunedin presentation of their national campaign "False Economy: The High Cost of a Low Wage Economy".
More than 40 people attended the 11th presentation of the fact-gathering initiative in the Dunningham Suite at the Dunedin Public Library.
"This is a conversation about human rights and about people's right to live with dignity in our society," Ms Logie said.
"What happens to our communities when poverty becomes the norm is that marginalised people become more marginalised. We're hoping to build empathy and momentum for finding better solutions."
People on low incomes hurt the most in difficult financial times, Ms Roche said.
"So many people on low incomes are under stress. It's important that we ask people what's going on and get ideas about what should be done for change." "In times of recession, there is a lack of sympathy for people on benefits and the low-paid are used to divide and conquer."
Speakers made presentations from community organisations representing workers, women, disabled people, youth, children, refugee and migrant communities, Maori, Pasifika and mental health.
Service and Foodworkers Union organiser Steven Briggs said the minimum wage had plunged from 80% of the average wage, when it was introduced in 1948, to 50% today.
Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare said domestic violence involving women and children from lower socio-economic situations had dramatically increased as a result of Government policies.
The MPs said they planned to use the information to oppose Government policies that were hurting people.