Goff says families going backwards

Labour leader Phil Goff (centre) with members of the Campbell family, from left, Jesse-James (2),...
Labour leader Phil Goff (centre) with members of the Campbell family, from left, Jesse-James (2), father Daniel (26), Corinna (26), Caleb (15 months) and Tyelah (5) at their Brockville home. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Most New Zealand families, already struggling to make ends meet, are going backwards not forwards, Labour leader Phil Goff says.

For the Campbell family of Brockville, Mr Goff's assessment of the latest New Zealand Income Survey results was not news.

Daniel Campbell, his wife Corinna and their three children, Tyelah, Jesse-James and Caleb met Mr Goff at their state house yesterday to talk about the impact of the Government's tax cuts and GST rise.

Mr Campbell said he was the only bread-winner in his family and he earned "a little more than the dole, but not much more".

"Every cent of it is spent on the kids, feeding and clothing them. We have zero left over for ourselves."

Mr Campbell said he and his wife made ends meet by sacrificing many things, including going to the doctor or dentist, so their children would be well looked after.

For a young mother trying to bring up children in a healthy environment, life was not easy.

"Petrol is going up, milk is going up, so are fruit and veges - all the basics of life," she said.

"It's cheaper to go and buy pizza or fish and chips than it is to make a healthy meal at home. But I don't, because I want my kids to be healthy."

Mrs Campbell was very supportive of the idea of reducing GST on fruit and vegetables.

"That would help a lot," she said.

Mr Goff told them they were not alone, and many families had already reported having less money left over after leaving the supermarket checkout.

The results of the Income Survey June 2010 quarter show median weekly income for all people from all sources decreased $9 to $529, compared to the June 2009 quarter.

The tax switch and subsequent price rises have left low- and middle-income earners even worse off, while the wealthiest 10% have had huge boosts to their weekly earnings, Mr Goff said.

Petrol, electricity and food prices are all going up, while at the same time, median income for all people from all sources is falling, and the median weekly wage and salary income increase of just 1.2% is the lowest rise for this measure since the June 1999 quarter.

"John Key said there would be an aggressive recovery from the recession, but there are 160,000 unemployed, business confidence is falling, and most Zealand families, already struggling to make ends meet, are going backward not forward."

While the Campbells worried about their financial future, they were philosophical.

"There's always someone out there worse off than us. Pensioners will be feeling the pinch much more than us," Mrs Campbell said.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz


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