Harawira attacks National over poverty

PEOPLE POWER: Mana Party leader Hone Harawira in front of a poster featuring himself, Sue Bradford and John Minto.
PEOPLE POWER: Mana Party leader Hone Harawira in front of a poster featuring himself, Sue Bradford and John Minto.

Hone Harawira has taken another swipe at the Government's record on poverty, saying his Mana Party will never work with National.

The Mana Party leader answered questions from readers in a live chat on Stuff website today.

He was asked a range of questions, some serious and some colourful, ranging from how he would eradicate poverty to who was scarier - Police Minister Judith Collins or his mother.

"Mum, no question," was his response.

He repeated his statement from last year that he didn't want his children to date Pakehas; he doesn't want a Twitter account because he's scared he might hit the send button, and if he was stuck on an island with one other MP he would want that person to be his cousin, Labour MP Shane Jones because he's "witty and intelligent and always good for a laugh".

But it wasn't all fun during the live chat today. Many of the questions centred on poverty and especially in regards to poverty among Maori.

When asked whether he would like to see a New Zealand where ethnicity had no relevance in politics, Harawira said the day we can start asking that question is the day Maori mortality is the same as other sectors in society.

"Until then, affirmative action is required to bring everybody to the same standard."

The Mana party would provide free education and healthcare and abolish GST to help speed up that process, he said.

It would also reinstate community employment projects, such as community gardens at marae, hospitals and public facilities. "It's not permanent work, but right now, everybody needs a job".

When asked whether he wanted to see pokie machines banned he said "everywhere and immediately".
He was then questioned on the proceeds charities receive from the gaming machines.

"Charities exist where governments fail," he said. "Feeding the poor is not the responsibility of the food bank, it's the responsibility of society."

But he didn't say exactly where his Mana Party would get the money from to eradicate poverty, but said "I simply don't think we can afford not to do it".

Harawira said his party was working off the same costing model being considered in Europe.

"Unless we introduce a tax on financial speculation the rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer and one day your mokopuna and mine will end up growing up in a country owned by somebody else."

Mana Party was about eradicating the gap between the rich and poor and that was the main reason why it could never work with National, he said.

"Mana has made a conscious choice to be the voice of the poor and the enemies of the rich."

When asked what defines "rich" he said there was no "magic line".

"But when 1 per cent of the country has more wealth at the top end than the 60 per cent at the bottom end, then somebody needs to say stop, let's turn the bus around and start again."