Election 2011: Mana Party does tiki tour to show up poor 'parasites'

By Yvonne Tahana

John Minto said shops selling cheap alcohol expose their young people to anti-social behaviour. Photo / Paul Estcourt
John Minto said shops selling cheap alcohol expose their young people to anti-social behaviour. Photo / Paul Estcourt

It started at a bottle shop in South Auckland where it was difficult to squeeze past crates of Woodstock bourbon. It moved to a pokie bar and a lender's business.

The Mana Party's "parasites on poverty" tour - an extension of leader Hone Harawira's war on poverty - highlighted what he said were major hits on poor people's lives.

List candidates John Minto and Sue Bradford stood outside the Manukau liquor store they said was an example of the many of the small owner-operator premises which easily target youth with cheap ready-to-drink brands.

Blue Lagoon, a 3-litre, 9 per cent offering sold in the store particularly ticked off Mr Minto.

"This is the beer barons coming on the back of the binge drinking culture. I'm not saying they started it but they're certainly exploiting it.

"It makes parents' jobs far more difficult and it exposes these teenagers to all kinds of anti-social behaviour," he said.

"These communities in South Auckland want to get rid of these stores, that's what they've been telling us. The Government needs to give communities the power to control the number of these stores."

In the afternoon at the Otara shopping centre Ms Bradford headed into the TAB. Two pokie bars were close by. These machines feed the addictions of those who can least afford it, she said.

The TAB was full but it's a place where every player is alone. Patrons don't talk to each other. One 25-year-old, who did not wish to be identified, said she knew people who were in dire straits because of playing the pokies. Still, she wouldn't support any ban.

"Maybe cut down the number of them but not ban them totally. It's up to the person to be sensible and not go overboard. You've got to be responsible for your own actions, you can't blame it on the machines."

Last stop was in Otahuhu at a lender's business. More legislation to cap interest rates would go a long way to addressing the harm caused by spiralling fees and default fines in families, Mr Minto said.

The owner, Johnson Funaki, wasn't in. But from Tonga he said he was shocked the Mana party had labelled him a parasite. Real loan sharks operate out of "garages, caravans and backdoors" and threaten Pacific Island families. Church leaders who take from their members are worse than he is, he said.

"The difference between the church and me is the church won't give them money."

He provides a service. Pacific Island families needed an agency to educate them about financial matters, he said.

The combined effect of pokies, loan sharks and bottle store were disastrous for poor communities, and they shouldn't be left to wallow, Mr Minto said.

"It's an incredibly difficult life. People survive on their relationships rather than their income. People will think 'well, it's their own bloody fault, why would you borrow money to pay the power bill?' These people are on the minimum wage, they do not have secure jobs.

"They're struggling week to week. It's just not right when you have to borrow money regularly to pay your power or pay for the groceries - it's appalling."

- NZ Herald

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