We asked local election candidates for their thoughts on the minimum wage.
Under National, New Zealand's minimum wage has risen consistently each year. In February it was increased to $14.25 an hour. This represents a careful balance between protecting low-paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost. It's important we balance the needs of businesses and workers while ensuring only minimal impact on the wider labour market. The Government is firmly focussed on growing the economy and boosting incomes. In the Bay of Plenty, unemployment has fallen from 7 per cent to 5.6 per cent as 83,000 new jobs were created around the country this year. Through our Business Growth Agenda we are creating opportunities to help grow more jobs for New Zealanders.
NZ First candidate for Rotorua
New Zealand First believes the current minimum wage is inadequate. A first-world nation needs to pay first-world wages. The Government needs to develop some real regional strategies for our local businesses. I want to be an integral part of our region's growth. It is no good raising wages if it forces businesses to employ fewer people. Strong business should mean higher wages, everyone needs to share in our business successes. Inequality is already an issue in the Rotorua electorate, for example, youth unemployment is on the rise. The minimum wage is only part of the solution.
Act Party candidate for Rotorua
Six years ago both major parties wanted to close the standard of living gap with Australia. In 1999 the GDP per person was 25 per cent higher in Australia; today it's 65 per cent higher. We need to grow our economy and we can't restrict that by inserting a high minimum wage and forcing businesses to cut jobs or not hire. As our economy grows, with less red tape, the standard of living will increase and personal wages will increase. With a stronger economy we can reel in that gap and wages and inequality will not be as big an issue.
Mana Movement candidate for Waiariki
The current minimum wage is a pathetic $14.25 an hour - that's a wage that keeps people in poverty. The Mana Movement wants a living wage for all workers of $18.80 an hour, the wage experts agree this would give people the opportunity to live without the daily worry of how to pay the bills and we want to abolish youth rates. Income inequality exists because this Government has done nothing but favour the rich; they need to pay their fair share of the tax bill and Mana proposes introducing the Hone Heke Tax to address the imbalance.
Te Ururoa Flavell
Maori Party Waiariki MP
We will argue for a living wage of $18.80 per hour. Workers should be earning enough to pay their bills and take care of their whanau. The current minimum wage is not enough to do this, although the Maori Party had a big part to play in raising it from $13.75. The party has sought to reduce income inequality so that all whanau have access to the resources they need to grow, have healthy home environments, and lead healthy lives. We remain committed to this. The only way to address this is to be at the table of Government - it's no good talking about the problems if you're not in a position to create solutions.
New Zealand Independent Coalition candidate for Waiariki
I'm not an economist and the only in-depth knowledge I have of our economy is that things seem to be getting more expensive and my pay packet seems to stay the same. Luckily, I'm single, with no dependents - so I make it work, but I see whanau and our community constantly struggle. The minimum wage in Aotearoa needs to be a fair, living wage - and my grass-roots estimate would be around $17 an hour. Imagine pulling into a petrol station and selecting "full" on the pump pad instead of $20. That dream will become a reality - but we need to opt for change.
Labour Party candidate for Rotorua
I've visited two rest homes recently with loving, patient, aged-care support staff doing brilliant jobs looking after our most vulnerable New Zealanders. They're on minimum wage with no sign of a pay rise in sight. They are symptomatic of many workers who are doing 40-50 hours a week and still living hand to mouth. We want to send a message to New Zealanders that hard work is rewarding. Labour will take the minimum wage up to $15 by Christmas and $16.25 by next Christmas and we'll keep aspiring to reach the living wage of $18.80.
Conservative Party candidate for Rotorua
The minimum wage should continue to be calculated as it is because increasing the minimum wage will result in extra costs to business owners and therefore job losses. The Conservative Party does not support job losses. Instead, the first $20,000 of income should be tax-free, giving more money to low-wage earners. A Government report on household incomes showed income inequality was slightly higher than the OECD average and had not changed much in the past 20 years. To address the imbalance it requires the upskilling of people through education, rather than welfare, as handing out money never has, and never will, solve inequality.
Labour Party candidate for Waiariki
Did not respond to this week's question.