Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Politicians pledging fairness

The gap between the rich and the poor in the UK is "scandalously unfair", says Dr John Sentamu – and his sentiments are being endorsed by Anglican leaders here.

 • NZCCSS: The politicians who have signed the pledge

 • Tapu Misa: An end to BS economics?

Taonga News  |  20 Nov 2011  |  1 Comment  

Imagine a tiny change to your IRD tax form: a box you could tick if you were willing for the amount you pay in tax to be made public.

The idea of such a box being, on the one hand, to encourage people to take pride in the contribution they made through the tax system to the wellbeing of society…

And on the other, perhaps to make people a little awkward if they did not tick the box.

That’s an idea that has been floated by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, in an article he wrote for the Yorkshire Post earlier this month.

In that piece Dr Sentamu writes about being “confronted daily with new evidence of extremes of wealth and poverty, demonstrating how scandalously unfair our society is.”

The Archbishop cites the case of British CEOs receiving 300 times as much as the least well-paid employees in their companies.

“It is hard to imagine,” he writes, “a more powerful way of telling some people that they are of little value than to pay them one-third of one percent of your own salary.”

Dr Sentamu’s concerns about the ill effects of gross income disparities has been echoed by the Anglican Archbishops in this country, Brown Turei and David Moxon, and by the Anglican Church’s Social Justice Commissioner, the Rev Dr Anthony Dancer.

“Church leaders here,” they say, “have the same concern about our society.”

What’s more, they’re pressing their concern with prospective MPs.

Those church leaders meet regularly in the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services – which is driving “Closer Together/Whakatata Mai”, a wide-ranging programme to reduce income inequalities in this country.

And the churches have challenged every candidate standing in next Saturday’s election to sign a pledge card which commits them to supporting policies that reduce huge income disparities.

To read the full text of Dr Sentamu’s article click here. 

To check out the “Closer Together/Whakatata Mai” election challenge, click here.


Roger Barker

It would be wonderful, of course, if our next Government surprised us all with policies that help to close the rich-poor gap. But do we have to wait & pray for such a miracle? How about the establishment of a Social Equity Investment Fund, the purposes of which would include ensuring all schools are able to provide at least breakfast for all their students who need it; free medical care, and so on as the money came in. We could challenge all politicians and other high-income earners to subscribe to the Fund all their income over, say, $100,000, starting with those who have signed the pledge. I would like to propose all income over the national average income but that might be a step too far. Of course, those of us earning substantially less could also subscribe - beginning with us Anglicans? Imagine the propaganda headlines: "Politicians are using your money to fund their pet projects: we are using our money to feed hungry kids!" And then there is the possibility of a name and shame strategy for politicians who profess concern for the poor but who refuse to subscribe to the Fund. Not that I'm vindictive, of course, just pragmatic in a principled sort...