Poverty and inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand

Because I’m Catholic, and therefore have some expertise in guilt, I’d like to start with a confession: I was under the impression that I was asked to speak tonight on poverty and inequality.  Andrew Bradstock persuaded me that these issues fitted with the paper on alcohol and advertising, which I read while drinking a glass of wine.  Which just goes to prove that important decisions shouldn’t be made under the influence of alcohol.

I’ve been at the odd meeting over the past few years where different Church representatives for whom alcohol law reform has been a burning issue have thought it would be just great for the Catholics to front the issue, since everyone knows that we drink more than other Christians.  I’ve heard that we are regarded as being somewhat over-enthusiastic about Jesus’s first public miracle turning water into wine, and of having a suspiciously good understanding of AA’s 12 step programme and the Serenity Prayer.

But I’m afraid that I haven’t a great knowledge of the current policy debates on alcohol reform, as the closest I’ve got to discussing alcohol with a Select Committee was arguing that Catholic prison chaplains should be allowed to take communion wine into prisons.

However what I can talk about from first hand knowledge is how in New Zealand’s poorest suburbs, even though affordable food is rarely available within walking distance, there always seems to be easy, immediate access to four of the terrible scourges of poor communities – bottle stores, fast food outlets, pokie machines and loan sharks.  There’s plenty of places in New Zealand where it is far easier to buy beer than a cauliflower.  Read more



From ‘Under the influence..’, a Speech given by Lisa Beech to the Otago University Centre for Theology and Public Issues election forum, St John’s in the City, Wellington, 3 November 2011


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