Catholic bishops urge politicians to focus on real issues not trivia

election statement pic

New Zealand’s Catholic bishops want the politicians elected on October 14 to focus on issues that matter instead of the trivia and scandals that dominate public debate.

Writing in their Election Statement for the 2023 General Election, the bishops say that more and more people are becoming disillusioned and feel disenfranchised because serious issues are treated as political footballs.

“We are concerned with the growing trivialisation of politics, with the focus of politicians and media being on mistakes, misdemeanours or scandals of individual parliamentarians instead of being on the scandals of poverty, mental health, and the diminishment of the sanctity and dignity of life,” the bishops say in their statement, which is being distributed around the county’s 470,000 Catholics in six dioceses and 194 parishes.

“We are concerned that so many of the issues affecting all of us are treated as political footballs. Successive election-season promises and the changing of policies in line with the agenda of each new government are not working.

“More and more people in our land are becoming disillusioned and feel disenfranchised. Our hope is that the politicians who will form the Government that voters elect on 14 October will focus on the issues that beset us as a nation and work together across party lines to make real progress in finding genuine, lasting solutions.”

While writing their statement, the bishops discussed the rising levels of poverty and mental health, the lack of housing in the various dioceses, and the storm events earlier this year.

“We lamented the growing indifference to the sanctity of life. We affirmed our commitment for Te Tiriti o Waitangi as offering us a pathway of unity for our nation. And we talked about the rapidly growing toxicity in our communities that is dividing us and that generates anger, hate and even violence. These are but some of the many issues we face.”

Citing Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbour as oneself, the bishops acknowledge that it can be difficult to find a party or candidates that subscribe to all that followers of Christ do. They urge Catholics to be informed, and to look seriously at the policies of each party and the position of each individual candidate.

“At times we cannot find parties or candidates who subscribe to all we believe. When this happens, we make choices, informed by our conscience guided by the Gospel and Catholic Social Teaching, for the party or candidate which will bring forth the most common good, especially for the poor and vulnerable, and at the same time whose policies will bring forth the least moral harm.”

To view the bishops’ election statement, visit


Political parties and their policies as related to our bishops’ statement

In order to assist readers in preparing to vote in the General Election on October 14, NZ Catholic has listed below some policies of the major political parties, in the light of the bishops’ statement. Broadly, the policies are in the areas of poverty/economy, housing, mental health, climate change, Te Tiriti O Waitangi, violence/public safety. None of the six parties published sanctity of life policies. More detailsd on policy areas are on party websites.



Poverty/Economy Expand free basic dental care to nearly 800,000 under 30-year-olds. Remove GST from fruit and vegetables. Increase support for low and middle-income working families through increases to Working for Families. Protect free prescriptions. Extend targeted childcare assistance. Raise minimum wage every year. Housing: Build another 6000 homes. Mental Health: Access world-class healthcare for every New Zealander, no matter where they live. Climate Change: Put a second Emissions Reduction Plan that puts New Zealand on the path to achieving the Second Emissions Budget. Establish a Minister for Just Transitions to oversee New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy. Deliver a 12-point plan to increase renewable electricity generation. Investing a further $300m in NZ Green Investment Finance. Invest another $50 million in climate change research and development. Remove diesel generators from all schools. Reform the Emissions Trading Scheme. Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Ensure all tamariki have the option to learn Te Reo Māori. Fund Te Matatini, recognising it for the taonga it is. Continue to fund Matariki events and celebrations so that all people enjoy this special national holiday.  Develop a biodiversity credit system to incentivise and reward landowners for protecting New Zealand’s indigenous flora and fauna. Violence/Public Safety Increase of 300 additional frontline Police officers. Strengthen legal protections against stalking and harassment. Further crackdown on gang leaders and disruptive gang convoys. Review of reparation system, to speed up payments for victims.

Poverty/Economy: Introduce a childcare tax rebate of up to $75 per week on the costs of childcare for families earning up to $180,000. Community providers will be contracted to provide 18–24-year-old Jobseekers with a dedicated Job Coach. Jobseeker plan to overcome barriers to finding work. Sanctions for those who fail to follow plan. Mental Health: Mental Health Innovation Fund, which will initially see up to $20 million in matching funds distributed to community mental health organisations. Housing: Councils in major towns and cities will be required to zone land for 30 years’ worth of housing demand immediately. A $1 billion fund for Build-for-Growth incentive payments for councils that deliver more new housing. Backing the community housing sector to grow and provide warm and dry homes. Climate Change: Give farmers the tools to reduce emissions, such as gene-edited crops, feed, and livestock, by lifting the effective ban on GE and GM technologies. Pricing system for on-farm agricultural emissions by 2030 that reduces emissions without sending production overseas. Limit the conversion of productive farmland to forestry for carbon farming purposes. Te Titiri O Waitangi: Dissolve the Māori Health Authority and have Māori health directorate inside the Ministry of Health. Violence/Public Safety: Ban gang patches and insignia in public. Stop gang members gathering in public. New Young Serious Offender (YSO) category, targeting the ringleaders of crimes like ram-raids. Create Young Offender Military Academies. Stronger sentences for convicted criminals. More support for victims. Extend eligibility for offence-based rehabilitation programmes to remand prisoners. 300 more beat police officers.

Poverty/Economy Reform the Social Security Act. Create a Family Tax Credit of $215 a week for the first child and $135 a week for subsequent children. Set a base payment of $385 a week for everyone out of work, and an $135 a week top up for sole parents. Make the first $10,000 on wages tax-free. Provide payments of at least 80 per cent of the fulltime minimum wage to anyone limited in their capacity to work due to a disability or health condition. Introduce a 2.5 per cent tax on net wealth over $2 million. Housing: Peg annual rent increases to 3 per cent. Scale up the Kāinga Ora building programme. Expand Government support for first home buyers through shared equity and progressive home ownership schemes, and low-interest Government-backed loans. Mental Health: Implement the recommendations of the Every Life Matters – He Tapu te Oranga o ia Tangata suicide prevention strategy. Expand free mental health services to all communities. Fund the Māori Health Authority to deliver kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction programmes. Increase the number of mental health professionals. Climate Change: Establish a standalone Ministry of Climate Change. Strengthen the Zero Carbon Act by requiring Government decisions to be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Introduce a price on agricultural emissions. Pass a Climate Change Adaptation Bill. Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Facilitate the return of whenua that was wrongfully alienated from tangata whenua. End perpetual leases on whenua Māori. Increase resourcing for the Waitangi Tribunal. Support tikanga-led processes to resolve iwi, hapū and whānau level disputes about land management and claims under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Violence/Public safety: Amend the definition of consent in the Crimes Act. Expand specialist youth courts. Improve community reintegration support for people leaving prisons, including housing.

Poverty/Economy: Replace the Resource Management Act to make it easier to build new supermarkets, logistics infrastructure and farm improvements. Scrap Fair Pay Agreements. Offset the introduction of a Matariki public holiday by removing another public holiday. Reintroduce 90-day trials for employees.  Cut the current five tax rates on income down to two. Create a new Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LMITO), which would be worth $800 per annum for all earners earning between $12,000 and $48,000.  Mental Health: Establish Mental Health and Addiction NZ, which would empower patients to choose between a range of providers rather than simply accepting what Health NZ offers. Housing: Allow builders to opt out of the council building consent regime. Use building insurance as an alternative to building consent authorities. Reinstating mortgage interest deductibility for landlords. Simplify the process for evicting unruly tenants. Climate Change: Give $1 billion a year from the Emissions Trading Scheme back to Kiwi families as a Carbon Tax refund. Reverse the ban on oil and gas exploration. Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Remove Te Mana o te Wai from resource consenting. Legislating that the principles of the Treaty are based on the actual Treaty. Repealing recent laws that give different rights based on identity. Violence/Public Safety: Introduce ankle bracelets for serious youth offenders. Ensure reparation for victims of crime. Introduce an infringement notice offence for shoplifting. Increase power to seize assets from gangs. Abolish the consideration of cultural background as a principle of sentencing. 17-year-olds who commit any offence (rather than just serious offences) will have their cases heard in the District or High Courts and be subject to the Sentencing Act.

Poverty/Economy: Take GST off basic foods including fresh food, vegetables, meat, dairy, and fish. Ensure tax income brackets are adjusted to inflation. Get people, who have spent years on the dole, back to work. Fund residential care for the aged. Mental Health: Ensure Pharmac has more funds to get the medication to the people that need it most. Climate Change: Keep Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter open. Invest $100m into transmission upgrades as a means to enable economic growth. Establish a Ministry of Energy and a national fuel security plan. Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Formally withdraw NZ from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Change names of every government department back to English. Violence/Public Safety: Establish a dedicated gang prison to minimise prison recruitment of non gang members. Designate gangs ‘Terrorist Entities’. Assaulting a First Responder – police officer, paramedic, firefighter or corrections officer in the course of their duty, means automatic six-month minimum mandatory prison sentence. Gang membership an aggravating factor in sentencing.

Poverty/Economy: Immediately raise the minimum wage to $25 per hour and legislate for an annual increase to keep up with cost of living increases. Double baseline benefit levels. Individualise benefits. Remove financial penalties, sanctions, and work-test obligations. Cancel income support related debt and ensure that additional grants do not need to be paid back in future. Housing: Build 2000 houses on our ancestral lands. Ensure 50 per cent of all new social housing allocated to Māori. Add a Capital Gains Tax on all property set at 2 per cent of the appreciation per annum – other than on the whānau home. Mental Health: Expand Mental Health Co-response Teams to shift responsibility for mental health callouts away from Police. Increase funding to preventative mental health services and double investment in alcohol and other drug-related prevention, harm reduction and treatment.  Climate Change: End new onshore oil and gas permits and withdraw existing onshore and offshore oil and gas permits within five years and aim to decommission sites by 2030. Ban seabed mining permits nationwide and withdraw existing seabed mining permits. Phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser on farms by 2025. Establish dedicated $1bn Pūngao Auaha fund for Māori-owned community energy projects. Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Overhaul the Te Tiriti settlement process and end the fiscal envelope. Insert relativity clauses into all Te Tiriti settlements, to ensure all iwi have parity with Ngāi Tahu and Waikato-Tainui. Make Waitangi Tribunal recommendations binding on the Crown, and implement all unaddressed WAI claim recommendations. Demand a Māori Parliament. Violence/Public safety: Establish an independent Māori Justice Authority. Reallocate 50 per cent of Corrections, Police and Courts budgets to Māori Justice Authority. Abolish the type and style of prisons by 2040. Invest in kaupapa Māori Justice solutions/Muru/Restorative Justice.










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Reader Interactions


  1. Gregory says

    The political Overton window of New Zealand is now centered on Legal. Abortion. Up. To. Birth (oh, and non-resuscitation after unwanted birth), Euthanasia, and various gender perspectives. This is rock solid policy not really debatable in the public square. These are issues that were unthinkable and radical until very recently.
    There were about 13000 abortions in 2021. About 23% were Maori, about 50% Pakeha.
    The NZ road death toll is often between 240-280 per year.

    Mitigating the effects of climate change are certainly important but the secular world is already travelling in that direction. So, for a disciple it’s a Cross of Balsa.

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