Written By: - Date published: 9:03 am, November 25th, 2017 - 111 comments
Categories: benefits, bill english, Carmel Sepuloni, class war, Economy, employment, jacinda ardern, jobs, journalism, labour, national, paula bennett, Politics, same old national, welfare - Tags:
One of the most important developments during the election campaign was National’s commitment to actually doing something about child poverty. The focus groups were clearly speaking really loudly. Child poverty existing in the land of milk and honey is a travesty. Any Government worth its salt should have done something about it as soon as it appeared.
But National had this weird approach to the issue. They campaigned loudly about the underclass in 2008 but after that they had this smart arse approach to it which basically involved shouting that everything was great and they were doing heaps about the issue. And they refused to measure the incidence of poverty. And joked about it.
Even in 2016 National said it was too difficult to measure. From Stuff:
Cut the 150,000 children living in poverty by 10 per cent by the end of next year?
It’s a target the new Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft wants the Government to back but Prime Minister John Key won’t put that number on it.
Key told RNZ on Monday that he wasn’t “rejecting” Becroft – someone the Prime Minister says is doing a good job and was appointed for his skill set – but disputes that a number and a target can be put on child poverty.
“We’re very focused on reducing that number. We don’t have one agreed measure…let’s accept (Becroft’s) measure then my point would simply be that I can’t tell you today exactly what it would take to get a 5 or 10 per cent reduction,” Key said.
“My point is simply…it’s difficult to just have one measure.”
Of course the benefit in not having a measure for child poverty is that you do not get blamed if it gets worse.
Fast forward to last election and not only were they willing to acknowledge that child poverty existed but they were also willing to set a target to reduce it although Bill English refused to say how many were in poverty at the time.
From Emma Hurley at Newshub:
National leader Bill English committed to a target to bring 100,000 children out of poverty within the next three years, at tonight’s Newshub Leaders Debate.
Mr English said that in April next year National’s families package would bring 50,000 kids out of poverty.”If we can get elected within two or three years we can have a crack at the next 50,000 children, getting them out of poverty,” he said.
“There’s two things you need to do, one is lift incomes the other is get inside the very toxic mix of social issues which we know are family violence, criminal offending and long-term welfare dependency. We’ve got the best tools in the world now to support rising incomes with cracking the social problems.”
When host Patrick Gower asked him if that was a commitment to a target to bring 100,000 children out of poverty, Mr English said yes.
And now we have a Labour-Green-NZ First Government that is willing to do something about child poverty, like reduce the number of kids living in poverty. And Jacinda Ardern wants to make setting targets and measurements a 100 day priority.
From the Herald:
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has responded to a united call by advocacy groups for greater consensus on child poverty by promising to ask the National Party to support her legislation to address the issue.
It comes after about 30 groups of educators, doctors and anti-poverty advocates called for political parties to deliver on their campaign promises on child poverty and for urgent cross-party talks.
Children’s Commissioner Judge Becroft has offered to broker cross-party talks on the issue.
Ardern said she supported the call for a non-partisan approach.
One of Labour’s 100 Days promise was to introduce legislation to set targets and measure progress in reducing child poverty.
“All our work should be geared towards this, regardless of our political views. No government should be afraid of being measured in this way.
“I intend to reach out to the Opposition over coming weeks to talk through our draft legislation. I hope it receives widespread support.”
She said she was keen to lead the way in setting a commitment to tackling child poverty that would survive successive governments.
Great idea. Reach over to the other side and seek to build a consensus on how to deal with the issue in the hope that policies survive a future change in government. So how is that reaching out and consensus seeking going?
Not so well from the initial response. The Herald article provides this information:
National’s spokeswoman for Children Paula Bennett said the party was committed to working on poverty, but its support for any legislation would depend on whether the Government could prove it would work.
“The causes of hardship are often complex and intergenerational. Labour cannot just continue throwing money at the problem like it has in the past.
“The Government needs to do more than measure poverty and set targets – it needs to identify those stuck in difficult lives, and then actually help them one by one.”
She said National was doing that under its data-driven social investment approach but Labour had signalled it would back away from that.
The “money won’t solve poverty” idea is complete bollocks. Money is the one thing that will solve poverty. The comment is a dog whistle to suggest that the poor are undeserving and their position is because of some individual frailty, not economic circumstances.
And National’s data driven social investment approach has some major holes in it. Like requiring voluntary organisations to provide information on who they have provided assistance to which thankfully new Minister Carmel Sepuloni has stopped. And it reinforces the concept that poverty is an individual’s fault and if you have a policy tailored to address those faults then poverty will be cured.
Teachers know what is going on. Again from the Herald Article:
NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart said teachers saw its impacts every day.
“Political differences should not be allowed to stand in the way of honouring the human rights of every New Zealand child, including their right to an education and to a life free of poverty,” Stuart said.
It is a worthy idea to depoliticise child poverty and build a lasting consensus so that kids’ lives are not wrecked by political chances. But I don’t like the chances of a consensus being reached any time soon with National.