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Labour to seek consensus over child poverty

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.

111 comments on “Labour to seek consensus over child poverty ”

  1. Ad 1

    Good wedge, good play Prime Minister.

  2. tracey 2

    Good move. Can someone please ask anyone from the Nat Party, English, Joyce or Bennett to table the plan they had to reduce children in poverty by 100,000 in 3 years? Cos they have the plan, right? They wouldnt have promised something without a plan?

    ” actually help them one by one ”

    Actually individually tailored plans would be great but Bennett and WINZ are much more generalised than that.

    • gsays 2.1

      If pushed, the Tories would’ve gotten Nick Smith into the portfolio.
      He would then change the criteria and voila! child poverty ended.

  3. Pity the gnats are so weak that they won’t support this approach. I can see their tight lips saying no, theyd love to help but not in that way you know.

    • tracey 3.1

      That is precisely what they are saying. And it may be time for some Cabinet Ministers to start holding their feet to the fire… which is, I think, what Ardern is now doing, in the nicest possible way (h/t Kenney Everett). Billy promised to get 100,000 children out of poverty in 3 years so let’s see the plan… they condemn the Govt at every turn if they don’t have a plan… and the answer will be? Doing what we already were doing… and then the public can decide what that makes Billy for his Leaders debate proclamation.

  4. tracey 4

    “Children’s Commissioner Judge Becroft has offered to broker cross-party talks on the issue.” The Nats might be frightened of an evidence-based mind in charge.

    • Bevanjs 4.1

      Do you mean evidence like actual data collected from multiple govt and non govt agencies, compiled and analysed?

      • tracey 4.1.1

        😉 It’s not like there aren’t many people employed in the Hive to do it.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.2

        Not just that, but the evidence of what actually works to improve those statistics, garnered from places where it actually works, as opposed to “think” tanks.

        So that probably means “social investment”, which is neither social nor investment, has done its dash.

  5. Labour cannot just continue throwing money at the problem like it has in the past.

    Why not?

    It worked in the past.

    In fact, it was only after the government stopped throwing money at the problem (1991 benefits cuts) that poverty started increasing. And they did that so as to give rich people tax cuts.

    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.

    There’s two interesting points to this sentence.

    The first is that National are proposing the most expensive, most bureaucratic way to do this by doing “one by one”. Probably has something to do with outsourcing it to private enterprise. The more expensive option produces greater profits while probably not doing a hell of a lot to reduce poverty (National’s other policies would probably create poverty faster).

    The second is that ‘to measure poverty’ and ‘identify those stuck in difficult lives’ is the same thing. From there National has no targets and so progress can’t be measured which I suspect is purposeful (see above). Measuring poverty and setting targets means that the government can be held to account. National, throughout their long reign, deigned to measure anything probably so as to prevent them being held to account as their actions and words were always contradictory.

    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.

    National’s ideology requires that the majority of people be in poverty so that a few people can be rich thus they won’t do anything about people being in poverty. What they will do is make noises about it and then put in place processes that fail to address poverty while shifting taxpayer money out to their rich mates.

    • tracey 5.1

      If you aim to do it one by one. One is a success.

    • Incognito 5.2

      Thank you, your comment triggered a train of thought about what has bothered me for a long time about National’s so-called ‘social investment’ approach – besides the usual economic and corporate business & management-style ‘treatment’ of a principally & intrinsically human issue – but that I could never quite nail down.

      The paradox, as I see it, is that poverty affects individuals and their personal circumstances but at the same time it is general class-based problem that is systematic and institutionalised by the state and by and large sanctioned by and engrained in our societies.

      As a direct result of this paradox the welfare & assistance is always limited & restricted by the notion that all people need to be treated equally & fairly and the boundaries are set by rules, regulations, and Laws that build a formidable & intimidating bureaucratic maze. In this system (…) nobody really receives the ‘assistance’ they really need because there aren’t enough allocated resources (e.g. money & staff) to do so. In other words, individual cases receive top-down systemically-prescribed ‘assistance’ that conforms to normative models; it is like giving all sick people paracetamol and it will help some a little but it isn’t a cure and many get no lasting benefit whatsoever!

      By focussing on personal cases and individual ‘assistance’ the larger picture gets lost and people will also never be able to rediscover their identity as members of a community and rekindle that lost sense of belonging; in a prison population you’re just a number too. Poverty is a social issue, not an individual one caused by only personal circumstances, choices & decisions, or what have you.

      I don’t believe that this is (entirely) deliberate and by design; it is another ‘unfortunate’ consequence of neoliberalism: each to their own and if I don’t belong (to a community) then I don’t have a (moral) duty to help anyone who doesn’t belong either … But I can imagine there’s a wide range of views on this …

      That said, I’m pessimistic about this Government making lasting changes (policies) to tackle (child) poverty, even if they were to spend billions on it, if it does not have accompanying changes in society that restore our collective sense of community and what it is to be human. This is not something that the state or Government can impose and thus the cycle of poverty will continue IMHO.

      • David Mac 5.2.1

        Yes, more money is not a holistic solution. That is much harder, money does little to address the aspirations and demons we all have. I feel complete solutions require the presentation of seductive, diverse and viable opportunity. Traversable pathways to fulfilling contentment.

      • Bill 5.2.2

        It’s not possible to eradicate relative poverty and hold fast to market driven economics (capitalism).

        The best that can be done is amelioration. And at that point we’re into realms of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable levels of amelioration.

        It seems for the moment that some people are at least willing to be “thinking of the children”.

        • David Mac 5.2.2.1

          “It’s not possible to eradicate relative poverty and hold fast to market driven economics (capitalism).”

          I think there are devices that can be employed. When I was living in Sweden their benefit levels were geared to the prosperity of the country. When Husqvarna and Atlas Copco had beaut years, benefits went up, in tough times, everyone tightened their belts.

          I find it hard to get away from a global view, those nations that are adopting capitalism appear to be doing a better job of beating family poverty than those swinging left.

          I think we quell the human desire to strive and prosper to our detriment….but that’s probably fat we could chew for years Bill.

          • Draco T Bastard 5.2.2.1.1

            I find it hard to get away from a global view, those nations that are adopting capitalism appear to be doing a better job of beating family poverty than those swinging left.

            Are they?

            There was a point when having capitalism boosted everyone’s living standard. At all other times capitalism produced massive inequality. That one short time was from about the 1930s to about the mid 1970s. The research done by Piketty shows that it was an anomolly.

            The major component of that one short time was massive socialism around the world.

            I think we quell the human desire to strive and prosper to our detriment….but that’s probably fat we could chew for years

            Probably because I’m reasonably certain that capitalism does exactly that. Capitalism can’t actually survive unbound competition and so it restricts it to, as you say, society’s detriment.

          • Incognito 5.2.2.1.2

            Real poverty exists in Sweden today, even though those who live in poverty or are vulnerable rarely refer to themselves as poor.

            Our City Missions across the country report a level of vulnerability that has not existed since the 1970s. The social safety net is growing weaker and thousands of people seek out organizations in civil society to get help with the most basic necessities. Nevertheless the government’s Agenda 2030 report shows that absolute poverty does not exist in Sweden today!

            The inability to tackle poverty possibly stems from the lack of a relevant definition of poverty for Swedish conditions. The debate, when it is debated, is often based on the international measure of “absolute poverty” for those living on less than two dollars a day – something which is barely enough to pay for a bottle of water in Sweden. Or, the concept of “relative poverty” is used, that is an income below 60 percent of the median income. The concept is sometimes ridiculed in Sweden, and it is said it is not “real” poverty. This despite the EU statistical body Eurostat calling this level of income “risk of poverty”. According to Eurostat’s most recent statistics, 16 percent of Sweden’s population are at risk of poverty. That’s 1.5 million people! [my bold]

            https://www.thelocal.se/20171107/opinion-yes-real-poverty-exists-in-sweden-but-it-has-been-made-invisible

            What is Child Poverty?
            According to a definition commonly adhered to, a person is poor who cannot live a life on par with others in the society in which they live (e.g., Sen 1983; Townsend 1979). Thus, poverty is not only a matter of survival – having food, clothes and shelter – but of having the economic means to participate in social life and to meet fellow citizens without shame. Following this lead, child poverty could be defined as a lack of economic resources – stemming from the household’s economy or their own – that prevents children from participating as equals in social life.

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958129/ a peer-reviewed research paper.

            I think that the ‘Scandinavian model’ gets wheeled out too often to suit certain agendas …

            • David Mac 5.2.2.1.2.1

              Oh yes, Stockholm is in a horrid mess these days. Imagine an Auckland with burnt out cars every morning, 13 suburbs too dangerous for ambulances to enter and quadrupled rape statistics. Their social services have been wound back to a shadow of what they once were.

              I think quoting reports from social agencies that claim ‘Gee things are getting much worse’ is of limited value. I have never seen an agency anywhere ever claim: ‘Things are improving, we require fewer emergency houses, donations, funding and volunteers’.

              According to a report I read a while ago the NZ homeless situation is about 4 times worse than that of France. This is footage of a Paris street.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk3twhzOtr0

              • Incognito

                Social agencies don’t only or always “claim”; their reports often contain facts as well as first-hand experiences. So, I disagree that quoting from their reports is of limited value as this is too much of a generalisation IMO.

                I should have added the title of that research paper I linked to:

                “Trends in Child Poverty in Sweden: Parental and Child Reports”

  6. Bill 6

    Committing to cross party talks/consensus or committing to tackling the scourge of poverty?

    My impatience says fuck the former and get on with the latter.

    • tracey 6.1

      With 4 decades of work to undo this cannot be achieved by a one-term government. The Govt and the Greens have already committed to tackling poverty and the PM is hanging her reputation on reducing child poverty. If National support initiatives things will move more quickly. If they oppose, and public opinion shifts against them, the process will be slower but the chance of a second term, imo, increases. Currently, 40-45% of voting kiwis support National. Unless that lowers any aspirations for reducing poverty will be short-lived and quickly undone in 3 years. Shifting public opinion is crucial to raising people out of poverty sooner rather than later.

      • Bill 6.1.1

        Consensus that affords any measure of veto trends towards “lowest” common denominators.

        Wanting the opposition on board suggests that scenario to me. That, and a slowing down of the whole process (eg – more talks needed, more study needed, more objections needing overcome etc)

        Do we want the poorest people in society to be relatively less poor? Restore benefit levels as per pre-election Green Policy. That would be a start, and short of some incoming government slashing entitlements, not something that could be reversed quickly.

        I’m picking there’s a bit of “buying time” going on with this supposed initiative. And I think that’s down to buying into notions of supposed “fiscal responsibility”….so the poor can wait because satisfying some economic modeling is more important than peoples’ lives.

        • The Chairman 6.1.1.1

          Dead right, Bill.

        • alwyn 6.1.1.2

          “I’m picking there’s a bit of “buying time” going on with this supposed initiative”.

          That, and the bit that follows it may be your interpretation. I’m afraid that my interpretation is a bit bleaker. It is that the Labour/NZF Government haven’t the faintest idea about what they should do. They managed to spend nine years in Opposition and didn’t spend any time at all in developing some ideas into feasible plans and policies.
          I believe, in general, that no Government should spend more than 3 terms in office. They get tired and arrogant after that long. Look at Muldoon and Clark.
          They had to go and thank God we had Oppositions that were ready and capable of taking over.
          Unfortunately we didn’t have such people in the Opposition before this years election. They are now displaying that fact.
          The main reason they seem to have for reaching out to the National Party seems to be that they are pleading to be told what they should do.

          National, according to the original post believes
          “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.”

          Then the original poster seems to think that only doing things that will work is somehow wrong. It seems to be the only rational thing to consider.

          Actually he should really look at what National have done so far. They have promised to support every sensible policy that Labour has so far put forward.
          They have said they will vote with Labour, even if that is in opposition to the votes of Labours Government partners NZF and the peripheral Green party.

          That seems to be a very forward looking approach. It is a great deal more sensible than was Little’s opposition to changing the flag which was until then part of the Labour parties manifesto.

          • Ffloyd 6.1.1.2.1

            Lol

          • Grey Area 6.1.1.2.2

            Your post is a collection of opinions stated as facts with no supporting evidence. Maybe I should just +1 to Ffloyd’s response. In fact +1.

          • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.2.3

            It is that the Labour/NZF Government haven’t the faintest idea about what they should do. They managed to spend nine years in Opposition and didn’t spend any time at all in developing some ideas into feasible plans and policies.

            Wow, what a load of bollocks. In fact, considering Labour’s policies, I’ll call it outright lying.

            But then, since that’s pretty much all we get from RWNJs, I don’t don’t suppose we should be surprised.

            I believe, in general, that no Government should spend more than 3 terms in office. They get tired and arrogant after that long.

            Is it because they get tired and arrogant or is it that National’s lies take that long to break things?

            The main reason they seem to have for reaching out to the National Party seems to be that they are pleading to be told what they should do.

            No, they’re really not. They do actually know what to do but, because National are a bunch of psychopaths, they’re aware that the first thing that National will do once in power again is to repeal any legislation that this government puts in place – unless National signs off on it. But, even then, I’d expect National to repeal to repeal them anyway – especially if they’re actually working.

            Then the original poster seems to think that only doing things that will work is somehow wrong. It seems to be the only rational thing to consider.

            It’s impossible to prove that an idea works until it’s been tried. national’s demand for proof prevents new ideas from being tried. This seems to be their purpose for demnding that proof.
            It’s not a rational position considering that what we’ve done so far hasn’t worked.

            They have promised to support every sensible policy that Labour has so far put forward.

            The problem being that whatever National thinkls is ‘sensible’ is usually psychopathic and we don’t actually want psychopathic legislation.

            • alwyn 6.1.1.2.3.1

              ” National are a bunch of psychopaths”

              Wow, we have an expert here. In order to be able to make a diagnosis like that I would suggest that you would have to be a qualified and practising psychiatrist who has in fact treated them.
              Otherwise you are just a blowhard who doesn’t like the National Party and has learnt a big word that he likes to throw around.

              Well are you qualified? Did you go to Med School and then specialise in that field? Have you treated the people you are talking about?

              Or are you just throwing a load of bovine excrement?

              • Am I qualified? No.

                But I do know what I’m talking about. I’ve spent more than 20 years reading up on psychology and National shows all the symptoms of psychopathy. Compulsive lying, thinking that they’re better than everyone else, actions that harm others, inability to take responsibility for their own actions, etcetera.

      • The Chairman 6.1.2

        Speaking of public opinion

        A Roy Morgan survey taken in July showed Green voters were most concerned about poverty and inequality (24 per cent) followed by Labour voters (20 per cent) then National voters (14 per cent).

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.2

      ^^^this

      I do hope we aren’t going to see some sort of Obama-esque attempts at appeasement. If I see someone drowning I want to help them, not ask the guy who chucked them in the river to form a human chain.

    • Matthew Whitehead 6.3

      It’s good politics though, and it rules out the type of “we weren’t listened to!” attacks the Nats will likely first resort to in opposition, so they have to get into the weeds of the details to criticize the policy, to which the govt parties can simply ask: “oh yeah, what would YOU do?”

      I doubt they will waste too much time given National’s unfriendly response, but reaching out to them for their views quickly every once in a while on major policy areas is a good thing.

  7. mauī 7

    I’m interested in how Labour might go about easing child poverty. Increasing benefit rates would seem to be a logical way forward, but as we know that hasn’t been a Labour priority in a long long time.

      • mauī 7.1.1

        Thanks, that’s a great article on poverty in NZ. I’ll take out the bits that Labour will do:

        “Labour has said it will scrap National’s tax cuts. Instead, it will match ­National’s changes to accommodation ­supplements and raise family tax ­credits even more – by $47 a week for our sole parent with two children, plus $700 a year ($13.46 a week) for ­energy, lifting the ­weekly income in constant 2013 dollars to $528, higher than at any time since at least 1980.

        On top of that, all families with newborn babies will get an extra $60 a week “Best Start” payment for the first year, regardless of income, and for two further years on an ­income-tested basis.

        Sole parents who can’t or won’t name the father of their children will no longer have their benefits cut by $22 a week.

        Labour will also lift the incomes of the “working poor”, who ­account for almost half the children below the poverty line, by raising the ­income threshold for reducing ­family tax credits from $35,000 a year to $42,700.

        National planned to extend very-low-cost doctors’ fees to 600,000 people with community service cards, accommodation supplement or income-related social housing.

        Labour has promised to match that and cut $10 off all ­doctors’ fees.”

        • The Chairman 7.1.1.1

          Apart from a general lowering of doctors fees and the annual electricity subsidy, there is little on offer for those struggling that don’t have dependent children.

          • Kay 7.1.1.1.1

            No surprises there.

          • Matthew Whitehead 7.1.1.1.2

            Which is absolutely a mistake, as those without direct dependents are still often in the whanau of children in or at risk of poverty, and lifting them out will give those children more support, too, although it does “distract” you from a tightly focused goal, I suppose.

            I expect the real problem here is that the most effective ways of nicking poverty, especially child poverty, are going to be expensive, and Labour has locked itself in a bit of a fiscal straightjacket with their BRR. (IMO, they should have said their first two budgets won’t follow them, so that they could address the infrastructure and social deficit caused by the Nats)

            • The Chairman 7.1.1.1.2.1

              “I expect the real problem here is that the most effective ways of nicking poverty, especially child poverty, are going to be expensive, and Labour has locked itself in a bit of a fiscal straightjacket with their BRR. (IMO, they should have said their first two budgets won’t follow them, so that they could address the infrastructure and social deficit caused by the Nats)”

              Indeed.

  8. Steve Bradley 8

    All the evidence from the twentieth century tends to show that poverty is reduced in direct proportion to public services delivered to everyone as needed with no cost (or administered pricing) at the point of need. Such as:
    Universal free medical care including dental
    Universal free education including tertiary
    Provision of adequate public housing for everyone at income-related rents
    Social security transfer payments at rates to sustain a decent life.
    And so on. Not rocket science really.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      The rocket science is successfully cutting through all the lies the National Party tells on the subject.

      They are very persuasive lies, and have worked so well overseas.

    • Matthew Whitehead 8.2

      I was pointing out to someone earlier that the lack of free dental for adults probably causes some people in poverty to assume that kids don’t get it free either, despite being funded for most dental care until they’re 18. (Although IMO if we were being really smart, we’d be giving away brushes and toothpaste for free, too, rather than simply funding the dentistry)

      Labour is at least working on tertiary education and housing to some degree, which is good, and they’re going to improve health, but the biggest problem is benefits, and there’s no indication they’re going to raise them to keep up with costs, and benefits are essentially the only protection against not having enough food.

  9. The Chairman 9

    “One of Labour’s 100 Days promise was to introduce legislation to set targets and measure progress in reducing child poverty.”

    Why only child poverty?

    Isn’t all poverty a concern?

    Therefore, if Labour is seeking a political consensus, shouldn’t it be for legislation that sets targets and measures progress in reducing all poverty?

    Surely, Labour isn’t afraid of being measured in this way?

    As for National, I agree the “money won’t solve poverty” line is complete bollocks. Moreover, once the cash shortfall is addressed, it makes it easier to identify those with other problems.

    • Bill 9.1

      Isn’t all poverty a concern?

      Only for the poor. Certainly not for those who tout notions of there being ‘deserving poor’ and ‘undeserving poor’.

      And it’s not a priority for those who elevate economic theory to sit above and before physical reality (ie – ideologically driven commitments to ‘fiscal responsibility’).

      • The Chairman 9.1.1

        The concern of poverty extends beyond the poor as the problems it creates flows on and into wider society.

        But I get where you are coming from.

    • McFlock 9.2

      I refer you to my previous answer:

      Hey, guess what? Solving child poverty will solve almost all adult poverty, because it goes through the parents. And when child poverty is done, there’s no excuse to not address adult poverty. And poverty is now measured formally, can be assessed against benchmarks, and if it can be measured people can be held to account for letting it exist. The vast majority of those gains happened while mr concern-o-bot thought that resisting a national govt was futile.

      • The Chairman 9.2.1

        “Solving child poverty will solve almost all adult poverty, because it goes through the parents. And when child poverty is done, there’s no excuse to not address adult poverty.”

        First off, there is no excuse not to address all poverty now.

        Up north it’s being called a state of emergency, people that are struggling don’t have time to wait, they require help now.

        And while I don’t disagree that addressing child poverty will most likely (depending on how it is delivered) assist the parents of those children, I’d like to see where you got the numbers for your assertion it will address almost all adult poverty.

        How many people are in poverty that don’t have dependent children, opposed to how many are in poverty with dependent children?

        • McFlock 9.2.1.1

          The excuse to not address all poverty now is that the people didn’t elect a party that proposed the immediate elimination of all poverty. They did, however, elect a group of parties who can be pushed into eliminating all child poverty. But those parties know that their advance could just be dismantled by the nats unless it becomes the new electorate normal.

          As for demographic breakdowns of household income poverty, look it up yourself.

          • The Chairman 9.2.1.1.1

            You made the assertion, thus it’s up to you to produce the numbers you were called on.

            People didn’t elect a party that proposed to sign up (without securing all their stated changes) to the TPP, yet it looks like Labour is going to.

            So your excuse seems to be one of convenience, applied when suited. But the fact that you are making one is an enlightening insight.

            It looks like Labour will require no help in dragging back some of its own advancements. Take their non progressive (hitting lowest income earners the hardest, akin to GST) regional fuel tax for example. Or their so-called ban on offshore investors, which is expected to keep upward pressure on demand, thus fail to lower housing costs. High housing costs are eating into peoples incomes, thus business returns, therefore employment opportunities and wage increases.

            • McFlock 9.2.1.1.1.1

              Then what the hell do you want a demographic breakdown for?

              You can’t solve child poverty without improving the wider condition of the parents. You can’t improve the wider condition of parents without improving the wider condition of everyone who might become a parent i the near future. And the only way you can do that without helping everyone else is to specifically exclude those people, which will piss them off and make you justify why they should live on below subsistence income.

              In fact, it’s quite difficult to think of a way to eliminate child poverty without halving poverty for adults without dependent children, simply through the redistributive effect of giving money to the poor and working-poor families.

              I’m sure you’ll give it a go.

              • The Chairman

                The premise of your argument was solving child poverty will solve almost all adult poverty. Hence, I called on you to produce the numbers and questioned where you got them from. Do almost all adults in poverty have dependent children? If not, then your initial assertion was incorrect.

                “You can’t improve the wider condition of parents without improving the wider condition of everyone who might become a parent i the near future.”

                You can when those without kids are excluded from the improvements made. Which is what Labour is largely going to do.

                Labour are offering little to those in poverty without dependent children. Hence, the disappointment.

                • McFlock

                  You can when those without kids are excluded from the improvements made. Which is what Labour is largely going to do.

                  How will they improve the incomes and living standards of all the deprived children in Northland without there being a significant impact on adult poverty and well-being in general?

          • One Anonymous Bloke 9.2.1.1.2

            Is it me, or did the opacity of Stats nz data increase significantly over the last nine years? I recall there being tools to display graphs and all sorts. Or am I just missing a link?

            • McFlock 9.2.1.1.2.1

              They still have infoshare and nzstat. I never use the “browse our stats” tab, I just go straight to “tools”

      • The Chairman 9.2.2

        Additionally, as a number of Labour’s proposals only go half way in meeting recommendations made (see link above) we don’t even know if Labour will have much (if any) success in lifting children out of poverty.

        • McFlock 9.2.2.1

          Well, they’ve got three years to get results. Ardern staked her reputation on it by making herself the minister.

          • The Chairman 9.2.2.1.1

            Yes.

            And didn’t she also commit to getting a 100,000 children out of poverty within that time-frame?

            Therefore, can we expect to see her to stand down if she fails?

            • McFlock 9.2.2.1.1.1

              Well, I’d expect any politician with integrity to resign if they screw up badly enough.

              But a bad reputation simply means that the electorate will fire them at the next election.

  10. The Chairman 10

    As for Paula’s claim re data-driven social investment, while Labour plan to make changes, they aren’t backing away from it.

    The new agency would continue under Labour.

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/@news/2017/11/22/62629/carmel-sepuloni-no-short-sharp-fix-for-stigma

  11. infused 11

    Labour are in govt. Get on with it.

    • Cinny 11.1

      Yes please and thank you, and if the nats do not want to be involved, it just goes to show that they don’t care about the kids at all.

      • infused 11.1.1

        No. Labour thinks they can score some easy points. Ain’t going to happen.

        • Cinny 11.1.1.1

          Just get on with it then and worries about the nats? either is good, the most important thing is the outcome for those suffering.

    • CLEANGREEN 11.2

      Agreed Infused,

      labour are being snowballed, if they expect national to offer any help on a Labour policy here.

      National just want to slow labour down and make them look lost again.

      Just when jacinda looks as if she has concerted direction at her heart.

      Jacinda; do not trust national they will only cause us all loss.

  12. Cinny 12

    Labour asked national years ago in parliament about developing a cross party group to tackle child poverty, national said no.

    I brought it up as a question at a meet the candidates, the election prior to this one, because I was really pissed off that national couldn’t put their parties views aside to help the kids.

    “Tracey Martin (NZ 1st), a list MP, said she had been involved with a parliamentary cross-party group on poverty and equity for the past three years. “Unfortunately the Act Party and the National Party refused to participate.”

    Damien O’Connor (Labour) said National had failed to join cross-party accords but as MMP moved forward there was the potential for more. “We will appoint a minister for children, a minister for families, and we hope that in this area where there is much agreement among the candidates here, we can get some consensus and lock in some basic protections for children.”

    Robertson (Greens) said National was the only party that wouldn’t engage in cross-party talks.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/10429422/Candidates-agree-children-come-first

  13. patricia bremner 13

    In my years in education, I found some things were vital in three areas.

    Enough food, clothing, sport/cultural participation and health care.

    Adult role models, having shelter, education, regular affirmations of worth, and helping others.

    Being part of a community/group, having a sense of fun, and having goals.

    By helping families do these things for and with their children they often commented how much happier the whole family was.

    It is a complex problem. It takes a whole village to raise a child.

    You can’t help just one child in the family, or you perpetuate inequality.

    I have seen “poor little rich kids” so busy they don’t have time to reflect or share as tired out they are whisked to swimming dance gymnastics etc. Poverty of time.

    Some will say that isn’t poverty, but anything that causes mental health issues, is just as valid as any illness.

    Perhaps if we start with what children need, and go from there making sure we enrich their lives by not being mealy mouthed about it, and going to the too hard basket instead of problem solving,

  14. timeforacupoftea 14

    Good Lord, surely Prime Minister Jacinda, Minister of Child Poverty will never ever talk to the failed National Party regarding child poverty.
    We must do this on our own, or we will finish with a watered down policy and still have children and families in poverty.

  15. Tanz 15

    About time, it’s all been about the Manus Island ‘refugees’ so far. National had done a lot for child poverty, and had even more plans to reduce it. National increased WFF payments while in office, as well as other benefits. Labour never did that during their previous nine years. Also, National had other resources in place and policies that were working, and they had the decency to give CYFFs a much needed upgrade. If National and Labour can work on this together, then why can they not govern together, as most people wanted anyway? Nope, they opposed almost everything National did whilst in Oppositlon, so why shouldn’t National do the same now? How come Labour opposed the TPPA before the election, by the way? Nothing but flip flops so far, outrageous. Winston is very silent…Kingmaker maybe not so much fun?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1

      they opposed everything National did

      I suggest you find out exactly how many bills went through between 2008 and 2017 that Labour and National both supported. In short, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • alwyn 15.1.1

        “I suggest you find out exactly ……..”.
        Why don’t you tell us how many and what they were. Surely you must know if you are going to make such a statement.
        If you can’t do that you obviously have no idea and ” In short, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1.1.1

          I know there are more than the ones I can remember right now, which include and are not limited to the Kermadecs sanctuary, the “zero hours” legislation, marriage equality legislation, various bills related to Waitangi Tribunal proceedings, and so-forth.

          And really, I’m not going to waste much more than memory on Tanz’s drive-by vignettes.

          Edit: don’t forget, Tanz made the assertion: “everything National did”. It’s up to them to provide the evidence, not me.

          • The Chairman 15.1.1.1.1

            If my memory serves me correct, you are both correct.

            Labour did make a lot of noise and opposed a number of National’s initiatives, only to later go on and support them through the house.

            Welfare reforms is one that comes to mind.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1.1.1.1.1

              Plus a plethora of bills that just got passed with no fuss whatsoever.

              Over the whole term, there have been about 116 hours of urgency, in comparison with 127 in the Parliament before, and, as importantly, extended hours have been used 23 times for Treaty legislation and other bills, which saw agreement, in a large number of cases, from most sides of the House.

              Yes, I’m afraid it’s true: Tanz is clueless.

    • Macro 15.2

      National had done a lot for child poverty,

      Yes they were very proud of their record – It had increased enormously under their watch – and they had plans to seek an even greater improvement.
      So SAD.

  16. Tanz 16

    Child poverty improved under National’s watch, they increased social workers, increased benefits, had more checks and balances in place. Also National supported personal responsibility and were a relief after the nanny state policies of the previous Labour govt, how suffocating it all became. I voted Labour initially, but could not stand the controlling nature of their last few years. Lightbulbs and showers, urgh, whilst there were several high profile child abuse cases, with some of the perps getting off.
    National are far less PC and seem to have more common sense. They have done a lot to ease child poverty; Bill English a caring family and Christian man. He cared and he made positive changes, it wasn’t all a bunch of empty slogans and virtue signalling. National will be back though, come 2020, without the need for NZ First, and will get to govern, alone, for a very long time.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1

      Child poverty improved under National’s watch

      That explains the doubling of the malnutrition rate. You really do live in a fantasy world.

      • Matthew Whitehead 16.1.1

        Nah, she’s being precise- child poverty improved, ie. there’s more of it. 😉

        Yes, National did raise benefits, however, they also kicked people off benefits, too, so it was just as harmful as keeping them low. This is why they needed extra social workers- because their overall approach to government fundamentally made the problem worse.

    • Ad 16.2

      The real political evidence for this will be found when National reach out across Parliament and agree to a binding intergenerational programme to end child poverty.

      Prime Minister Ardern has made that offer.

      It remains to be seen whether National will simply play oppositional politics with this, or are really led by a “caring family and Christian man”.

      If they don’t, National will simply look like thugs.

      If they do, they forefeit a massive opportunity to hold Prime Minister Ardern to a core electoral promise.

      Both are upsides for the Labour-led government.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 16.2.1

        National will simply look like thugs.

        To you and I perhaps. Their end game is to privatise and profit from all social services. Their owners aren’t going to just give up that goal. Look at the templates being rolled out: ‘throw money’, ‘nanny state’ ad nauseam.

    • The Fairy Godmother 16.3

      Yes I agree that National is a lot less pc – I take it you mean polite and considerate. I find them very rude and unkind to people less fortunate or powerful than them and generally find this characteristic in people described as “not pc”. The “increase” in benefits did not apply to all beneficiaries and from memory did have a lot of caveats on it. The cruelty and rudeness of WINZ has lead to people avoiding them some people preferring homelessness to the blows to their Mana.

    • Cinny 16.4

      Tanz you have to be dreaming, would love to see the evidence and facts to back up your comments. It makes no difference who bills imaginary friend is (christian man – so what?)

      This from last year

      “Darrin Hodgetts, a professor of societal psychology at Massey University and an expert on poverty in New Zealand, says the (national) government’s stance that jobs would lead poor families out of poverty was nothing more than propaganda. “We have to stop blaming the poor for being poor,” he says.”

      “One-third of the country’s children, or 300,000, now live below the poverty line – 45,000 more than a year ago” (2016 under the national government)

      ““The consistent message from the (national) government is that work is the route out of poverty, even though around 37% of children in poverty have two parents with two incomes,”

      The (national) government is doing as little as they can get away with … the most significant action they’ve taken is increasing the benefit by about $25 a week for beneficiaries with kids. That’s it – that’s the biggest thing they’ve done.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/16/new-zealands-most-shameful-secret-we-have-normalised-child-poverty

      You then bring up child abuse Tanz… here’s a dose of reality.. would like to see your facts and links to back up your words on child abuse..

      This from Dec 2016….

      “Judge Carolyn Henwood also told Morning Report today that she lost faith in the way the (national) government and the minister dealing with the abuse claims, when Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said about 3.5 percent of children placed in state care had made claims around abuse.

      “When I read the words around the 3.5 percent of children being abused I lost faith at that point, because I thought that they were just trying to sweep it to one side as a minor thing, instead of the very significant thing that it is.”

      She said she didn’t know where Ms Tolley had got that figure from.”

      https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/319324/judge-%27lost-faith%27-in-govt%27s-handling-of-state-care-child-abuse

      How about this from 2017….

      “Bill English is happy for things to remain unknown and unexamined around the abuse of children in state care.”

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11799742

  17. mosam 17

    Child poverty and its effects are a symptom of the neo liberal system.

    Child poverty has always been with us but is now at epidemic proportions thanks to the current economic system.

    If Jacinda and the government are REALLY serious about tackling poverty then they have to move away from the current economic direction which is only serving the wealthy not the rest of the country.

    I don’t think they will be able to tackle this crisis without massive changes that wont be tolerated by the ruling class and entrenched vested interests.

    And reaching out to the National party while a clever move is a futile failure because the people in that party long ago accepted deprivation was a worthwhile outcome of the system that delivered huge wealth and opportunities to them and their corporate sponsors and supporters.

    Child poverty is here to stay and will be a noose around the neck of Jacinda and her colleagues and a weapon for her opponents to attack her for not being able to solve.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 17.1

      Agree with what you say.

      Will be a noose for Jacinda, if she doesn’t make serious structural changes to address the problem – maybe she and her coalition will do that, we will see.

  18. Sparky 18

    Hey if the Nats and Labou can agree on the CP-TPP with ISDS in place they should be able to agree on most things surely?

    On the subject I wonder how many children will be impoverished in one form or other in the future if this vile thing passes?

  19. David Mac 19

    I can see many benefits in seeking consensus on how we measure our social shortfalls. Otherwise all initiatives are destined to hit and miss.

    Competing agendas have left us with a murky picture. If my thesis is on Family Poverty in NZ and I have a $50,000 grant to pursuit my findings…What are the chances of me coming back and claiming ‘Looks like my thesis was a waste of time, it’s not as bad as I thought.’

    It’s about as likely as a bloke with 5 houses claiming ‘Yep you’re right, people like me have made it impossible for you to own a home.’

    When we count a guy living in the Granny flat under his brother’s house as homeless…if they’re all happy and the flat meets code…is he really? I think counting him as homeless dilutes the issue, directs focus where it need not be at the expense of shivering kids.

    I think solutions stand a better chance of success if there is consensus on how we go about accurately identifying what’s wrong. Then it’s down to Lab/Gr/NZ 1st to get cracking.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 19.1

      Do we count a guy living in a granny flat under his brother’s house as homeless, or did you just make that up?

      We already know that there isn’t a concensus. The National Party denies the problem exists and then passes the buck to SERCO.

      There is no compromise, no middle ground with people who want to smash everything and sell the parts. That way lies Stockholm syndrome, and I think the National Party’s human shield has had enough now.

      • David Mac 19.1.1

        The most recent Otago Uni survey revealed that we have about 1400 living rough and 41,000 homeless. Yes, family members sharing with family were counted as homeless.

        At 41,000 we have about .94% of our population homeless. One of the worst records in the world. Japan is doing really well. They only register .03% homeless but they only count those living rough. If NZ did that we would also be .03%

        I’m not implying we don’t have a problem, far from it, my point is the importance of accurately identifying the problem.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 19.1.1.1

          family members sharing with family

          *whoosh!* Watch those goalposts move.

          Do we count a guy living in a granny flat under his brother’s house as homeless or not? A simple “yes” or “no” will suffice.

          • David Mac 19.1.1.1.1

            Hi OAB, if the flat does not have a stand alone power meter and a separate address, yes it is my understanding that in the most recent Otago University survey he would be classified as homeless.

            I don’t know if this was qualified with survey questions like: ‘Would you consider yourself homeless?’ or ‘Would you like a house of your own?’

            • One Anonymous Bloke 19.1.1.1.1.1

              Please cite the passage from Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa/New Zealand 2001-2013 that led to your understanding.

    • McFlock 19.2

      If I got $50k to look at XYZ and fabricated data, there’s a solid chance that I would be discovered, my career ruined, and possibly I’d be charged with fraud.

      Alternatively, I could simply report what I find, because I’m getting paid anyway.

      • David Mac 19.2.1

        It’s not fabricated data. If we count people sharing with family, we have 41,000 homeless.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 19.2.1.1

          sharing with others, usually extended family, in severely crowded permanent private dwellings

          Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa/New Zealand 2001-2013.
          Kate Amore. My bold.

          This is the study you’re misrepresenting. I won’t link because it’s a pdf. It’s freely available though: just Google the title.

          If you’re going to misrepresent studies it’s probably best to choose ones behind paywalls.

          • David Mac 19.2.1.1.1

            Ahhh ok, thanks OAB, I will have a look, thanks.

            Why are you so nasty to people you’ve never met?

            • One Anonymous Bloke 19.2.1.1.1.1

              I don’t like political beliefs based on blatantly false information: that’s the way the National Party operates. It makes me irritable.

              • David Mac

                Yep, irritates me too. I’ll try to make my point another way.

                We need to more accurately identify the problem for many reasons. eg: If I’m in a HNZ house and my sister loses her house and she and her child move into my place we are all immediately breaking the law and ripe for eviction.

                A tenancy agreement is a binding legal document and they state the number of tenants allowed to live at the property.

                If there’s a spare room or 2 at my place, where’s the harm? But the more accurately we identify the problems, ramifications of solutions etc the better chance we have of kicking goals.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  As the Otago study makes clear, the harm occurs where there isn’t a spare room or two.

                  If you don’t like the criteria, go through the study, examine the raw data and re-assess the figures to suit a stricter definition. The figures are presented by situation starting with table 8 on page 19.

                  • David Mac

                    But the harm could also occur with the arrival of an eviction notice for my sister and I. We wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

                    I might receive a notice to comply ‘She has to be gone in a week’. but as things stand, regardless of my spare room count, we are breaking tenancy law and HNZ rules as she is not named on the contract to occupy.

                    Hopefully, with a good handle on the issues we will see the need to streamline the process to get additional tenants, when practical, added to a HNZ tenancy contract.

                    Yes of course, my sister and her kids moving into the dew lined garage is well wrong, far beyond breaches of the contract.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      In the ‘Tenant Responsibilities’ section of HNZ’s webpage on this issue, it says:

                      let us know immediately if your income, your partner’s income or the number of people living in your house or flat changes – if you’re paying income-related rent…

                      not let anyone else rent your house or let anyone other than you and your family live there without our permission

                      ‘Let us know, get permission’, not “breaking tenancy law and HNZ rules as she is not named on the contract to occupy.”

            • dv 19.2.1.1.1.2

              Nasty How?
              OAB Looked quite reasonable to me

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                I implied quite strongly that David misrepresented the Otago study deliberately. Probably the wrong David, I expect it was actually Farrar 😉

                • David Mac

                  You’re right OAB. I did read that a bro living under a bro’s place was classed as homeless in the Otago survey in a journalist’s piece and assumed it to be so, it could be a fabrication.

                  But it’s not really my point. I want to see a difference and I think we stand a better chance of doing that if we’re not buying antibiotics for sprained ankles.

        • McFlock 19.2.1.2

          OK, if I got $50k to do a study and cherry-picked the evidence and moved the goalpoasts out of scope, if peer review doesn’t pick it up, someone down the line will completely discredit my findings and my career will be fucked.

          Alternatively, I could simply report what I find, because I’m getting paid anyway.

          • David Mac 19.2.1.2.1

            Yep I agree McFlock. If we’re going to cook the social survey books, we might as well get creative and drink the money at the pub.

            Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa/New Zealand 2001-2013…I’ll go and read it

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  • Boost for Pacific regional business
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  • PM Ardern call with President Biden
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  • Renewed partnership creates jobs for New Zealand youth
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  • South Island areas prioritised in tourism fund
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  • New code sets clear expectations for learner safety and wellbeing in tertiary education
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  • First TAB New Zealand Board appointments announced
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  • Northland Maori Pathways initiative introduced
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  • Extended Essential Skills visas being rolled out
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  • Pause to Quarantine Free Travel from Victoria to New Zealand
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  • Hydrogen arrangement signed with Singapore
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  • Hydrogen agreement signed with Singapore
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  • Speech to LGNZ Conference
    Kia ora koutou katoa and thank-you for the invitation to speak to you all today. I would like to acknowledge Local Government New Zealand President Stuart Crosby, and Chief Executive, Susan Freeman-Greene, Te Maruata Chair, Bonita Bigham, and our host, Mayor John Leggett. I also acknowledge all the elected members ...
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  • Government Initiatives Contribute to Fall in Benefit Numbers
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  • Tourism support package continues rollout
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  • NZ-PNG Sign Statement of Partnership
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  • Further advice being sought on new cases in Victoria
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  • Christchurch Learning Community Hubs supporting ethnic families
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  • Hundreds more hands funded to work for nature
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  • Government consults on freshwater farm plan
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  • Increased support for midwives
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  • Prime Minister's Speech to NZIIA Annual Conference
    Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, ata mārie, tēnā koutou katoa. It’s a great pleasure to attend an event on such an important topic as New Zealand’s future in the Indo-Pacific region. Thank you to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs for bringing this hui together. I am encouraged to ...
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