Labour released its excellent children’s policy yesterday – a range of precise, focused policies that would lift 150,000 children out of poverty and make the lives for families with kids much easier.
All of this is carefully phased in to keep within the tight budget constraints in coming years (this isn’t additional spending on top of Labour’s announcement last week, it was included in ‘policies yet to be announced). And what an achievement: 150,000 of the 170,000 to 270,000 kids who are currently growing up in poverty lifted up to an actual brighter future.
The paid parental leave is a great policy, even Business NZ supports it. Again, this is one of those policies – like compulsory super, 67 retirement age, and industry wage standards – where Labour is only following in the well-worn footsteps of other, more successful, countries.
Predictably, the Right is wailing about the extension of the $60 per week per child payment currently called the in-work tax credit to families who don’t meet the work test (ie beneficiaries). They’re outraged at the cost and that money going to the undeserving (ie poor kids). Of course, when National borrows $1.1 billion in a year for tax cuts for the rich, there’s no worries.
Distribution of wealth within a society is a choice of that society. The Right wants it to go to the elite. The Left wants it spread more fairly, and wants to make sure that no child has too little for a decent crack at life. The Right wants more tax cuts to the rich. Labour and the Left make a priority of ending poverty, which leads to better lives and a richer society, not just for those directly affected, but ultimately for us all.
When Working for Families was introduced, it lifted 130,000 children out of poverty. Since National came to power, the number of children in benefit families has risen by 32,000. Extending WFF to those families will lift 150,000 kids out of poverty.
The Right absolutely refuse to do anything for the kids in beneficiary families. Even though National’s inept economic management has put 60,000 more people on to benefits supporting 32,000 more kids, it is all the beneficiaries’ fault and the Right’s refrain is always ‘don’t have the kids if you can’t support them’ (which displays a depressing lack of imagination: what about the 50,000 people who had jobs and could support their kids before National’s reign of economic fuck-ups began?).
Well, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the Right always piously saying that ‘something’ must be done about child poverty and then refusing any policy that comes along. Much as they talk about boosting wages but oppose any action to do so, or say that jobs are important but won’t so any further in the way of job creation than punishing those unlucky enough not to have one, or how they grudgingly agree that we have to cut our carbon emissions but wail about dire economic ramifications if we do anything to make that happen.
I was going to end this section of the post by lambasting National for not joining with Labour, the Greens, and the Maori Party in signing the Every Child Counts coalition’s pledge to improve the first 3 years of every child’s life, but nah. At least they’re being honest for once – they don’t give a crap about kids. Signing a pledge to help out kids would be just another act of hypocrisy from National.
Congratulations Labour, once again, you have shown that only a Labour-led government will have the policies for a truly brighter future for all Kiwis.