Shearer’s speech on Sunday has sparked the discussions that this country needed to have about education, about poverty, and about the sad link between them. With every statement the Nats show how deeply in denial they are about these issues:
Labour says New Zealand needs a Minister for Children, and will introduce one if it wins the 2014 election. Leader David Shearer says there needs to be a special focus on children to ensure they have the best start in life, but National says the current policies work and Labour’s proposals are unnecessary.
…”All of our portfolios are focused on how we can attend to our most vulnerable children,” says Education Minister Hekia Parata, “and the result action plan we released three weeks ago talked about an integrated approach.”
National used to talk about “the underclass” too – talk is all they ever do. National have had four years, during which poverty and inequality have increased (a Waikato University professor says that poverty is our biggest growth industry). Report after report after report has condemned the rate of poverty in this country, and called on the government to act. In a recent summary of the government’s targets and goals John Armstrong wrote: “Glaringly absent is a target for reducing child poverty”…
National also says there’s no need for Labour’s $19 million proposal to provide a free daily meal to all decile one-to-three schools, as there are already mechanisms in place. “For the vast bulk of them we provide fruit in schools, there’s often a breakfast programme and more often than not some sort of emergency lunch,” says Prime Minister John Key.
Education Minister Hekia Parata told Radio New Zealand the government is already doing enough to help families feed their kids.
Organisations working with the poor and opposition parties say Prime Minister John Key is in ”la la land” if he thinks fruit is enough to get a hungry child through a school day.
The Green Party is backing Labour’s proposal to provide free food to all kids at low-decile schools, and has slammed the government over its refusal to consider the idea.
… Metiria Turei says Mr Key is out of touch with the facts and “against every good idea to decrease child poverty”.
“Food in schools is needed. According to Kidscan, one in 11 kids in the four lowest deciles are demonstrably hungry at school, and a Ministry of Health survey found that 20.1 per cent of New Zealand households with school-age children did not have enough food for active and health living,” she said.
Before the last election Labour called for a cross party working group on poverty. Key turned the offer down. National is now deeply in denial and doesn’t think anything needs to be done. Labour is offering practical solutions. Your choice.