Colin Espiner reckons that the Nats are split on food in schools:
Prime Minister John Key has already addressed the argument that having the taxpayer fund breakfast for kids lets parents off the hook.
He told TV3’s Firstline this morning: “There’s an argument that’s put up, that you’re building dependency, and the responsibility to feed a child sits with the parent, and you are somehow sending the wrong message here, that the state will pick up the pieces if you don’t do the job as a parent. And I can understand that argument.” …
I have to admit I’m a little suspicious about the way this all unfolded. It seems odd that it was flagged but not announced in the Budget (I’ve heard of pre-budgie announcements, but post-budgie?). I’m fairly certain that this was either policy on the hoof designed to outflank Labour and the Mana Party, or the result of a ding-dong row in Cabinet over whether or not it was a good idea.
Anyone who caught Finance Minister Bill English on the news the other night being door-stopped on the subject will know exactly where the member for Clutha stands on this. He looked about as reluctant as a man waiting for a root canal.
I can well imagine the drier members of National’s caucus baulking at the idea. They would argue New Zealand needs to lift people out of welfare dependency, rather than ensnare more people in it.
For once I agree with an Espiner. A caucus war fits the facts. Key has talked about food in schools since 2007. The KickStart programme was already there, waiting to be built on. Action on poverty was foreshadowed for the budget, but then got punted to a post-budget announcement. A compromise with Bill English, who couldn’t stomach it in the budget?
If so is a fairly fundamental split within National, between the hardline conservatives who would leave kids hungry in the name of parental responsibility, and pragmatists who will swallow a dead rat every now and again in an attempt to stay popular. Alas, I don’t think there is any faction in the mix that genuinely cares about children’s welfare, or they would have come up with something better than $1.9 million per year. That’s less than $17 per participating school per school day – much less than $1 per child.*