The extent of poverty in NZ condemns us as a country. The way that poverty is growing under the Nats condemns them as a government. For once I agree with something that John Armstrong has to say:
Child poverty report must not be ignored
Yet another damning report on child poverty; yet another announcement of a further piece in the welfare reform jigsaw to draw attention away from that report’s bleak contents. How much longer can National keep pulling that particular rabbit out of the hat every time the political going gets a little rugged?
The answer is for as long as the tactic works.
Exactly. And it won’t stop working until the media calls them on it – as Armstrong has here.
Forget civil liberties. Cutting the benefits of the unemployed if they refuse or fail a drug test when that’s a requirement of a job offer hits all the right buttons with the wider electorate. It’s something National was always going to save for a rainy day.
You would, therefore, have had to come down in the last shower to believe it was mere coincidence the Government confirmed that drug testing would go ahead on the same day a major report on child poverty was released.
This crude attempt to stifle the work of an expert advisory group reporting to the Commissioner for Children, Russell Willis, was particularly cynical. But National was on a hiding to nothing.
Before winning the 2008 election, John Key tramped up and down McGehan Close, a street in a lower socio-economic part of Auckland, talking about providing “the ladder of opportunity”. According to the advisory group’s report, child poverty has since risen to near the 25 per cent mark. It’s still less than the nearly 30 per cent level of the early 2000s before the introduction of Labour’s Working for Families income assistance programme. But it is an increase, nonetheless. …
The report’s impact is intensified by being part of a mini-avalanche of both official and unofficial reports on child poverty and inequality currently in the public arena. …
Without an official measure, politicians can pick and choose figures to deny there’s a problem. Without an official measure, they are less accountable. They can avoid, as National has done, setting targets for a reduction in child poverty.
Under its “Better Public Services” banner, National has heavily promoted its five-year targets for ministers and their respective departmental chief executives. These include supporting vulnerable children by increasing the participation rate in early childhood education, increasing infant immunisation rates and reducing the incidence of rheumatic fever, and reducing the number of assaults on children. Glaringly absent is a target for reducing child poverty. [my emphasis] …
Go read the full piece, it is excellent.
Right – announcing Poverty Watch. I (or perhaps some other Standard author) am going to post every Saturday morning on poverty in NZ. We’ve written many times about poverty, but I want to make it a weekly reminder of the issues, and the government’s response, or lack thereof. Posts will review and discuss the issues and the evidence. Sometimes they’ll be short, sometimes they’ll be long, but they will always end like this, with a list of the government’s response to the issue of poverty at time of writing.
National government’s response to rising poverty in NZ:
• National has not yet set any target for reducing poverty