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Will National think of the children?

Written By: - Date published: 3:21 pm, September 4th, 2012 - 25 comments
Categories: families, national, poverty - Tags:

The Herald has had a plethora of columns urging action on the 230,000-270,000 in Child Poverty this week.  There have been 3 weighty reports on Child Poverty out recently to spur them, but the even conservative ol’ Granny Herald seems to have got the message, as Bryan Gould put it today in Tackling child poverty in NZ should be national priority.

He says we need to have 3 tasks to defeat it: jobs, better wages (as expressed by my brother David in another Herald opinion piece today), and funding families through those expensive early years.  He points out that John Key’s ‘dopey’ remark saying that National’s objection of giving to the rich as well as the poor seems odd when they’ve previously not shown much hesitation to implement policies that just benefit the rich.  Also, National’s tactic of blaming the poor is invalid:

It is time we stopped deluding ourselves that unemployment is a lifestyle choice. People are out of work because there are not enough jobs. There are not enough jobs because the economy remains stalled in recession mode.

Susan St John – also today – pushes the Greens’ private members bill to extend the (badly named) “In-Work” tax credit to beneficiaries:

Make no mistake, an extra $60 a week for a family really matters. For many it represents the difference between being cold and sick and being able to pay the power bill, being able to go to the doctor, and being able to buy nutritious food.

Childhood poverty has lifelong consequences for health, education, and social and economic participation and is completely unnecessary in a developed country such as New Zealand.

The minister has recently trivialised the issue by claiming that families can go in and out of poverty on “almost a daily basis”.
She appears unaware of her own department’s full documentation of the extent, depth and duration of child poverty and of the evidence from the health sector of the serious harm to children of third world diseases that are the consequence of poverty.

Yesterday Tapu Misa commented on the fact that our child poverty rate has doubled in the last 30 years of neo-liberal policies.

How many reports on child poverty does it take to shame governments into action? Too many to recount here. […]

What the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty makes patently clear is that child poverty isn’t inevitable. International evidence shows that it can be reduced, with the right mix of policies: “Countries can choose how much child poverty they are prepared to tolerate.” […]

The expert group has solutions, some ambitious, all “realistic, evidence-based, cost effective and fiscally responsible”.

Among these is the return to a child benefit – universal to the age of 6, and then targeted after that (“dopey”, said John Key); free meals in our poorest schools; and warrants of fitness for rental accommodation.

The group also supports an official poverty measure (necessary if we’re to achieve a 30 per cent cut by 2022), and urges a review of child-related benefit rates, including the controversial in-work tax credit, which keeps the children of many working poor from falling below the poverty line, but pretends that there’s a public good to ignoring the equally critical needs of the children of the unemployed.

The expert group points out, as others have, to the “lifetime scars” left by child poverty; poverty exacts enormous human and economic costs that we all end up paying one way or another.

Even John Armstrong says that the 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…

He notes the political cynicism that marks the government’s reply:

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.

[ That same cynical media posturing was obvious yesterday as they announced the Afghanisatan withdrawal just before the retreat on Asset Sales. ]

Armstrong also points out that after Key’s visit to McGehan Close in 2008 to talk about the “ladder of Opportunity”, child poverty has signficantly risen.

Under its “Better Public Services” banner, National has […] 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.

So will National listen?  Will they think of the children, or will it be more CRAP (Child Result Action Plan) and Armstrong’s conclusion is correct?

National will continue to tackle only the more politically noisy and troublesome manifestations of child poverty. Not surprisingly, it does not look kindly on those reminding the public it is doing only that.

Our children deserve better than that.

25 comments on “Will National think of the children? ”

  1. BernyD 1

    They are using those children as a bludgeon against their parents at the moment.
    Can’t have them fed and happy just yet, sorry , toodle pip.

  2. Roy 2

    Children don’t vote, so to the Tories, they don’t count.

    • mike e 2.1

      National are a bunch of bean brained bean counters who can only think short term 3 monthly reporting like in the share market 1 yearly like farming small business and 3 yearly election cycle.
      Our children are our future so lack of investment with an aging population is going to lead to our next generations being stuck in poverty not paying much tax costing us money rather than increasing money fow in the economy.
      Which means our older population will have to make up the shortfall as well.
      Dumb and Dumber
      Rednecks ranting and dog whistling only incresaes the short sightedness of Nactionaluf supporters compounding the $6 to now $8 billion drag on the economy!

  3. Carol 3

    You know National will do their Orwellian thing, and continue to claim their anti-beneficiary policies are there for the children – probably something like encouraging parents to get to work is good for the children.


    Banks will continue to claim that his Charter schools will help children that are failing and continue to accuse the left of blaming our education (20%) fail rate on poverty.

    • BernyD 3.1

      Exactly, and they engineered the whole thing to take down the Teachers Union.

    • mike e 3.2

      Carol the 1in 4 children now 1in5 children the right whinger mantra is an out and out lie their are less than 14% of children failing at school.
      Nactuf are using out of date data to push out of date policy.
      The 14% figure is a 2010 stat that now maybe less than 10% with the rate of change that labours 2003 policy targeting this poor performance has achieved.
      National have stuffed up education and NZeds future again!
      Demoralizing the worlds best teachers to push a failed policy.

  4. vto 4

    Will National think of the children?

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  5. vto 5

    Will National thnk of the children?

    National think of the stock exchange, the NZX.
    National think of the finance company investors needs.
    National think of the dairy farmers needs.
    National think of Mediawork funding requirements.
    National think of tax cuts for the high income earners.
    National think of raising GST.
    National think of taking ownership of electricity companies out of everyone’s hands and into the wealthy’s hands.

    National do not think of children and the proof is in their actions. Despicable.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      National do not think of children and the proof is in their actions.

      Well, I think you are being too unkind: private schools did get an extra $30M.

      • Clashman 5.1.1

        To help the rich parents of those children avoid an increase in fees.

      • mike e 5.1.2

        Plus hand outs to Destiny rescuing a private school in the northisland $3.5 million.
        While state schools have had their funding cut by stealth.

  6. Olwyn 6

    This is the paragraph of Tapu Misa’s that caught my eye;

    “Has the child poverty focus backfired on children? In acknowledging that children bear the brunt of poverty, and in talking about child poverty rather than family poverty, have we removed children from the context of their poverty, which is first and foremost their families, and encouraged the mindset that only children deserve help? Have we set up parents to take the fall for being poor?”

    If National does turn its attention to child poverty, it might well involve punishing the parents to save their children. This could mean extending the restricted card method of paying benefits, or even greater nasties; removing children and putting them with “nice” families, who could do with a little state help with their mortgages, for example.

    It is yet another area where the left leaves the door open to right wing appropriation. “We have to talk about child poverty,” goes the thought, “because talking about poverty qua poverty is too risky.” However, children are poor because their parents are poor, and categorising child poverty as something separate from their parents’ poverty has sinister connotations. When that shill of the right John Armstrong took up child poverty it rang alarm bells for me.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Lefties are hopeless at framing. Especially when they are Lefties not willing to confront the real issues – parents without jobs, parents with jobs which pay too little, parents without access to the support and advice that they need, parents who too often themselves grew up in bad environments.

  7. muzza 7

    Until such time as serious conversation around the availability of funds, which play off society against eachother have been adressed, then there is little possibility of addressing poverty of any kind!

    The same old situation applies, that its health, versus education, or grannys hip versus teacher funding and so it goes on. Funding, or more accurately the borrowing which pays for our services and infrastructure, is used as the core factor of turning people against eachother.

    Until we are talking openly about why NZ is borrowing in the first place, then topics such as poverty will never be viable, let alone solveable.

    The core issue of most any topic you can name which affects our communities, our cities and out country, is tied to a monetary value, which is tied to borrowing. We break this open, and we will then clear the path to discuss our country’s road to recovery!

    Who will take up the challenge…

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    There are not enough jobs because the economy remains stalled in recession mode.

    No, there are not enough jobs because that would require the capitalists to pay people and thus eat into the profit.

  9. Dr Terry 9

    Key and his lot suffer themselves from “poverty” – poverty of conscience and of compassion in all extremity. Is such becoming more and more noticeable in politicians of every brand?

    Meanwhile Key has given away yet more of this nation’s self-respect as he subordinates it to American might and colonization.

  10. AC 10

    National doesn’t give a stuff about children. It just wants cheap labour. Have kids looking for work instead of going to school will bring down expenditure. Like a scene from or the poorest part of India. Heaps homeless children begging in the streets being passed by the occasional Rolls-Royce.

  11. xtasy 11

    Well, I am waiting for Paula Bennett to pull another bad example rabbit out of the hat, rather than her and National “thinking” too much about the growing number of poor kids.

    She will come with another extreme abuse case, giving her the chance to blame the lot of kids primarily on their oh so bad parents, who drink, drug, gamble, cook up P in their homes and hence not look after their children.

    Is that not the constant broken record tune coming from National?

    Also are parents and their kids constantly going through supposed income cycles, one moment falling into a poverty survey category, then the next day earning real money from real jobs?

    And for the ‘Granny Herald’, I am still waiting on some stories that I suggested their journalists should perhaps rather be writing than celebrity and “lifestyle” topics they cover too much of. Susan St John does not work for the Herald, and Tapu disclosed herself, that she is rather a kind of “self employed” column writer. That leaves Armstrong, who writes incoherent stories most the times, mostly being very reserved with any criticism of the present government.

    So for that sake I can only agree with ‘vto’.

    • xtasy 11.1

      SHE – PAULA- DELIVERED, like on command today, starting another witch-hunt against wanted crims that may be on benefits and not get tracked down yet!

      She never disappoints me, this woman, I can absolutely rely on her. Soon she will rely on me and others too, for her appalling treatment of beneficiaries, witch hund and actual breaches of law, the show down is coming!

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    Gareth Morgan makes a quick comment about the benefits of a universal child benefit.

    With WFF the effective tax rates people pay on their additional income are at eye-watering levels, nearly 100% in some cases. You have to get a dramatically better job to escape these punishing claw back provisions and that’s unrealistic for most people. So they don’t bother. They are stuck, unable to boost their income a little by their own efforts. No that is “dopey”.

    A universal payment avoids all this, delivering help to parents but not trapping them further.

    • xtasy 12.1

      Draco – Gareth has at times some good and smart ideas, so do other economists, but the problem is, we are locked into this “global scenario”, so it limits very, very much, what any people and country can do within, as it will often lead to a high price to pay otherwise.

      There must be a new “international” on economic, social and environmental policies, that is the only solution to the world’s economic and other problems. Division and competition at the lowest ever denominator is destructive and solves NADA!

  13. captain hook 13

    the only children the nats care about are their own.

    • BernyD 13.1

      They’d be happy to send them off to Borstel as well, it would only take them speaking out of turn

  14. Fortran 14

    Sadly Tapu Musa says the same thing every weekly edition.
    All she does is re write and express the same thing.
    She finds nothing new – and has become boring really.
    Her ideas were good, but she is stale now.

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