PM's Presser – Poverty and Legislative Progress
Prime Minster's Post Cabinet Press
Conference – November 15th 2004
Poverty and Legislative
A recently released report from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) queried what sort of impact the Government's much touted "working for families" package was going to have on the vexed question of child poverty in New Zealand. Whilst those on the left end of the political spectrum - such as the Greens' Sue Bradford welcomed the report , there was also concern from some sectors that spending more money on impoverished children could impact negatively on other New Zealanders wallets. ACT MP Muriel Newman reacted to the report with a call for lower taxes .
Scoop decided to ascertain how the Prime Minister felt about the CPAG report, particularly given recent news that the struggling middle-income family from Waihi , that had sparked much media debate prior to the budget, now looked to be on the road to financial salvation.
Scoop: Do you think some of the groups identified by the CPAG Report could take heart from the 'whingers from Waihi' [an epithet allegedly attached to the family from Waihi by some within government]- who seem to have turned their lives around in the last six months?
Prime Minister: "I wouldn't use that phrase to describe that family. That family is exactly [within] the group of 300,000 families with dependent children who will be benefit from the 'working for families' package. I don't think that the material that came out from the Child Poverty Action Group was particularly well considered. And in my brief work with a pocket calculator this morning, before I did my first radio interview at half past six - I got out the material that was put out back in May – fact sheet seven. I went to the case of a beneficiary with one child – invalids benefit – total income figure. I then added to that the amounts that she would be better off by – I get quite significant increases."
"I look at the family with two children living in Auckland on the DPB [add in] the accommodation supplement, total income. I then calculate what the 'working for families' package means for that beneficiary and find that by 1 April 2005 that beneficiaries' income will be better off by 3.9% and by 2007 overall [the beneficiary] would be better off by 8.1%. That is quite significant and I just think it is pretty shoddy work that we saw from that particular group."
- Public Health Association - Long term costs to the health system of child poverty
- Alliance - Alliance supports CPAG report on child poverty
The controversial Seabed and Foreshore Bill's progress - reported in the Dominion yesterday to be accelerating - was delved into by various media organisations at the PM's conference.
Answer relates to question regarding the Bill's progress.
"Well there's quite a busy agenda before Christmas and this is one [piece of legislation] that we've always aspired to have dealt with by the end of year."
Answer relates to question regarding pace of the Bill's passage through the House.
"After 19 months it doesn't feel rushed to me."
Answer relates to a question regarding the Govt's relationship with other parties (NZ First)
"There's been a good working relationship on this all along and I know that Dail Jones has played a very constructive role on the select committee. He's followed it very closely and fully understands every nuance of the Bill and that has been an extreme help."
Answer relates to a question regarding any deals with Iwi
"There's no quote - 'special deals' - what there has always been is the ability for the Government to negotiate directly or for Iwi to pursue their issues through a court process. That's a choice for the Iwi [regarding] how they wish to pursue their interests. Any outcomes will be consistent with the legislation."
Answer relates to a question regarding, whether the Prime Minister is pleased that, "it is all nearly over.'
"I'm absolutely convinced there had to be legislation. It is only I understand the fourth time that the Crown has legislated for ownership. It does seem that i's need to be dotted and t's crossed but I think that a balance has been struck which is appropriate."