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Government must finally wake up to child poverty

9 October 2002

Government must finally wake up to child poverty

Green Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford today questioned the Government's commitment to ending child poverty.

"Today a number of high profile agencies, including the National Council of Women and the Institute of Public Policy, released their 'Making it Happen' report because of their frustration with a lack of action from Government on ending child poverty, and on making life for children better overall," said Ms Bradford.

Sue will ask question number five on this issue during question time this afternoon.

"During the last election the Greens campaigned hard on ending child poverty and we share the disappointment of these groups at Government's sluggish response to this problem.

"Successive Governments have known that around a third of our children are growing up either on or below the poverty line but fixing the problem has never been a priority.

"Recently the Ministry of Social Development in its own briefing papers to the incoming Government stated that poverty was a critical issue facing New Zealand children, and it is time for Labour to heed the voices not only of the NGO community through reports like 'Making it Happen', but also of its own Department."

Ms Bradford said the flow-on effects of child poverty were far reaching.

"As the report noted, there is a clear relationship between poverty and health, education, child development, social and family relationships and housing. It is so crucial for the long term future of this country that we break the cycle of poverty."

Green policy is to end child poverty by 2010 through a range of measures including a universal child benefit of $15 per week for the first child and $10 per week for subsequent children.

"Today we call on Labour to implement the wide range of measures outlined in 'Making it Happen', including as a priority repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act, to ensure that children have the same protection from physical assault in law as do adults.

"It is far more important to take meaningful action on issues like these than it is to spend more time and taxpayer money establishing a Commission for the Family. We know what the problems are - it's action we need, not more bureaucracy."

The Green Party's full policy on children is at http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/policy5341.html

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