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The economic cost of family breakdown

The economic cost of family breakdown

Family breakdowns are just as much an economic as a social cost to New Zealand, United Future leader Peter Dunne told the South Island Methodist Mission's open day in Christchurch today.

"The Families Commission, which was announced late last year and will be established by legislation later this year, has been derided by United Future's political opponents as 'just another bureaucracy', 'more Government interference', and 'an expensive talkfest'," he said.

"But these criticisms are shallow, ill-conceived efforts to get a headline, rather than an attempt to contribute in a meaningful way to rational, commonsense debate.

"The hard fact is that it has been estimated that family breakdowns cost the country more than $5 billion a year in welfare and other payments, out of total annual Government expenditure of more than $35 billion," said Mr Dunne.

"The Minister of Finance could fund a lot more healthcare, build many more schools or greatly improve the national transport infrastructure if he had an extra $5 billion a year to play with.

"From that perspective, it is vital that New Zealand invest a little money now in setting up structures that will strengthen families because the long-term return is so good in economic as well as social terms.

"That will be the real challenge for the Families Commission, and why its establishment is so important.

"It is not only an investment in the futures of our families and our children, but also in the future of our country," said Mr Dunne.

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