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MPs deliver Families Commission message

MPs deliver Families Commission message

United Future MP Marc Alexander today told a gathering of Christchurch community group representatives the Families Commission would provide a "filter" by which all policy that impacts on family could be gauged.

"It seems incredibly basic, but we haven't had that before in this country," the Christchurch-based MP said of the United Future initiative which will come into being in July next year.

"Take an issue like tax: we look at the impact it has on business, but we don't take such issues and look at the impact they have on families, which are the basis of a strong and healthy society," Mr Alexander said.

Mr Alexander and United Future's family affairs spokeswoman Judy Turner addressed about 35 representatives of groups as diverse as Plunket, the National Council of Women, Christchurch City Council representatives and youth advocates.

Mrs Turner told the gathering that the commission would not duplicate their many and varied volunteer support systems, but rather it would complement their work, while offering three core functions: advocacy, research and policy input and analysis.

"The fact is that we all live lives in the context of families. Our society is based on families, whatever one's definition of families might be.

"It can either go as broad as a couple of 18-year-old blokes flatting together, or so tightly that many people would feel excluded.

"But the early focus will be towards those with dependents, and not just children, but also the elderly and the disabled," Mrs Turner said.

The commission would look realistically at the many varied understandings and structures that shape family groups in New Zealand today, she said.

"The Families Commission will be investing in the social capital of this nation. It's high time that we put as much effort into our social capital - our people - as we do into our financial capital," she said.

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