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Newman Online 3 June 2005

Newman Online 3 June 2005

Weekly commentary by Dr Muriel Newman MP

Working for Families just a belated inflation adjustment: Where are the tax cuts?

This week Newman Online looks at Labour’s Working for Families package and finds it is nothing more than a belated inflation adjustment.

This week, as Parliament debated the 2005 Budget, speaker after speaker from the Labour Party claimed that the budget was good for New Zealand families. While these claims are largely based on the so-called financial benefits of the Working for Families package, the reality is that this much-vaunted initiative is nothing more than a belated inflation adjustment.

Before Labour took over the Treasury benches, families with children received financial assistance. After becoming the Government, rather than making annual adjustments to keep pace with inflation, Labour let the value of the assistance erode.

That is until last year when, with an election in sight, Labour’s spin doctors choreographed the re-introduction of an inflation adjustment,

They dressed it up as the most significant welfare initiative since Michael Joseph Savage invented the welfare state. In reality, all they were doing was adjusting the levels of support back up to where they should have been all along!

If Working for Families is just an inflation adjustment, then what other assistance did Labour offer to struggling working families in the budget? In particular, knowing that the Australian Government has introduced tax cuts every year for the last three years, what financial relief did Labour propose to offset the highest ever over-taxation surpluses - $7.4 billion in New Zealand’s history?

The answer, of course, is that they announced a tax cut. Again, with great fanfare, Labour promised that in three years time income tax thresh-holds would be adjusted for inflation, in order to give hard working families a tax break. That break, turned out to be the equivalent of a packet of chewing a week.

This so-called tax cut is nothing more than a sick joke. Labour’s promise of a 67 cents a week tax cut in three years time is an insult to hard-working families who pay one of the highest tax rates in the world.

Not only does it show how out of touch Labour is with the difficulties faced by Kiwi families who are struggling to pay bills, raise children and keep food on the table, but it also demonstrates that their family- friendly rhetoric is only skin-deep.

The reality is that the Labour Party is anti-family. That fact was exposed for all to see when they refused to sign New Zealand up to the Doha Declaration on the Family late last year.

On December 6th 2004, the United Nations General Assembly commemorated the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, by adopting the Doha Declaration’s resolution on strengthening the family. But when the vote was put to the General Assembly - after a year long programme of work that involved thousands of people from around the globe - New Zealand refused to support it.

The Doha Declaration stated, among other things, that:

* All governments, international organisations and members of civil society at all levels should take action to protect the family. * The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to the widest possible protection and assistance by society and the State. * That governments uphold, preserve and defend the institution of marriage;

In refusing to support the recommendations, the New Zealand delegate explained that the Government did not agree with the Declaration because “many family forms do exist… New Zealand regretted that the text and the Doha Declaration only promoted one model of the family at the expense of others”.

In other words, the Labour Party’s ideological obsession with feminism and “family diversity” rides roughshod over any commitment to marriage and the traditional family. By refusing to sign the Declaration, they have shown the whole world that New Zealand has a government that does not agree that the family - as the fundamental unit of society - needs to be defended or protected. Nor are they prepared to uphold, preserve or defend the institution of marriage.

Yet, with research showing categorically that children have a far better chance of succeeding if they are raised in a stable and committed family environment, then defending marriage and the family should be a prime responsibility of government.

With statistics now showing that only 55 percent of the 32,000 children born last year were born into a family where their mum and dad were married - down from 92 percent in 1962 - the situation is becoming quite alarming.

The reason for this massive decline in marriage is the welfare system. Increasing numbers of women who are not married are going onto the Domestic Purposes Benefit. The DPB was originally introduced to support married mothers who needed to escape from violent relationships, it is now being abused. In particular, single women, who want to be paid by the state to have and raise children on their own, are increasingly signing up to the DPB. It has now reached the stage where women who have been married are now in the minority.

Astonishingly, while welfare in general and the DPB in particular, are largely responsible for our high taxes, as a nation we have never had a proper discussion about the merits of whether a welfare system that encourages family breakdown and funds single women to have children without the need of a stable relationship with the child’s father, is good for children, mothers, dads, society or indeed taxpayers.

Having studied this issue for a decade, I have concluded that the DPB should be completely overhauled. Vulnerable women are being paid by the state to be the nation’s child-bearers, and yet all too often, without the stability of a two-parent family and the support of a dad, their children go off the rails. Talk to any teacher, nurse, social worker, or policeman, and they will tell you that the children who are the most at risk of failure are those raised by a young single mother on the DPB.

New Zealand’s welfare system needs to be reformed to ensure security for the truly needy. The DPB needs to be replaced with a temporary benefit designed to help sole parents find a job and become breadwinners for their children.

Those countries that supported the Doha Declaration clearly recognised that marriage and the family have withstood the test of time; they have enabled generations of children to be raised as successful, contributing citizens. In signing the Declaration, they have rejected the sort of social engineering that Labour has forced onto New Zealand society. At the election, they should be held to account for the damage that this has caused to the country and the government should be changed!


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