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Absent parents should pay their way

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

12 September 2006

Absent parents should pay their way

National Party Welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins is disappointed that Peter Dunne has been forced to follow Labour's softly softly approach to absent parents who aren't taking responsibility for their children.

"United Future has some very sensible policies in this area, but Mr Dunne appears to have been forced into line by his larger coalition partner, which has an appalling track record when it comes to collecting what's owed in family support from absent parents."

Answers provided by the Revenue Minister to parliamentary questions show that of the 65,319 liable parents assessed to pay $14 per week towards the upkeep of their children, 44,339 are not even managing to sustain this and are in debt to IRD.

"These parents aren't even making the minimum payments. Yet Labour is working on law changes that will excuse these absentee parents from some of their debt. And the Revenue Minister has defended this approach.

"But the message this sends is that if you refuse to take responsibility for your own actions for long enough, the state will give you a discount. That's just wrong."

Figures released by Ms Collins during the weekend show the amount of debt owed by liable parents has topped the $1.1 billion mark. The figures show that at June 30, 140,365 liable parents owed $452,012,960 in child support arrears and $651,519,334 in penalty payments.

This compared with 131,241 liable parents owing $192,452,098 in arrears and $188,292,302 in penalties in 2000, after Labour's first year in office.

"The amount in arrears has more than doubled and the total amount owed, including penalty, has almost tripled, from $380,744,400 to $1,103,532,294, since Labour came to power, despite promise after promise after promise that they would try harder to collect the outstanding debts.

"Labour is doing single parents and their children a grave disservice by failing to enforce the law," says Ms Collins.

ENDS

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