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Children - our most vulnerable citizens

28 April 2008

Children - our most vulnerable citizens

Kiwi kids are the biggest victims of the current food price crisis, Green Party Children's Issues spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"With news that one in four New Zealanders fear they won't be able to meet their rent or mortgage payments within the next 12 months, and with food and fuel prices rising daily, it is critical that policy makers consider what happens to children at a time of economic crisis.

"We still have some 20 percent of New Zealand's children living in poverty, fundamentally as a legacy of the economic policies in the 1980s and 90s.

"My fear is that the growing crisis in food price rises and the housing market means that a new generation of children - and adults - will likewise begin to sink into a life of food and housing insecurity and ever-growing debt, with all the health and welfare problems that arise from simply not having enough money to live on.

"The fact that too many children are growing up in poverty, and that this number is likely to grow, is a key issue for the Green Party in the coming election."

As a matter of priority the Greens call for the minimum wage to be lifted to at least $15 an hour immediately; and also support workers in their call for a rise which meets true increases in living costs in the current wage round. All social welfare benefits to be raised to levels people can actually live on. A big increase in the number of state houses being built or leased, and more funding to go into the community housing sector and emergency housing for people in need. And removing the discriminatory features of Working for Families so beneficiary families get the same level of support as working families

"I also welcome the release of a major Child Poverty Action Group report: 'Left Behind: How Social & Income Inequalities Damage New Zealand Children' this evening," Ms Bradford says.

"CPAG is well aware of the need for action in areas like poverty elimination, incomes and tax, health, education, housing and social hazards like gambling.

"Children are both our future and our most vulnerable citizens. We need to make sure they grow up in healthy, safe homes and have enough nutritious food to eat. Making sure our children's basic needs are met is the most vital form of social investment," Ms Bradford says.


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