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Kids need a Government that cares, not punishment

April 10 2013

Kids need a Government that cares, not punishment

A Unicef report today is further evidence that the Government is failing children by refusing to put their needs first and blaming them for being poor, the Green Party said.

The Unicef report comparing child wellbeing across rich countries today ranks New Zealand 21 out of 35 countries for levels of child poverty, and nearly the bottom of all measured countries for the percentage of young people not in education, training or employment.

“What is hugely concerning is the complete absence of any comparable data from New Zealand on the state of our housing,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said,

“We don’t even know how many kids are living in damp, overcrowded and unhealthy homes. It seems the National Government doesn’t even care about those children.

“This comes in the same week that the National Government was warned about rising rates of asthma and rheumatic fever, which are linked to unhealthy homes.

“And its just hours since the National Government passed draconian welfare changes that all the experts say will make life harder for the poorest children in our country.

“What’s revealing is that one area that Unicef reports New Zealand has have improved in is in the rates of immunisation. That was achieved by an effective national programme which reached families who needed it, not through threats and punishments like the National Government’s social obligations for beneficiaries.

“Kids in poverty need solutions, but this Government wants to halve the income of our most vulnerable kids if their parents don’t meet their so called social obligations.

“This is not helpful for children whose parents are already struggling to afford a healthy lunch or to pay the electricity bill. Sanctions effectively blame our poorest kids for situations beyond their control.

“The Green Party will cancel all benefit sanctions affecting children, and ensure that the draconian welfare reforms are reviewed at the first opportunity.

“We will also instigate a national poverty measure and implement the recommendations of the Children’s Commissioner so that the right information is collected in order to be able to tackle child poverty at its source.

“Research shows clear links between poor, cold, damp housing and New Zealand’s growing high rates of asthma and rheumatic fever, and we have urged the Government to extend the successful home insulation scheme beyond September this year.

“Tackling child poverty is not rocket science. Countries doing well have Governments that choose put child wellbeing first. This Government doesn’t,” Mrs Turei said.

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