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CPAG Reject Personal Responsibility

January 6, 2005

CPAG Reject Personal Responsibility

Yesterday, the Child Poverty Action Group rejected "personal responsibility" to advocate for the "principle of collective responsibility for the children of Aotearoa."

CPAG spokesperson, Dr Nikki Turner described "personal responsibility" as "rhetoric" persisting from the mid-nineties.

Responding to these extraordinary comments Lindsay Mitchell, petitioner for a review of the DPB, said, "The idea of 'personal responsibility' persists because it is sound. There are few social problems that could not be solved if people accepted individual responsibility for their actions."

"Those children relying on society's 'collective responsibility' for them are the most insecure and vulnerable, for that very reason. They lack parents prepared to accept and act on their individual responsibility."

"Yet Nikki Turner rejects the Ministry of Social Development's recent statement, "Families/whanau are responsible for the well-being of their members, particularly that of dependent children" describing it as 'rhetoric'."

For the CPAG the only solution to child poverty must come from the government in the form of 'direct income assistance'. "What they are advocating is forced state responsibility which undermines individual and family responsibility," Mitchell said.

"Turner's co-spokesperson, Dr David Craig, reiterates this saying, 'Without more funding, and more money in the pockets of the poorest families, it can be a recipe for shifting responsibility down to local levels. If the Minister is serious here, he won't ask communities to carry the can for what should be central government responsibilities.' "

Mitchell rejects this."The state can never replace the family. Children growing up in safe and caring environments is about much more than money. It is primarily about personal responsibility and about parents prioritising their children's needs."

"Historically, New Zealand families have experienced periods of much greater material deprivation than exists today but by and large they remained intact and functioning. They did not present us with the sad milieu we so often see today."

"The CPAG need to step back and see the bigger picture. Yes, some families need help but that help needs to be on a more intimate basis. It needs to be help which will lead to independence and control over their own circumstances instead of ever-growing reliance on the state stumping-up."

Lindsay Mitchell petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB forms available from www.liberalvalues.org.nz contact dandl.mitchell@clear.net.nz


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