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Child poverty must be eliminated

15 June 2005

Child poverty must be eliminated

Child poverty must be eliminated as quickly as possible, was the message given to a public meeting on poverty in Auckland last night by Progressive Whangarei candidate, Viv Shepherd.

"The only acceptable date to end child poverty is NOW. The Progressive Party will continue to advocate hard for this within government. No question about it.

"We fully endorse the Every Child Counts agenda, the government's Children's Agenda and the Making it Happen document of recent years. At the beginning of this parliamentary term Jim Anderton, the Leader of the Progressive Party, consulted widely with groups involved in dealing with child poverty to ensure we had a good idea of what issues were most important - including incomes, child health, access to education and support services.

"Since then we have continued to advocate for improvements in these areas inside government - such as cheaper GP visits for all children up to 18, the Working for Families package, improvements in accommodation support, more state houses, child care funding and access to early childhood education.

"Working for Families has put an extra $1.1 billion, or an average of $100 a week per low income family, towards poverty reduction. The Progressive Party is also monitoring how beneficiaries are coping and believe benefit levels need to be addressed, for instance we want to see how far the increases in family support will alleviate poverty.

"We have to recognise that addressing poverty costs money, huge amounts of money. The Progressive Party believes that a full employment economy is essential in addressing poverty. Firstly, getting people into work provides them with a productive income above the level of a benefit, and also helps them integrate into their communities more easily.

"Secondly, and more importantly, full employment provides the state with the funding needed to provide strong social services to support those unable to work. Our work in government on economic, industry and regional development has made a huge contribution towards this goal," Viv Shepherd said.

Full speech notes available on the Progressive Website at:

http://www.progressiveparty.org.nz/modules.php?name=News &file=article&sid=1910


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