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Don Brash disturbing on child poverty

22 June, 2005

Don Brash disturbing on child poverty

Don Brash’s remarks on child poverty yesterday are disturbing and fail to acknowledge the lasting impact of poverty on the health and educational prospects of children.

“New Zealand’s child poverty rates through the 1990s have been among the worst in the developed world precisely because of the approach Mr Brash displayed in remarks on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report yesterday. Dr Brash said, “these things go up and down” and that he “can’t promise anything in that area. Not so. We expect him to commit to ending child poverty,” said Murray Edridge, spokesperson for Every Child Counts.

“In the UNICEF report, “Child Poverty in rich nations 2005” published earlier this year, New Zealand ranked fourth worst out of 24 countries with a rate of 16.3 per cent on the scale used, while Denmark, at the top of the table, could boast a rate of 2.4 percent.

“The report makes it clear that many OECD countries appear to have the potential to reduce child poverty below ten percent without a significant increase in overall spending.

“Child poverty in New Zealand has in the past been seen as an unimportant by-product of economic policy. For example, as a consequence of the 1991 ‘Mother of all Budgets’ it broke through the 30 percent level. In a country like Denmark, the elimination of child poverty is seen as an essential economic goal. It is a critical investment in the country’s future.”

“Dr Brash’s remarks about the impact of his proposed tax cuts on children are the sort of political attitude that Every Child Counts argues needs to change if we are to have a worthwhile future. Child poverty is linked to educational under-achievement, poor health, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, criminal and anti-social behaviour, low pay, unemployment and long-term welfare dependence. All of this takes a toll on our society and economy. Child poverty can’t be ignored,” concluded Murray Edridge.

Every Child Counts is a coalition including Barnardos, Plunket, Save the Children, Unicef NZ and AUT’s Institute of Public Policy, supported by more than 290 other organisations and thousands of individual supporters. The public are invited to demonstrate their support for the nation’s children by adding their names to the Every Child Counts campaign at: www.everychildcounts.org.nz

ENDS

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