Every Child Counts disappointed w. Govt Programme
20 October 2005
For immediate use
Every Child Counts disappointed with incoming Government programme
“Children appear to be the big losers in the programme of the incoming Government,” said Ian Hassall, spokesperson for Every Child Counts today.
“There is very little for children in the agreements which Labour has reached with United Future, NZ First and the Greens. What is there is piecemeal and the dismal prospects for real attention to children in the coming term have been signalled by the Cabinet rankings announced yesterday.”
The agreement with the Greens proposes further work to reduce child poverty and a significant increase in the minimum wage which also will impact upon child poverty. The agreement with NZ First refers to efforts to restore free doctors’ visits for under six year olds and support for Labour when it extends the Working for Families package as promised during the election campaign.
“Each of these is a worthy initiative but together they do not constitute a coherent programme. In July 2002 the Government released with much fanfare its Agenda for Children strategy. It is a good comprehensive strategy, but there has not been an effective implementation plan,” continued Ian Hassall. “During the election campaign, both Labour and the Greens were particularly supportive of Every Child Counts policy priorities and we had hoped to see moves towards a new focus on children’s issues. But that is clearly not going to happen.”
“There has never been a minister specifically responsible for children’s interests. They have usually been handled by the Minister for Social Development. My concern for the status children will have in the next term of government is increased when I note that the Cabinet ranking of this portfolio has dropped from fourth to thirteenth.”
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 350 other organisations and thousands of individual supporters. It provided informed comment, sometimes critical, throughout the election campaign, identifying sensible or poor policy proposals from any political party from a children’s perspective.