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Cross Party Talk Must Look at DPB

Media release

Cross Party Talk Must Look at DPB

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In 2001 a petition calling for a Parliamentary review of the DPB was circulated around New Zealand. Signatures were not easy to gather. Collectors typically found that many people had a friend or relative relying on this benefit and, although concerned about the effects of the DPB, felt to sign the petition would be 'disloyal'.

Their reluctance was understandable despite research showing children in DPB homes are four times more likely to come to the attention of CYF.

But in the past week public feeling against destructive welfarism has been overwhelming. Calls to control or reform the DPB have been widespread. They have been driven by the deaths of the Kahui twins.

The Kahui case is extreme but many people are well aware the lifestyle is not uncommon. Given there were over 13,000 cases of established child abuse in 2005, people are acutely and uncomfortably aware two deaths are just the tip of the iceberg.

More than welfare reform is needed. That 'more' must come from the community by way of individuals in the first instance and non-government organisations next.

But without welfare reform, i.e. ending the DPB in its current form, other efforts will often constitute no more than banging heads against brick walls. When benefits provide the cash that fuels gambling, alcohol and drug habits, other attempts to help families are stymied.

It is usual for strong feelings about destructive welfarism to abate as the outrage at another child death dies down. But this case seems to have struck a particularly raw nerve.

Any cross party talks to address child abuse will be futile without a resolution to stop paying people without the mental or financial wherewithal to have children, to do so.

That must be the primary aim because always, these tragedies are backgrounded by a policy of encouraging babies to have babies.

With the current DPB policy the state actively encourages more child neglect, child abuse, and occasionally, child deaths.

The public are sick to their stomachs at being forced to fund this awful mess.


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