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Outrage Over Plan To Wipe Child Support Debt

Outrage Over Plan To Wipe Child Support Debt

Katherine Rich MP National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

03 December 2003

Outrage Over Plan To Wipe Child Support Debt

After allowing child support debt to spiral out of control, the Labour Government's now planning to write off more than $400 million owed to the taxpayer by errant parents, says National Party Welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

"Three weeks out from Christmas the Government is basically saying 'no need to pay your child support on time, because we are going to wipe penalties and interest debts next year'.

"I am outraged, as will be every solo mum and every child of every solo mum in the country. It's a cruel blow and sends a terrible message to absent parents who should be taking more responsibility - not less."

Mrs Rich is responding to comments made by Associate Revenue Minister David Cunliffe after he was confronted with the answers to Parliamentary questions that show total child support debt now stands at $730 million, up $114 million or 18% in less than a year.

"That's more than double what it was in 1999 and the Government's answer is to reward bad behaviour as taxpayers and children foot the bill. "This sends an alarming signal to all other people who owe money to the state through student loans, traffic fines, court fines and tax debts. Personal responsibility has gone out the window under Labour. "Labour's soft approach to welfare enforcement is further illustrated by a rise in child support debts owed by those who've skipped the country.

"The amount owed has climbed $7 million to more than $80 million in the past two months. That represents a lot of Christmas presents or a good chunk of next year's school fees," Mrs Rich says.

"Labour's also chasing a staggeringly small number of parents in Australia for unpaid child support. Answers provided by the Minister show there are 10,730 liable parents believed to be in Australia, yet only a fraction of them (1,418) are being investigated.

"But instead of collecting what's owed from non-custodial parents here and across the Tasman, Labour's choosing to give up altogether. Meanwhile our children and the taxpayer will keep paying a heavy price," says Mrs Rich. Ends

(Answers to Parliamentary Questions attached)

Question No 11927(2003)
On 1 November 2003, what was the total value of child support debts unpaid by non-custodial parents, broken down by region.
As of 1st November 2003 there was a total of $731,710,993 in outstanding child support and penalties unpaid by non-custodial parents. This is broken down into regions in the table below.

The regions are defined as follows:
- Auckland Area includes Manukau, Takapuna and Whangarei
- Hamilton Area includes Gisborne, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Tauranga
- Wellington Area includes Napier, Palmerston North and Wellington
- The South Island includes Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill and Nelson Child Support offices

Question 11928 (2003)
How much child support is currently owed/outstanding by ex-pat New Zealanders living in Australia?

Portfolio: Revenue (Associate Minister)
Minister: Hon David Cunliffe
Date Lodged:25/11/2003

Answer Text: There is currently a total of $80,494,757 in outstanding child support and penalties owed by New Zealand liable parents known to be living in Australia.

Date Received:01/12/2003

Question No 11929 (2003)
How many New Zealand liable parents left New Zealand owing child support arrears?

Portfolio: Revenue (Associate Minister)
Minister: Hon David Cunliffe
Date Lodged:25/11/2003

Answer Text: Inland Revenue Child Support is unable to provide the number of New Zealand liable parents who left New Zealand owing child support, as not all separated parents are registered with the department, and departure date information is not held for all customers.
However, of all liable parents registered who have outstanding child support payable as at 31 October 2003 (115,705), the following information is provided:
1,088 are currently missing and may be overseas, 10,730 are believed to be residing in Australia, and 4,143 are believed to be residing in overseas countries other than Australia.
Of those customers believed to be residing in Australia, 1,418 cases are currently under action through the reciprocal agreement with the Australian Child Support Agency.

Date Received:01/12/2003

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