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Report underscores need to put children first

Annette King
Deputy Leader


13 December 2010 Media Statement

Report underscores need for Labour’s ‘putting children first’ policies

A report released today giving a snapshot of children’s health and welfare in New Zealand is a cause for real concern, Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King says.

The report, the Children’s Social Health Monitor 2010 Update, was compiled by experts from many of New Zealand’s pre-eminent children’s health and welfare organisations. It shows that admissions to hospital of children with diseases associated with poverty increased by about 2000 per year during 2008 and 2009.

“The report shows that poverty is once again on the rise in New Zealand after dropping midway through this decade when Labour made its alleviation a priority,” Annette King said.

“The sharp rise in unemployment and low business confidence due to the recession is clearly having an impact on the health of the most vulnerable in our society -- children.

“But it is undeniable that this government’s policies are also playing a part. After two years, little has been done to create jobs, prices are rising faster than wages, GST has gone up, a greater share of the tax burden now falls on low and middle income New Zealanders, GPs’ fees, power prices, rents and ECE costs are up, and vital health services are being cut across the board.

“The bleak picture to be drawn from this report reinforces the absolute need for government to recognise the perils of letting children fall through the cracks – which is happening in growing numbers – and to make the wellbeing of all children a top priority.

“Labour worked hard while in government to support children and families, through policies such as Working for Families, affordable primary health care, 20 house free ECE, restoration of income-related rents and low unemployment.

“Labour wants to retain and add to these gains and is well down the track of creating a new suite of policies to take to the electorate next year that will focus even more on children.

“These polices will reflect a growing body of research that says tilting public expenditure towards the early years of life will pay off for children, their families, as well as communities and our country as a whole.

“Labour is making children’s wellbeing a top priority by working with experts in the community to put together a six-year agenda for change.

“The plan reflects new thinking that is serious, coordinated and ambitious and which will break down the unnecessary silo approach that has bedevilled governments the world over for too long,” Annette King said.

ENDS

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