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ACT Solutions Needed Urgently—Brash

ACT Solutions Needed Urgently—Brash

A new report showing just over half of the 200,000 New Zealand children living below the poverty line are Maori and Pacific Islanders is a further vindication of ACT policies and pointer to how urgently they are needed, says ACT New Zealand leader Dr Don Brash.

The report, commissioned by a coalition of child advocacy organisations called Every Child Counts, has found that ''a combination of high dependency on welfare benefits, high rates of single parenthood, and a concentration of workers in the manufacturing industries keep Maori and Pasifika families trapped in poverty."

"ACT has been saying since its inception that welfare dependency, particularly dependency on the sole parent benefit, creates a poverty trap that has ensnared Maori and Pacific Islanders in disproportionately high numbers," says Dr Brash.

"The solution, however, is not more of the same policies that created the problem.

It is not, as the Greens have already demanded in their knee-jerk response to the report, higher benefits and a higher minimum wage.

"Nor is it, as report co-author Hone Kaa has demanded, a shift away from what he calls 'a Pakeha approach'—whatever that might be—to the problem of a 'brown underclass.'

"Poverty is no respecter of race. Nor are its cures. There are approaches that work and approaches that don't.

"Another one that won't work is a government task force, such as Dr Kaa is also seeking, likely to be stacked with politically correct lobbyists with a separatist agenda.

"The government must press ahead with its overhaul of our welfare system, not just to get more beneficiaries into work or training, but with a view to uprooting the very culture of dependency whose disastrous results for children this report so tragically highlights.

"It ought also to reinstate youth rates and thus pave the way into work for thousands of youngsters currently condemned to the dole because employers can't afford to take them on.

"I don't want to see an underclass of any colour. I don't want to see any children of any race living below the poverty line. With that in mind I'll be delivering a major speech on the entire subject of welfare reform in the near future," Dr Brash concludes.


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