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Child poverty can no longer be ignored

Labour Deputy Leader

21 November 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
Child poverty can no longer be ignored

A no-holds barred documentary screening on TV3 tomorrow that reveals the sickening truth about child poverty in New Zealand should be a wake-up call for John Key and every member of his National-led government, Labour’s Deputy Leader and Social Policy spokesperson Annette King says.

“The Prime Minister has been in denial about this country’s poverty problem for years. He has shunned numerous attempts to address the issue through a cross-party approach and dismissed the concerns of experts working in the field as ‘rubbish’.

Inside Child Poverty should be a must-watch for everyone. It may be grim, but this is an issue that we should all be ashamed about,” Annette King said.

“Doing nothing is not an option. There are 200,000 children living below the poverty line in New Zealand. Many go without breakfast. They are living in cold, unheated homes.

“Last year more than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital with respiratory infections. Cases of meningitis and rheumatic fever - diseases usually associated with Third World countries – are at unprecedented levels.

“Worryingly too, there are now 32,380 more children living in families who are dependent on a benefit than there were in 2008, while half of all the children living in poverty are from working families whose wages are so low they cannot adequately care for them.

“John Key can no longer pretend there isn’t a problem.

“And he can’t say New Zealand can’t afford to do something about it. He has said he will spend $1 billion of the money he hasn’t yet got from asset sales on ‘modernising and transforming’ schools, and hand out another $400 million to irrigate farms.

“Investing in our kids right from the start will have social and economic benefits for all New Zealanders. It is an investment for the future, but it’s one that has to start now.

“Labour has vowed to put children at the heart of social policy. We have listened to the people who work at the coalface and we are committed to ensuring every child gets a better start in life,” Annette King said.


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