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Test Child Poverty Case For HR Commission

Test Case For Human Rights Commission

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission citing the Child Tax Credit as a discriminatory and damaging piece of legislation affecting hundreds of thousands of New Zealand children.

Originally named the Independent Tax Credit, it was introduced by the National government in 1996. At the time, Labour Ministers were vocal and passionate in their opposition to it, claiming it was “unfair”, “mean” and “discriminatory” and vowed to repeal it, if and when they became the Government. Now into their second term, no action has yet been taken.

The Child Tax Credit, worth a maximum of $15 per week per child, supplements Family Support payments for low income families. However, it is ONLY available to some low-income families. Those families who receive ANY part of their income from the state through a benefit (unemployment, DPB, invalids, veterans) or ACC over 3 months, NZ Super or student allowances are deemed undeserving.

The Child Tax Credit was introduced to provide an incentive for people on benefits to find full-time work, but was tagged to the number of children in a family. The welfare and living standards of children are now compromised because of the source of their parent’s low income.

CPAG is challenging this legislation through the Human Rights Act, and its Amendment Act which came into force on 31 December 2001 requiring government agencies and policies to meet the same non-discriminatory standards required in the private sector. It is very much a test case, with no other well-publicised challenges of government legislation to date.


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