An international report measuring the impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) on child poverty rates, showing children in New Zealand have done worse than children in other countries, is further proof the Government needs to urgently take additional steps to reduce poverty rates here, the Green Party says.
UNICEF’S latest report, Children of the Recession. The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries, shows that New Zealand children’s welfare went backwards on three of the four indicators measured, and that children here were not protected from the recession as well as children in other countries, such as Australia.
“This report is further evidence that National isn’t doing nearly enough to reduce child poverty in New Zealand,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.
“The facts show that other countries, like Australia, have taken steps that actually reduce child poverty rates while our Government has done next to nothing to make life better for our poorest kids.
“John Key should be embarrassed by how well Australia managed to protect its children during the GFC, and actually implemented initiatives to reduce child poverty during that period.
“My Feed the Kids Bill would make a start to addressing child poverty in New Zealand. Hunger is one of the most obvious symptoms of poverty and National can reduce hunger by backing this Bill.
“John Key has said he wants to deal with child poverty, but this report is the latest in a growing volume of evidence showing that in order to do that, he will need to enact a range of new policies that address incomes and support the poor.
“Numerous reports have set out a clear policy agenda for the Government to reduce child poverty. National just needs to get on with implementing them.
“National was quick to use the GFC as an excuse for high child poverty rates in New Zealand. But this report shows other comparable countries managed to implement policies that actually reduced poverty during the GFC.
“While our Government gave tax cuts to the wealthiest New Zealanders during the recession, Australia’s made cash payments to low-income families, a move that helped to reduce child poverty in that country.”
The report singles out National’s tax cuts as doing nothing to improve the lives of New Zealand children while Australia’s cash payments contributed to a significant reduction in child poverty while also stimulating their economy.
“In contrast to National’s tax cuts for the rich, Australia’s cash payment was a win-win policy,” said Mrs Turei.
“The Green Party believes the solution to child poverty lies in all political parties agreeing to make it a priority and working across political lines to make that happen.
“The evidence is in on the policies that work. Now the Government needs to swallow its pride and implement the poverty reduction policies we know that work,” said Mrs Turei.
Link to the UNICEF report: