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Social Security (Principles Recognising Children's Interests as Paramount) Amendment Bill

Denise Roche MP
Denise Roche MP
denise [dot] roche [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)

Member's Bill

Explanatory note

General policy statement

The Social Security Act 1964 (the Act) is designed to protect individuals and families from the worst poverty and severe income deprivation.

While the Act has an explicit work-ready approach, it should also reflect the need for families and children to live in dignity and security, even when they rely on a means-tested benefit.

This Bill amends the principles section of the Act. First, it requires every person acting in accordance with the Act to treat the security, wellbeing, and dignity of the child and the child's family as the highest priority. Secondly, the Bill requires every person acting in accordance with the Act to have regard to New Zealand's obligations: to children generally, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) (which require that the best interests of the child are paramount in any exercise of government, executive, or judicial decision making), to indigenous children, under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (which affirms the responsibilities of signatory states to indigenous peoples in their countries), and to Maori children, in regard to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Clause by clause analysis

Clause 1 is the Title clause.

Clause 2 is the commencement clause. It provides for the Bill to come into effect on the day after the date in which it receives the Royal assent.

Clause 3 states that the Bill amends the Social Security Act 1964 (the principal Act).

Clause 4 amends section 1B of the principal Act, by inserting 2 new paragraphs containing general principles to which every person exercising or performing functions, duties or powers under the principal Act must have regard. The new principles are the paramountcy of the wellbeing of children, and New Zealand's obligations to children under UNCROC (the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1 Title

This Act is the Social Security (Principles Recognising Children's Interests as Paramount) Amendment Act 2012.

2 Commencement

This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

3 Principal Act

This Act amends the Social Security Act 1964 (the principal Act).

4 Section 1B amended (Principles)

In section 1B, after paragraph (a), insert:

"(ab) the security, wellbeing, and dignity of any child affected by the exercise or performance of the function, duty or power is the paramount priority, and therefore protecting and enhancing the security, wellbeing, and dignity of the child's family must be the primary consideration:

"(ac) New Zealand's obligations to children under—

"(i) UNCROC (that is, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child); and

"(ii) the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and

"(iii) Te Tiriti o Waitangi:".

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