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Reports show child health suffering

Metiria Turei MP
Metiria Turei MP
metiria [dot] turei [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)

Two major reports released this week highlight the poor state of child health and wellbeing in New Zealand, the Green Party said today.

"These reports show that our must vulnerable children are suffering compared to their counterparts in the OECD," Mrs Turei said.

"These are great reports that show how important it is to invest in our children. Unfortunately they also highlight that the policies of John Key's Government are taking us in the wrong direction."

The Best Start in Life report from the Public Health Advisory Committee to the Minister of Health was tabled in Parliament today. It points out that New Zealand ranks 29th out of 30 countries in the OECD for child health and safety.

"Children are some of our most vulnerable citizens, most in need of the care and support of the state. They are our future, yet we have some of the worst child health outcomes in the OECD," Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

"This report shows that we urgently need an integrated, whole-of-government approach to child health and wellbeing, and a commitment to child health monitoring.

"Sadly, John Key's Government is introducing policies that will make the problem worse."

The report cites increasing financial pressure on families, widening socio-economic disparities, and low government investment in early childhood as reasons for our poor child health status.

"Every one of these factors has been made worse by the recent Budget: a GST increase that will put most pressure on low-income families, tax cuts that will widen the gap between rich and poor, and funding cuts to early childhood education," Mrs Turei said.

"New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of social spending on early childhood of any country in the OECD. We urgently need to turn this figure around."

The report follows the release of another, Childrens Housing Futures earlier this week, which found that housing plays a critical role in the health and wellbeing of New Zealand children. It found children's housing in New Zealand is worse than the OECD average and that many New Zealand children are living in poor quality, unaffordable, insecure and crowded housing.

"Again, John Key's Government is taking us in the wrong direction, slashing the Budget for state housing instead of investing in secure housing for the 10,000 people on the state house waiting list," Mrs Turei said.

Mrs Turei contrasted measures in the Budget with the Green Party's 'Mind the Gap' strategy to combat growing inequality in New Zealand, which focuses on children.

"We would invest in state and community housing, extend the In-work Tax Credit to more low-income families with dependent children, and introduce a progressive power pricing system that makes a warm dry home more affordable.

"The Green Party recognises the importance of children and places their health and wellbeing at the front and centre of our policies.

"We urge John Key's Government to heed these reports and do the same," Mrs Turei said.

References:

The Best Start in Life: Achieving effective action on child health and wellbeing - report to the Minister of Health by the Public Health Advisory Committee.

Children's Housing Futures report for the Centre for Housing Research Aotearoa New Zealand.

Mind the Gap: Green New Deal initiatives to combat growing inequality in New Zealand Green Party alternative Budget proposals.

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