11 Sep 2012

Greens' poverty bill likely to fail

10:20 pm on 11 September 2012

The Green Party has launched a new campaign to end child poverty, but is likely to fail at the first hurdle.

The party's bill to extend the Working for Families in-work tax credit to parents on a benefit or a student allowance will come up for its first reading in the next few weeks.

However, it appears the Greens will not have the numbers needed to have the Income Tax (Universalisation of In-Work Tax Credit) Amendment Bill sent to a select committee.

The Greens launched the campaign at Miramar South School in Wellington on Tuesday.

Co-leader Metiria Turei says having their members' bill sent to a select committee would generate debate and they are trying to garner support from other parties - including National and Prime Minister John Key.

Ms Turei says the party will be asking adults to take a step for children and make child poverty a political issue.

"This will be the first time that the Parliament has had a chance to debate a child payment for all children who need it and what that means for us economically but, most importantly, what it means for those kids who are currently going without."

The Labour will support the bill at its first reading, but won't commit to supporting it further than that, despite the extension of the tax credit to beneficiaries being part of its 2011 election policy. Social development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says that policy is under review.

However, with National, United Future and ACT voting against it, the Greens will not have the numbers to get the bill past its first reading.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says the Government is looking at other ways to help low-income families.

"We're working very hard on how to help families get out of poverty. We've got a wide range of activity - more of it is going to be announced in the next few days. So we believe we're dealing with some of the root causes and we don't support their bill."

Next week, the Government will introduce legislation for its next big welfare changes, reorganising the system into three main benefits.