18 Jul 2017

Govt's child support crackdown wins cross-party support

8:49 am on 18 July 2017

The government's proposal to overhaul the way it handles child support payments has won widespread support from Opposition MPs.

Jan Logie on the Justice and Electoral Committee hears submissions on the Family and Whanau Violence Legislation Bill.

Green Party social development spokesperson Jan Logie says some people use child support as a "weapon" against their ex-partners. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The government says billions of dollars are owed in child support payments, so it is looking to change the way Inland Revenue handles the way payments are made.

Revenue Minister Judith Collins is proposing to take the money owed straight from the parent's wages on pay day, rather than leaving it up to them to pay.

Ms Collins said there were billions of dollars in outstanding child support, including one individual who owed more than $4 million, most of it in penalties.

Greens social development spokesperson Jan Logie hoped the move had another impact too.

"We do know some people use child support as a weapon against their ex-partners and I'm really keen to look at ways of clearing that up and preventing that," she said.

"But I do think we need to have the discussion and hear from people what will work."

Labour revenue spokesperson Michael Wood said his party would back moves that ensured child support got paid.

There was one obvious area where the government could be doing more, he said.

"Very often these situations arise where one partner is over in Australia, but it seems to us that there's a real lack of co-ordination in terms of following people up in those sorts of situations.

"So as well as the rule changes we think there's a case for there being better co-ordination between agencies as well."

And New Zealand First social development spokesperson Darroch Ball said it was high time the system got reviewed.

"Some people they're being overcharged, some believe they're not getting the right amount and obviously at the centre of this we need to ensure that the children that need these child support payments are getting them and at the right amount.

"It just seems that there are so many inconsistencies that changes do need to be made," he said.

Ms Collins said while there was an arrangement in place with Australia for collecting child support payments, enforcement was easier said than done.

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