29 Aug 2012

Government challenges Opposition MPs over poverty

8:48 pm on 29 August 2012

The Government has challenged Opposition MPs to support National's economic and welfare policies if they are really committed to reducing child poverty.

An expert advisory group set up by the Children's Commissioner on Tuesday released a range of recommendations for reducing child poverty by 30 to 40% in the next 10 years. It found that the rate of child poverty in New Zealand has doubled in the past 30 years.

The Government says the Labour and Green parties have opposed policies which would boost economic growth and create the jobs needed to lift people out of poverty.

During Parliament's Question Time on Wednesday senior minister Gerry Brownlee, answering on behalf of Prime Minister John Key, also said one of the key ways of getting people out of poverty was to get them into work.

Mr Brownlee says that is one of the driving principles of National's welfare changes and Opposition parties should support them.

Among the proposals is a child benefit of about $125 a week for all children in their first year of life, with the amount reducing as they grow up.

Mr Key has already dismissed the idea of a universal child benefit. Instead, he says the Government has maintained entitlements for programmes such as Working for Families.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei doesn't accept Mr Key's rejection of the idea of a universal child payment.

"John Key was very dismissive of the idea of a child payment but fully supports superannuation which provides a basic income regardless of the wealth of that individual. Families and children deserve the same treatment."

Labour Party leader David Shearer is also not impressed with the Government's response.