Cross party talks on child poverty

It is acknowledged that whatever ‘child poverty’ is defined as, there are real problems in New Zealand with deprivation and poor living conditions for many children. Whether a statistical line is drawn at tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands doesn’t matter, it is a serious problem that requires serious attention.

So it is very good to see that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges have been having talks on how to address it.

Stuff:  Government and Opposition reach for cross parliamentary consensus on child poverty

The prime minister and leader of the opposition have privately met to try and reach a cross-party consensus on the Government’s child poverty legislation.

But no outcome to the meeting has yet been decided, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern considers three proposed National Party amendments to her legislation.

The Child Poverty Reduction Bill is currently before select committee, and is due to report back to Parliament in August. But the attempt to cast politics aside on the issue could see some concessions made to create a law that gains near parliamentary-wide support.

National’s support of the legislation is not guaranteed, with leader Simon Bridges calling it “fine” in its current form, but said it did not go far enough.

His party released three proposed “supplementary order papers” or amendments to the Government legislation earlier in the year.

The first called for the law to ensure regular reporting of outcomes on a selected number of child poverty-related indicators such as household material conditions, educational development, health and safety.

National was also proposing to have all child poverty-related budget announcements run through a social investment lens and have a hard target of lifting 100,000 children out of poverty in three years.

Both leaders were positive following the meeting and stressed the need for agreement on the issue.

“We really wanted to make the case to the prime minister for the [amendments] that we have. We think that the bill that she has, that’s in Parliament, is OK,” said Bridges.

He said National was ready and willing to collaborate but wanted the legislation to go further.

“You’ve got to get under the hood, you’ve got to look deeper into this issue than just some economic measuring and look at real indicators of what’s happening on the ground in homes.

“Whether it’s education, crime, social deprivation and also looking at our social investment approach. It was a good discussion,” he said.

Ardern said she was genuinely interested in hearing about National’s proposals and expected more discussions to be had.

“You would have heard we talked in the public domain about the fact we wanted to meet. He has several [supplementary order papers] that he wished to discuss and I was keen to look at as well.

“Again, I want cross-party support for this bill. So I welcome the opportunity to discuss it with him and it was a good meeting,” said Arden.

It is good to see top level attempts to get the best from this bill.

Particular credit to Bridges – Ardern has staked a lot on her championing of improvements for children, and if this cooperation is successful then Ardern will benefit – but so will bridges for working positively for improvements, and most importantly, children should benefit.

This is how Parliament should generally work – all parties aiming at the best outcomes. Holding to account is important when justified, but holding hands in dealing with big problems should be the norm.

29 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  May 3, 2018

    I agree this is a good development & does Bridges credit as well as Ardern at this stage. In my view some people have quite unnecessarily maligned the phrase “social investment” because targeted investment at key areas that are known drivers of situations where kids end up abused & living in poor conditions generally is well worth doing in addition to simply giving everyone on benefits a bit more money that may not in many cases improve the children’s situations one iota.

    • PartisanZ

       /  May 3, 2018

      But it appears that simply giving the poor more money does improve their’s and their children’s situations …

      https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/welfare-reform-direct-cash-poor/407236/

      • Grimm

         /  May 3, 2018

        The answer has always been to throw more money at the problem. So that’s what we’ve done. Tens of billions. For decades.

        As night follows day, the result is always… More child poverdy.

        • PartisanZ

           /  May 3, 2018

          Hello … You call Ruthanasia “throwing more money at the problem”?

          The outcome of austere-welfare-neoliberalism was always going to be growing inequality and more ‘poverty’ – euphemistically called ‘child poverty’ – as sure as night follows day …

          Indeed, it might be described as the imposition of night upon day?

      • Gezza

         /  May 3, 2018

        Getting children away from violent abusers & bombed out parents or those involved with criminal activities or associates, helping them learn to read, write & count, maybe get off drugs that inhibit their learning & prefer to go through the day zonked out instead, finding them positive role models, maybe helping the bombed out parents pull themselves out of the morass they’re trapping themselves & their kids in & blaming others for, targeting expenditure at these things seems to me to be taking responsibilidity for addressing child poverdy.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  May 3, 2018

          Selfish parents will spend the money on themselves. Good luck with curing that.

          On Monday, I took a bag of donations to the op shop. There was a rack of children’s clothes that I stopped and had a look at. All were in excellent condition, all seemed to be $2. All were good enough for anyone to dress their child in.

          • Gezza

             /  May 3, 2018

            Yep I grew up wearing some clobber from the St Vincent De Paul Op Shop.
            Didn’t bother me as long as it looked good. Younger brother felt scarred for life tho & always buys expensive clothing.

            • Gezza

               /  May 3, 2018

              Funnily enuf big bro & I were discussing 2 nites ago how poor we were, although we didn’t realise it at the time. Everything we had that wasn’t a wedding gift to our parents was 2nd hand for most of our childhood. Big bruv pointed out that with four of us what kept us poor was the Catholic School fees.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 3, 2018

              I first discovered opshops as a university student and had a wonderful time and a wonderful, original wardrobe.I didn’t know it then, but I was known on campus for my original & distinctive clothes. Every so often even now, when I drop off donations, I see a lovely garment that seems to be calling my name, and I see really well-dressed people in opshops. My new in both senses blue velvet skirt is from the Sallies, as is a then new little lace jacket, a gorgeous red and gold Indian skirt, a kniited jacket that looks like homespun wool but isn’t and a seemingly unworn pink pleated skirt. I have given good garments away, too, like a grey coat that didn’t suit me.

              Friends and I used to do opshop crawls on Saturday mornings ! Sallies, ‘Pressed-beefs’ (that had a real opshop smell, was run by elderly ladies and sold the world’s best oven gloves which lasted for years), The V de P….my old man once bought a duffle coat in there when the skies opened one day when we were in Newtown. He had it for years and years until he put on a bit of weight and, as it was the real thing, it is probably still going somewhere. He also bought a Harris Tweed jacket for $3, really good condition, then $300 new and wore it for the rest of his life. They never seem to wear out. $3 well spent.

            • Gezza

               /  May 3, 2018

              I got a bushman’s swandri for $40 from the Red Cross store in 2013. I tend to stay out of these stores unless I’m specifically looking for something as there are so many good things in them for a song I’ll buy stuff I don’t need.

  2. PartisanZ

     /  May 3, 2018

    I don’t really see why credit should accrue more to Bridges than Ardern? Its a good move on both their parts.

    Labour-led should, of course, be making ‘coalition affirming’ noises about The Greens and NZFirst’s role in this as well …

    “National’s support of the legislation is not guaranteed, with leader Simon Bridges calling it “fine” in its current form, but said it did not go far enough” ….

    The ‘Left’ rather than Right noises from National?

    “National was also proposing to have all child poverty-related budget announcements run through a social investment lens and have a hard target …”

    There’s those words “social investment” again. A “lens” this time? Let’s run it under a social investment lens in the bright, glaring sunlight of non-human, mathematical economics … and burn it to a crisp? I hope not …

    When will they start exhibiting some of this “cooperation” in the House? Parliament – under a different name – really ought to be a coalition of the 120 members who get elected to it.

    Congratulations … Oh, and just call it what it is … Poverty … not “Child Poverty” …

    • Gezza

       /  May 3, 2018

      *poverdy.

      • PartisanZ

         /  May 3, 2018

        I don’t understand the fascination with a *lisp* … which is barely even a speech impediment?

        And personally I don’t like it. I find it distasteful.

        • Gezza

           /  May 3, 2018

          I find it very amusing & quite an indictment on the teaching profession.

        • PartisanZ

           /  May 3, 2018

          By “it” I hope it’s clear I mean your fascination Gezza …

  3. Zedd

     /  May 3, 2018

    Interesting.. after 9 LOOOOOOOOONG years, now in opposition; Natl are suddenly ‘concerned’ about poverty !? Politics !!

    What happened to: NO housing crisis & the Rock-star economy & ‘we’ are governing for all NZers (from the last Govt.) obviously only aimed at the 50.1% who voted for them. Do they think the ‘crocodile tears’ will really wash ?
    Bridges’ credibility…………

    • PartisanZ

       /  May 3, 2018

      What the Blue People are saying is they so WANT Bridges to have credibility … ?

      • Zedd

         /  May 3, 2018

        OR that the whole party needs to get some….. ?

        • PartisanZ

           /  May 3, 2018

          Yes indeed! However, the general movement of things is positive IMHO … National have realized that to win votes and influence ‘the people’ they must drift ‘Left’ rather than Right …

          This will challenging for them, of course, and might be thin ice or even “walking the plank” for National?

          I wonder how their ruling Corporatocracy is handling it?

          Expect some ‘interesting’ comment in the near future from the likes of Maxim, The Taxpayer’s Union, NZCPR, The NZ Initiative … and all the other corporate-backed Right-Wing, ‘Think Tanks’ …

          • Zedd

             /  May 3, 2018

            Im not sure all Natl MP would agree… eg Ms Collins 🙂 ?
            could be the start of further CRACKS in the right ??
            **hopefully 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 3, 2018

              As I remember it, the ‘no housing crisis’ was a total distortion by the press of what was actually said. But it was believed by those who wanted to believe it and who were not interested in finding out the truth.

            • Zedd

               /  May 3, 2018

              @Kitty

              Im pretty sure; Key, English & even other Natl MPs, more recently did say ‘NO housing crisis !’ :/

  4. phantom snowflake

     /  May 3, 2018

    Some wizardry is required! A way to address poverty which doesn’t involve finance, as the ‘Right Whingers’ here and elsewhere will object to the use of “Other People’s Money!

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  May 3, 2018

      Heaps of other people’s money is thrown at the problem unsuccessfully already. Diverting some to successful interventions would be a major improvement. That was the intent of National’s Social Investment strategy and obviously also behind their current amendments to monitor and require successful outcomes.

      • phantom snowflake

         /  May 3, 2018

        You may be right or, unlikely I know, I may be right in suggesting that Social Investment is merely the thin edge of the Surveillance Capitalism wedge; total surveillance of the poor as a rehearsal for total surveillance of… EVERYONE!. (Don’t mistake my paranoia for stupidity; which in case it’s not obvious is my own personal butchering of the popular quote often attributed to Al Capone.)

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  May 3, 2018

          I think Facebook beat Big Government to that target.

          • phantom snowflake

             /  May 3, 2018

            Yeah, Zuckerberg should sue Bill English for theft of his business model hehe.

  5. sorethumb

     /  May 3, 2018

    Thomas Sowell: Even in a high crime area most people aren’t criminals = lock ’em up [4:30]