With the Working for Families scheme kicking in next friday, the Herald has a salutory reminder of why we need it: child poverty. For those who missed the OECD statistics, New Zealand has the fourth-worst rate of child poverty in the developed world. Children and their parents make up over 70% of those whose incomes fall below the minimum level needed to participate in New Zealand society - with the children of solo parents making up a vastly disproportionate share. And contrary to right-wing opinion, this doesn't just mean kids "just missing the latest iPod" - it means missing out on basic medical care, prescriptions, books and newspapers, and living in garages (or, as the "Children of 1984" documentary showed us last week, nine to a room in a damp and overcrowded house). Quite apart from the issue of human suffering, this has significant effects on health and educational attainment, directly disadvantaging those who grow up in poverty before the meritocratic "race" has even begun.
This is not something we should be tolerating. A "fair go" means ensuring that every child gets a decent start in life, regardless of the circumstances of birth or wealth. Working for Families will do this, and that is why it is necessary.