Last night's 3 News leader's debate finally gave us a clear difference between the leaders. On the subject of child poverty, David Cunliffe was absolutely clear:
I have to say that I was pretty shocked to see those schools that have the empty desks on your show where children like mine and yours went to school with no lunches. And I was just as shocked to see the empty fridges. And at the end of the day that's what this is about. We've got a hundred thousand children in New Zealand that are growing up in working families, working families, who just don't earn enough to feed them. And then we've got another 160,000 children growing up on benefits, or sole-parent households, who haven't got a chance. And so we just simply must help this. And I want to say this: if I'm elected Prime Minister, this will be my personal number one priority. This is why I am in politics. I will not stand by and see kids hungry when they go to school. It is not good enough. We are better than that!
I'm going to come back on this program, each and every year as Prime Minister, and I am going to give you hard data on exactly how many children our programmes, like Best Start, $60 a week per child, have lifted out above the poverty line. It will be my top priority. I say that solemnly.
Its even more powerful when you watch it [from 3:05]. Yes, Labour helped create this problem. But I don't think we can doubt that Cunliffe recognises it as a moral challenge which we have to solve. Compare that to Key. He dodges. He minimises. He blames the victims. The short version of his response is that "of course" we have to do something, but its not really as bad as you think, and it only affects poor people anyway, so we don't actually need to do any more than we are at present. Its just not a priority for him, and certainly less of one than seeing his rich mates get a tax cut in three year's time.
And that's our choice right there: between a man who recognises child poverty as a moral challenge we must rise to, and one who views it as a PR problem to be minimised and dodged.
Remember that when you vote. If you vote for Key, you're voting for a monster who doesn't care that children are starving.