Monday, November 07, 2011

Winning the argument on child poverty

Ever since Working For Families was introduced, poverty groups such as the Child Poverty Action Group have argued that its "in work" payment was discriminatory and denied assistance to those who needed it most. They've even unsuccessfully taken the government to court over it. Now, with the release of Labour's children's policy, they've won that argument: Labour is promising a phased extension of the "in work" payment to turn it into a universal child benefit once again, in order to eliminate child poverty.

The question now is whether National will follow suit. Sadly, I expect they'll see it as a cost rather than an investment, something they "can't afford" (while of course being able to afford whopping great tax cuts for John Key and his rich mates). Which just shows how short-sighted they are. Child poverty isn't just a denial of the kiwi dream of equality; it blights lives and has serious social consequences further down the line, in the form of lower incomes, worse health, and more crime. And that is bad for all of us.

A sensible government would invest to eliminate this problem and reap the social dividends. But National aren't interested in investing in New Zealand. They're not interested in what's good for all of us. Instead they just want to strip-mine the place for the benefit of a small clique at the top. And that is not something we should accept.