Another day, another report on child poverty in New Zealand. On Monday it was the Children's Social Monitor, which showed that kids were going without food and clothing, and that overcrowding and unaffordable healthcare had led to an upsurge in poverty-related illness. And today its a report from Every Child Counts, Getting it right for Aotearoa New Zealand's Maori and Pasifika children (offline), which highlights the growing racial and intergenerational nature of child poverty and the risk this poses for the future. Child poverty is our most pressing social problem, so I think its worth asking: what is the government doing about it?
Nothing, apparently. Other than threatening its victims and grinding the boot down harder.
This isn't good enough. Child poverty is our most pressing social problem. It strikes at the very heart of the kiwi dream, the idea that every kiwi child deserves a decent start in life, a fair go, regardless of wealth or poverty. And it has tremendous social consequences further down the line, in the form of lower incomes, worse health, and more crime.
Its not as if we don't know what the solutions are. More generous (or at least adequate) benefits. A higher minimum wage. Decent housing. Better access to healthcare. Food in schools. National should be implementing those solutions. Instead, they're giving away tax cuts to their rich mates, while leaving the poor to rot, leaving people to suffer simply because they had the wrong parents. And that really isn't the New Zealand way.