Government’s neglect of our children pathetic

Jacinda Ardern

All Kiwi children deserve so much more than the impoverished picture painted by the shameful rankings provided by the UNICEF Innocenti Report Card.

After nine years of National, New Zealand ranks near the bottom for child well-being and that’s just not good enough. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rankings confirm the hardship and suffering with nearly 20 per cent of all Kiwi children living in relative income poverty.

Measuring poverty

Labour is committed to a framework of measuring poverty in New Zealand.

My Child Poverty Reduction and Eradication Members Bill would measure child poverty and set a reduction target.

It is shameful that New Zealand joins the Republic of Korea, Turkey and Chile as the only countries that do not measure child poverty. What’s even worse is that New Zealand has the highest adolescent suicide rate of all 41 European and OECD countries in the report.

Labour has been asking how the Government is working towards reducing the number of children living in poverty. There’s no meaningful work programme that Minister Tolley is currently doing to reduce the number of children living in poverty.

Low OECD rating

It is a poor track record for the National Government that sees New Zealand ranked 34th out of 41 European Union/ OECD countries in the League Table.

The SDG to end hunger ranks New Zealand 18th with 10.9% of children below the age of 15 living with an adult who is food insecure.

Failing to put food on the table is more common than the Government cares to admit. The report shows that national income alone is no guarantee of a good record in sustaining child well-being.

We can do better, and under Labour we will.

We will start by putting child poverty measures into law, and report on them every budget. We’ll focus on lifting incomes, making housing affordable, and putting nurses in schools. After nine years, it is time for a fresh approach and one that puts child well-being at the heart of what we do, and puts New Zealand at the top of the tables.

Jacinda Ardern is elected Member of Parliament from Mt Albert, Deputy Leader of Labour and the Party’s Spokesperson for children.

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