Brash: child poverty could rise under National

  • Steve Maharey
Social Development and Employment

Don Brash's concession that child poverty rates could increase under a National government were astonishing and revealed how far National was prepared to go to pay for tax cuts, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

When asked to guarantee his policies would not lead to an increase in child poverty, Don Brash told Morning Report "look there's a cycle of these things, they go up and down. I can't promise anything in that area."

"This is an astonishing statement to be making, when virtually every other government and major political party in the OECD has made a public commitment to reduce or eliminate child poverty.

"It reveals how completely out of touch National is with the real world, and how far they are prepared to go to fund their promise of tax cuts.

"This government completely rejects the notion that child poverty rates are part of a 'cycle that goes up and down', as Don Brash claims.

"Child poverty has declined significantly in New Zealand since 1999, after peaking at 1 in 3 children under a National government in the 1990s.

"This government has made major investments to rebuild social services and reduce poverty rates. In just 3 years to 2004, 61,000 were lifted above the poverty line. We are committed to ensuring these rates continue to fall.

"Working for Families alone will reduce child poverty rates by 30 percent by the time it's fully rolled out in 2007."

Steve Maharey said the government was not opposed to tax cuts in principle, but the kind of cuts National had proposed were incompatible with a country that, after 30 years of decline, has enjoyed only six years of growth.

"We have opted for targeted tax relief through Working for Families to ensure extra assistance goes to the families that need it the most. Instead of cutting into core services we are investing in decent health care, quality education and a better deal for families with children."