The Green Party wants ordinary New Zealanders to talk with their feet and take a step to help end child poverty.
At a campaign launch at Miramar South school today, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei and ‘Laughing Samoan’ Tofiga Fepulea’i joined with pupils to leave their colourful footprints on a banner promoting our campaign to recruit Champions to ‘take a step’ and help end child poverty.
"All Kiwi kids deserve a good life and a fair future," Mrs Turei said.
"New Zealand should be a great place to grow up and none of us want children living in cold damp homes, or going to school with an empty tummy.
"That’s why, as a first step, we’re asking people to email John Key in support of my Member’s Bill which gives all children who need it the same child payment that has helped lift thousands of other kids out of poverty.
"Our poorest kids need John Key to do something to help them. By supporting my Bill he will allow us all to have a serious debate about how we want to tackle child poverty."
Metiria Turei’s Income Tax (Universalisation of In-work Tax Credit) Amendment Bill is due for its first reading and would extend the tax credits to the children of beneficiary and student families.
"The In-work Tax Credit has halved poverty among non-beneficiary children," Mrs Turei said.
"But it’s made no difference at all to one in five children whose parents study or receive a benefit. They aren’t allowed the payment, and more than 70 percent of these kids remain living in poverty.
"I think most New Zealanders would say that isn’t fair."
The Children’s Commissioner’s expert group has recommended a universal child payment, which reaches the poorest kids, as an effective way of helping many children in poverty.
"That’s Green Party policy, and while we have Working for Families my Bill goes a long way to achieving that, ensuring that all low income kids get the payment regardless of who their parents are, or where they work," Mrs Turei said.
The Bill has been described as a "practical and just way to address child poverty" by Auckland University economics professor Susan St John who says excluding the poorest kids can’t be justified "on moral or ethical grounds".
Support for the Bill is the first of many steps people can take to help end child poverty, added Mrs Turei.
"Over the next weeks and months we will be encouraging people to sign on as Champions for Children and agree to take more steps in the future," Mrs Turei said.
"This isn’t about signing up to a political party. Children don’t care if your colours are green, red, blue or pink.
"What they need are champions - people prepared to take the first step," Mrs Turei said.
Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director of UNICEF intended to attend but was unable to today because he was unwell.
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