Ardern to unveil child poverty policy

Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will mark the end of her first 100 days in Government by setting out her cornerstone policy on child poverty this week.

The 100 days will end on Saturday and Ms Ardern will deliver a major speech tomorrow as a stocktake, including the next steps.

This week Ms Ardern will also outline details of the poverty reduction legislation which provides targets for reducing child poverty which must be reported on as part of the Budget process.

She said that would include a set of targets for the Government to achieve.

"It's going to give the public the ability to hold us to account.''

Parliament begins again today after the summer break.

Ms Ardern said she hoped to get National on board with the child poverty proposal.

However, National leader Bill English was non-committal, saying Labour had offered a briefing just before the targets were released but he was yet to see what was in it and there had been no consultation on details in it.

"We'll consider it but it does look as if they're going for high-level generalised targets around income levels and abandoning everything else that is part of the poverty equation.''

He said it was rich Labour was releasing a child poverty target just days after it scrapped National's public service targets across health, education, crime and social welfare - a decision he said was purely ideologically driven.

National intended to monitor progress on the public services targets by seeking information through the Official Information Act and Parliamentary questions.

Mr English said Labour's opposition to them was ideological.

"It strikes us as a bit odd that they are legislating for high level targets on income but getting rid of targets that relate to the other half of the equation on poverty, which is social dysfunction which locks people into persistent deprivation.

"We don't want to be tarred with the brush of half a strategy.''

He said the Government was relying on its family incomes package to help with poverty but could not afford to offer a further one.

Ms Ardern gave herself a 7.5 out of her 10 for her first 100 days, saying she was "a perfectionist.''

Mr English was dismissive, saying much of it had involved "the start of long, complicated bureaucratic processes''.

"Commissions, reviews, committees, working groups and who knows where it's going to lead?''

He said National would support the Government on things that were good for New Zealand and oppose them on things that were not.

On the "good'' side of the ledger, he listed the Trans Pacific Partnership, but added National was yet to see the final text of the revised version - the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Mr English took a swipe at Labour, saying it was putting on a show of wanting a genuine bi-partisan approach to child poverty but it had abused National's offer of support for the TPP.

"On TPP they've been attacking National's record on it, which is not the best way to create a constructive relationship when they need our votes.

"So on TPP they look like they are taking National's votes for granted and are going to try to exploit politics to their benefit.

On child poverty they are being a bit more constructive.''

He said that did not mean National was considering pulling its support for the TPP.

"If necessary, we won't support things if they handle them badly and don't do what's needed to get our support.'' 

- By Claire Trevett 

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