12 Dec 2011

Strong focus on poverty in Maori Party deal

1:04 pm on 12 December 2011

The Maori Party says it will expect members of the Ministerial Committee on Poverty to hold their Government agencies to account.

Tackling poverty is one of the areas the National Party has agreed to work with the Maori Party on, as part of a confidence and supply agreement.

The agreement includes the establishment of the ministerial committee.

It will be led by deputy Prime Minister Bill English and will issue progress reports on poverty twice a year.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the committee will examine how environment, housing, employment, training and education policies can help to alleviate poverty.

However, she's not expecting big results in one term of Government.

"What we want to do is to have a Government that is committed to a pathway forward. I understand that in the South American countries it took 20 years," she says.

Mrs Turia says setting the Government on a path towards addressing the issues would be a good first step.

The Child Poverty Action Group says the two parties' plan to confront child poverty will make a difference but there does not appear to be any strategy to improve income levels.

Chair Mike O'Brien says there has been nothing in anything he's heard that suggests any work will be done on raising incomes, other than a focus on getting people into work.

He says that will not be effective for those who can not get work.

Child protection agency Jigsaw says it is encouraged and excited by the creation of a ministerial committee on poverty.

Chief executive of strategic operations Liz Kinley says it particularly wants to see action on the green paper on vulnerable children and welfare reform.

The Green Party says a high level committee will do nothing for the thousands of people living in poverty in New Zealand.

Co-leader Metiria Turei says it will just result in another layer of bureaucracy.