18 Dec 2018

Child poverty bill passes third reading in Parliament

5:18 pm on 18 December 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's bill seeking a reduction in child poverty has been passed by Parliament.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern debating in The House

Fixing the problem of child poverty is a collective challenge, Jacinda Ardern says. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The legislation requires the current and future governments to measure and report on child poverty and sets out plans to reduce it.

The recent Child Poverty Monitor report concluded one in five New Zealand children were living in homes without access to enough food or adequate healthy food.

It also found that children in the most disadvantaged communities are twice as likely to end up in hospital as those living in areas of economic and social advantage.

Ms Arden, who is also the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, told Parliament the Child Poverty Reduction Bill built on the work of previous Labour governments.

"I will not pretend the response is simple, it is not.

"These children are not part of an underclass... they are part of our community and we have a responsibility to continue the momentum of the previous Labour government to finally rid ourselves of poverty in Aotearoa, New Zealand - this is our collective challenge."

National's Alfred Ngaro told the House struggling against adversity and succeeding had resulted in people doing great things in New Zealand.

The National Party supported the bill, he said, but would do so "carefully and cautiously".

New Zealand did not want to "do away with that hardship", Mr Ngaro told Parliament, "that has made us who we are today."

"What we do want to be sure of is that children in this instance don't become disadvantaged because of those issues, don't become in a situation where they cannot achieve their potential."

This was an issue that had challenged past governments for a long time, he said.

"Its been happening for some time; each government of the day will be challenged with this but... as a whole of government bar one, we are supporting this direction - but we hold it tentatively."

The bill was supported by all parties in Parliament except ACT.

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