22 Oct 2014

Turei to take on Feed the Kids bill

10:45 am on 22 October 2014

Parliament's Speaker has agreed for another MP to pick up Hone Harawira's Feed the Kids member's bill, which would allow for breakfast and lunch to be provided in all decile one to two schools.

Metiria Turei.

Metiria Turei. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei will adopt the bill after Mr Harawira failed to make it back into Parliament.

Earlier today, Prime Minister John Key said the Government would spend more money fighting child poverty, but would not be providing free lunches.

He said that it was something the bulk of parents were already doing well.

Ms Turei said Mr Key should put aside political ideology and support the bill going to a select committee so evidence could be gathered and a debate had about feeding children in schools.

Govt to increase poverty spend - Key

Mr Key said the Government would spend more money fighting child poverty.

A Government paper obtained by Radio New Zealand last week says the Government should re-prioritise family assistance funding instead of spending more on child poverty.

However, Mr Key said the Government would increase that spending, and work was under way on defining the neediest children and how to help them.

John Key.

John Key. Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

"I think we'll certainly have a group of youngsters that we will say: this is the group that we believe are living in unacceptable levels of material depravation."

Mr Key said he heard anecdotally that about 15 percent of children in the lowest-decile schools are still in need of breakfast at school.

But he said the Government would not relieve parents of the responsibility of providing lunch for their children.

Govt 'comes up short on child poverty'

The Child Poverty Action Group said yesterday's Speech from the Throne at the state opening of Parliament did little to support the Prime Minister's pledge to prioritise child poverty.

Susan St John.

Susan St John. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Delivered by the Governor-General on Mr Key's behalf, the speech outlined the Government's legislative agenda for the coming term, including welfare reform, new housing and higher wages.

But the lobby group's economic spokesperson Susan St John said the lack of detail on how child poverty will be tackled was disappointing.

She said the only direct action mentioned was free doctor's visits for children under 13.

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