22 May 2011

Labour would replace Families Commission

4:18 am on 22 May 2011

The Labour Party says it will wind-up the Families Commission and use the money to create a Ministry for Children.

Labour's deputy leader Annette King made the announcement at the party's election year congress in Wellington.

The two day meeting is focused on campaign strategy and preparation.

Ms King says the Families Commission has a budget of $7.7 million, and a Ministry for Children could be created for less than that, with the money left over being used for other priorities in children's policy.

She says it is astounding that New Zealand has a Minister of Racing and the Rugby World Cup, but not for the most vulnerable members of society, children.

Ms King says a Ministry for Children would make sure children are a priority, not just in theory, but in practice.

She says the next Labour government will have a Minister for Children.

Ms King says the next Labour government will also re-write the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act to better reflect 21st century reality.

Party members told to turn out more votes

Labour's election year Congress has begun with a rallying cry to the party faithful, to turn out 2000 extra party votes per electorate in November.

Party president Moira Coatsworth says Labour is campaigning on the issues that worry New Zealanders and is campaigning to win back Government.

In her opening speech to the Congress, she told delegates the party has a lot of work to do to achieve the that goal.

Ms Coatsworth said New Zealand faces unprecedented challenges, and at times of great challenge it has been Labour's values and ideas that have transformed the country.

''It is Labour who will put the kai back on the table,'' she said.

She also said Labour is serious about winning back the Maori seats - starting with Te Tai Tokerau, where a by-election will be held next month.

Ms Coatsworth said the party has candidates of great mana to lead its campaign for the Maori electorates.