NZ – OECD report a warning to the Govt

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OECD report a warning to the Govt

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Social Development Minister Paula Bennett (NZPA)

Fri, 04 Sep 2009 6:01a.m.

An OECD report on the wellbeing of children is a warning to the Government that it must not cut spending other political parties said today.

The report, Doing Better for Children, was the first time the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had reported on child well-being within its 30 member countries.

New Zealand was struggling in terms of health, with the highest youth suicide rate in the OECD and an above-average child mortality rate.

Children lived in poor material conditions, average family incomes were low by OECD standards and child poverty rates were high.

It also showed that the Government spent less money on children than other countries.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the report was important in that it would focus debate on where New Zealand was heading as a country and the way some in society treated children.

Ms Bennett urged caution with some of the data and comparisons with other countries as not all collected the same information and not all were as thorough in trying to deal with problems.

The report only also covered the period between 2003 and 2006 and did not take into account large increases in spending on early childhood education and Working for Families since then.

Labour’s social development spokeswoman Annette King said the report was a sobering reminder that New Zealand had some way to go to alleviate poverty and inequity.

Policies put in place by Labour had taken the edge off much child poverty while in Government and was working on new policies on benefits and Working for Families.

“My message to Paula Bennett is this. Please don’t use the recession as an excuse not to make these children a top priority,” Ms King said.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the report should serve as a serious wake up call to New Zealanders.

“It gives me no comfort at all to see that the report confirms all of the things the Maori Party has been saying about the plight of our children and shows that we must lift our game considerably by investing more in our children,” Mrs Turia said.

“The Maori Party has a number of policies which will help in this regard. We want the GST off healthy foods, we want the in-work tax credit extended to families of the unemployed, we believe the first $25000 of income should be tax free and the minimum wage should be lifted to $15 an hour.”



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