Ardern releases Child Poverty Reduction Bill

A patrolled school crossing in Auckland. Photo by Lynn Grieveson

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has launched her Child Poverty Reduction Bill designed to create a multi-decade and bi-partisan system for measuring the reduction of child poverty. It also ticks off the second-to-last major item in the new Government's 100 day plan.

The Bill sets out the types of measures for Governments of all stripes to use when targeting poverty reduction, but does not set specific targets yet for the new Labour Government.

“For a country with relative abundance, New Zealand has the opportunity, and the moral obligation, to ensure children are free from the burden of poverty,” Ardern said.

“For too long, too many of our children have lived in poverty and hardship. Economic growth alone, while a crucial part of the solution, has not fixed this," she said.

The Bill sets in law four primary and six supplementary measures of poverty and material hardship and requires the Government of the day to set targets to reduce poverty.

“We have not included individual government targets in the Bill. We want to leave room for each government to determine their own child poverty reduction ambition. This Bill is about building consensus on behalf of children," she said.

“We will be making our targets available in time for the public to submit on them, alongside the Bill, as part of the select committee process."

A spokeswoman said they would not be available today, but would be published "shortly."

The Bill specifically requires Governments to set ten-year targets on a defined set of measures of child poverty and periodically set and publish three-year targets. Governments must also develop and report on a strategy to promote the overall wellbeing of children, including a particular focus on reducing child poverty. It must also report on Budget day on how the Budget would reduce child poverty and how the Government of the day was progressing towards its targets.

It also requires the Government Statistician to report, independently from Government, trends in the range of measures specified in the Bill.