Michael Laws on Child Poverty

Michael Laws calls out the poverty industry:

 [M]ost New Zealanders are not convinced that New Zealand has a child poverty problem. We have a piss-poor-parenting problem, yes. We don’t have an inadequacy of resources.

Which is where the Children’s Commissioner and the liberal lobbyists have it all wrong. They quote statistics about kids going to school hungry, about inadequate rentals, about hospitalisations and woeful child dental care, as if no argument is required.

Look at those poor kids, they declare. There’s the proof of child poverty.

No, it isn’t. It’s proof that thousands of Kiwi parents are making bad choices about their priorities. And that the welfare and community organisations that are supposed to be supporting them . . . aren’t.

Indeed, it’s a dual failure. The parents aren’t up to their role and the agencies are ineffective with their assistance. And that includes churches and other social agencies that prefer to lobby for more money, rather than use their funding appropriately. 

If welfare was the answer and more welfare is what is proposed then those kids wouldn’t be starving now… we pay welfare for people to feed their children. If we are going to start feeding kids at school can we please dock the benefits of the parents of those kids who have failed to provide food for their children.

However hard any family life might be – however tough the financial circumstances – there is no parental excuse that allows a child to go to school hungry. Look into any one of those homes and you will find two conspicuous absences.

First, an inability to put the kids first. A belief that alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, partying, the church tithe are all – somehow – more important than the kids.

The inability of a generation of social workers and social agencies to make any impact upon those priorities is their greatest failure. There is enough government assistance, there is enough private philanthropy, there is enough knowledge.

But what’s the argument of so-called “child poverty advocates”? Give the parents more money. Which they’ll misuse, in exactly the same way that they’re doing now. Their internal priorities still won’t change.

Second, in these neglectful homes you will also find an inability to want to adapt themselves or their circumstances. A refusal to move, for example, from the high-rental property or suburb. A refusal to contemplate employment that isn’t immediate, and conveniently located.

Welfare hasn’t, isn;t and won;t work to solve any problems. It is time for a radical re-think.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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