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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  • I heard a school principal on the radio the other day who said that after interviewing he hungry children, the majority didn’t breakfast eat because they couldn’t be bothered to sit down and interrupt their social time. They’re either playing games, or wanting to get to school to play with kids.

    We continue to stress to our children that eating their lunches is critical. They come home with lunches half eaten, because they prefer to play.

    A huge chunk of the perceived problem lies in the fact that the kids aren’t actually sat down and forced to eat the food that is available.

    Of course, when my kids come home, they’re hungry. I make them clean out their lunches first before they get anything fresh.

    These aren’t new problems.

    But the left beating it up for political gain, is.

    • Pissedoffyouth

      Mum made me eat the peanut butter sammies when I got home, if I didn’t I’d have peanut butter on toast with an extra bit of bread when I got home :)

      • Chad Chambers

        Is that why you are Pissedoff now?

        • Pissedoffyouth

          Might have something to do with it, if she had put Pic’s peanut butter on it I’d have eaten it first go!

          • rockape

            Pic very dodgey dealer

          • Pissedoffyouth

            Uh how?

        • cows4me


  • sheppy

    NZ needs a new approach to this. First a definition of what exactly forms child poverty that is expressed in terms of whats left after income once essential expenses are taken off. None of this less than the median income BS, an actual measure of who IS actually on the breadline once sky tv / pokies / smoking / other bad priorities are taken out of the equation.
    From there help can be targeted if needed

  • Lion_ess

    Never met a hungry child in New Zealand – only shameless parents.

  • johnbronkhorst

    So…is not feeding your children, child abuse, if not, why not???

    • sheppy

      And for that matter why aren’t the authorities dealing with it?

      • Ronnie Chow

        Because they are not accountable .

  • High_Tory

    More drivel from Laws – he is very selective about whom he considers a bad parent (conveniently he does not include himself), very selective as to what he considers a problem.
    I notice his first suggestion is not “40,000 people live in Wanganui; there is almost no reason why Wanganui even exists anymore, therefore all the beneficiaries should pack up and move from Wanganui to where there is employment and opportunity”, I notice it is only brown people living in Auckland who are in the wrong.


    • Muffin

      He’s as hard on the residents of whanganui as anywhere else, you should listen more. In fact I am sure he would be stoked if all his resident beneficiaries fucked off to find work elsewhere.

      • High_Tory

        I have no intention of listening to Laws ever! He is a liar and charlatan who realises it is 4 months before election day and better get cracking.


        • Muffin

          Jeez and you say he talks drivel! If you don’t listen to him I suggest you plead ignorance when it comes to posts referring to him.

        • kehua

          Freedom of choice Jimmyboy, just like we take fuck all notice of the tripe you post on here,

  • steve and monique

    Micheal Laws has it right.Shit parents are the problem,and need sorting out. All we need now is a political party with the balls to address it.

  • Chad Chambers

    Laws would have the lowest income people’s children move from school to school to school while their parents look for work. That’s really going to help. This guy need to be muzzled. He’s a failed shock jock and nothing more.

    • Muffin

      Well I don’t like paying them to stay in one place where there is no work. I suggest they hold down a job and then they don’t need to move.

      • Chad Chambers

        Not true. Rent’s rising faster than wages. Foreign buyers are seeing to that. Govt AWOL on this issue.

        • Muffin

          That’s nothing to do with it, use your gween/liebour slogan elsewhere.

          • Chad Chambers

            I’ll use it here thanks, where you are free to use your rightist slogans also.

        • TomTom
          • Chad Chambers

            More (drunken?) abuse. Ok. Sticking to the actual topic 8% sounds like a lot to me. Don’t know what the rate is in other countries though. Tony Alexander seems to be laying the platform for even more Chinese investment in NZ residential property though. Kiwi serial property investors will not mind this though as they are not concerned one bit about the increasing unaffordability of houses for young New Zealanders.

          • I asked a question a few days ago, and no one has replied, it was not on Whale, Chad you seem to have the finger on the pulse regarding this property issue, please tell me the % of buyers.
            I hear Aussy buyers are number 1
            Uk and USA are number two or 3?
            Asian I think must be number 4?
            But can anyone tell me the % of the following/,
            How many NZers from overseas are buyers and do not live here,
            How many NZers who live here are buyers,
            What is the % of USA, Aussy, Uk and Asian, and other country buyers.
            I m sure you can help Chad,
            Look forward to your reply!!!

          • Chad Chambers

            I’m not sure what their nationality has got to do with it. Just that they are not New Zealanders and should attract a surcharge if buying residential property here like other countries have introduced and that Tony Alexander has suggested also. 15% surcharge (Hong Kong) x 8% (foreign buyers oh NZ res property) sounds like a lot of money to me.

          • Does anyone know these percentages I have asked for, thought may be someone here would be more up with the play than I am.
            Oh Chad I was just asking you a question, I was not interested in this article, just thought you may have known.

          • TomTom

            What? I just pointed out to you that foreign buyers are NOT seeing to the rent raises like you’re claiming to, and then you switched tracks and mentioned “Kiwi serial investors”.

            Seriously, put up (ie give me some evidence/links) or shut up.

            And FYI, it’s Sunday. Who the fuck drinks on Sunday? Jesus.

          • Chad Chambers

            Did you read the whole article?

          • TomTom

            Yes I did, so I shall presume you did not.
            We’re talking about now, not the future since you claimed that foreign ownership is putting the pressure on rents increase. 8% of all residential properties by foreigners bought is a fucking significant number, especially when you consider the high number of immigrants here in NZ (who presumably need a house to live in.)

          • Just found some info 8% of NZ housing is sold to overseas buyers, so that leaves 92% of people buying houses are NZers
            17/May/2013 TVNZ

    • Goldie

      You deliberately avoid the issue. Anyone in NZ should be able to afford to feed their kids with a couple of weetbix and a piece of fruit in the morning, and a couple of sandwichs and a piece of fruit at lunchtime. That kids are going to school without food or proper clothes has nothing to do with alleged poverty, and everything to do with shit parenting.

      • Chad Chambers

        I’m sure that is the case most days but I know that some days when the money and groceries have run out for the week it’s not as easy for some families as you imagine.

        • Chris Fleming

          Can’t feed im, don’t breed im!

          • Chad Chambers

            A lot of important contributors to society would never be born using that rule.

          • What an incredible statement that is. And instead of debating it, I’m going to let it stand.

  • Long on criticism of others and short on alternative solutions. In short, typical Laws.

    Handing out lumps of money isn’t going to work because some (not all, as Laws conveniently ignores) beneficiaries don’t prioritise properly.

    But targeting welfare as has been done in parts of Australia – issuing cards which can be used only for groceries, not booze or cigarettes, and paying rent and utilities directly, is starting to clean up a lot of the social problems bedeviling Aboriginal families.

    Everything from alcohol and petrol abuse to school attendance and health indicators are trending upwards, and Aboriginal leaders are generally supportive. It’s win – win for beneficiary and taxpayer.

    No one gets less, though, so it doesn’t fit the beneficiary bashing paradigm that Laws trots out time after time.

  • thor42

    Michael Laws would be a *bloody good* PM.

    He has *balls*, unlike Key.

    I’ll bet that the first thing that Laws would do would be to axe “Working for Familes” followed by phasing out the DPB. No new applicants for it to be accepted after date “x”.

    Laws is pretty much our version of Nigel Farage – the leader of the UKIP party in Britain. Farage “takes no prisoners” and neither does Laws.

    • Lion_ess

      Michael Laws would not be a good PM. While he makes some bold and obvious assertions, he’s a vain, conceited mascara-wearing prick.

      • thor42

        Well….. “vain and conceited” probably describes almost everyone else there anyway…. :) Lots of people see Key as “nice”, but the problem is that the niceness has robbed him of balls. I don’t see Laws being bothered about “niceness” at all – he’d get on and “just do it”. If he did that, I could put up with the “vain and conceited” side.

      • Chad Chambers

        Lol. It’s funny that he wears mascara but that doesn’t concern me. What concerns me is that he promotes hate for the ratings. Also he’s a failure at whatever he has touched, including family.

        • RightOfGenghis

          Yep the ban on gang patches was an epic Laws failure. Bring em back I say! Who cares if the good folks of Wanganui no longer feel intimidated downtown ;)

          • Chad Chambers

            Ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, that.

    • Travis Poulson

      Nigel Farage is a bit more respectable/intelligent/sophisticated than Laws, and doesn’t have public brain farts that he has to constantly apologize for. I have much respect and admiration for Farage, Laws…well……

      • thor42

        Agreed, Travis. This country could *really* do with a Farage, that’s for sure.

        • Travis Poulson

          Your mention of Farage got me watching this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAyzWKXtbq0 great interview if you find the time. he has alot of passion to do some good, unlike some of the stale washed up pollies we have here (look at the Labour benches) who are just there to milk the taxpayer and throw around fake outrage when Parliament sits.

        • cows4me

          I think our greatest problem in this country is that we have no room for alternatives. We have and will always have a self perpetuating system of far left and centre left and anything else is seen as leprosy. It must change.

      • cows4me

        I agree Travis Nigel Farage is a breath of fresh air, the establishment hate his guts , both left and right. I’m I would happily support the man.

    • Chad Chambers

      Here is someone with absolutely no concept of what it is like to run a low income family.

  • cows4me

    I see this more as a moral problem than a fiscal one but it is a problem of our own doing and no I’m not saying we should “all take responsibility”. As a country we have rejected the ideals that once held us together. Taking from some to give to others really doesn’t work, we must let the best succeed and limit big government while at the same time enforce the rule of law. Government isn’t the answer government is the problem.

  • Rogue Trooper

    …and what do you propose Michael? wave a magic structural wand?

  • Hi guys, some people are blaming the rent rise, on foreign house buy up, well it is not true.
    Offshore buyer percentage is 8%
    16% UK 15% China 14% Aussy and 12% other Asian counties.
    3.6% said they will not be coming here to live.
    So 92% of NZers are the buyers??
    Amazing when you hear all the bullshit about poor NZers who get beaten at an Auction by an Asian, normally not someone from UK or Aussy because they look like us?

  • Troy

    Humans are master’s of their own destiny and whenever people raise the question about child poverty I think about parental competency… we don’t have it… it’s a learnable skill but majority don’t learn it. We have to have a licence to drive a car that could potentially kill someone, operate a forklift with a licence that could drop a load on people passing by, practice as a doctor with potential to diagose incorrectly, but to be parents…. nothing. Until that issue is solved, don’t expect any change.

  • Rangi

    Surprisingly good! Just absent on recommendations which I suppose, is not his job