Wincinda will all but elmiminate child poverty

Lisa Owen tried to get blood out of a stone interviewing Jacinda Ardern

Lisa Owen:  So, you talked about child poverty there. National had said it would commit to raising 100,000 children out of poverty. Now that you’re going to be in charge, are you going to be more ambitious than that 100,000 target?

Jacinda Ardern: Oh, I’m ambitious that we eradicate child poverty. There should be no place in a wealthy society like ours for children to grow up without their basic needs being met.

That’s not going to happen overnight, though, is it?

Yeah, obviously.

So in terms of meeting milestone, first term, second term, where would you be at with the numbers about what you want to achieve?

My expectation is that our families package, which we will be introducing as a matter of priority will have the effect of lifting tens of thousands of children out of poverty. From there, though, I want to establish clear targets. We’ve always said that we want them put in legislation, and every year we will then report, as part of the Public Finance Act, on how much progress we’ve made. So, I can say now that, yes, I wanted to match their 100,000, but I want incremental goals to hold us to account. In my mind, some of the targets that we’ve set ourselves, some of the goals that we measure ourselves on as a society, don’t take into account the effects on individuals, on their wellbeing. This will be a government that takes into account those markers, and the wellbeing of people will be my sign of success.

So do you think those incremental targets, that you will know those or will know those in the first hundred days of government, or…?

Oh, certainly. My plan is to introduce the legislation – it’s already drafted – which sets out what our measures of poverty will be. That’s been an often-disputed issue. We will finally have some agreement that will be in law. From there, we’ll go ahead and set those targets. Certainly it will be a matter of priority, but the legislation comes first.

OK. So, another area that helps the low-income families is the minimum wage. You set a target – Labour set a target – $16.50 in the first hundred days. Winston Peters, he likes round numbers; 20 bucks is what he had in mind. Where have you landed on that?

Yes, I don’t want to pre-empt the release of that agreement, but it is fair to say we have absolute common ground when it comes to wanting to see the wages of our most vulnerable lifted.

So maybe give us this much? Have you upped the ante, then?

It was a strong focus for Mr Peters. It was a strong focus for us. You’ll see change in that area.

So change above the $16.50 in the first hundred days?

You’ll see change in that area. Look, we have to make sure that we balance the need to see that wage increase whilst at the same time ensure that we give enough notice so that we can ensure the cushioning for those who are paying those wages. $16.50 is our first step. We’ll look to move beyond that over time.

So have you given him a timeline for the $20 an hour that is ahead of the one that you had set yourself?

Again, all will be revealed in the not-too-distant future.

To be honest, I feel like a driver that’s suddenly hit a patch of fog.  I don’t know what’s out there, are we going to hit anything, or will be come out the other side OK?

Nobody would argue against improving the lives of our “most vulnerable” but it has to be done in a sustainable way that does not undermine the very success of the system.

Until we know what the plan is, it is just crap scary.

 

– The Nation

 


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