A damning report – and a cowardly response

– Don Franks

Activist and author Anne Else was the keynote speaker at a public meeting of the Campaign Against Rising Prices held on Saturday June 7 in the Wellington suburb of Newtown.

Anne spoke as a member of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), a non-profit group formed in 1994. CPAG believes that “New Zealand’s high rate of child poverty is not the result of economic necessity, but is due to policy neglect and a flawed ideological emphasis on economic incentives”.

Anne told the meeting about CPAG’s case against the government currently being heard by the Human Rights Review Tribunal. CPAG contends that Labour’s in-work tax credit breaches New Zealand’s human rights legislation by discriminating against children of beneficiaries.

“Current policies ensure that people are trapped in poverty,” Anne said. “The damage done by poverty in childhood never goes away. People are precluded from having a decent life.”

She argued that it is “totally unjust and discriminatory” not to help beneficiaries: “Unpaid work is still work. Bringing up children is work. And it now takes a much bigger investment to produce a child for modern life.”

Anne’s talk inspired this reporter to find out more about the work of the Child Poverty Action Group. Below are some quotes from the CPAG’s legal case against government discrimination of beneficiaries at the Human Right Review Tribunal.

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