Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lindsay Mitchell: 'Feed the kids' bill starts with a lie

Hone Harawira's bill, Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in School) Amendment Bill, starts with a lie. From the Explanatory note:
Growing levels of poverty in New Zealand have resulted in too many parents being unable to afford to provide their children with breakfast before school and/or lunch at school, or being unable to afford to provide their children with sufficiently nutritious meals before and during school.

The latest data available shows that levels of child poverty are declining:

The shaded area shows that the percentage of children living in households with income below 60 percent of the median after-housing costs household income (referenced to 2007) has fallen from 37 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2011.

Poverty is though measured in various ways. One is to look at non-monetary indicators of hardship. On that measure children are experiencing increased hardship.

 However the report says: 
... it is noted that income poverty rates for children remained much the same from 2009 to 2011, yet here material hardship rates are reported as rising.  One of the main reasons for this difference of trend is that families with children with family incomesabove the poverty line reported increased hardship, thus increasing measured hardship irrespective of what the income poverty trend was.
From this I understand that increasing material hardship does not relate to the poorest children, presumably those in decile 1 and 2 schools - the target of the bill.

The longer-run findings on child poverty reflect the fact that AHC incomes in 2011 for low-income households were around the same as they were in the early 1980s in real terms, but that relative to the median the incomes of lower-income households with children had fallen away (ie higher inequality in 2011 than in the mid 1980s).

So I keep coming back to the question, why now? Why have we reached a point where children need to be fed breakfast and lunch in schools when they haven't in the past, during times of greater or similar poverty and hardship?

Lindsay Mitchell is a welfare commentator who blogs at


TP said...

"Child poverty rates in New Zealand, while declining, are still above the average of other developed countries." and this is unacceptable and it has taken this long to get the media to focus on it at a profound level.

And thank god they have.

Anonymous said...

I see the well choreographed work of John Campbell every night and I think...
Those kids aren't just hungry because no one fed them. They are dirty because no one bathed them. They are fractious because they have school sores because no one organised treatment. They had scalps crawling with nits because someone isn't paying attention.
Giving these kids breakfast isn't going to solve a thing, they are neglected. Bad decisions. Bad parenting. Bad role models. That is the problem.

Dave Hill said...

In the Dominion last week, a Lower Hutt couple had their 4 children 7 months, 2, 3, and 4 taken away from them. Police were called and found a house with only 1 mattress no other furniture, no or very little food, no baby food, the kids had scabies and head lice.
Also Police found dozens of empty booze bottles and impliments for smoking cannabis.
While talking to the parents they both tried to drive away to buy more booze.
One hardly needs a more graphic example that child poverty is not as Hone says caused by the state. Its the result of totally irresponsible people popping out babies as fast as they can and not giving a dam about their welfare. But I bet they use the generous state payments for these kids to pay for the booze and dope. Until we stop providing incentives for this underclass to breed with abandon the problem will never go away.

Anonymous said...

Stop giving away my hard earned taxes.
There is NO POVERTY in New Zealand.
There are Lots of BAD PARENTS that coincidentally are mostly on a benefit of one sort or another.
Spend our taxes on JOB CREATION and force people to earn a living. This will enable those that do to increase their self-esteem and behave like upstanding citizens instead of the BENEFIT SUCKING FERAL Cretons that they are currenlty.

Anonymous said...

These poor kids aren't underfed and dirty simply because the "Guvmint" isn't doing enough. I'm completely fed up with hearing people ask; "What's the 'Guvmint' doing?" The responsibility for the condition of these children rests squarely with their parents or caregivers, and it can be fairly safely assumed that, in the majority of cases, the persons concerned are over-indulging in the consumption of alcoholic beverages and/or drugs and are probably subsisting on "junk food". I'd also wager that a goodly proportion of the mothers concerned gave birth whilst very young and outside a committed relationship.
John Campbell and others can flap their arms and wring their hands until all children have two square meals a day at school. It will make very little difference because, as a previous commentator has succinctly observed, the problems are; bad parenting, bad role models and either bad or non-existent decisions. These kids need proper parenting and love, not simply breakfast on the "Guvmint" although, in the meantime, I guess that's somewhere to start. However, simply throwing money at this social problem is NOT going to solve it.

Anonymous said...

If there is a problem, the solution starts with contraception.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most comments above....
While I really hate to see neglected children, the more we give them the bigger we make the problem. The govt then becomes a contributor to this problem although the fundamental problem is not the state...its bad parents and theres no excusing them.
There is no shortage of underclass to procreate at random so the problem will get bigger and bigger.
If you dont believe me just up the DPB and see how many more pregnancies there are.

Furthermore if Hone is involved then its probably mainly a Maori problem.
It is cowardly and despicable to blame the state.
The state already provides welfare so those kids just arent getting that welfare...simple.

Hone is advocating more of what caused the problem as a fix...