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Guest Post: The calibre of current leadership

Child poverty stats are a joke.

If adults get collectively poorer, children get richer.

Never has this been better illustrated than by a just-announced Stats NZ cock-up.

Treasury, "...identified several respondents incorrectly reporting the superannuation payments they received, resulting in double counting their income from superannuation, which has also been resolved in this corrected release.

The corrections resulted in a change to the median income for the year ended June 2020, which is used to provide the thresholds for child poverty reporting. The median equivalised disposable household income for the year ended June 2020 before housing costs are deducted reduced from $42,486 to $41,472. After housing costs are deducted, it reduced from $32,579 to $31,717."

Consequently fewer children fall below the recalibrated threshold. Fewer children are in poverty. But nothing materially changes for those children.

Here's the Children's Commissioner on the same subject:

“A different number behind a decimal point doesn’t change things for the thousands of tamariki and whanau doing it tough. Children who are growing up in a motel, or whose families are struggling to pay for the basics, still need big bold changes to unlock opportunities to live their best lives."


But then he plunges headlong down the leftist rabbit hole:

“Government efforts to target poverty reduction, improve incomes through the families’ package, expand the school lunch programme and peg benefits to wages have created the strongest foundations for making progress on poverty in decades.

“Poverty and hardship rates, particularly among Māori, Pacific and disabled children are still unacceptably high.

“We want to see benefits raised in line with the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, and a major shift in the availability of social and affordable housing for whānau."

So his solution is greater dependence on the state.

But bigger benefits means more children growing up on benefits.

There is so much documented evidence, here and internationally, that shows benefit dependence - especially long-term - is detrimental to children's outcomes.

Benefits erode family cohesion and they discourage work.

I had high hopes for Andrew Becroft, who back in relatively sane times was outspoken about the young people who appeared before him in the Youth Court. He identified an absence of fathers as the most common factor in their troubled backgrounds. If he hadn't connected that to the state's encouragement of single parent families through the DPB then he must be wilfully blind.

Perhap he is. As Children's Commissoner he is now actively calling for more of the same medicine despite known adverse side effects outweighing any advantage.

Lindsay Mitchell blogs here

2,376 views22 comments


Apr 24, 2021

you are quite correct.

my youngest son and his partner told me they would vote for the clarke government (2008 election) for no other reason than that they had been "informed" john key was going to cancel the family benefit/subsidy. they were firm in the belief that this would cause them severe hardship ..... their logic: they were now receiving TWO incomes each week, one from their employer and one from the government. for no other reason but they were paid TWICE every week they voted against national. even though i pointed out to them that these TWO payments did not improve their financial circumstances to any great degree, they went ahead and voted for labour.

at around the same…


I live on the age pension (super) which amounts to less than $25,000 a year, net. I'd like to see these six-figure-salary politicians try to live on that! Not complaining, I get by OK, but most of the people on state benefits (super isn't a benefit... I worked for 50 years for it!) are on far higher incomes than I. Just sayin'.....


Mike Houlding
Mike Houlding
Apr 22, 2021

The failure of our last census is a disgrace, and as far as I know no one was held accountable. Was the failure conveniently overlooked by this administration?

Replying to

Is the government going to claim the sudden reduction in poverty? I wouldn't put it past them


One of the great modern tragedies (in my eyes) is the number of times I read that children cannot get jobs because they cannot read or write, What are they doing at school? Children can become competent readers and writers in a couple of years, especially while they are young and easily taught. No child should leave the infant classes without these basic LIFE skills, and it's a disgrace that so-called teachers fail them so badly.

Replying to

Ah Yes... mu eledest daughter (IQ about 130+) is dyslexic..... they thought she was slow too.... she isn't. It was her parents that discovered the problem and tried to help, not the school who should have been on to it, and that was a long time ago.


Sadly, throwing money at this issue is never going to overcome the social poverty many of the benefit-dependent live in and perpetuate by their poor parenting. We now have significant generational benefit dependency. Any ideas how to fix it? Maybe take all 'poor' children from their parents at birth and break the cycle - but we all know how that has worked out historically!

Apr 23, 2021
Replying to

Except, the extra assistance for more children is delivered via Family Tax Credits. All people on benefits qualify for them but so do many working families.

Back in the dim dark past workers (mostly fathers) were taxed at different rates according to how many dependent children they were supporting. Now we have layers of bureaucracy created to take money off people only to give it back...That's how most politicians like it. Gives them more control and levers to pull in election year.

And when you look at last year's election result you would have to conclude that's how most voters like it.

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