The Prime Minister’s well-intentioned Child Poverty Reduction Bill will do nothing to solve child neglect, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Not only has the tax and spend approach failed time and again to solve material hardship, the exact model in the PM’s bill was tried in the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2015 and failed to reduce child poverty.
“The legislation will tell politicians how many kids live in households that have less than 40, 50 or 60 per cent of the median household income, but not whether kids are actually being looked after by their parents.
“This creates an incentive for future governments to tax higher income households more and give to lower income households though more generous benefits, and say they have reduced poverty.
“It gives politicians every incentive to make people more dependent on government handouts. But if taxing and transferring worked to reduce poverty, we would have eradicated it hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars ago.
“ACT proposed a radical change to the bill that would have required the government to define and measure material hardship. It would have required that a group of children born each year be interviewed and asked objective questions like: Are they safe, attending school, being fed, clothed and housed?
“It would have given a real picture of how real children are living, rather than income statistics which are already available.
“It would have forced governments to focus on the real issue of child neglect rather than further stoking the welfare system that has clearly failed since its inception in 1935.
“The Prime Minister’s initiative, which the National Party has signed up to, represents a worldview that says the world gets better by changing income statistics and that the ultimate solution is higher taxes and more benefits.
“That so-called solution has failed.”