Kate Hawkesby: Government falls well short on reducing child poverty

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Feb 2020, 9:17AM
Photo / File

Kate Hawkesby: Government falls well short on reducing child poverty

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Feb 2020, 9:17AM

COMMENT:

So what did we learn yesterday?

We learned that this 'transformational Government' whose own Prime Minister came into politics purely to stamp out child poverty hasn't managed to do so.

In fact, they've fallen well short.

The figures out yesterday show no significant change in material hardship. So what's happened here?

Were they naive in their approach and too ambitious? Lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020, the PM said.

Did they foolishly believe child poverty would be an easy fix? We had the Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft on the show yesterday, he said the numbers on child poverty were not really anything to be celebrated.

So work to be done there - and for a Government that's had two years to show some cut-through, and off the back of last year's failed "year of delivery" it's not a good look.

And that's before we get to the approach to prisoners.

Last week Rimutaka Prison released an inmate who has spent the "past four decades in and out of jail with an extensive criminal record", as one report stated.

Why? Because he was hunger striking in protest. He was campaigning for a Māori parliament. He's quoted as saying: "All my crimes have been decent crimes... nothing devious about them. For us and where we're from, we judge crime like this: if you've done a burglary, stole a car, shot somebody, stabbed somebody... any of these things, they're all decent."

I'm not making that up, that's literally what he said.

He's categorising crimes like stabbing people, as "decent". Moreover, he's bummed he's been "booted out of jail", as he put it.

He wanted the martyrdom. National's Mark Mitchell said this sets a dangerous precedent: that if you starve yourself for long enough, you'll get out of jail.

How Corrections couldn't figure that out is beyond me. How they want a guy who regards stabbing people as decent, out in the community, is beyond me.

Mitchell said "Corrections could've managed him medically inside prison" but "what they've done is buckled, and released him back into the community".

So why is this the Government's problem? Perception.

It's election year, and this week we learn they've failed to deliver on their big calling card – child poverty. Add to that prisons, letting people out because they're refusing food, and toss in the hand-holding approach to gangs, and I would say, we have a problem.