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Stop quibbling over poverty: Dunne

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/10/2016 Peter Wilson, Political Writer

Political parties are being urged to stop quibbling over definitions of child poverty and start working together to do something about it.

It's become a burning issue since Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft threw out a challenge at the weekend for child poverty to be cut by 10 per cent a year.

The government doesn't accept that any one measure is accurate and says it's better to focus on the causes of deprivation.

Labour says that's cowardly and party leader Andrew Little is going with Judge Becroft's figure of 149,000 children in poverty.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says there should be a Child Poverty Act similar to the one in Britain which had cross-party support.

"We need to be a unified parliament," he said on Tuesday.

"That means we need to move beyond quibbling over the definitions of poverty and move towards a legislative framework that paves the way for current and future governments to meaningfully make the lives of New Zealand children better."

The Greens says the first thing that's needed is extending Working for Families so it covers those who need it, whether they're working or not.

Co-leader Metiria Turei says if her party is in government it will do what's needed to meet the UN's target of halving the number of people in poverty by 2030 - a goal the government signed up to.

Mr Little say Labour is re-committing to its 2014 policy that gives most parents of newborn babies $60 a week until they're a year old.

The Best Start policy was announced by former leader David Cunliffe before the last election.

"It's as relevant today as it was then," Mr Little said.

Labour has accepted Judge Becroft's challenge and Mr Little says his party will eventually end child poverty.

"It won't happen in one term, we would be lucky if it happens in two terms," he said.

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