Paula Bennett labels Government's Child Poverty Bill an 'empty symbol' as it passes first reading in Parliament

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NZN

The government's Child Poverty Reduction Bill has unanimously passed its first reading but National is far from happy with it and is going to try to change it.

Source: 1 NEWS

The bill sets out ways to measure child poverty, commits governments to setting reduction targets and requires comprehensive annual monitoring.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has set her government the target of cutting it in half within 10 years, launched the debate in parliament today.

"This can't be a debate about blame," she said.

"Every government, present and future, should be absolutely dedicated to the notion that every child should get the very best start in life."

Ms Ardern, who has taken personal responsibility for reducing child poverty, said there shouldn't be any politics involved.

"I'm seeking cross-party support for this bill, to try to build enduring accountability for child poverty and reducing it," she said.

National's Paula Bennett said her party would support the bill on its first reading but there were no assurances at all beyond that.

"If it is enacted the way it stands it will do nothing and help no one," she said.

"It will simply be more well-intentioned legislation that has absolutely zero impact on families that are genuinely struggling every day - it's an empty symbol of this government's need to show how caring they are."

Ms Bennett said the opposition would attempt to toughen it up by proposing significant amendments during the bill's committee stage.

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