Child poverty advocates are asking politicians to move beyond political posturing and support the Government's flagship bill on reducing child poverty, which the Children's Commissioner says could be a "historic moment".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the details of her Child Poverty Reduction Bill. It sets out a suite of measures to provide a picture of child poverty, and requires governments to set reduction targets and develop a strategy to meet the targets.
National Party leader Bill English is yet to decide if the party will support the bill, following a verbal tussle with Ardern this morning about whether there had been sufficient consultation for the Government to claim a bipartisan approach.
The bill was welcomed by child poverty advocates including the Child Poverty Action Group, the Salvation Army and the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services, but the Taxpayers' Union called it a target for socialism.
Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft said the bill represented a "strong, significant" step forward.
"The real question will be how courageous the Government will be in setting its targets. With determination, courage, and the right prioritising, we can significantly reduce child poverty, if not eliminate it.
"A whole of Government strategy that encompasses all children, but particularly those with the greatest need, is a very significant step forward, for the benefit of the 1.2 million New Zealand children. There will be a coherence in overall strategy that we have long said has been missing."
He urged political parties to support the framework laid out in the bill.
"We're at a potentially historic moment, poised to make a significant step forward and it would be great if it was cross-party and it wasn't politicised."
Child Poverty Action Group Mike O'Brien said the 10 measures in the bill were international best practice that would hold future governments to account.
He said the annual progress reports in the Budget was a "significant shift" and would ensure they would be meaningful for communities and families.
He hoped the bill could shift the debate away from the party political posturing of the past few days.
English said the National Party was committed to reducing child poverty, but would take the coming weeks to consider the bill before deciding whether to support it.
"National shares the Government's goal of reducing child poverty, but you don't need new legislation for any of this."
He said the Government should not have abolished the Better Public Service targets, which had helped reduce the number of children living in material hardship by 85,000 over the last five years.
"By getting rid of these targets, the Government has thrown away the very tools to attack these drivers of poverty.
"A plan that will really, truly tackle child poverty must address the drivers of social dysfunction and hold the public service accountable, not just rely on the Government's good intentions."
Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams said the bill's requirement to consult with children made it "Barbie-doll politics".
He urged National to oppose the bill.
"Tying poverty measures to the median income is simply a target for socialism. It means that as long everyone is equally poor, Labour will have met their goal."