If National does not support the Child Poverty Reduction Bill, it will have learned nothing from the past four or five years.

MPs have two weeks to make up their minds, before the first reading debate of Jacinda Ardern's flagship bill.

National has no cause to rush into Ardern's embrace.

She has, after all, just ditched one of National's most successful frameworks for getting the public service to focus on what the Government wants it to - the Better Public Services framework.


Labour could have kept the framework and developed its own targets over time.

But for National to oppose the Ardern bill would be petty in the extreme.

The bill requires Governments to set whatever targets it chooses against four varying measures of poverty and to report on them.

It does not mean that a future National Government has to put any less focus on the importance of a growing economy to lift people out of poverty.

National lost the child poverty debate long ago. People have long wanted targets and National has been very slow to accept that.

Steven Joyce's Families Income Package, the one that has been repealed, projected that it would lift 50,000 children out of poverty on a particular measure. That was the first sign people wanted tangible progress.

The fact that leader Bill English set a target during the election campaign to reduce child poverty by 100,000 over three years was also a recognition of the public's changing expectations. Having a caring leader was not enough.

English is clearly grumpy that Labour fails to give National credit for its achievements in office, including the first non-inflation increase in social welfare benefits in 43 years. That's just politics.


English is right, the bill is about good intentions, not actions, which come later.

For that reason, National would be punished if it did not support the bill.