John Key privatizes Child Poverty


Key’s argument that we can’t afford MANAs $100m per year to feed every child a breakfast and lunch in every decile 1 & 2 school is a disgusting moral indictment on this Government when you consider they have managed to find $400m per year to give to the richest NZers in tax cuts.

This is corporate welfare. Sanitarium made $86.1 million in 2011 but paid no company tax because they are a religious ‘charity’ while Fonterra owes its economic dominance to all of us allowing them to operate like a monopoly. So these two money making powerhouses actually owe NZ, it’s not an extra length they are going to here. Fonterra owe us for allowing them to operate like a monopoly and Sanitarium owe us because they don’t pay any bloody tax. Allowing them to play the white knight routine is a corporate welfare for their brands.

The responsibility of children too poor to eat is the responsibility of a Government, not big business. This announcement by Key is mere window dressing, it is not the universal scheme required to lift all the poorest children out of hunger.

The simple reality is that Key resents poor people.

-Key described the ideas of a panel of experts recommending poverty alleviation as ‘dopey‘.

Blamed poor people for needing food parcels.

-Told Church leaders in December of 2010 that “If we cancelled welfare to 330,000 people currently on welfare, how many would starve to death? Bugger all.

Like most wealthy right wing individuals, Key sees his success as entirely made by his own talents. Society hasn’t helped, his position in the patriarchy isn’t recognized, his role in society as a white straight male never considered, he succeeded because of him. This personal worship of ones own abilities leads one to also believe that people less fortunate deserve whatever fate throws at them because they are to blame for their position in life. Key admitted as much when he blamed those in poverty for needing food parcels, it wasn’t him siphoning off $2billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest and a cut back in social services to mitigate poverty that were to blame, oh no. It was the beneficiary themselves.

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JohnKey_460x231And we wonder why eradicating child poverty can’t be as important a goal as getting into budget surplus by 2015.

Key’s opinion poll driven re-positioning of his stance on feeding hungry children suddenly makes David Shearer’s same position of blaming the parents look as mean as it is stupid.

The problems with Key’s plan are numerous..

– There are simply too many children still left hungry. Fonterra and Sanitarium’s KickStart programme are in 571 decile 1-4 schools but there are 1024 of these schools.
– The breakfasts will only provided to some kids. The problem is that by making them targeted in this fashion alienates and demonizes the kids needing it and overseas research shows that universal is better to avoid this type of naming and shaming.
– MANAs ‘Feed the Kids’ Bill allows a range of food, not just milk and west-bix. For those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to gluten or wheat, Key’s announcement doesn’t go far enough.

The privatisation of child poverty using corporate welfare over actual welfare is a bastardisation beyond irony and mockery.


  1. Martyn,

    In the first paragraph you state that … when you consider they have managed to find $400m per year to give to the richest NZers in tax cuts.

    However in paragraph 8 you say … siphoning off $2billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest.

    My understanding was that the tax cuts enacted (there were 2 I think) by this national government reduce the budget by 1.6 Billion dollars every year. I can’t find the references for this figure though.

    Can you clarify and provide sources please?

  2. $9,5 million for hungry kids over 5 years vs. $40 million a year for private schools – enough said.

  3. Funny old me, but call me old fashioned I always thought it was the parents/guardians responsibility to feed their own children. Obviously it is mine and all the other hard working tax payers responsibility, as you seem to believe that the Government should pay for it, in other words take money from the people that earn it and give it to those who don’t. You seem to have a problem with the tax cuts, how about instead of ranting and raving on the internet you go out earn a million dollars and give some of it or all away to the IRD or charity? Let us all know how it feels or would you rather somebody else go out, put in the effort to earn money and then have the government take the money off them?

    • Key needs to fix what’s broken, and support initiatives that are working instead of turning a blind eye to blatant bullying and corruption – the same blatant bullying and corruption which is at the root of the problem! We’ve been teaching children and their families to grow their OWN kai for years and if Key was serious about improving the lives of vulnerable children he’d be supporting our program not trying to invent a new one for the benefit of his mates. We teach self sufficiency, not the handout mentality, not dependent on corporate of government welfare apart from seeding grants – teaching suicide prevention and how to beat depression through community gardening. Key and Parata have been turning a blind eye to the bullying and fraud going on in our area for too long! His scheme doesn’t address the real problems, it just provides another opportunity for people with vested interests to line their own pockets and creates dependency.

    • And the alternative is to let children starve? If your children were going hungry for whatever reason how would you feel about your attitude? Would you praise the rich man or woman who scorned your starving children and blamed you for your moral failing in your inability to feed your children? Or would you damn them from withholding such a small thing as a single meal to keep the pain from their stomachs? I am probably wasting my words on you – you are so caught up in your sanctimonious need to feel superior to someone else that you have forgotten how to be a decent human being.

    • “call me old fashioned I always thought it was the parents/guardians responsibility to feed their own children”

      No Stephen, ‘old fashioned’ in NZ is aiming for full employment, a decent welfare system, and an awareness of social responsibility.
      Your so called ‘thought’ is a thoughtless regurgitation of neoliberal ideals, which is relatively new fantasy (last 30 years).
      And, you completely miss the whole point of the post – private charity is not the answer, its the problem –

    • Funny old me, but call me democratic I always thought it was the government’s responsibility to look after all the citizens of their country. Obviously, it is mine and every other citizens solipsism, as you seem to believe that the Government does not collect taxes for this reason, in other words, invest money in long term solutions for poverty, low wages and environmentally responsible policies rather than allow detrimental legislative changes to be bought? You seem to have a problem with the fact that you are connected to the rest of the world, how about instead of ranting and raving on the internet you go out and figure out how much your current life and income is built on inventions, ideas and connections that had nothing to do with effort on your part – and then determine how you are going to pay some of that back. Let us all know how it feels, or would you rather continue to ignore that reality, pretend that you are completely a product of your own effort and then once again, pretend there is no difference between the funding of private schools and alleviating real learning obstacles.

      • I don’t have a problem with being connected with the rest of the world at all, in fact I welcome it. I realize that much of my current lot in life is based on the effort of others that contribute to society this is why I work, pay taxes and that is how I contribute back to society. It is a mutual dependency type of arrangement i.e I work hard, am not a burden on the state and therefore expect the state not to place an unfair burden on me. You see as I am not a burden on the state I am therefore not a burden on anybody else, obliging others to take up for my slack. If I ever do become a burden well I have insurance and if I do need to use social welfare, well guess what I have payed more than my fair share towards it.
        Now Molly you are more than welcome to make a voluntary donation to the IRD or a charity even donate your time and let us all know how that feels 🙂

    • Stephen,

      This is an extract from an upcoming blogpost I have prepared,

      “ The simplest way to address this would be to increase the minimum wage, my wife teaches in a decile 1 school many parents who are working are struggling. Living in the eastern bay of plenty average incomes here are the lowest in NZ. Parents working as pickets or packers in the kiwifruit industry earn bugger all. The myth that those struggling to feed their kids are on the dole is exacting that, many are working long hours , but if you are on the minimum hourly rate in NZ, you only need a doctors bill, or. Car repairs and your family budget is negatively impacted. The concentration of wealth in New Zealand was never better illustrated, than when recently it was revealed that, the CEO of solid energy NZ was suspended on indefinite leave on full pay at home gardening on $5,000 a week. Contrast that with people working 40 hours plus a week and end up with less that $350.00. Lift the minimum hourly rate so working parents don’t have to struggle to put food in the table…”

      I didn’t write that. It came from one of many thousands of New Zealanders who have said “enough’s enough”.

      But it answers your question nicely, I think.

      • As an addition, the discussion we all should really be having is what sort of country have we collectively created over the last few decades that has led to this tragic situation? What fucked up society do we live in now, where in so many parents can’t or won’t feed their own kids? Is this the neoliberal utopia we were promised?

      • Well Frank how about planning to have children, would it be more sensible to have children when you are financially able to? Anytime anybody speaks about raising the minimum wage I think nice thought and lovely idea but if it is that great an idea why not raise it to $50 an hour. Frank money is a essentially ledger used for the purchase of goods and services, now with these goods and services the cost of labor is factored into them if you raise that factor it will have a flow on effect to these goods and services raising it and you are back to square one. In fact even worse and it can cause a rise in inflation. If the minimum wage is raised what do you think is going to happen to those already just above that wage? Most probably they are going to have ask for a pay rise to differentiate themselves from those less skilled. Now if your an owner of a business you might not be able to afford that, so you either don’t hire new staff or nobody gets a pay rise or you have to lose staff or worse case the business can no longer operate because it is now making a loss and therefore every one loses their job.

    • So you’d just have the children starve would you, if it came to that, because it’s “the parents responsibility” to feed them? At the very least a hungry child won’t learn as well, since they’ll be thinking about food all day, forever continuing the poverty cycle. The point here is that the kids themselves can’t force their parents to look after them properly. And unless you want to pass some sort of ridiculous draconian totalitarian type law, you can’t force the parents to feed their kids via Government legislation either. So what, exactly do you suggest? These are not adults that are being fed, but KIDS. Last time I checked, kids can’t feed themselves, and if their parents won’t feed them then someone else has to. It really is as simple as that.

      • Well Nitrum you and all the others are more than welcome to use your time and money to feed them frankly I believe the parents should be taken to task for not feeding their children not me and other tax payers who will have money forced out of their pockets by government to make up for the slack of their parents.

        • Well you should go live in a society where there aren’t children who need feeding them (good luck with that impossible task) and leave those of us that are part of this society to make responsible, humanitarian, caring decisions about their welfare – surely this scrooge attitude has negatively affected your life by now and you could have learned a lesson from it

    • wow stephen – you sure know how to bring the straw to a good ol fashioned argument dont you

      • Yes a straw to throw at my weak opponents to add to their straw man arguments. I mean logic and common sense are not their strong points are they? If you have children you feed them, otherwise you are taking money off other people who might have their own children to feed. We have a social welfare state that gives money to families that are experiencing difficulties. Making breakfast is the easiest and cheapest meal of the day so what are these parents or care givers doing with their money, I strongly suspect spending it on the smokes, booze and pokies!

        • problem is stephen – slogans arent arguments are they

          I think its a given that there are shitty parents out there – both poor, middle and rich.

          But you cant use that as a blanket stereotyping of each and every person in need of assistance (of any kind). What we know, both statistically and annecdotally is that these bad parents are the minority, and that the vast bulk of people..
          A) genuinely need help
          B) Often go with out themselves in order to get some food in their kids
          C) sometimes arent the best educated and resourced of parents so need help themselves with budgeting, finances and nutrition
          D) would love to be off a benefit if on one, and if working, their often doing more work than you or i in order to put the most simple food on the table
          E) currently are or have been taxpayers (GFC remember)

          I think we can all agree that it is the parents job to feed and clothe their kids – but seeing as there are kids going hungry, right now, today, for many different reasons – shouldnt we avoid punishing them for not just their parents failing, but the failings of parents not even related to them?
          Thats what your doing – your saying that because some parents are crap we treat all parents in need as if they are crap – and that sir, is a pretty damn low way to behave.

          Despite protestations and illusions that reinforce your individualism, we still live in a society. And you know what? Society costs, a lot, and the costs dont go away because you dont like stuff, and things – so how do you want to pay? Sort out the problems now? or ignore them and deal with the bigger, more expensive clusterfuck later on?

    • There is something very nasty about demanding responsibility from people, while at the same time robbing them of the all tools by which they can be responsible. No I won’t pay you a wage you can live on, yes,I will charge you the maximum I can get for housing you, no I won’t lend you money to set up a little business of your own, and no, you can’t have the dole which I pay for with my taxes. Where does personal responsibility lie within that scenario? Crime perhaps.

    • Give Stephen some credit. He’s a lot brighter than most right wingers. After all, he has noticed that Bomber “seems to have a problem with the tax cuts.”

      His ilk will only see poverty as a problem once people are starving to death in the streets. Even then they’d probably see it as an opportunity to sell air freshener.

  4. Lol Stephen 🙂 I agree with you that it is the parents’ or guardians’ responsibility to feed and provide the basics for kids. There are however 2 sides to this, as it is a responsible government’s responsibility to look after (especially) minors who are not being provided for in this way. If it is due to neglect, penalize parents and use that to fund feeding kids. HOWEVER; if there are people on low incomes or benefits who are not neglectful or irresponsible and are searching for work and unable to gain employment that would support their family, then the core structures of our society and workforce need to be addressed:

    – ridiculously unaffordable housing for a country with so much spare land
    – very low wage relatively, but to be fair probably because we deserve it (after all, we vote no?). Needs to be increase in skills and productivity to raise incomes
    – entitlement mentality among some, who are a drain. If you are too lazy to look for work or take work when it comes, even if it involves moving areas, you should not get a benefit that keeps you alive.
    – There needs to be acknowledgement of carers eg. housewives and househusbands who are productive, but not in a revenue way.

    So to me any feeding program is an ambulance the the bottom of the cliff, but as there are kids going hungry it is a needed ambulance, however those other factors cannot be ignored, as they will only get worse if people feel better that the “kids are getting fed”.

    And MB, could you give references to the “overseas research shows that universal is better to avoid this type of naming and shaming.”? would be great thanks.

  5. So neoliberalism takes issue with feeding our nations most vunerable.
    Children do not choose to be born into whatever situation the arrive to.
    We have to fight to get the message across that children are a social not just personal responsibility.
    But should you mention to the baby boomers of funding superannuation themselves hmmmmmmm.
    It is not the x and y generation that are me me me.
    We’ve had to pay for most things, including baby boomers lifestyles for the majority of our adult lives.
    So maybe neoliberalism could be a little more appreciative of the helping hand they were given to get there and pass on the same respect.

  6. “Told Church leaders in December of 2010 that “If we cancelled welfare to 330,000 people currently on welfare, how many would starve to death? Bugger all.”

    Am I the only who doesn’t remember that statement and why wasn’t it being used in the 2011 election like John Key thinks terminally ill people can work and won’t starve when their benefits are cancelled.

    He laid down the truth that the right hate social security. Good to know though

  7. I agree that the parents and guardians should be feeding the kids, But we cannot let the children starve. The parents of the kids who are not being fed should be reported to Cyfs. Parent/guardians may need help or they are uncaring neglectful and need their kids taken off them.

  8. Hi Bomber, I always appreciate your articles. John Key gives to the poor with one hand and then steals from them with the other hand. Children are not safe from his changes and reforms . He wants to be seen doing the right thing to increase his popularity ratings. My concern with this argument, as I said to another blogger, is that state should not be involved in Church, as the Church should not be involved in state. What are your thoughts on taxing businesses run by Churches? I still feel uncomfortable with state having control with community, religion, culture etc. or maybe it’s just my overall mistrust of the current govt. I respect your opinion, so would like your feedback on the question. Cheers, Patti 🙂

  9. Excellent article again – thanks Martyn. The picture of Key with the Moet is brilliant. He looks like a common thug, snide, smug and hateful. That picture alone sums up everything you’ve said.

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