Parnell Parents and memories of Alamein Kopu


FeedtheKidsThe children of National Party MPs will get up tomorrow morning and not think about breakfast – it’s not an issue – there will be plenty of food. And not a second thought about lunch either – either plenty of cash to buy a meal or a healthy home-made lunch. Yesterday Prime Minister John Key declared that food security for our most vulnerable children is a corporate, charity responsibility with a pathetic amount ($9.5 million over five years) from the government.

It’s a weetbix-and-milk breakfast for our most needy kids but no lunch. And John Key couldn’t give a stuff or even half a sandwich. He says it’s a parent responsibility to provide food and the better off should not have to share their unearned largesse to feed kids when low-income families can’t put food on the table. But unlike Parnell parents, real parents pay high rents, high electricity prices, high transport costs and high food costs. Real parents’ bills have to be paid before food is bought and here lies the harsh reality in this land of plenty.

For many years now real, low-income parents have lined up for food parcels – the numbers increasing inexorably month by month and it stands to reason that if real parents don’t have enough money feed their kids at home then they don’t have the resources to give them breakfast and lunch regularly.

I haven’t met a parent yet who doesn’t want to provide good food for their kids every day but the simple fact of 270,000 children living below the poverty line – a 95,000 increase under John Key as Prime Minister – means kids are going hungry.

Instead of a comprehensive breakfast and lunch for our neediest kids the government has produced a half-baked, underdone, indigestible policy. So if it’s a parent responsibility to provide food for their kids then whose responsibility is it to provide jobs for the 160,000 workers who want and need work to feed their kids? And whose responsibility is it to ensure there is enough work for the additional 110,000 workers who need more hours to make ends meet and feed their kids?

And whose responsibility is it to stop discrimination against the children of beneficiaries so they can also feed their kids? The children of beneficiaries are the kids most likely to go hungry because John Key’s government, like the Labour government before him, refuses to provide the child tax credit (worth around $60 per week per child) for these kids.

It’s one of the nastiest, cruellest policies ever devised by Labour and its appalling effects have resonated for hungry kids every day for many years now.

Just think if this sort of discrimination had been in place when John Key’s mother was on a benefit or Paula Bennett was trying to feed her child on the DPB?

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In the Appeal Court in Wellington this week the Child Poverty Action Group is arguing that this spiteful discrimination against the children of beneficiaries is unlawful. If the Appeal Court has any decency and humanity then CPAG will win. If they do win and force the government to stop discriminating then that will do much more for children’s food security than John Key’s bullshit breakfast.

Perhaps the saddest sight at the government announcement yesterday was the huddled figure of Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia flanking the Prime Minister as he denied responsibility for hungry kids. It was a reminder of former Alliance MP Alamein Kopu who gave her vote to help maintain Jenny Shipley’s National government in power in the late 1990s as it enacted legislation which damaged Maori families and dashed Maori aspirations for their kids.

Turia is doing the same by supporting these ad-hoc breakfasts with no lunch and will shortly do the same with her support for charter schools – and all for the temporary baubles of parliamentary office.

Too feeble for words.


  1. Thanks John for putting it so succintly and accurately, yes a nasty piece of legislation re beneficiaries and working for families from the previous Labour Govt as well.

  2. This national trying to gain some votes i see they keep away from other policies which would have more long term outcomes.’Give a man a fish feeds him for a day give him a net feeds him for ever”.Jobs is what is needed with a living wage.

  3. The only thing I can say about this new ‘policy’ is that at least it has done something, I think the best thing it may have done is breathe more life into the issue, 1.9 million a year is not going to go far, and the problem could be right across the decile zone too, wouldn’t you think?

    Roll on July, this is another of the silly things that have been debated lately that have been an utter waste of money from a party that hasn’t stopped campaigning since 2011.

  4. Unfortunately John, I think that if the CPAG win in court, these hard hearted bastards we have in power now will just do what they did to those parents looking after their disabled children, they’ll change the law and remove any right of recourse these people have via the courts …

  5. Too right John, the growing inequality is pushing ever more children into poverty. The governments half hearted measure clearly shows their ideology. People are poor because they deserve it. I say “if a man has a dollar he didn’t work for, some other man worked for a dollar he didn’t get.” The obscenity of the obscenely rich, is the poverty and exploitation necessary to create it.
    I would like to see a society where all the necessities of life are the free condition of life, food, shelter and dignity without price. Not just for kids either but for all. Full employment and a living wage would go a long way towards this.

  6. You are right John, it all sucks, But it is going to get a hell of a lot ‘suckier’ between now and extinction, we are seeing the birth of the ‘last generation’ now, if not from 5 years ago.
    I agree if the govt has any cash and a heart they should spend it on the welfare of children, – who will look back at their elders as the most selfish bunch of idiots ever, they will hate us-
    Feeding the kids would be much better than building oil dependent infrastructure, 6 – 7 years post peak oil, and with most of us facing run away climate change, certainly before seeing a pay out from Kiwi Saver.
    To maintain the illusion of a growing economy, they must keep building roads. They all have to pretend your ponzi savings scam has a future, they like most of the population are living the lie, most of us are hooked on hopium, and like the Moi laying flat on its back in the Rapnui quarry, ‘we’ will do all we can to maintain the statuesque … until we start eating each other that is.

  7. Weetbix and milk, yeah, it is minimalistic “breakfast” that few in the middle class would expect their little kiddies to put up with. And then bring your own spoon and plate or bowl too. Thankfully there are volunteers and dedicated parents, teachers and school principals who make that huge difference here and there.

    Yes, I was questioning the sincerity of this program, a dairy giant, with a strong brand name, a supposed “charity” business like Sanitarium, listed under a different name for Seventh Day Adventist Church on the Charity Register, believe it or not.

    They earn close to 200 million a year, pay virtually NO taxes, do of course have costs to cover, donate a bit here and there, but the bulk of “gains” go into their own church membership, for “charitable” causes, we are told to believe.

    I do not want to rubbish you Sanitarium employees and employers too much, but hey, is there not a bit of a tax hole in the wall?

    Good on you getting away with it.

    So at least some good deeds come from you guys, and that is appreciated.

    I do though believe that a bigger solution is justified. Feed ALL school kids, and that is at all levels all over the country. Bring back a collective sense of belonging, get rich and poor, the middle class, all together, to teach the young generation solidarity and social responsibility, same as social benefits.

    That would be a game changer, not a bit here and there, not just feeding the low decile school kids, we need to get a society working together again, and it starts at early childhood and school to teach kids belonging, responsibility, to share, to be joining together, not be divided against each other, as the class conscious better off, and this government, want us to have it.

    Once New Zealand was “egalitarian”, I get told so often. As a migrant who came here from somewhere else I sometimes, yes often, struggle to believe this, because what I see is so totally the opposite.

    But then, giving credit to my friends telling me about NZ’s past, I trust there were better times. Maybe they were not measured in money terms, in gadget status (who has the newest smart phone) and similar, who earns more than others, perhaps.

    We need to reinvent social conscience, a collective sense, a belonging, a sense of chipping in together, to make this country work, or it will all be left for the “Devil Beast”, and that is John Key and his gang and followers, by the way, to destroy the last remnants of the soul of people living here.

    Wake up people, before it is too damned late!

  8. Re John Key’s photo: “Hey there, my name is John, I can pull strings in little dummy New Zealand, I can be had, for a neat little bouteile, Moet Chandon, will do, just nicely.

    We will have a chat, and have sip on the bubbly, and I am sure there will be more where that came from, dear friend.

    I am your willing friend now, loyal, oh so loyal, as long as Moet Chandon is our fellow and companion.

    Cheers JK

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