Bryce Edwards draws attention to the time the PM has devoted (it’s not much, apparently) to her Child Poverty Reduction duties

A reader of Lindsay Mitchell’s blog has prompted an article– headed PM spends 0.2 percent of her time on Child Poverty Reduction? – which draws attention to the time Jacinda Ardern apparently devotes to her child poverty portfolio.

The blog reader seized on something Bryce Edwards wrote for The Democracy Project in an article (published by the BFD) headed Labour has given up on the poor.

Edwards drew attention to the mounting evidence that, under Labour’s watch, the problem of wealth and income inequality is spiralling.

He says he sees signs that Labour ministers have put this crisis into the “too hard basket”, then references recent reports on the topic.

For example,

Credit Suisse’s “Global Wealth Report 2022” says average wealth in New Zealand jumped by 32 per cent, or $193,248 in just one year – and that this is far higher than in anywhere else in the world. About 60 per cent of that increase came from housing and 40 per cent from growing global financial markets. In a nutshell, those who own assets and businesses have done extraordinarily well.

But Edwards said topping the world for the explosion of wealth amongst the super-rich shouldn’t be a case for celebration for the Labour Government.

Of course, politicians of the political left used to focus on wealth creation for those at the bottom, not the top. Leftwing ideology – and the whole reason for Labour parties to exist – is to help those at the bottom, and the working class – not to make things worse for them.

So what has the Government been doing about this?

Lindsay Mitchell’s reader has seized on what came next:

The Prime Minister took on the portfolio of Child Poverty Reduction, as a way of signalling her ambitions to fix the problem. But clearly she has had other priorities.

This was exposed in the release of ministerial diaries last month, which give an indication of how much time ministers spend on any particular portfolio. Between October 2020 and June 2022 Ardern was recorded as spending only 14 hours on this portfolio – an average of only 40 minutes per month. One calculation put this at a meagre 0.2 per cent of her working time on what she said was her most important portfolio.

  Mitchell comments:

Yes, I did check the calculations which would have her working eleven-hour days, seven days a week.

In his article, Edwards acknowledges that the Ardern Government has had to deal with other pressing issues and disasters and has introduced – for example – an increased minimum wage and benefit increases.

But many of the Government’s policy responses have made things worse.

In particular, Edwards concludes, Labour’s monetary and fiscal policies have been calculated to have transferred about $1 trillion to business and property owners at the expense of workers. And there are signs that the cost-of-living crisis is being most severely borne by wage earners and the poor.

Point of Order checked the Beehive website for press statements released by Ardern this year as Child Poverty Reduction Minister.  We found three.

17 AUGUST 2022

Government now serving up 1 million free lunches in schools a week

The Government’s healthy lunches in school programme | Ka Ora, Ka Ako has ramped up to deliver a million free lunches to school kids every week.

12 APRIL 2022

Government delivering improvements to children’s lives

The Government has released its first statutory Annual Report for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and its third Child Poverty Related Indicators Report.

24 FEBRUARY 2022

Government lifts 66,500 children out of poverty

Figures released today by Stats NZ show all nine child poverty measures continuing to trend downwards resulting in 66,500 children being lifted out of poverty and the Government meeting the first round of child poverty targets on two of the three primary measures.


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