Correction to submission to Parliamentary Select Committee on the Child Poverty Reduction Bill.

In my original submission on the Child Poverty Reduction Bill, I had a separate discussion proposing adding a section to the part of the bill which modifies the Oranga Tamariki Act (and will be eventually be separated out) requiring that in all activities involving a child, the best interests of the child should be paramount.

It turns out that section 6 of the Oranga Tamariki Act already states:

  1. Welfare and interests of child or young person paramount

In all matters relating to the administration or application of this Act (other than Parts 4 and 5 and sections 351 to 360), the welfare and interests of the child or young person shall be the first and paramount consideration, having regard to the principles set out in sections 5 and 13.

(The exceptions refer to situations before the youth justice court.)

Thus this part of my submission is redundant and I have withdrawn it (and apologised to the select committee for the oversight). The withdrawn part of the submission is at the end of this piece,

This withdrawal in no way invalidates the main submission, that while I welcome the intention of the bill, major changes are needed to develop  robust and non-corruptible measures for assessing poverty.

I think the reason I made the mistake is that, as is usual, I consulted with a number of experts but, like me, none were social workers. The fact is that while this may be a statutory requirement in the Oranga Tamariki Act (and earlier versions of it), we see the principle repeatedly infringed in other areas of public policy; in my expereince in the case management of beneficiaries.  (It is sort of ironic, isn’t it, that children at risk have better statutory protection than most children?)


The following is the section taken out of the submission because it is redundant.

Part V The Best Interest of the Child

5.1    The Bill should include the principle that all activities of Oranga Tamariki involving a child, the best interests of the child should be paramount.

5.2    This would put into a New Zealand statute a central principle of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children which New Zealand has ratified.

5.3    In particular its Principle 2 states

The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.