Key: Cockroach case probably one of 'neglect', not poverty

  • 05/04/2011

Reports of a starving boy eating cockroaches, pensioners eating cat food and a soaring increase in demand for food parcels were raised in Parliament today as Labour accused the Government of turning its back on New Zealand's most vulnerable citizens.

Labour's deputy leader, Annette King, asked Prime Minister John Key what he intended doing to help people who couldn't afford to buy food because of the rapid rise in the cost of living.

"Many low-income families can't afford even a basic nutritious diet for their children...the Salvation Army in Whangarei has seen an increase of 90 percent in food parcels since the New Year and is now having to ration them to one per family," she said.

Mr Key said he understood the cockroach case could be an issue of neglect rather than income support.

"The Government obviously supports not only a benefit-based system for those who find themselves in need but also significant hardship grants," he said.

"The Government can stand on a very proud record of keeping benefit entitlements and making sure that payments are made to all vulnerable New Zealanders, despite running a very, very large deficit as a result of very poor economic conditions."

Mr Key said he didn't know the details of what was happening in Whangarei.

"But I will say that my experience in being involved in organisations that give food parcels shows that a lot of them do have a system where they don't allow people to have too many in a certain time - they do not want to build dependency."

Ms King asked Mr Key whether he would go with her to visit a food bank so he could listen to the people who worked on the front line.

He said he regularly visited social services and he didn't want to "hang around" with Ms King at any time.

NZPA

source: newshub archive