Families who can't afford children shouldn't be having them, says the ACT Party's new deputy leader.
Beth Houlbrooke has hit out at Labour's $60-a-week baby bonus policy says paying people to have babies encourages them to grow their families when they're not properly mature or financially prepared.
"Labour's baby bonus could extend the misery of child poverty and even child abuse," she said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
"The fact is, parents who cannot afford to have children should not be having them. ACT believes in personal responsibility, meaning we stand with the majority of parents who wait and save before having children."
Party leader David Seymour agreed, saying too many children were being born into poverty.
"Paying people to bring children into the world will only make this worse," he said.
Labour announced its families package on Tuesday which includes a $60-a-week payment to all parents for the first year of their child's life from April 1 next year, and for up to three years for low and middle income families.
The Opportunities Party leader Gareth Morgan has fired back at ACT's controversial comments, calling them "crap".
Mr Morgan responded to ACT with "what the evidence shows", saying people usually move in and out of poverty due to unpredictable life events and economic forces outside of their control, and that some parents who are living in poverty might not be making entirely rational decisions. Further, 30 - 40 percent of children are unplanned regardless of income groups.
"Regardless of how children ended up in poverty, the primary issue here is how do we improve their lives?" Mr Morgan said on Twitter.
"As a civilised society we need to help these children and because not helping them costs us $8 billion a year, economically we need to help them."