Duncan Garner: Jacinda Ardern will fail to bring the poorest out of poverty

OPINION: There are so many stats and so much political spin around the number of children living in poverty in New Zealand that it's easy to get confused. 

Have we made progress? Initially this Government did - then progress froze. 

COVID-19 hasn't been kind, and those children at the very bottom - you know the families, crowded houses,  lots of kids,  food runs out - are as poor or poorer now than when Labour came to office.

Jacinda Ardern appointed herself Minister of Child Poverty Reduction and I reckon she will fail to succeed in bringing our poorest families out of poverty.

I'm going to talk about a family I have a lot to do with. They have 10 kids. Mum and dad both work, and what they don't have in money they have in love for each other. They all chip in, but there's never enough food and never enough money. 

But that's just how it is with 10 kids. 

Thousands of dollars of living expenses, just hundreds of dollars of income. People miss out, food is sometimes the last item bought and it doesn't go far. Two of the kids spend a fair amount of time at my place. 

Giving them $10, $20, $30, or $40 a week goes nowhere. And I can hear you screaming at me - have fewer kids, well, maybe, but it's too late for that chat now.

Do we just leave them to fend for themselves?

We can say let's give them budgeting advice, hand out free contraception, give them more money, but in some cases out there, there's no guarantee the kids will see any of it.

So, I don't believe Jacinda Ardern can realistically design a policy that can help every family with ten kids stay out of poverty. 

There will always be poverty. I think it's misleading to say we're 'eliminating child poverty.'

I'm just being a realist. 

But I have three policies to improve child wellbeing - free school lunches for all, it would guarantee attendance and we know at least they're getting something decent to eat daily. 

I'd try to ban social media - watch the bullying and mental health issues reduce dramatically. 

And I'd make playing a sport compulsory.

There's my best shot, what's yours?

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show.