Home > Social Issues > “We must depoliticize children’s issues…”

“We must depoliticize children’s issues…”




An OECD comparitive table on international tax rates (OECD average income tax, %,  single person at 100% of average earnings, no child). Australian, Swedish, and New Zealand comparisons highlighted in red,


OECD average income tax (%) single person at 100% of average earnings , no child sweden australia new zealand



As the table clearly shows,

  • New Zealand’s tax rate (single person at 100% of average earnings, no child) is lower than Australia,
  • New Zealand’s tax rate (single person at 100% of average earnings, no child) is marginally lower than Sweden,
  • The OECD average is dragged down by countries such as Mexico, Korea, and Greece,
  • During the Clark-led Labour Government (2000-08), New Zealand’s tax rate was consistantly lower than Australia.


Comparing taxation with social outcomes for our children and families, we find the following. The table shows, with grim clarity, that we are lagging behind. Australian, Swedish, and New Zealand comparisons highlighted in red.,


OECD child wellbeing sweden australia new zealand



Meanwhile, from “Inside Child Poverty New Zealand’s” Facebook page…


” 63 people voted in this week’s Friday Poll on National’s Welfare reforms. 55 don’t like them, 5 do like them and 3 don’t know.

Me? I think yet again here are policies which do not think through what impact the economic policy will have on the current and future well being of the child.

All the long term research tells us that if we do not get the first 6 years of a child’s life right in terms of meaning health, social and emotional needs – we risk spending huge amounts of money in crisis management is the child grows into an adult with health problems and anti-social attitudes and quite possibly emotional scarring from having to live with strangers for the better part of each day from year 1.

Opting for short term populist solutions instead of long terms planning and ring fencing our children from the storms of politics is not statesmanship, it’s salesmanship .

The legacy of the 1991 mother of all budgets was a dramatic increase in the all the diseases of poverty that affect poor children most. What part of that do the current architects of welfare reform not understand?

We must depoliticize children’s issues, come to a common cross party agreement about the appropriate level of community responsibility for ALL our children, work out the most cost effect method of meeting those needs and then ring fence it so no future governments can mess with it. This is the Swedish system. It is why they are No2 in the OECD for child well being and we are No 28 with only Turkey and Mexico below us.”


Bryan Bruce is 100% correct. The OECD stats paint a grim picture of Sweden achieving much superior outcomes for their children than we do. (The link to the relevant report is given below, under “Resources” – it’s worth having a look.)

This is one table, showing data on “Comparative policy-focused child well-being in 30 OECD countries”. New Zealand and Swedish comparitive rankings are underlined in red,


Comparative policy-focused child well-being in 30 OECD countries Australia New Zealand Sweden


And a similar table, this time compiled from UNICEF data. Whilst New Zealand and Australia are not represented on this graph, it is interesting to note that the Scandinavian social-democracies rate consistantly better for children than the market-led, more capitalist-oriented nations of America and Britrain (both of which have considerable problems with poverty and other social problems),



Only the de-politicisation of child poverty can achieve practical, serious, and long-lasting solutions to this growing problem. National and Labour must work together if this is to be achieved.

Both parties have achieved cross-Party concensus on issues such as superannuation and our Nuclear Free policy. We need to be asking the question; why can’t the same be done for child poverty?

If Sweden and the other Scandinavian social-democracies can achieve a measure of success in this area – we need to be asking ourselves; why can’t we?

This issue is not beyond our means, abilities, and wealth to address. We have all that.

What’s missing is one thing to resolve this problem; the will to do it.



Food parcel families made ‘poor choices’, says John Key

No track kept of ‘lost’ kids

New Cabinet must get busy working for children

Fear of dangerous rift from wealth gap

Children absent from new welfare policy


OECD Report: Comparative Child Well-being across the OECD



  1. Matthew
    9 March 2012 at 1:23 pm

    The NZ child suicide rate is significantly higher than the other countries on that list.

    From this story http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19180-air-pollution-could-increase-risk-of-suicide.html – “uncovered a clear association between suicide and spikes of particulate pollution”

    New Zealand is largely dependent on wood for home heating. Wood smoke gives off toxic particulate pollution in large amounts.

    Is there a link between wood burning and high rates of suicide in New Zealand? There is no study to say there isn’t a link. I’d put money on it that there is a causation. Go on New Zealand Government study it (and then ban wood burning).

    And what about our 6 times OECD-average rates of childhood asthma?

  2. 9 March 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Mathew, I heard somewhere that our high asthma rate might have something to do with our ubiquitous use of carpetting throughout our houses? (Though this mus surely be reducing, as polished floorboards are a cheaper and more fashionable option?)

    But yes, you’re right; youth suicide rate is diabolically high. We amongst the highest in the world.

    Which is bizarre, considering NZ is supposedly “the best place in the world to bring up children”?!?! Something is seriously not right with our society…

    • Matthew
      9 March 2012 at 1:55 pm

      They have carpet in other countries Frank. I’ve also heard (other excuses) that NZ houses are cold, or they’re damp, but I think the emperor has no clothes, and the real elephant in the room is air quality. It would be nice if the government actually studied what ubiquitous wood smoke is doing to us, and why asthma rates are so high. When other organisations have studied the effects of wood smoke it doesn’t add up to reassuring that we aren’t being exposed to harm and to large risks to our health and happiness. They could start with a metastudy of all the other studies, and then work out what research is needed, and then they should meet the findings with policy. In the mean time we need doctors and coroners to stand up for its victims. The MFE did a study and worked out there 1100 annual premature deaths attributable to woodsmoke in NZ. Where are the tighter standards that we need? The government is asleep at the wheel and people are dying because of a lack of policy.

      Last study I heard that sub 2.5 micron particulates even will directly travel up the axons in the olfactory nerve directly to the brain, and cause stroke and dementia. It doesn’t even have to cross the lung-blood barrier. Wood burning makes lots of sub 2.5 micron particulates and we don’t even have rules about maximum levels in the air like we do for sub 10 micron particulates (and those standards are quite lax, allow massive pollution, and we exceed them often anyway – so it’s not like they actually protect us).

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