Monday, January 29, 2007

Incompetence (?) and centrist kite flying

Update; The NZ Herald has used these statistics to lead in today's editorial.

The level of unpaid child support in New Zealand is nothing short of a national disgrace. The latest figures show the total is $1.1 billion. To get an idea of the magnitude you need only compare it to the equivalent figure for Australia, which is $1 billion, $100 million less despite having five times our population.

As a rule, if you observe a glaring difference between Australia and NZ's welfare and related statistics, suspect it.

The original claim was made here by National MP Judith Collins.

(Judith Collins) said New Zealand's child support debts had been allowed to spiral out of control to $1.1 billion as at last June. At the same date, Australia's child support debt was only A$899.5 million ($1 billion) for a country with five times New Zealand's population.

An Australian paper published last year showed that, in 2002/03, Australia and New Zealand had comparable levels of debt per case. Australia A$1,231; New Zealand A$1,370. And check this. In 2003-04 Australia's debt was $847.60 million; New Zealand's was $339.52 million.

So how could our debt suddenly be so much higher?

David Cunliffe; "Much of the increase in child support debt is the result of penalties compounding rather than core debt itself increasing dramatically. The latest figures put core debt of liable parents who default at about $416 million, with unpaid penalties mounting to another $558 million."

Most of the $1.1 billion Collins refers to is penalties and interest. She is not comparing apples with apples. Furthermore, the Australians have been "writing-off" debt in order to get liable parents back into the system - the idea being, it is better to get some money than none. The Child Support Amendment Bill proposes doing the same but has been slammed by Collins.

So now she is using Australia's debt (with write-off) to make our debt (without write-off) look really bad, yet she opposes what would make it look better!

In the same article Judith flys a very unusual kite for a National MP.

Ms Collins said New Zealand should consider passing full child support payments on to custodial parents on the domestic purposes benefit (DPB). At present, only $151 million of the $341.3 million collected is paid to custodial parents, while the Government takes the remaining $190.4 million to offset the cost of the DPB.

"That's not party policy," Ms Collins said.

"It's something I would look at in terms of whether or not it's feasible and whether or not taxpayers can afford that."

So, as a taxpayer, can you afford to pay the share of the DPB bill liable parents currently pay?

And, remind me again, which party is this MP from? The one espousing personal responsibility?


Anonymous said...


I have had words with the honourable member prior to the previous election (if you can call it that) re child support.

She is completely ignorant in this area and refuses to see anyones point of view other than hers and I believe she doesn't understand the acts in question at all.

All she is after is headlines. Not actual results.

I suppose it makes her no different from most of them.

Lindsay Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.