News of Zealand

National and Labour Both Pledge to Get 100,000 Children Out of Poverty

Plus disabled children waiting almost half a year for 'early intervention', and poorer New Zealanders missing out on KiwiSaver.
September 4, 2017, 11:16pm
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LOCAL NEWS

Labour Pledges to Match National's Child Poverty Promise
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has this morning pledged to lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020 if her party is elected, matching the promise made by Prime Minister Bill English during last night's Newshub Leaders Debate. The debate, the second of three in the lead-up to the election, was much more heated affair than the first, with English attacking Labour over the opposition's supposed "budget hole", and Ardern returning fire, accusing the government of nine years of inaction on child poverty and of letting a housing crisis blossom.

Children With Disabilities Waiting Too Long For Help
Government figures show some kindergarteners with disabilities and behavioural problems are waiting over a year to get help. Wellington fares worse than other regions, with early intervention services taking on average 139 days, double that of the rest of the country.
Whanau Manaaki Kindergartens chief executive Mandy Coulson says that delays can have serious negative effects on children, compounding existing issues. The government recognises some waiting times are "unacceptably high", blaming increased population growth and demand for the services.

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New Research Reducing Animal Harm in Scientific Testing
New resources aim to highlight the best innovations and techniques used to reduce the harm caused to animals in scientific research. The Ministry for Primary Industries and the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research have collaborated to produce booklets that will be sent to schools, researchers, and ethics committees. One of the writers, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, says the booklets are a chance to educate the community about the "amazing" advancements being made in the area. Dr Wiles said a great example was scientists using blood-sucking insects as a more natural way to take blood samples from animals.

KiwiSaver May Not Be Reaching Those Who Need it Most
KiwiSaver may not be reaching those who most need the help saving for their retirement. A report by ANZ Bank claims that while over 80 percent of people earning more than $100,000 a year were a part of the scheme, only 53 percent of those earning less than $50,000 were members. ANZ director of wealth Craig Mulholland said this raised questions about whether the scheme was reaching those who needed it most.

INTERNATIONAL

The Comey-Trump Saga Continues
A leading Democrat on the US House Intelligence Committee is threatening to subpoena the White House to obtain documents relating to the ongoing investigation into ties with Russia.
It is believed there is a draft letter from Trump to former FBI Director James Comey which may show that the President tried to obstruct justice, and Adam Schiff, the committee's ranking Democrat, said it was "probably past time" lawmakers subpoenaed Trump for the documents. When Comey was fired, Trump initially said it because of his handling of Hillary Clinton's email investigation. But just a few days later Trump revealed that the narrative regarding his Russian collusion had influenced his firing of Comey.

US Demands Greater North Korea Sanctions
The US has urged the United Nations Security Council to impose the toughest sanctions possible on North Korea, following the country's powerful nuclear test on Sunday. The underground blast caused a magnitude 6.3 tremor and was more powerful that the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan during WWII. US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told a hearing that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was "begging for war".

South Korea Begins Drills
South Korea has responded to Pyongyang's latest nuclear test with live-fire exercises of both ground- and air-launched rockets. Defence officials say there will be more drills later this month, involving Taurus air-to-surface missiles mounted on F-15 jets. A spokesperson for the army said the drills demonstrated the military's "resolve to destroy not only the origin of provocation but also the enemy's leadership and supporting forces" if they threatened the security of the South Korean people. The US and South Korea have agreed "in principle" to revise current guidelines so that the South can double the maximum payload of its ballistic missiles.

Merkel to Tackle Air Pollution
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged an extra €500 million to fight air pollution in German cities. The move follows the Volkswagen emissions scandal, which showed the car maker had fit millions of vehicles with illegal devices to cheat pollution tests, and other German carmakers are now under scrutiny for their emissions, putting pressure on the Merkel's pro-car stance.The government has so far refused to commit to a date by which Germany will phase out fossil fuel-powered cars, as Britain and France have vowed to do by 2040.

Reporting by Harry Willis and Mary-Margaret Slack.