State of the Family – a Report Card
5 February 2011
Dunne: Help into housing; more parental leave and DNA paternity testing
Families should be allowed to capitalise their Working for Families entitlements to buy first homes, extend parental leave to 13 months, and there should be compulsory DNA paternity testing, UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne says.
In releasing UnitedFuture’s Report Card on the State of the Family today, Mr Dunne said there needs to be some “serious rethinking” of how New Zealand supports families.
“We need to really look at some of the fundamentals that we have in place around families, because right now there are too many ways in which they are struggling in these difficult times.
“We hold parents accountable for how they raise their children and have high expectations that those children will be safe, well and nurtured. To do that, society – and government – must play a key role to ensure families themselves are safe, well and nurtured,” he said.
Mr Dunne said that one simple step in actively support families would be allowing them to capitalise their Working for Families entitlement as a lump sum to get a deposit on a first home, or possibly extend their existing home.
“That money is to support families anyway; we need to drop the bureaucracy and make it flexible enough to be really useful as a social investment in families and housing is key to that.
UnitedFuture would also support extending paid parental leave to 13 months, including one month for fathers.
“This would enable infants to be cared for by their parents during the crucial first year of childhood, which has been shown to improve family stability, reduce child poverty and lay a foundation that reduces the incidence of child abuse.
‘Too often we put the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. We need to look at smarter ways to help families avoid problems, rather than try to solve them later when things are going wrong.
“Giving parents more time with their children early on is a no-brainer for a society that wants strong families and healthy, secure children,” he said.
Mr Dunne said compulsory DNA paternity testing in cases where claims, counter-claims and doubts exist over the parentage of a child would “unnecessarily excite certain civil libertarian tendencies” but commonsense needed to apply.
“Frankly, where something as fundamental as fatherhood and a child’s right to know and be supported by its parents is at stake, someone wishing not to submit to a mouth swab is small beer in the scheme of things.
“We need to get our priorities right. Looking after our children and taking responsibility for them is a top priority in my book,” he said.