Casey quits in ‘dis­gust’

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Janie Smith

AUCK­LAND city coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey has re­signed in “dis­gust” from her role as the coun­cil’s child and fam­ily ad­vo­cate.

Dr Casey’s res­ig­na­tion fol­lowed a coun­cil com­mu­nity ser­vices com­mit­tee meet­ing last week which heard a pre­sen­ta­tion from the Child Poverty Ac­tion Group on its latest na­tional child poverty re­port, Left Be­hind.

Af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tion City Vi­sion coun­cil­lor Gra­ham Easte put for­ward a mo­tion that of­fi­cers re­port back on mea­sures al­ready in place and fu­ture op­tions for al­le­vi­at­ing child poverty.

The mo­tion was lost four votes to three.

Dr Casey says she was “dis­gusted” at Cit­i­zens and Ratepay­ers coun­cil­lors’ re­fusal to recog­nise child poverty as an Auck­land City Coun­cil is­sue.

“I will al­ways speak up for chil­dren. I don’t want this ti­tle, I will just con­tinue to do my job.

“If the coun­cil is not about the peo­ple, what are we about? It’s peo­ple whose lives are altered by our de­ci­sions.

“They ba­si­cally said al­le­vi­at­ing child poverty was a mat­ter for cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

“I’m sick of it,” says Dr Casey.

Coun­cil­lor Graeme Mul­hol­land voted against the mo­tion, along with com­mit­tee chair­man Paul Gold­smith and coun­cil­lors Greg Moyle and Noe­lene Raf­fills.

He says none of the mem­bers had a chance to read the re­port and could not make a fully in­formed de­ci­sion.

“The child and fam­ily pol­icy is up for re­view shortly and I be­lieve it would be ap­pro­pri­ate to look at the re­port at the same time. Let’s look at the whole area of child and fam­ily holis­ti­cally.”

Mr Mul­hol­land says there are some ar­eas of lo­cal gov­ern­ment that need to be looked at as to whether they are the coun­cil’s or cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Child Poverty Ac­tion Group di­rec­tor Jan­frie Wakim says she was “pretty hor­ri­fied” by the dis­mis­sive na­ture of the coun­cil­lors.

“It’s as­ton­ish­ing they could be so cal­lous about the needs of chil­dren. We weren’t ask­ing for funds to be di­verted to it, it was sim­ply that offi re­port on the ac­tions and pro­grammes al­ready in place and what could be done to al­le­vi­ate child poverty.

“We weren’t ask­ing for the world.”

The group’s re­searcher, Donna Wynd, also found the mo­tion’s de­feat dis­ap­point­ing.

“It wasn’t oblig­ing the coun­cil to do any­thing, just ask­ing them to in­ves­ti­gate. Cathy Casey gave a very im­pas­sioned speech at the time which seemed to fall on deaf ears. It’s all quite sad.”

She says Auck­land city has some of the poor­est sub­urbs in the coun­try and the di­vide be­tween the poor and the wealthy is greater than in most other ar­eas.

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