Casey quits in ‘disgust’
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.