Australia will be called to account
This is not to deny (again with the benefit of hindsight) that the pledge was unrealistic in terms of what could be achieved in such a short period – the commitment was made in the run-up to the 1987 federal election. Even so, it resulted in significant – and in many instances – long-lasting reforms being made to the system of income support for children (lead by reformist Social Security Minister, Brian Howe). Those achievements demonstrate the impact that poverty targeting can have when it is formulated and backed at the highest
It is easy to be wise after the event, but the widespread cynicism that greeted Bob Hawke’s pledge to ‘end child poverty by 1990’ was as wide of the mark as the actual pledge itself. Although Hawke himself has since admitted that the announcement was unwise and a deviation ‘from the script’, subsequent events have shown that the child poverty pledge was ahead of its time in two key regards: first, because of its emphasis on the need to set poverty targets; and second because of the focus given to the problem of child poverty, now acknowledged to be one of its most damaging manifestations.
JAN– MAR 2018