Parliament is considering the repeal of a controversial measure which penalises mothers applying for child support who do not know the identity of the father.
Under the Social Securities Act, sole parents who do not name the father when applying to WINZ are docked $22 a week from their child support payments, and a further $6 if they have still not produced a name after 13 weeks.
For women who fell pregnant after a one night stand with a man they did not know, this penalty can put a serious burden on their ability to provide for their children. Figures released under the Official Information Act show that this penalty affects 17,087 children nationwide, the majority of whom were Maori.
A lobbying campaign organised by a number of organisations including Women’s Refuge and the Child Poverty Action Group was responsible for convincing every opposition party, as well at the Maori party to support the repeal.
The penalty was imposed in 1990 by the then-Labour government, but the caucus as a whole now opposes it, with MP Carmel Sepuloni saying "we are a different party in 2016 than we were in 1990.” National and United Future both say they are considering the change, but would not commit to a position.
Act MP David Seymour said the penalty should stay to "hold fathers accountable" for supporting their children, which kind of misses the point as under the current system the child and by proxy the mother are penalised, not the father.