The Child Poverty Action Group Inc. (CPAG) was registered as a charity with the Charities Commission on 5 June 2008 (Reg. No. CC25387). According to Wikipedia on-line, it “is a New Zealand political advocacy group for the abolition of poverty and social exclusion…. CPAG describes itself as ‘an independent charity working to eliminate child poverty in New Zealand through research, advocacy and education’. CPAG speaks out on behalf of tens of thousands of New Zealand’s poorest children…”
Records from the Charities Commission website show that CPAG had a gross income of $132,361 for the financial year ended 31 March 2011, and of that, $62,638 was spent on wages for one full-time employee and two other part-timers: involved in administration and research (47% of total income). In addition $1,033 of CPAG income was spent specifically on office administration and $486 to cover employees’ ACC Levies. 58 hours per week (average) in total of paid work, was funded by CPAG. In 2010/11 it received $105,000 in non-government grants and sponsorship, $16,757 in donations, and $2,660 in membership fees. (se www.charities.govt.nz).
CPAG – Aotearoa New Zealand has a clear focus on political advocacy, involving the promotion of “better policies [laws] for children and young persons – illustrated by the following activities….
“On 18 May 2006 CPAG defeated a NZ Government appeal in the High Court that would have prevented it from taking ‘legal action against the Government’s Families package’. CPAG decided to take legal action because it felt that the Working For Families package discriminated against the children of parents of beneficiaries.”
On 9 May 2012 its spokesperson Mike O’Brien issued a media release criticising “the government’s latest tranche of welfare reforms”. CPAG expressed its opposition to the government’s “proposal for free long-term contraception for beneficiaries and their children.”
Senior University of Auckland economist Susan St John, who leads CPAG, together with Claire Dale have produced a resource that offers “a framework for analysing the appropriateness and limits of using research-based evidence to evaluate social policy.”
“They then employ this framework to assess the Working for Families package, implemented by the former Labour-led government, focussing particularly on the controversial In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC).
“In short, they conclude that the IWTC is not merely discriminatory, but that such discrimination is harmful and unjustified.” (see the CPAG website: www.cpag.org.nz).
Criticising government policies that are seen to be harming and discriminating against the poor, and pushing for legislative changes that would, in its members’ view abolish poverty and social exclusion of those economically disadvantaged, is central to the CPAG political “advocacy” programme.
Most New Zealanders, along with the Charities Commission officials one might assume, would probably see such “political advocacy” as central to the role of CPAG. It is no different to the “political advocacy” engaged in by charities that seek to represent and put first, the interests of families (e.g. Family First NZ) and is considered by many as admirable and worthy of public support.