Candidates eligible for child-care allowance

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PAM.JONES

@alliedpress.co.nz

Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes electoral candidates will be eligible for a new child-care allowance that aims to get more younger representatives into office.

The allowance provides up to $6000 a year per elected council or community board member for child-care costs.

It was among changes under consideration by the Remuneration Authority, and was also promoted by members of Local Government New Zealand’s young elected members committee.

The committee, which was co-chaired by Dunedin city councillor Aaron Hawkins, aimed in part to support younger elected representatives and encourage more to stand for office.

Cr Hawkins said the allowance aimed to remove the cost of child care as a barrier to participation in local government.

A child-care allowance would make it easier for another group of potential candidates to “put their hand up”, Cr Hawkins said.

He was particularly pleased to see the allowance would be “public knowledge” before local body elections in October, when “such an obstacle might tip the balance” for some wanting to stand.

Central Otago District Council and Queenstown Lakes District Council spokespeople confirmed electoral candidates in their catchments would be eligible for the new allowance if elected.

A Central Otago council spokeswoman said that any elected member with dependent children could apply for the allowance, which would be funded by individual territorial authorities through rates.

Queenstown Lakes council general manager regulatory and finance Stewart Burns said the Queenstown council was “very supportive” of the allowance.

Additional reporting Otago Daily Times