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Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker’s Member’s Bill that will make it possible for any foster parent to open a KiwiSaver account for a child in their care is one step closer to becoming law after passing the Committee of the Whole House stage today.

“The KiwiSaver (Oranga Tamariki Guardians) Amendment Bill will help set up young foster kids for the future, and will allow any guardian to approach a KiwiSaver provider to open up an account for a foster child in their care.

“The Bill is progress for foster children in New Zealand. Foster children are among some of the most vulnerable kids in New Zealand and giving them the ability to have a KiwiSaver account not only gives them an identity, but also allows them to start saving for their future.

“The goal of my original Bill was to allow all foster children the same rights as any other child in New Zealand – to have their own KiwiSaver account.

“It’s disappointing that then Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters pledged to sort out the issue on Tuesday but did not follow through by supporting my additions which would have allowed all foster children the ability to have their own KiwiSaver account today.

“The Bill will now only give about 500 of the 6500 foster children in New Zealand the ability to open a KiwiSaver account. That’s not fair on those children who miss out.

“A KiwiSaver account is the only financial instrument that no-one, except the owner of the account itself, can access. Some KiwiSaver providers have even offered not to charge for the accounts of foster children until there is a significant sum in the account.

“Having an account means young New Zealanders in foster care can start their savings journey when they want to, and their foster parents can help them into the scheme. It’s disappointing not all children will be able to participate, but this will make a real difference in the lives of those who can.”

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