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Minister Misleads To Axe Community Work

The Minister of Social Services is being taken to task for his dishonest and misleading use of a July 1999 report to justify his move to axe the Community Work programme.

ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today said that the Minister’s statement yesterday that the report he released was ‘evaluating the work-for-the dole-scheme’ is simply dishonest. “The report does not even cover the period of the Community Work programme but the earlier expanded Community Taskforce Scheme,” she said.

“The Minister’s claim that the programme cost $43 Million to set up is also untrue. This was the cost for the first two to three years of setting up WINZ with its objective of case-managing jobseekers. The Minister has not released a figure for the programme itself.

“Mr Maharey’s actions demonstrate exactly the same arrogance that is the hallmark of this ‘demolition’ Government. The question has to be asked whether the Minister is losing his nerve for axing the Community Work programme when he has to resort to deliberately misleading about the facts he’s using to justify kicking beneficiaries off the programme and back on to the scrap heap.

“If the Minister actually wants an open and honest debate on the merits of the community work programme he should immediately release a real evaluation of the programme. Otherwise he just isn’t credible.

“This is a serious blunder by the Minister of Social Welfare who is already under pressure for under performing. He will find that axing the Community Work Programme is no substitute for a credible plan and vision for getting out of work New Zealanders into real jobs.

“New Zealanders want a fair social welfare safety net that doesn’t just pay and forget. If the Minister wants to see what sitting at home on a benefit does to destroy hope, confidence and work skills he should get out of his office and visit the Rangatira Trust in Otara.

“The Trust’s programme, that had workers cleaning up the streets of Otara, has been shut down leaving its workers and the community back at square one. The hopelessness and the graffiti are back. Mr Maharey’s actions have confirmed to the Trust’s workers that there is no hope while he is Minister,” said Muriel Newman.


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