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Focus On Job Creation Urgently Required

Green Party Employment Spokesperson Sue Bradford said today's employment statistics showed the urgent need for the government to get serious about job creation initiatives.

The March 2000 quarter seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.4 per cent, up slightly from 6.3 per cent in the previous December quarter, and the jobless rate is up from 195,000 to 205,000 people.

"The Government must begin now to make a substantial commitment to hands on employment creation," said Ms Bradford.

Ms Bradford said today's figures showed unadjusted Maori unemployment was nearly three times the rate of Pakeha unemployment and that urgent intervention and investment was required to further the 'closing the gaps' project.

"Of equal concern is the 18.3 per cent rate of unemployment among New Zealand youth - nearly four times the general Pakeha rate," said Ms Bradford. "The poor employment status of our young people is another huge gap that needs closing.

"The high levels of unemployment among Maori and youth will inevitably result in low self-esteem and flow on to a range of social crises such as crime and suicide," she said.

Ms Bradford said that with unemployment currently institutionalised in New Zealand, punitive measures such as work for the dole and means testing and suspensions of benefits were simply exacerbating a vulnerable and volatile sector of the society.

"These measures are making the problems of high unemployment worse and the Green Party want the government to abolish them immediately. My Social Security Amendment Bill which is currently in the ballot will remove some of these measures which are currently used to punish the unemployed," she said.

"Today's unemployment levels need to be addressed by a government committed to zero unemployment. This is not impossible and I will continue to push the government hard to become much more involved in creating jobs for all New Zealanders."


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