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‘Culture of Extravagance’ Alive & Well

‘Culture of Extravagance’ Alive & Well Under Maharey

The ‘culture of extravagance’ within WINZ is alive and well under the leadership of Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey despite his Opposition bluster against the Department’s spending.

Questions from ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman reveal that WINZ pays $36,000 each year for 122 of its staff to have membership to Air New Zealand’s exclusive Koru Club. The Department has also spent almost $100,000 storing furniture in the first three months of the year. Christine Rankin’s top two managers are each paid more than the Deputy Prime Minister.

The new spending revelations come on the day the Government is expected to launch its PR exercise to sell a ‘fresh start’ for WINZ under the leadership of Christine Rankin in response to the damning Hunn report.

However, Dr Newman said that Mr Maharey’s trademark backflips over WINZ had reached new heights today with his ‘weak’ attempt to defend the spending. “This is exactly the type of spending that even in December Steve Maharey was using to publicly attack WINZ,” she said.

“His roar has become a squeak,” she said.

“Mr Maharey faces an even bigger hurdle, trying to convince New Zealanders that his so-called ‘fresh start’ for WINZ has any credibility while Christine Rankin remains as CEO. It’s like trying to re-launch the Fire Service Commission under the leadership of Roger Estall,” she said.

The Government’s attempt to relaunch WINZ is expected to see little more than Steve Maharey calling it the ‘Department of Work and Income’, cosmetic changes to names and titles for old practices and schemes and superficial changes to the Work for the Dole scheme which the Minister has re-named ‘Activity in the Community’.

“New Zealanders won’t be fooled that today’s relaunch is anything more than a charade. The Koru Club Memberships just confirm that nothing has changed in the Department since Steve Maharey took over. Indeed, he has made the situation worse by his uncontrolled actions in Opposition that have left the Government unable to remove Ms Rankin without a seven figure payout,” she said.

“This Department is vital to the Government if it is serious about a fair welfare system that gets New Zealanders back into real jobs. Until the Government bites the bullet, admits its mistakes and takes real action, the Department will continue to limp on in the same vain costing taxpayers money and costing those on welfare their chance to get off,” said Muriel Newman.

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