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'Social investment' policies at UN summit

26 June 2000 Media Statement

Maharey to outline 'social investment' policies at UN summit

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey leaves New Zealand tomorrow to attend the United Nations World Social Summit 'Plus Five Meeting' in Geneva.

The conference will review the implementation by member states of the 1995 Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development to eradicate poverty, promote full employment and improve participation in society which was drawn up by the first World Social Summit. Mr Maharey will speak in the conference plenary on Thursday (Thursday evening New Zealand time).

While in Europe Mr Maharey will hold bilateral meetings with social Ministers from Finland, Norway, Canada and Ireland, and will meet the International Labour Organisation Director-General Juan Somavia and UK Secretary of State for Education and Employment David Blunkett. He will sign a social security agreement with The Netherlands. In London Mr Maharey meets with leading think tank and Third Way sociologist and adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Anthony Giddens.

"The World Social Summit is chance for New Zealand to once again establish its reputation as a socially progressive nation," Steve Maharey said.

"The Labour-Alliance Government has set a new direction for social policy based on investment in New Zealanders to ensure they can seize the opportunities provided by a globalising economy.

"During the 1990s the National Government based social policy on the mistaken belief that people on a benefit were the authors of their own misfortune. Misguided policies such as benefit cuts, the Code of Social and Family Responsibility, the community wage and benefit attack ads were part of an approach which aimed to demonise the most vulnerable in our society.

"In contrast the Labour-Alliance Government understands that unless New Zealanders have the capacity and opportunity to participate in the new world that is taking shape they will be marginalised.

"It is the responsibility of government to create opportunities and the responsibility of New Zealanders to take them."
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Mr Maharey said he was looking forward to discussing New Zealand's new approach with the representatives of other progressive nations.

"Social democratic governments now lead most developed nations. Everyone is grappling with the difficult issues of how to equip their citizens for a world of high skills, new technology amd constant innovation.

"The Ministers I have arranged to meet are all members of what can be called Third Way governments. In Britain I am particularly looking forward to meeting Anthony Giddens given his leading role in the world wide debate on Third Way politics," Steve Maharey said.


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