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Bill for students & beneficiaries defeated by Govt

16 August 2000

Bill for students and beneficiaries defeated by Govt.

A Green Party bill that would have reinstated the Community Wage for students over the summer break was voted down by the Government on its first reading this evening.

Sue Bradford's Social Security (Work Testing and Community Wage) Amendment Bill would have axed Work for the Dole, removed the 13 week stand-down period before a worker can qualify for a benefit and reinstated the Community Wage Student that the National Government cut during the last term.

The only other party in parliament that supported Ms Bradford's bill being forwarded to Select Committee for further consideration and debate was New Zealand First. The vote was 108 to 12 against the bill.

"While I realise that some aspects of my bill have been addressed by this new Government - such as moves to halt Work for the Dole - the Green Party is extremely disappointed that Labour and the Alliance chose not to support this bill," said Ms Bradford.

"I realise some of the aspects of my bill would have had budget ramifications but at least if it had gone to select committee some long overdue work on some of these key areas could have begun," she said.

Ms Bradford said that despite the Government's loud protests over the axing of the Community Wage Student while in opposition, their failure to take action when in Government had been very disappointing.

"National's removal of the Community Wage Student has had a massive impact on student poverty. It is unfair, highly discriminatory and totally unrealistic for students up to 25 years of age to be dependent on their parents for income during the break between academic years," she said.

"However this summer break it looks as though one of the nastiest pieces of National's work will once again severely disadvantage thousands of tertiary students, despite Labour's promises."

Ms Bradford said she was also saddened that the Government had passed up the opportunity to address the 13 week stand down period for workers to receive benefits. She said this stand down had resulted in massive increases in personal grievance cases from employees and had left many ex-workers destitute.

"We admit that this bill is not perfect and some of the measures would have cost money. However these issues need to be addressed and, by voting it through to select committee, we could have had these debates. Mr Maharey seems to be saying that he would like to do what my bill sets out but that it would be expensive.

"We hope the students and beneficiaries who helped elect Labour and the Alliance keep the pressure on them over the issues raised by my bill. The Green Party is happy to work with these groups to strive for the removal of the glaring inequities and injustices present in the current benefit system," said Ms Bradford.

Sue Bradford MP: 04 470 6720, 025 243 4239; Jonathan Hill (press sec.): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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