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Rhetoric Fails To Hide Tragic Unemployment Figures

Government rhetoric is failing to hide the record numbers of long term unemployed New Zealanders who were suffering and being denied the opportunity to better themselves, ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

She was commenting on the latest figures which showed long term unemployment was now at a record high with 18,000 more people out of work than when the Labour-Alliance Government took office.

“Contrary to the Government claiming things are getting better, there continues to be a 20 per cent increase in the number of long term unemployed,” Dr Newman said.

“It comes as no surprise that the employment gaps are widening for Maori and Pacific Islanders in particular. The number of Maori unemployed for longer than a year is up by 18 per cent and the figure stands at almost 25 per cent for Pacific Islanders.

Overall the total number of people who have been out of work over a year now stands at 106,831, compared with 88,876 as at the end of November 1999. The figures were outlined in answers to ACT Parliamentary questions.

“These kinds of numbers of long term unemployed are a serious social issue and a disgrace. They indicate that the Minister of Social Services, Steve Maharey, is either deliberately, or through inadequate stewardship, failing to focus on this growing problem,” Dr Newman said.

“In fact the Minister’s feeble attempt to re-launch Labour’s racially-based closing the gaps policy, is a clear signal that this Government is beginning to panic about gaps that are growing wider every month.”

Dr Newman said a sensible mix of policies which stimulated growth and stopped encouraging “our brightest and best” job creators from leaving the country was needed to reverse a “tragic trend.”

Ends

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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