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Government 'Opening New Gaps'

Excuses Won't Hide Government's 'Opening New Gaps' Policies

The lame excuses offered by Social Services Minister Steve Maharey in Parliament today in no way lessen the very real human misery of growing unemployment, National leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"Maori unemployment is ballooning, under a Labour Government which constantly seeks political mileage by chanting the mantra 'Closing the Gaps'. Well actions speak louder than words, and it's clear the Labour economic formula is opening gaps, not closing them.

"Long term registered unemployment has jumped by 18,000 since Labour took office. One of the major factors contributing to this grim state of affairs is an 18 percent increase in the number of Maori registered as unemployed - equating to an extra 6,000 people.

"Steve Maharey acts as if these are mere statistics, which have no real relevance. Perhaps he would start to take it seriously if he listened to the Salvation Army, which this week reported that there has been a marked increase in the number of people asking for food parcels. Perhaps he should speak to the budget advice agencies which say they fear the rising price of groceries will affect the health of those on low incomes.

"This deterioration in social circumstances is in marked contrast to the previous nine years, during which the disparity between Maori and non-Maori unemployment showed a consistently downward trend. In simple terms, the gaps were closing, now they are widening.

"Labour should be ashamed about reversing that trend. Instead they're hiding their heads in the sand and hoping the problem will go away," Jenny Shipley said.

Ends

A printable formatted copy of this press release will be available on http://www.national.org.nz along with an archive of previous releases.


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