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Govt. likely to reject Green youth initiatives

20 February 2001

Govt. likely to reject Green youth initiatives

Green Party MP Sue Bradford will today move amendments to the Government's Social Security Amendment Bill which the majority of members on the select committee agree need addressing.

These amendments are contained in supplementary order paper (SOP) 118 and include the lowering of the age of eligibility for sickness and unemployment benefits from 18 to 16 and reducing the 13 week suspension period to four weeks for unemployed people sanctioned by the Department of Work and Income.

Ms Bradford's amendments will also give the Chief Executive of DWI some discretion on when sanctions should be applied, for example when a person fails to attend a training course or job interview.

"I am pleased that the select committee agree that my proposals need addressing," said Ms Bradford, "but I am obviously disappointed that the committee did not go far enough and recommend immediate action instead of calling for yet more work from the Government.

Ms Bradford said that despite the recommendation by the select committee for these issues to be addressed she believed the Government would use its right of financial veto to halt her amendments to the bill.

"While I agree that lowering the age of eligibility for benefits will incur obvious financial costs the Green Party believe New Zealand is already facing serious costs from failing to provide young people with adequate support when they need it," she said.

Ms Bradford said these costs can be measured in areas such as youth homelessness, poor health, youth turning to crime to make ends meet and youth suicide."

"While this Government has gone some way towards repealing the harsh policies of the previous Government they still retain a punitive attitude and system in regards to youth and beneficiaries," she said.

"The Government voting down my bill to reinstate the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students over the summer last year is a prime example of the difference between this Government and the Greens in their approach to youth and the poor.

"Failure to support these amendments will be yet more evidence of this," said Ms Bradford.

Sue Bradford MP: 04 470 6720, 025 243 4239 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090

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