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Greens need to back up commitment

25 April 2001

Greens need to back up commitment

National is challenging the Green Party to demonstrate its commitment to low income people by either extracting a commitment from the Labour-Alliance Government that it will reinstate the community service card for the 48 thousand families affected, or it will withhold its support of next month's budget.

"The Greens at some stage are going to have to draw a line in the sand that represents their values," Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"There's no way Sue Bradford who has been such a strong and principled advocate for beneficiaries and low income people, can justify supporting a deliberate government decision that discriminates so seriously against low income workers. "It isn't good enough for the Health Minister to claim she would have to take money from elsewhere in Vote Health. This Government hasn't hesitated to put money into the NZSO and a doomed Bank. Our people's needs and their ability to exist should be a higher spending priority.

"All the left parties came into power having raised expectations for people on low incomes that they would improve their lot. Now they have completely turned their back on them at the first hurdle.

"The Government will have failed if its May budget includes spending on those who have a great deal but neglects those who deserve encouragement.

"National regularly reviewed the community services card levels as part of the benefits review and always included the low incomes families when adjusting the card for those on a benefit or superannuation.

"Helen Clark's rejection of those 48 thousand families makes a mockery of her commitment to those who are entitled to expect that every government will try and encourage them and give them a hand up.

"This is a critically important issue if New Zealand is to have a successful future. People who are working and doing the best for themselves and their families shouldn't be forced to a point where they are better on welfare than in work," Jenny Shipley said.

Ends

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