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Cabinet's cruel card trick

Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

27 April 2001

Cabinet's cruel card trick

"Prime Minister Helen Clark must explain why it was necessary to extend the Community Services Card threshold for both low-income workers and beneficiaries last year, but only to beneficiaries this year," Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley demanded today.

"The Government's glossy 'It Was Time for a Change' booklet last year trumpeted the 'key initiative' that 'Income Threshold for Community Services Card raised on April 1, giving about 48,000 more people access to the subsidies'.

"By a cruel co-incidence that's the same number of workers who will miss out on the card this year because of the Government's discriminatory decision.

"Miss Clark's assertion that no worker who is currently eligible for the card will miss out as a result of Cabinet's cruel card trick is wrong. Anyone whose job paid just under the threshold for eligibility and who has received a pay increase in the past 12 months will lose their card and face increased health costs. Those workers won't qualify when they seek to renew their cards.

"Clark offers the lame excuse of blaming poor co-ordination between her Ministers. That is no excuse for the creation of an inequity. If the Prime Minister thinks she can allow unfairness to be created in New Zealand society simply because her Ministers aren't on the ball then she should think again. How come they got it right last year and wrong this year?

"The Prime Minister now has a moral duty to right the wrong created by her own Ministers. Her statement in the New Zealand Herald that 'We have a contingency fund which could be over subscribed about 50 times over... you can't say the money is there' shows how badly her Government has mismanaged the financial affairs of this country. That is a deeply worrying sign. National left Labour with strong surpluses and a growing economy.

"She may be able to use her Ministers' ineptitude as an explanation for why this unfair situation has been created. However it does not excuse her from the duty of setting things right," Jenny Shipley said.

Ends


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