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Shipley hypocritical over Community Card

27 April 2001 Media Statement

Shipley hypocritical over Community Card

Mrs Shipley has plunged to the depths of hypocrisy with her claims about government policies for low-income workers and beneficiaries, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

"Mrs Shipley is the person who slashed benefits, cut superannuation payments and then for two years as prime minister did nothing about extending the Community Services Card threshold for low earners.

"To hear her droning on now about 'moral duty' and unfairness when talking about low-income earners, is frankly quite laughable.

"This government has done more in the name of redistribution than any government since Norman Kirk's administration.

"It has boosted the minimum wage, poured millions more into low-income neighbourhoods' schools, re-introduced income related rents for state tenants, reversed National's cuts to superannuation rates and improved the quality of spending on programmes for Maori and Pacific Island peoples – those who fared worst as the rich-poor divide widened under National.

"What the government has done this week is ensure that nobody loses their Community Service Cards as a result of the 1 April increase in superannuation. As I said yesterday, low-income workers eligible for the card last week remain eligible this week – as do students, beneficiaries and others who have a card.

"The government intends scrapping the card as we believe it is a blunt-instrument approach to subsidising health care, but in the meantime we are moving to ensure that nobody falls through the cracks.

"The hypocrisy of Mrs Shipley's whining is underscored by the fact that National in government last increased the threshold for access to the card in 1997. When Mrs Shipley was prime minister in 1998 and 1999, there was no adjustment to the threshold.

"The Labour-Alliance government is now being caned for something we never promised to do and that we did not budget for. We cannot be held accountable for promises we never made," Mr Maharey said.

ENDS

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