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Spineless Steve Sacrifices Long Term Unemployed

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey has been exposed as the weakest Minister in Cabinet with his meek acceptance in the Budget of another funding cut to programmes for the long term unemployed, says ACT Employment Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman.

“Since coming into office this Minister has sat and watched while the number of people who have been unemployed for over two years has soared by nearly 17 percent as at the end of April.

“His inactivity has been compounded by his inability to fight for funding which will help lift these 51,734 people out of the dependency trap.

“In his first budget last year, Mr Maharey conceded a drop in subsidised work scheme funding from $118 million to $114 million. He then excused his weakness by claiming he had deliberately postponed a funding boost until this year because of reviews and changes at the Department of Work and Income.

“So what happened this year? Spineless Steve was rolled again, with a further cut to $112 million. Interestingly he’s no longer promising future funding increases. He probably knows that because his Cabinet colleagues and officials have now ridden over him twice he will have no credibility at all with them in the next round of budget negotiations.

“All of which is very cold comfort for those 51,734 people.

“During Labour’s nine years in Opposition, Maharey expressed outrage over claimed Government indifference about the plight of the long term registered unemployed, saying in 1998 that the 25,000 people registered over two years was ‘tragic’.

“Three years on the only ‘tragic’ thing is that this figure is more than double and we have a Minister incapable of doing anything about it,” Dr Newman said.


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