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Maharey Penny-Pinching While Welfare Costs Explode

Steve Maharey should be spending his time reducing the big welfare spend rather than abusing the parliamentary process to penny-pinch off 125 of them, National's Social Security spokesman Bob Simcock said today.

The Social Security (Residence of Spouses) Amendment Bill is being rushed through select committee so that it can be law on July 1, cutting the benefit rate to non-New Zealand resident spouses whose partners are on a benefit.

"There won't be any public hearings because there hasn't been enough time for concerned people to even be aware of the bill, let alone prepare submissions.

"The Bill deals with an anomaly that has existed since 1991 but no one's been concerned about it until now.

"The Social Services select committee has been advised that there are only about 125 people who will be affected by the bill, saving the Government only $700,000 - minuscule compared to its welfare budget of $11.8 billion.

"At the select committee today welfare advocate groups attacked the Government for its abuse of democratic process and labelled the bill 'penny- pinching'.

"It might be pleasing if this showed real seriousness about containing welfare expenditure, but the Minister could save far more by pursuing benefit fraud more assertively and getting more serious about containing the rising welfare bill.

"If Maharey stopped the growth in welfare, Michael Cullen might be able to afford his Super Fund without cutting health and education services," Mr Simcock said.


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