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Decreased benefits hardship 4 non-resident spouses


12 June 2001

Decreased benefits, hardship for non-resident spouses

Green Party MP Sue Bradford strongly opposes a Government move to deny benefits to non-resident spouses of New Zealand citizens, as proposed in the Social Security (Residence of Spouses) Amendment Bill which will be reported to the House tomorrow.

"What does the Government hope to gain by introducing a Bill which seeks to deny income support to the non-resident spouses who are lawfully in New Zealand and are eligible for permanent residency? Decreasing benefits always bring more hardship, in this case for non-resident spouses and their New Zealand partners and children," said Ms Bradford.

At present, if a person applies for a benefit, they must be granted the benefit at the married rate if their spouse is lawfully in New Zealand and if they are non residents. But under the new law, New Zealand citizen with non-resident spouse will get a benefit only at the unmarried rate.

The Government's point of view is that there is a gap in the present law and they want to close it, but in my view the gap does not exist," said Ms Bradford. "The Bill removes benefits from a category of people who are lawfully in New Zealand and who are likely to gain permanent residency."

Ms Bradford said that the waiting time for people seeking permanent residency is long and stressful which could lead to significant hardship for affected families.

She also stressed that the time allowed for consideration of this Bill has been insufficient to ensure feedback of all relevant interest groups and affected individuals.

ENDS

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