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4,000 Unemployed in Southland Don't Exist

4,000 Unemployed in Southland Don't Exist

Monday, October 8 2001 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Employment

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey should apologise to the 4,000 unemployed job seekers in Southland for claiming they don't exist, ACT Employment Spokesman MP Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Mr Maharey's statement to newspapers this morning that 'literally, in Southland we don't have unemployment', is completely incomprehensible coming from the man whose job it is to help these people back into work.

"On October 5, there were 513 people on the unemployment benefit in Balclutha, 494 in Gore, and 2943 people in Invercargill.

"This Minister is out of touch with the real world of business and work. I seriously think Mr Maharey is beginning to believe his own spin - it sounds like he has actually convinced himself these 4,000 people do not exist.

"The 4,000 people on the dole certainly know they exist, as do the taxpayers paying for their benefits."

At an average benefit of $10,000 per annum, the cost of benefits for 4,000 people would be around $40 million each year.

"Mr Maharey's outburst was a disgraceful response to revelations that he has spent $1.5 million on his flagship Community Employment strategy and only created 54 jobs, when his goal was to create 1,000.

"Within twelve months of Mr Maharey's pet project's launch, his funding has been slashed by half and his job projections are in tatters.

"Mr Maharey knows the collapse of his academically-conceived flagship strategy is looming, and is likely to be his greatest embarrassment.

"Viable businesses create jobs, not programmes and subsidies. The wasted $1.5 million should not be followed with the over $35 million allocated over the next two years. Mr Maharey must bite the bullet, admit his academic theory that he can create thousands of jobs is showmanship, and apologise for being the first Minister of Employment in over 30 years to claim there is no unemployment in Southland" concluded Muriel Newman.


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