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Greens Give Provisional Support Only To DPB Bill

Green Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford today said the Greens would support the Government's Social Security (Working Towards Employment) Bill to select committee, but would insist on significant changes to the bill.

Ms Bradford said while the Bill was an important piece of legislation for beneficiaries, especially single mothers, the Greens had a number of problems with the bill in its current form.

"While this bill officially ends the work testing of people on the DPB - which we applaud - it replaces work testing with a 'Working Towards Employment' planning system which all DPB recipients must take part in.

"There is a strong thrust in this bill which says that, if you're on the DPB, your goal in life must be getting into paid work. The Greens believe this attitude devalues the unpaid work of parents - mothers in particular - in staying at home and looking after their children," she said.

Ms Bradford said that at the same time as trying to manage single parents into paid work through the Working Towards Employment plan there was also a harsh sanctions regime which could cut the benefit received by half if single parents were not complying with their work plan.

"The Greens believe this Labour / Alliance Government should be recognising and encouraging the valuable role of single parents in bringing up children rather than forcing them out into work.

"If the Government is serious about finding people work and cutting down on benefit payments then they should focus on finding jobs for the hundreds of thousands of registered unemployed who actually need and want work," she said.

"I am also really concerned that this bill seeks to overturn recent High Court decisions which went in favour of beneficiaries who had been accidentally overpaid - such as the High Court cases of Moody and Worrall. This bill ends up giving even wider powers for the State to recover debt from beneficiaries than before."

Ms Bradford said there are some aspects of this bill that the Greens support such as increased assistance for single parents on the DPB with planning for training, education, and childcare needs.

"While we recognise this bill does set out to achieve some positive things for beneficiaries, the Greens have serious reservations about this bill. We are supporting it to select committee only and there we expect a range of significant amendments.

"The Greens will not be supporting this bill past select committee in anything close to its current form."

Ends

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