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Conference Cancelled To Avoid Embarrassing Govt

18th June 2002

Conference Cancelled To Avoid Embarrassing Government

The Government has wasted thousands of dollars by cancelling a major conference on poverty and social policy, in order to avoid embarrassment over it's failed record, says National's Social Services Spokesperson Bob Simcock.

"The Ministry's Chief Executive Peter Hughes has got to be joking when he says the conference has been cancelled because the election might overshadow the issues discussed at the conference.

"The people who were likely to attend such a conference would have been delighted to be able to express their views during an election campaign. For people who care about poverty this conference would have provided a great platform to advocate on behalf of the poor. But the Government has taken that platform away.

"The conference has clearly been cancelled to save the Government embarrassment during their campaign. The last thing they want to be asked is hard questions about what they are going to do about child poverty.

"The recently released Agenda for Children and Minister Steve Maharey's speech to the AGM of Save the Children show that he is still doing nothing but talk. The only commitment he has made is to research the possibility of establishing a way of measuring poverty. That won't do much for the people who are dependent on foodbanks to get by today!

"The 'cooperation' of the Ministry in this matter is a serious concern. The Ministry of Social Development has shown itself to be a servant of the Minister's political interests," said Mr Simcock.

Ends

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