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ACT Challenges Labour to Come Clean on Welfare

Tuesday 30 Jul 2002 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

ACT Social Services Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today challenged the Labour Government to spell out its plan to turn around the growing numbers of long term benefit-dependent New Zealanders.

"Labour totally failed to have any answers to the problem during the last Parliament, and didn't mention it at all during the election campaign. Yet their soft approach to welfare is hurting the very people they purport to represent.

"Labour has been captured by the political agenda of the beneficiary advocacy groups and yielded to their demands. Under Labour, if you don't want to work you don't have to work.

"As a result, Labour has lured thousands of New Zealanders into a cycle of dependency. 15,000 more people are now on a sickness or invalids benefit, and Labour is asking no questions.

"The number of people who have been out of work for over two years - the ones who most need help to find a job - have increased by 25 per cent under Labour. About 55,000 people haven't had a job for the entire time Labour has been in power.

"Labour's scrapping of work testing of sole parents on the Domestic Purpose Benefit will result in more women and children living in poverty. Treasury officials are already forecasting tens of millions of dollars worth of extra DPB payments.

"The last Government was fortunate to inherit benign economic conditions. As a result overall levels of unemployment fell. My pick is that they won't be so lucky this time. With high inflation, a rising dollar, falling commodity prices and increasing interest rates, dependency rates will grow.

"In 1970, when welfare was under control, there were 28 fulltime workers for each full time benefit. Today, there are 4 fulltime workers for each full time benefit, and, with the growing numbers, the problem is becoming unsustainable.

"I am calling on Labour to come clean and tell the country what it intends to do to turn the situation around," Dr Newman said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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