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Welfare Under Spotlight

Welfare Under Spotlight

The recent imprisonment of the leaders of a paua-smuggling ring has shone a harsh light into the dark recesses of our welfare system," ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"The sheer fact that the main ringleaders, husband and wife Zhang Yuan Da and Zhong Hui Hong, had been on benefits for 11 years is outrageous. It highlights the urgent need for time limits and organised work days, so that those who can work will get jobs.

"It is an indictment of our welfare system that it can pay able-bodied people for 11 years without requiring them to work. Not only that, but what is even more disturbing is that for 11 years taxpayers paid these criminals to run their organised crime ring, in just the same way that the state pays gang members to carry out their crimes.

"In our welfare dependent culture, benefit fraud is a very real and very serious problem. Yet where are the safeguards to ensure welfare is only available to those who really need it? Why was their long-term abuse of the benefit system not picked up by the benefit crime squad? When is the WINZ going to issue benefit fraud proceedings against them?

"These are serious answers that the Minister of Social Services, Steve Maharey, needs to be held accountable for.

"ACT would support a campaign against financially motivated crimes by beneficiaries. On identifying that beneficiaries are carrying out such crimes, fraud proceedings should immediately be issued. Court records would be a great place for the benefit fraud team to start.

"Taxpayers deserve to know that people on benefits are not ripping them off otherwise the integrity of the whole system is undermined. I challenge the Minister to let us know firstly, how he intends to halt welfare payments to offenders who are carrying out crime, and secondly how he proposes to make sure that those on welfare who can work do", Dr Newman said.

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