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Labour Must Listen To Tamihere

Katherine Rich
National Social Services Spokesperson

23rd February 2003

Labour must listen to Tamihere

Labour must listen to Cabinet Minister John Tamihere and change its attitudes to welfare, says National's Social Services spokesperson Katherine Rich.

"Finally someone within the Labour Party has the guts to say that the patronizing "here's your cash and see you later" approach to welfare may preserve Labour's voting base, but does little to improve people's lives.

"As a bold leader John Tamihere has proposed some excellent ideas for reforming New Zealand's welfare system, which I agree is "literally killing people with kindness".

"Mr Tamihere's comments strike at the heart of Labour's welfare policies which encourage dependence, low self esteem and subsistence living.

"Despite the best economic conditions in a generation New Zealand still has 409,000 people supported by welfare, some of whom will remain there for the rest of their working lives. I agree that Labour's "old left" policies will never encourage independence from the state.

"Mr Tamihere is right that welfare provision is more successful when the relationship is between the beneficiary and the community, rather than the beneficiary and the state. Many people do not feel a responsibility to an inanimate state, but they could develop a sense of belonging when they are supported by their own community and by people who care.

"People will never feel obligated to or loyal to WINZ but they might feel that way to their local community trust.

"The idea of state housing as a temporary "respite facility" is worth consideration too. As a welfare support option, a state house should be seen as a temporary step for those families who need help to get back on their feet.

"If we are to save the next generation from welfare dependency changes have to start now. That's why National is looking at reintroducing greater job-search assistance, reciprocal obligations, community work projects, direct payment of expenses and limits to welfare receipt," said Mrs Rich.


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