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Nice U-Turn, Helen

Nice U-Turn, Helen

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today accused Prime Minister Helen Clark of performing verbal gymnastics over Associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere's speech to the Knowledge Wave conference.

"Why else would Ms Clark say she was `relaxed' about Mr Tamihere's speech when, in fact, she had tried to stop it going public?" Dr Newman said.

"The truth is that Mr Tamihere had the courage to stand up and tell the truth, that Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey's welfare direction is not forward-thinking, but backward looking.

"Mr Maharey is merely the mouthpiece for the beneficiaries unions advocating more big spending programmes, while Mr Tamihere has the experience to see that welfare is damaging people, and the courage of conviction to stand up and say it.

"Unfortunately for Mr Tamihere, however, he is not part of the Prime Minister's inner circle - members of which include Ministers Tariana Turia and Ruth Dyson - who, in the past, got away with embarrassing the Government.

"The fact that there are serious divisions in the Government ranks shows that the Prime Minister's dictatorship is beginning to look shaky.

"It is time Mr Maharey to come out from behind the Prime Minister's skirt and set the record straight. He should tell the public why Labour's old Left, socialist programme is better than Mr Tamihere's call for welfare reform that ACT has advocated all along," Dr Newman said.

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