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Dazed and confused – National on welfare

Dazed and confused – National on welfare

Bill English’s speech last night on National’s approach to welfare confirms the party is totally confused on welfare and has reverted to bumper sticker policies it knows do not work, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Four National MPs are now promoting alternative and unworkable welfare policies, ranging from Don Brash’s turn-up-at-post-offices-in-the-morning work scheme to Katherine Rich’s compulsory immunisation for children of beneficiaries scheme.

Steve Maharey said there are real questions about just who is in charge of the party’s welfare thinking.

“Bill English’s speech last night is the latest in a whole series of muddled and uncoordinated thinking we have seen from the National party.

“National’s supposed welfare spokesperson Katherine Rich hasn’t released a single policy yet, but that hasn’t stopped ever more extreme ideas pouring out of Don Brash, Maurice Williamson and now, Bill English.

“The party’s ‘ideas’ are unworkable and many of them have been tried before and they failed dismally.

“National keep talking about putting the entire 345,000 working age beneficiaries back to work. Are they serious? For example are the going to force the 2,500 on the sickness and invalids benefit with cancer back to work?

“National keeps characterising DPB recipients as teen mothers. In fact only 3 percent are under 20. The typical DPB recipient is a woman in her thirties, with one or two children, who has come out of a relationship breakdown.

“They make stories up. For example, Bill English says that beneficiaries are buying expensive shoes with welfare chits. In truth they can only buy shoes or other clothes with Work Start grants if they are employment related. Otherwise clothing grants have to be paid back.

. . / 2 “National calls income related rents stupid because people don’t move. Newsflash! That’s the point. People get a state house because they are in serious need. Income related rents stops people needing to shift their kids between schools all the time and stops overcrowding.

“National says it wants to contract out employment services. Work and Income already contracts with a large number of community organisations providing employment placement services. However Australian experience tells us wholesale privatisation of employment services doesn’t work.

“Bill English suggests benefit cuts are back on National’s agenda. In 1991 Jenny Shipley cut benefits and unemployment reached 10.9 percent and a 1500 percent increase in the foodbank industry.

“Work-for-the-dole is also being promoted. The evidence shows that a beneficiary on work-for-the-dole was less likely to find a job than those not on the programme.

“The list goes on and it just shows that National is confused and it has nothing of value to say,” Steve Maharey said.

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