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Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Steve

Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Steve

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today congratulated Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey for finally heeding ACT's calls for a crackdown on DPB mothers who refuse to name the father of their children, but questioned whether he is genuine in his desire for change.

"When the issue was first raised, answers to my Parliamentary Questions showed that there were 13,996 mothers who had not named the father of their children - those numbers have now increased 18 percent, to 16,498," Dr Newman said.

"Of that number, 8,007 are Maori, 4,946 are New Zealand European, 1,149 are Samoan, 641 are Cook Island Maori, 246 are Niuean, 182 are Tongan, 177 are other European, 40 are Tokelauan, 39 are Indian, 28 are Chinese, 569 are `other' and 108 are `unspecified'.

"The loss in child support payments from errant fathers - many of whom are being protected by the mother of their children - is an estimated $11 million. As a result, taxpayers are forced to pick up this burden.

"While pleasing that Mr Maharey appears to support ACT's views - that children have a fundamental right to know who their fathers are, and that both parents should be responsible for their children - he has failed to give any indication of a definite timeframe for change.

"As a Minister driven by Beneficiary Union directives - who has done nothing but soften benefit access, and increased welfare spending by $700 million over the past three years - his refusal to set a timeframe for his proposed changes suggests that this is nothing more than hot air.

"I am calling on the Mr Maharey to publicly outline his timeframe - so that New Zealand can have confidence that the Government will, at long last, crack down on what has become an outrageous scam," Dr Newman said.

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