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Labour Kicks Taxpayers In The Butt

Labour Kicks Taxpayers In The Butt

Wednesday 7 May 2003 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today demanded to know why hard-working families should have to fork out to buy beneficiaries' smokes, in light of new information showing that benefits have been adjusted to compensate for the rising price of cigarettes.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions show that, so far, the Government has given $86.9 million in taxpayers' money to beneficiaries, to offset cigarette price increases - being a beneficiary must be the only profession in which people receive a raise so they can buy smokes," Dr Newman said.

"This is completely outrageous. Welfare is supposed to be a short-term safety net for those who truly need it. It is supposed to provide beneficiaries with the necessities of life - yet Labour is forcing hard-working taxpayers to fork out for what are, in reality, a luxury.

"This is simply one more example of the Labour Government taking taxpayers for a ride. Labour's tobacco tax hikes have pushed the price of cigarettes up 30 percent in the past three years. To compensate for the resulting impact on the Consumer Price Index - around 0.44 percent - the Government then adjusted all benefits up, at a cost of $86.9 million to date.

"Labour said that the tobacco tax rise was aimed at discouraging smoking. What Labour neglected to mention was that it was actually aimed at discouraging workers from smoking, while beneficiaries would be left unaffected.

"ACT does not advocate smoking, but if hard-working taxpayers wish to spend their money on cigarettes, then they should be able to. Labour, however, feels that people who can afford to smoke should stop - and be made to pay for those who cannot.

"The rising price of cigarettes has forced many taxpayers to quit, but do they have more money in their pockets? The answer is no. Instead, they are left forking out to buy beneficiaries luxury items that they, themselves, can no longer afford.

"Labour has shown its true colours. It does not care about the health of hard-working taxpayers at all. It only cares about one thing: ensuring that it makes enough money to buy off its beneficiary voter base," Dr Newman said.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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