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No one will take Nat’s welfare extremism seriously

No one will take National’s welfare extremism seriously

No one will take National’s new plan to dock the income of beneficiary parents whose children truant seriously says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

The plan announced by Bill English today signals his desperate lurch rightwards to shore up his failing leadership and to head off would-be challenger and arch beneficiary basher Don Brash. The benefit docking policy, which National tried and failed to implement when last in government, is yet further evidence that the party has completely failed to come up with any new policy ideas.

Steve Maharey said National’s own welfare spokesperson less than a year ago ruled out beneficary bashing, but because the party is so directionless she is being forced into a humiliating back down.

“New Zealanders won’t be fooled by this latest attempt by National to lurch further to the right. No one will be able to see the link between truancy and receiving state assistance.

“Truancy is a complex problem and it deserves real attention. Making low income households even more financially stressed because their kids truant is simply going to make family problems worse.

“This policy is right up there with Don Brash’s turn-up-at-post-offices-in-the-morning work scheme. What’s worse is that National themselves don’t believe it. Last August the party’s welfare spokesperson Katherine Rich admitted that ‘Beneficiary bashing is a most unsatisfactory practice it doesn’t really take you anywhere’ (Sunday Star Times, 25 August 2002).

“The idea failed last time National raised it Jenny Shipley’s deeply unpopular proposed code of social responsibilty. National would not be implement it this time either because the public and government officials would quickly tell them how unworkable it is,” Steve Maharey said.

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