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Nats' welfare dream a nightmare for beneficiaries

Nats' welfare dream a nightmare for beneficiaries

National's welfare strategy is a definite shift to the right, foreshadowing a dangerous return to the anti-beneficiary, safety-net-slashing eras of Shipley and Richardson, Green Party Spokesperson Sue Bradford said today.

"Katherine Rich's discussion document, euphemistically entitled 'Saving the Next Generation from Welfare Dependency' is in reality an outright attack on beneficiaries and their families," Ms Bradford said.

"National likes to paint their welfare vision of the future a la Harry Potter's world of magical solutions and happy endings, when in fact it is more a vision of hell from Dante's Inferno.

"Talking about a return to forced work for the dole is a huge backward step, not only to the 1990s, but to the 1930s when we had mass work for the dole schemes," Ms Bradford said.

"These schemes are an abomination and no civilised country should tolerate them. It is a form of slave labour. No-one should be forced to work for less than the minimum wage or denied the right to join a trade union.

"A full-time wage is barely enough to support a family these days. When people work, they should not only have the dignity of at least a minimum wage, but also full and fair work conditions," Ms Bradford said.

"National seriously misjudges New Zealanders if they think a large percentage of the population would support a return to such reprehensible practices.

"National is also talking about introducing time-limited benefits, as the United States has done over the past 10 years. These are absolutely disastrous - it's like handing a beneficiary a passport to go live on the street. If we accept time-limited benefits, it means we accept creating beggars, criminals and corpses," Ms Bradford said.

"Kicking people who need help off benefits, when this economy has an inbuilt level of unemployment, is not only unfair and unrealistic, it will also create more broken families, more addictions and more suicides.

"Most of National's draft policy is geared to attacking beneficiaries and society's most vulnerable," Ms Bradford said.

"The Green Party is as keen as National on ending welfare dependency but we see the solution in providing decent jobs for everyone who wants a job; not in work-testing solo mothers and other draconian, Victorian 'punishments' for those not lucky enough to be born into wealth."

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