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Labour's lurch to the right on benefits alarming

Labour's lurch to the right on benefits alarming

Labour's new jobs package is a massive lurch to the right, which unfairly blames and punishes beneficiaries, Green employment spokesperson Sue Bradford said today.

"The tougher sanctions regime proposed by Jobs Jolt is what we would expect from a right-wing Government. Labour appears to be pandering to people like Katherine Rich, Don Brash and Muriel Newman, who have had a lot of publicity this year with their right-wing welfare policies.

"It doesn't make any sense for the Government to take a punitive approach to unemployed people when we still have hundreds of thousands of people out of work. Labour appears to want to cut National and Act off at the pass.

"Steve Maharey is making a big mistake, turning back the clock to the anti-beneficiary policies of the National Party in the 1990s. The whole punitive approach is socially divisive and will have a greater impact on society than Labour realises."

Ms Bradford said the package did have positive initiatives, including putting more resources into job support, training and creation, and a greater focus on matching unemployed people with jobs.

"The Green Party welcomes these initiatives, but the positive approach should be the focus of this new package."

Instead of punishing beneficiaries living in remote areas, by threatening to suspend their benefit if they won't move to a high-employment area, the Government should focus more on job creation in these areas.

"A young family who are surviving in the Far North, growing their own vegetables, catching fish and getting the support of their wider family, should not be forced to move to Auckland, where living costs are higher. It is a form of commodification of people."

And contrary to what Steve Maharey says, it is completely unnecessary and undesirable to work-test 55 to 59-year-old unemployed people in order to offer them full employment support and assistance, Ms Bradford said.

"For people in this age group, this is a form of humiliation and punishment. Most people in this age group looking for work are highly motivated and don't need a Government stick to get them to look for work."

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