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'No go' areas raise ghost of Labour past

'No go' areas raise ghost of Labour past

The Government plan to draw up new 'no-go' areas for the unemployed is draconian, raising the ghost of Labour past, Green Employment Spokesperson Sue Bradford said today.

"These 'no go' lists will bar certain people from so-called remote areas, which is social engineering of the lowest kind. It raises the ghost of Labour past, signalling a return to the tough, anti-social policies of the fourth Labour Government," Ms Bradford said.

"The move, in the Government's new 'Jobs Jolt' programme, raises the question: just whose side is Labour on? It is clearly not representing its erstwhile allies in the community sector, unemployed people or beneficiaries."

One reason so many beneficiaries live in rural and provincial areas, where there are fewer jobs, is that it is a lot cheaper to raise a family well in such districts than in a big city like Auckland or Wellington.

Unemployed people in big cities also often move home to rural areas because they can survive better with whanau support, and in an area where land and sea can be a source of food.

"Unemployed and beneficiary groups fought a long, hard battle in the early- to mid-80s to stop the unjust practice of people, particularly Maori, being barred from receiving the unemployment benefit after returning to their home districts.

"It is pitiful that this Government, supposedly more sympathetic than its 1980s Labour predecessor, sees fit to turn back this particular clock.

"It appears Labour has taken National and ACT's momentum on welfare reform to heart, and is making a bid to capture voters who love anything that beats up on beneficiaries."

Ms Bradford said she was equally concerned that Employment Minister Steve Maharey had chosen to spring the new Remote Areas policy and increased sanctions on beneficiaries without proper and full consultation with beneficiary advocates, community organisations and local government.

"Four years of regular meetings between the Social Development Ministry and beneficiary groups, and between the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and public officials, has been rendered meaningless by Mr Maharey's latest effort."

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