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Poor Old Maharey Misses The Point

Poor Old Maharey Misses The Point

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today expressed concern that Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey could be struggling to manage his portfolio, in light of a particularly weak response to figures she released yesterday.

"Yesterday I released answers to my written Parliamentary Questions showing that of the New Zealanders on the Invalid Benefit - a permanent benefit for people who cannot work - 940 receive it because they are substance abusers," Dr Newman said.

"The question raised was, of course, why should the taxpayer be supporting addicts or alcoholics - especially as once on the Invalid Benefit, such a person can remain there for life. This is a serious question, one would think, to which the public deserves answers.

"But, rather than answering this question for the hard-working, taxpaying public - who are forced to support these substance abusers - the Minister responded by saying that the eligibility criteria for the Invalid Benefit has not changed since that of the previous National Government.

"Mr Maharey has missed the point. The question is not who is to blame, but why is it happening? When this policy came into effect is irrelevant. As Minister now, it is Mr Maharey's job to sort out the problems.

"To clear up any confusion, I will reiterate my call from yesterday. Mr Maharey must explain to hard-working taxpayers exactly what steps he intends to take to ensure that substance abusers on the Invalid Benefit, including the 17 year-old, quit their habit and find work - rather than remaining a drain on taxpayers for the rest of their life," Dr Newman said.

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