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'No-go zones' are economic segregation

'No-go zones' are economic segregation

The imminent establishment of no-go zones for beneficiaries raises disturbing questions, says Green MP Sue Bradford.

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey told the social services select committee yesterday that boundaries of the zones, to be set up as part of the "Jobs Jolt" initiative to prevent beneficiaries relocating to areas where there were few jobs, are to be announced shortly.

"Rural and provincial New Zealand has been waiting since August to learn what the new boundaries will be for the new Ministry of Social Development Remote Areas policy," said Ms Bradford, Green Social Services Spokesperson. "Like many who live in regions of comparatively high unemployment, I am concerned that some parts of New Zealand are going to be written off as economically hopeless, just like the Bantustans in apartheid-era South Africa.

The policy seemed to be contradict Government efforts to develop regional communities, said Ms Bradford. "What does it say about Minister Jim Andertons' efforts to revitalise the regions? Has the Government given up? Are these no-go zones designated as economic wastelands? Is Anderton the window-dressing for a policy of regional economic euthanasia?

"The focus should be on job creation, not economic segregation."

One reason some 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 big cities like Auckland and Wellington.

Unemployed people in big cities are often attracted to rural areas because they can survive better with whanau support, and in areas where rents are cheaper and the land and sea can be a source of food.

While it was reassuring that Mr Maharey said that Maori returning to their home rohe or papakainga would not be prevented from doing so, Ms Bradford said that beneficiary and iwi groups should keep a close eye on how the Department of Work and Income implement the 'no-go' policy in practise.


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