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Maharey challenges Brash to outline social agenda

29 January 2004
Media Statement

Maharey challenges Brash to outline social agenda

Social Development Minister Steve Maharey is challenging National leader Don Brash to explain how he would alter the delivery of social services, in the light of evidence that the government’s focus on outcomes has seen New Zealanders social position improve.

Steve Maharey delivered a social ‘state of the nation’ address to the Takaro Rotary Club in Palmerston North this evening. Social indicators data from the Ministry of Social Development records a steady improvement in the position of New Zealanders over the last five years. The news comes in the same week that the National leader criticised the government for customising social services to meet the particular needs of Maori, an approach that the data reveals is delivering results.

Steve Maharey said National now had a real challenge to explain how it would improve the position of disadvantaged Maori and other New Zealanders.

“Don Brash has revealed himself as the political equivalent of Henry Ford and his ‘pick a colour, any colour, as long as it is black’ mantra. Need is the sole criteria by which people access assistance, not race as Dr Brash has claimed. What this government has demonstrated is that tailoring social services to meet the particular needs of groups within our overall population is key to achieving results.

“The approach is working, with our social statistics finally beginning to turn around after the years under National when the social deficit widened significantly. Don Brash needs to tell us why he wants to return to the bad old days when the state asserted that one size would fit all, despite the poor results and deprivation that grew in our society.

“Looking ahead to 2004 the government feels confident that the social position of New Zealanders will continue to improve. Our future depends on the capacity and capability of people and we intend to continue to invest in New Zealanders as a top priority.”

Steve Maharey also indicated that he will be seeking Cabinet’s agreement to introduce legislation requiring all future governments to report on social outcomes.

“Social reporting by governments will ensure that we never again get into a situation where the social well being of the nation is ignored or marginalized as it was under National. These statistics would sit alongside the economic statistics the government currently produces to give an overall picture of the nation’s social and economic development,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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