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No truth in no-go 'consultation' claim

4 March, 2004

No truth in no-go 'consultation' claim

The Green Party is calling on the government to reverse its decision to establish 259 no-go zones for beneficiaries, amidst increasing evidence that community leaders were never genuinely consulted over the list.

"Social Development Minister Steve Maharey yesterday assured Parliament that 'every locality on this list is there as a result of consultation'," said Sue Bradford, the Green Employment spokesperson. "What I want to know is: who exactly did he consult with?

"Certainly not with the mayors and community leaders who have come forward today, horrified at what this Labour government is doing to their areas. And not with the people who actually live in the places that he has written-off as ghost towns. In fact, from first to last, there appears to have been no real consultation at all.

"From the Far North to Dunedin and from Banks Peninsula to Blackball, the reaction from communities and their leaders has been one of disbelief that their localities are to be tossed on the scrap-heap of economic stagnation.

"Christchurch mayor, Gary Moore, the chair of the Mayoral Taskforce on Jobs, should have had a crucial role to play in this process. Instead, I understand he is justifiably outraged at the lack of input both he and the rest of the Mayoral Taskforce were permitted to make."

"Neither does there appear to have been any consultation at the local level," said Sue Bradford. "Jane Wells, a spokesperson for the Blackball Residents Association, told me there 'was not a skerrick of consultation about whether we would be turned into a no-go zone, and locals are very upset about it.'

"What is particularly upsetting people is the perception that Labour is engaging in beneficiary bashing. It is disgusting that Labour appears prepared to sacrifice the future of entire communities in a cynical attempt to woo voters away from the equally heartless policies of Don Brash and Katherine Rich.

"A Government sincerely concerned about helping people into jobs would concentrate on the 40 per cent of unemployed people who are aged under 25, rather than victimising the one per cent who reside in no-go zones," Sue Bradford said. "Rather than ripping the heart out of rural communities with no-go zones, this Government should take a leaf from the Dunedin City Council and help build 'Must-Come' zones."


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