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The Tale Maharey Didn't Want To Tell

The Tale Maharey Didn't Want To Tell

Thursday 27 May 2004

Dr Muriel Newman -Press Releases - Social Welfare

How can Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey crow about halving the number of unemployed when he refuses to publicly release the true number of unemployed, as well as the number of those unemployed for more than four years? ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Yesterday Mr Maharey announced that the unemployment beneficiary numbers had dropped to 67,804 by May 2004. But answers to my Parliamentary Questions show that 78,358 people were in receipt of the Unemployment Benefit at the end of April 2004," Dr Newman said.

"Mr Maharey has, of course, used only numbers in receipt of the statutory Unemployment Benefit. By not including numbers on all forms of this benefit, he has managed to cut his number by more than 10,000.

"The Minister also neglected to tell the public that 17,730 of those people had been on the benefit for more than four years, and that 18,325 had been registered unemployed for just as long as of January 31, 2004.

"It is totally unacceptable that, in this day and age, almost 20,000 people have been out of work for more than four years - despite New Zealand having experienced the best economic conditions in a decade.

"Mr Maharey is guilty of failing to capitalise on these employment opportunities. He moves the easily helped short-term unemployed into work, leaves the long-term unemployed in the `too hard' basket, and tells the public just enough to look good.

"Ministers are not elected to just do the easy jobs, they are elected to do it all. I am calling on the Minister to stop grandstanding over unemployment figures. It is time to address problems at the hard end of welfare and ensure that the long-term unemployed are not left on the welfare scrapheap," Dr Newman said.


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