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Something Rotten In 'Family-Friendly' Bill

28 May, 2004

Greens expose something rotten in 'family-friendly' Bill

Green MP Sue Bradford says a major benefit cut has been hidden inside the Government's Future Directions (Working for Families) Bill.

"The legislation removes the Special Benefit and replaces it with a Temporary Additional Support allowance," said Sue Bradford the Green Social Issues spokesperson. "What the Government has failed to spell out is that the new allowance will be much lower and more restricted in who can apply for it."

Ms Bradford said the Special Benefit currently goes to people in real need, who temporarily find that their living costs are higher than the income support they're eligible for. A study of the Estimates shows that the Government will save $45 million in 2005 from scrapping the Special Benefit, rising to $91 million in 2007.

"The Government is going to save a great deal of money from scrapping this benefit, at the expense of a lot of people who rely on the temporary support it affords them from otherwise desperate situations," Sue Bradford said.

"I only became aware of its full extent when Green party amendments that would have kept the status quo were defeated without warning and at the last minute by a Government fiscal veto. By rushing this Bill through under urgency Labour has effectively silenced beneficiary advocacy groups and other social agencies from scrutinising it and making submissions.

"What makes it particularly galling is that the Green Party is constrained to effectively vote for a benefit cut because it is contained within a Bill that does so many good things for families and the poor."


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