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Look in the mirror for welfare dependency Brash

26 Jan 2005

Hon Jim Anderton MP, Progressive Leader

Look in the mirror for welfare dependency Brash

Progressive Leader Jim Anderton is not impressed that Don Brash pretends to suddenly care about welfare dependency when he had a direct hand in creating the explosions in welfare over the 1990s that the Labour Progressive government is actively and effectively addressing now.

"The number of people on benefits in New Zealand exploded in the 1980s and 1990s. Many New Zealanders lost their jobs as a direct result of the monetary policies strongly supported by Don Brash. When he was Governor of the Reserve Bank, he would, in order to keep inflation down regardless of the social consequences, enthusiastically raise interest rates when unemployment threatened to fall below six per cent.

"Having helped to create more unemployment beneficiaries than virtually anyone else in New Zealand, Don Brash now wants to blame the unemployed themselves. Unemployment rose to 11.1 per cent in 1992. It's now down to 3.8 per cent, the lowest in over 17 years.

"He says he's concerned about family breakdown. A major stress factor on families is the level of their income. By deliberately raising the number of people who were unemployed in the 1990s he made sure that there were significant increases, not only in unemployed beneficiaries but ultimately in sickness and invalid beneficiary numbers as well.

"The new right policies of the 1980s and 1990s saw a huge shift in household incomes. Households in the poorest decile lost 9.4 per cent of household income between 1982 and 1998 while the richest decile gained 35 per cent.

"These Brash supported policies, where the poor gave to the rich, saw a huge increase in poverty. Child poverty went from 14.6 per cent in 1988 to 36.4 per cent in 1994. We reduced that down to 29.1 per cent by 2001 and undoubtedly the 'Working for Families' package, which Don Brash voted against, will lower those numbers still further.

"Don Brash talks about getting rid of intergenerational deprivation. The best way to address intergenerational deprivation is to provide free access to health and education services to ensure children living in poverty have a better chance than their parents, yet Mr Brash promotes neither.

"The Labour Progressive government isn't interested in Brash's empty rhetoric and rebranding his failed policies of the past. We are too busy getting on with the job, finding policies that actually work and getting people the skills they need to stay in work.

"This government’s alternative, with proactive economic development and beneficiary case management, has created 230,000 new jobs. Unemployment is down to 3.8 percent of the workforce. Back in the days of Brash-style policies unemployment reached 11 per cent. That was a tragedy, the outcome from which, we are still trying to deal with," Jim Anderton said.

The Labour Progressive government is positively addressing this tragedy by taking well considered, effective action such as: - boosting economic growth - 4.6 per cent annual GDP growth to Sept 2004, meaning more sustainable, well paid jobs - 230,000 more people employed since 2000 or 140 a day - halved unemployment since 1999

- more Maori and Pacific people in jobs than ever before - planning for all young people to be in jobs, training or education by 2007

- Gateway programme introducing secondary students to work environments - 7000 modern apprentices - 127,000 people in Industry Training
- improving workplace productivity - Jobs Jolt package to help unemployed gain skills and get jobs - introduced the In-Work payment to ensure that being in work pays better than being on a benefit

- introduced increased child care support so parents are better of by being in the workforce - intensive case management to get long term unemployed back to work and to help DPB and sickness beneficiaries address barriers to work - home visits to long term unemployed

- adult literacy programme for the unemployed, including numeracy and computer training - access to health services for beneficiaries where health problems are preventing them from getting work - Paid Parental leave for working parents.

ENDS

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