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Has National's welfare spokesperson been silenced?

27 January 2005

Why has National's welfare spokesperson been silenced?

New Zealanders must be wondering what has happened to National's normally vocal welfare spokesperson Katherine Rich, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

"Katherine Rich has been conspicuously silent since Don Brash's welfare speech at Orewa this week, even refusing to comment to media on National's welfare policy," Steve Maharey said.

"My question to Katherine Rich is: are you going to come out and support this policy, or have you been sidelined in the way Georgina Te Heu Heu was following Don Brah's Orewa speech last year?"

Steve Maharey said Katherine Rich's past comments on welfare were clearly out of step with her right-leaning leader Don Brash, whose attack on DPB mums included the option of adopting out their children.

In August 2002 Katherine Rich told the Sunday Star Times : “I'm not your DPB-bashing sort of person ... Most of the people I meet on the DPB are pretty motivated people who have the same dreams and aspirations as the rest of us.

"Beneficiary bashing is a most unsatisfactory practice. It doesn't really take you anywhere."

Rich's silence follows rumours that she is one of a group of MPs, which include finance spokesperson John Key and junior whip Simon Power, who tried to dissuade Brash from focussing this week's speech on welfare issues.

"Having failed, Katherine Rich didn't go to the speech in Orewa and she's had nothing to say since. Does she believe in her own party's policy of beneficiary bashing?" Steve Maharey said.

"I urge Katherine Rich to put out a media statement setting out where she stands on National's welfare policy."

ENDS

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