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National trying to mask Labour's success

10 September 2006

National trying to mask Labour's success

Unable to dispute the Labour-led Government's achievements in driving down unemployment, National MPs are orchestrating attempts to mislead their electorates about the number of people moving into work, Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

He said the reality is that New Zealanders are enjoying the lowest unemployment rate and the highest level of employment ever recorded. National's attempts to persuade people otherwise were aiming to mask that success.

"Since the Labour-led Government took office in 1999, Unemployment Benefit numbers have fallen by 74%, and overall benefit numbers by 30%," Mr Benson-Pope said.

"Unemployment is at a record low of 3.6%, and labour force participation at a record high of 68.8%. 2,129,000 New Zealanders are now in work, the highest level of employment ever recorded.

"How can National attack these results? They can't. Instead, MPs Jo Goodhew and Craig Foss have produced remarkably similar releases, falsely claiming that benefit numbers are rising in their electorates.

"In fact, overall benefit numbers in Timaru have fallen by 1,521 since 1999, and in Tukituki they've fallen by 3,207. These are the figures National doesn't want people focusing on," Mr Benson-Pope said.

Mr Benson-Pope said that the MPs had also repeated Judith Collins' lie about the number of Sickness and Invalids Benefit clients moving into work as a result of the PATHS scheme, even though Labour had corrected that weeks ago.

"Twenty percent of PATHS participants have moved into work, and 12 percent are reporting earnings against their benefits. PATHS is win-win for everyone involved, and National knows that. They're panicking," Mr Benson-Pope said.

"Every misleading attack that National makes is further proof that Labour's policies are working."

ENDS

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