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Heartless Dyson strikes again

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

11 September 2008

Heartless Dyson strikes again

National's Welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins says Ruth Dyson should be ashamed of herself for attempting to downplay the distress and heartbreak suffered by a Nelson woman whose husband died of cancer.

She is referring to the case of the late Richard Burr who petitioned Parliament with other cancer sufferers before he died, for better treatment from Work and Income.

"Mr Burr's widow detailed to the Social Services Committee the terrible way she and her husband were treated by Work and Income. She spoke of the ongoing bureaucratic battles they had with the department and how her terminally ill husband was summoned out of his hospital bed by Work and Income staff to attend an appointment.

"Incredibly, Ruth Dyson told Parliament this afternoon that she accepts Mrs Burr's 'perception' of events, but she disputed the facts.

"Ruth Dyson should hang her head in shame. She should also reacquaint herself with the findings of the Social Services Committee. The committee has expressed concern over the way Mr Burr and his family were treated, noting that Work and Income were 'insensitive to their situation...displayed a lack of empathy...were poor communicators...and gave inconsistent advice'.

"The Committee also acknowledged Mr Burr's treatment was not an isolated case and that committee members have been presented with evidence of numerous similar situations."

Ms Collins says she's not surprised at Ruth Dyson's callous attitude.

"This is the Minister who, after all, said it 'was not bad news at all, actually' when the country recorded the largest quarterly decline in employment in a decade.

"The least Ruth Dyson could do is apologise to Mr Burr's widow, commit to urgently acting on the recommendations of the Social Services Committee, and ensure terminally unwell beneficiaries are treated with dignity and respect."


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