Tickets to ride, but numbers questionable
23 December 2012
Tickets to ride, but numbers
While Paula Bennett has been able to
give a media outlet details of the number of unemployed
people Work and Income has paid to travel to Australia for
work, she seems determined to withhold the same
information from Labour, its Social Development spokesperson
Jacinda Ardern says.
“Despite asking questions
on the number of times the Transition to Work Grant was used
for tickets to Australia on the 7th of December, the
Minister is yet to reply to me.
“She has however
chosen to drop the information to the media. Yesterday it
was reported that 68 beneficiaries had their flights to
Australia paid for by Work and income, while 11 were
assisted to get to places as far away as
“In the last five years 500,000 people
have received funds through the Transition to Work grant.
Given that airline tickets could be listed as basic
‘travel costs’, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know what
the real figures are.
“What we do know is that
Ms Bennett presides over a department that has given up on
creating opportunities for Kiwis in New Zealand.
“Paying people to travel to Israel and the UK
shows just how desperate Work and Income was to keep benefit
numbers down and how desperate New Zealanders were to find
“Ms Bennett’s attempt at obfuscation by
not answering parliamentary questions is typical of
National. If there’s an issue, Ministers either don’t
front, or they try to fudge it.
“What is really
clear in this case is that Ms Bennett didn't know what was
going on in her own department.
“She only issued
a ministerial directive to end the practice after I queried
it in Parliament earlier this month. MSD had begun
centralising decisions around the use of the grant in
“At some stage I hope Labour is
provided with the correct figures, and with other
information around the grant that has so far gone
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