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Fraud Crackdown flawed says Maori Party

MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon Tariana Turia
Maori Party Co-Leader | MP for Te Tai Hauauru
Wednesday 20 February 2013

Fraud Crackdown flawed says Maori Party

The Maori Party believes National’s welfare fraud attack has the emphasis all wrong. Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows announced a crack down on the partners of welfare cheats earlier today.

“We have always appreciated the ‘agree to disagree’ provisions that we negotiated into our Relationship Accord–it enables us to have the kōrero, and then to develop our respective positions,” said Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia.

“While we welcomed the Minister’s approach to discussions with us about the proposed approach to this issue we believe the proposals are fundamentally inconsistent with the Maori Party’s focus on justice reinvestment – that is reinvesting in strategies that can strengthen neighbourhoods. To this end, we can not support the proposals launched today.

“We should be focusing on lifting people out of poverty, and off the benefit - not punishing them for their circumstance.

“We need to be placing faith in our families to be resilient and future–focused. They need the right support in place so that they don’t have to stoop to criminal activity in order to place food on the table and provide a decent standard of life for their families.

“The Maori Party believes in restorative approaches – not punitive measures which end up leaving people disempowered and resentful.

“If consistency is valued, we wonder why the same rules being introduced today don’t apply to the partners of failed finance companies directors or anyone living off the benefits of their marriage to a white collar criminal.

“What sort of double standard applies if some individuals committing fraud are targeted and others are let off scot free?

“We certainly do not condone relationship fraud – where a person misrepresents their relationship status to receive income support. But it is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ problem. For instance we have argued vehemently that individuals who find themselves pressured by an abusive partner into concealing the nature of their relationship must not be further penalised by these measures.

“The Maori Party will never support legislation that promotes punitive measures as the solution. Working constructively with families is a far more effective approach to address the complexity of circumstances many of our families find themselves in.”

ENDS

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