Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Officials scramble to cover for PM

Officials scramble to cover for PM

Government officials have been scrambling to cover for the Prime Minister after he wrongly suggested that newborns whose parents were on a benefit could get special help in the first few weeks of their life, the Green Party said today.

Last night the Social Development Minister issued a ‘directive’ to her chief executive to ‘consider’ whether someone had a newborn baby when they were applying for hardship assistance from WINZ.

This followed the Prime Minister’s conformation during question time this week that the bulk of babies born into poor households were excluded from hundreds of dollars a week in financial assistance provided in the budget for all other newborns.

"John Key answered my questions about the decision to leave out most poor babies from this support by saying those whose families lived on a benefit could access alternative support through emergency benefits or extra supplementary payments," Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

"This ‘directive’ is a desperate scramble to cover up for the Prime Minister who either knew absolutely nothing about the lack of dedicated support for most babies living in poverty or just didn't care.

"This is nasty on so many levels. Clearly WINZ staff have never been told to consider whether a family had a newborn before this directive was issued, and there is still no dedicated support to give these babies a good start in life, like there is for all other babies.

"WINZ has merely been told to ‘consider’ if a parent has a newborn, which is almost meaningless on its own and made more so by the fact that in most cases families will have to repay any of the assistance they're lucky enough to be given.

"This last minute ‘directive’ shows that John Key was wrong, there was no particular financial assistance designed to help families of newborn babies who were on a benefit, who make up at least 60 per cent of all babies in poverty.

"The budget was sold as being big on support for young families, particularly newborns. Lower income families were given an additional $70 a week in support for their newborns in the budget. This was designed to reduce family stress and provide money for essentials, but it came with the proviso that parents had a job. Babies whose parents didn’t have a job were given absolutely nothing.

“It’s bad enough to punish an adult for not having a job but to punish a newborn baby is a step too far,” Mrs Turei said.

Link to the questions in the House from Metiria Turei to John Key: http://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-nz/50HansQ_20140521_00000012/38709c8d94f321fcf730ad4ae9ace5327a4a804d

Link to the newborn directive https://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/newborn_directive.pdf


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Relevant Consents Gained: Government Unveils RMA Reform Package

The government has formally hauled down the flag on its attempts to alter the balance of environmental and economic priorities in the Resource Management Act, unveiling a 180-page Resource Legislation Amendment Bill containing reforms that have been largely endorsed by most political parties. More>>


Closing Schools And Such: Interim Redcliffs Decision Announced

“While the school’s board has argued that circumstances that could give rise to potential disruption are extremely unlikely, advice from technical experts has shown these concerns cannot be ruled out." More>>


Jane Kelsey: High Court Can’t Make Groser Provide TPPA Information Faster

‘This week we went back to court to challenge Trade Minister Groser’s stalling tactics over the release of information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, following a High Court order that he reconsider the Official Information Act request I made last January’, said University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, first applicant in the case. More>>

Werewolf 58: No Climate For Change

The last time the global community tried to take collective action on climate change the world’s leaders finally came to agree that every not-too-onerous effort should be made to hold global warming to 2°C above the pre-industrial average. At Paris, all 150 participant countries nations will have put forward their pledges... On the information available, New Zealand's is the second weakest contribution of any nation in the developed world. More>>


Lambton Quay Shutdown: Object Was Made To Look Like Bomb

Police cordoned off part of Lambton Quay Wednesday afternoon, saying that a suspicious package had been found. Buildings were evacuated and buses were detoured. The army’s explosive ordnance disposal unit was brought to the Quay. More>>


Public Sector Still Shrinking: Record Low Number Of 'Backroom Bureaucrats'

Ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services has seen a further reduction in the number of core Government employees, State Services Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>


Disobeying The Law: Police Censorship Of Crime Research “An Outrage”

The Green Party is calling on Police Minister Michael Woodhouse to ensure Police scrap controversial contracts that place onerous restrictions on academic researchers’ access to Police data, the Green Party says. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news