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Is Maharey Debunking Myths Or Making Them?

In recent weeks, the Minister has been attempting to use statistics to debunk "myths" surrounding the DPB. He knows that there is growing unease amongst voters across the political spectrum about the social and economic problem that the DPB has become.

He repeatedly claims, as do other politicians, that the average time spent on the DPB is 3.7 years. What he has omitted to add is that this is per spell on the DPB, not per individual. WINZ figures currently show that 4123 of the people that went off the DPB in 2000 have already signed back on.

He has also been downplaying the teenage element of DPB recipients because it is only 2.7%. The majority of teenagers however, are under 18, single and are not eligible for the DPB. Even if we could be persuaded to be comfortable with 2.7%, it must be acknowledged that the majority of teenagers that go on the DPB stay on it.

Mr Maharey would like us to envisage a picture of a typical DPB recipient as a female leaving a relationship and temporarily using the benefit till she can find work. Some do fit this bill but we have no way of knowing how many. Nor do we know how many are habitually 'on and off' the DPB. What we do know is that over 14,000 women have declined naming the father of their child to WINZ. One can only speculate as to whether they will decline the same information to their child.

Mr Maharey has rightly reflected on the lack of research available about DPB beneficiaries. If we are to be accurate and objective about seeking a solution to this modern day phenomenon, we must stop propagandising the issue.

Lindsay Mitchell
Campaigners for the Abolition of the DPB
phone: 04 562 7944
e mail: DandL.Mitchell@clear.net.nz


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