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Confusion in the House


CONFUSION IN THE HOUSE

by Lindsay Mitchell Petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB e-mail mailto:dandl.mitchell@clear.net.nz


The Social Security Working Towards Employment Bill underwent it's second reading in Parliament yesterday. This Bill removes all work testing of the DPB and the 13 week stand down period which currently applies if a parent voluntarily leaves employment or is dismissed for misconduct. It allows recipients to keep their benefit for up to 4 weeks whilst out of the country and to keep more of their benefit if they want to supplement it with part time work. All in all the DPB becomes more attractive. It's fairly clearcut stuff.

"So how would we expect the parties to vote?" asks Lindsay Mitchell, petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB.

"Naturally, the interest centred on United Future who got into Parliament on the 'strong families' ticket. Given that the DPB is the main reason why one in four children live apart from one of their parents, on a benefit, and that it is the main reason why a third of New Zealand children live in 'poverty', one would have expected them to vote against this Bill. They did not."

"If that wasn't enough to make you do a double take" says Mitchell, "After NZ First MP, Dail Jones, spoke against the Bill last week in Parliament, saying it would lead to more families staying on the DPB for longer, the party failed to vote against it by abstaining."

"The Progressive Coalition joined them for reasons known only to each member - all two of them. Perhaps they couldn't reach a concensus."

"National , after a rollicking good anti-DPB speech from new MP Judith Collins, voted against. But wait for Bill's appeasing explanations on that front."

"Only ACT held no surprises. Muriel Newman's resounding and emphatic opposition to the Bill was, as always, consistent," Mitchell continues.

"The Greens, after much teeth gnashing, voted for the Bill but only because Sue Bradford had managed to have the wording of the Bill changed from' Working towards Employment' to ' Working towards Personal Development' (Sue is allergic to the word 'employment' when used in the context of domestic purposes beneficiaries.)"

"Which leaves Labour the only party really keen, " says Mitchell. " Or were they? A few members spoke for a few desultory moments about 'enhanced case management' and 'getting alongside beneficiaries' . For a newly re-elected government they aren't exactly 'pinging' with confidence."

"They know that this new policy is going to cost the taxpayer a fortune and that it is doomed. It is the opposite tack to successful strategies adopted by welfare reforming countries around the world, it is based on an unproven model, it is borne out of Labour's ideology and idealism (which got us into this mess), it goes against Treasury advice and Ministry of Social Development's own recent research. It purports to build on the COMPASS programme which Labour describes as successful but many beneficiaries criticised during evaluation assessments.'

"This diffidence reflects what most Labour members know. The tide has turned against rampantly socialist left wingers and radical feminists - the election result proved this. Only an overturning of this Bill would genuinely reflect the prevailing public mood."

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