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Labour Slams Door On Debate Again

Labour Slams Door On Debate Again

Rick Barker, Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment, in his defence of high payouts to welfare beneficiaries said yesterday that the state has a legal and moral obligation to help and support people through their time of need.

"Most New Zealanders will accept this statement at face value," says Lindsay Mitchell, who represents a group campaigning for a review of the DPB. "But a closer look at what 'time of need' now covers paints quite a disturbing picture. My own research showed last year that those on the DPB are staying on it for a total time of 6 and a half years. This revelation has never been addressed. The closest Mr Maharey came to admitting this was during an interview with Bill Ralston late last year. The Minister claimed that the average stay on the DPB is 3.7 years but to his credit quickly qualified this with the admission that, of course, many people do go back on it. What he didn't explain was that many people also migrate to other benefits - apparently being on a benefit makes many people ill hence the inexorable rise in the sickness and invalid benefit numbers which are now just under 100,000. "

"Because Work and Income only measures each 'continuous stay' on any given benefit, information about the real length of some people's 'time of need' goes unrecorded."

"Mr Barker appeals to New Zealander's sense of compassion but this is a cynical diversion. I don't know anybody that doesn't want to help families who have children with exceptional medical needs. However because 'need' now has such a broad definition and benefits are universally available 'legal entitlements', we have almost 400,000 working-age people living off the taxpayer."

"Rick Barker and the government do this country and our children a grave disservice when constantly shutting down debate about welfare, by accusing those who ask the hard questions of wanting to 'throw families into the street,' " Mitchell ends.

Lindsay Mitchell

Petitioner for a Parliamentary Review of the DPB

e-mail mailto: mailto:dandl.mitchell@clear.net.nz

ph/fx 04 562 7944

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