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Maharey Mucking About Again

Maharey Mucking About Again

A war of words has broken out between National's Katherine Rich and Minister for Social Development, Steve Maharey, over DPB figures. According to Lindsay Mitchell, who has actively campaigned for a parliamentary review of this benefit, Mr Maharey has made a number of claims that are inaccurate.

"Maharey is claiming the numbers on the DPB have actually fallen by 2,000 since his government has been in office. Wrong. The figures he quotes only apply to the sole parent category of the DPB. If he added in DPB Woman Alone, Emergency Maintenance Allowance and DPB Caring for Sick or Infirm, he would discover that the numbers have risen. At July 1999 there were 109,345 in total - at July 2003 there were 110,351. More worrying is that numbers are once more trending upwards. This at a time when unemployment is low."

"Maharey claims that under National, mothers on the DPB were effectively ignored until their child turned six. This is wrong. There was always a mandatory annual interview to discuss the future employment prospects of those parents not subjected to work-testing."

"Maharey is claiming there is no 'rise' in Maori women on the DPB, only a tidying up of WINZ records, which has revealed that Maori representation, previously thought to be around thirty percent is actually an astounding forty percent. He doesn't appear to be concerned about this despite government research clearly showing that Maori are likely to stay on the DPB for longer . We now know that the potential long-term dependency problems are even greater than we had previously thought."

"I have my own question for Mr Maharey. Does he think it is acceptable that last year, nearly 5,000 new-borns were added to a main benefit that had been granted 10 or more months before? People already welfare- dependent are adding more children to their families. This isn't using a benefit as a safety net. It's treating a benefit as a right without regard to who foots the bill. Instead of wasting time maligning National in covert attempts to shut down debate on this urgent matter, Maharey should be acting on what his own department's research is telling him."

Lindsay Mitchell
Petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB
Petition forms available from www.liberalvalues.org.nz

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