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Brash Watered-Down Again

March 21, 2005

Brash Watered-Down Again

National leader Don Brash is saying that New Zealand needs National to fix welfare.

In a speech to the National Party Canterbury/Westland Regional Conference he told the audience, "We will require parents on welfare to return to part-time work when their youngest child reaches school age..... In the US, the sort of reforms National is signalling resulted in a massive shift of people from welfare to work: between 1996, when US welfare reforms were introduced, and 2002, welfare caseloads fell by an amazing 58%, while the employment rate for never-married single mothers rose from 46% to 68%."

Petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB, Lindsay Mitchell, reacted to this by asking, what has happened to Dr Brash's call for time-limits on welfare?

"The crucial aspect of the US reforms was the introduction of time-limits. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 ended indefinite entitlement to welfare benefits. The legislation set a total of 60 months of collecting welfare benefits. The message was very clear - welfare is not a lifestyle."

"Brash has repeatedly suggested time-limits; first at the 2001 Knowledge Wave Conference when he was still Reserve Bank Governor. But this year the idea has been noticeably absent. Again it appears that Brash's timid colleagues have successfully watered-down his proposals."

"Without time-limits mothers on welfare can continue to add to their families to avoid work-testing. In 2004, eight thousand newborns - one in seven births - were added to an existing benefit."

"The only party with a policy of putting time-limits on welfare is the ACT party. National's plans are little better than Labour's constant fiddling. Meanwhile, despite the strong economy, the number of children growing up on the DPB, sickness and invalid's benefits just keeps growing."

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


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