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Shameful welfare bill passes first reading

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY

Media release Tuesday 27 March 2012

Shameful welfare bill passes first reading

It is a sad day for New Zealand with the passage of a shameful welfare bill which will force sole parents with babies as young as one year out to work.

The Social Security (Youth Support and Work Focus) Amendment Bill passed its first reading today with the support of National, ACT, United Future and the Maori Party.

The MPs supporting this legislation should hang their heads in shame says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“I am particularly disappointed in the Maori Party MPs, who should know better, given the disproportionate number of Maori who will be adversely impacted by this punitive and paternalistic legislation.

“At a time when the National Government and its support parties make no effort to create decent jobs for the 150,000 unemployed, it is simply punitive harassment to expect beneficiary parents to go out to work no matter what the cost to their wellbeing and that of their children.

“These and other welfare reforms resulting from the Rebstock Welfare Working Group recommendations last year are one simple but important strand of National’s war on the poor.

“When placed alongside high unemployment and ongoing attacks on workers’ rights, these welfare changes are really about keeping wages pressed down as low as possible by forcing desperate beneficiaries to compete at the vulnerable end of the labour market.

“In regard to the youth benefit changes which will see third party providers managing young peoples’ benefits – and lives – for them, this is all about opening up welfare provision to privatisation.

“Tenders have already been called, and I expect that soon we’ll see various private and community sector providers rubbing their hands in glee at the profits they will be able to take out of delivering ‘Welfare Reform Youth Services.’

Auckland Action Against Poverty calls on community, church, union and other organisations to join us not only in making submissions on this legislation, but also in taking direct action highlighting the pointless yet punitive nature of the Government’s welfare programme.

ends

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