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DWI appeal - waste of taxpayers money

7 August 2001

DWI appeal - waste of taxpayers money

Green Party Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford today strongly criticised the Government for not ensuring that legal proceedings taken by its own agencies are consistent with Government policy.

"Work and Income has wasted taxpayers money appealing the case of Valerie Scoble, arguing that people had to apply for the exact benefit they wanted in order to get it.

"The appeal was in direct contravention to a directive from Minister Steve Maharey last year instructing DWI to tell everyone about everything they were entitled to," Ms Bradford said.

Ms Valerie Scoble successfully sought six years' back pay of a particular special benefit she had been entitled to since 1993, but she did not know existed till 1999. Work and Income had fought against paying arrears to her but lost an appeal in the High Court last week.

"The High Court judge ruled that the Crown had no case at all, and that the case was against Government policy. Why did they appeal at all ?" she asked.

Ms Bradford challenged the Attorney General to explain why Mr Maharey allowed the Chief Executive to pursue through the Courts an appeal that would reverse Government policy.

"I was told that he wanted to clarify the policy of the present Government, but it seems absurd that a Government Department should have to go to the High Court to clarify itself."

"This Government did not come to power yesterday but 20 months ago, and the Minister did not give his directive a week ago, but last year. What the Green Party would like to see are actions that ensure unnecessary litigation like this is not taken in future," she said.

ENDS

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