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Right to benefit balanced with responsibility

Friday, 22 October, 2004

Turner: Right to benefit balanced with responsibility

Those who are in difficulty or hardship should expect the support of the State, but with that right comes wider responsibilities to the community that supports them, such as not continuing to produce children they can't afford to raise, United Future social services spokeswoman Judy Turner said today.

Her comments follow revelations that over the past five years, 44,793 beneficiaries have had additional children while on the benefit.

"Notwithstanding the odd accident, should these people be planning to have children while they are on a benefit?" Mrs Turner asked.

"The right to a benefit in times of hardship and stress is matched by the responsibility to not incur more cost to the taxpayer while on it.

"After all, working families often have to delay children until they can afford it," she said.

"Beneficiaries may not be deliberately having more children to get a bigger benefit, as it's only worth about another $20 a week, but even this small amount costs the taxpayer about a million dollars extra a week.

"The most important point of all is that the decision to have an additional child while on the benefit is hardly fair on the child, when everyone would agree that it is difficult to raise a family on a benefit."

Last week a report from the Public Health Advisory Committee concluded that children "have a right to be protected from poverty". As at July 2, some 246,595 children were being supported by a benefit.

"This is the responsibility of the parents - they owe it to their kids."

ENDS

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