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It’s people, not pixies, Mr Key

22 July 2009    Media Statement        

It’s people, not pixies, Mr Key

Prime Minister John Key needs to explain why he so dismissively rejected the plight of people like Helensville man Bruce Burgess whose redundancy may have shattering consequences for him and his wife, Labour Social Development Spokesperson Annette King says.

“Mr Key should also explain why he shrugged off his responsibilities as an electorate MP by neglecting to even respond to a letter about Mr Burgess’ situation and shunting it off to Paula Bennett’s office, which has done nothing.

“The story of Mr Burgess and his wife Jo, reported in the Herald today, is typical of many low and middle income New Zealand families affected by the recession.  Mr Burgess was made redundant several months ago and has been unable to find another job,” Annette King says.

“It appears his wife’s income, under $30,000, disqualifies the couple from any temporary access to the unemployment benefit.  The couple are struggling and fear they may lose the property they saved for years to purchase.

“Like other New Zealanders, Mr Burgess wants a job, not a benefit.  But the recession means these are in short supply.  With unemployment numbers forecast to rise to180,000 next year, many Kiwi families are facing similar hard times.

“If Mr Key had been listening to what his constituents, CABs, the Salvation Army, and budgeting services are saying he would know a significant group of New Zealanders who have never called on the Government for help before are now in dire straits.

“This is why Labour unveiled plans for a recession policy offering greater assistance for those made redundant, by removing the spousal income test for the unemployment benefit for a person in a dual-income household – for a set period of time,” Annette Kings says.

“John Key’s arrogant and frivolous rejection of the proposal invoked scenarios involving the spouses of millionaires collecting benefits. The average household income in New Zealand is $66,092, a far cry from John Key’s picture.

“He retaliated that there weren’t pixies at the bottom of the garden printing cash for Labour’s gold-plated welfare scheme.

“This completely belittled the plight of Mr Burgess and many other hard-working New Zealanders.  National might think jobs grow on trees at the bottom of the garden.  But this clearly isn’t happening and the Government’s doing nothing to stimulate jobs.

“Mr Key needs to wipe the gold dust from his eyes and explain where the recession leaves Mr Burgess and many others like him.  We’re talking about real people here Mr Key  - not pixies,” Annette King said.


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