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Labour welcomes real welfare working group

Labour welcomes real welfare working group

Labour’s social development spokesperson Annette King is urging Kiwis to participate in a new alternative and inclusive welfare working group.

“The alternative welfare working group, which is seeking input from the public, has the backing of a number of well respected and experienced NGOs, experts and advocates – who are clearly suspicious of the motives of Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s very dry and narrowly focused group,” Annette King said.

“The new group is a welcome addition to the debate. Labour is well advanced in its own policy development work to reduce welfare dependency and would be very keen to work with this new group.

“Ms Bennett’s group is completely unbalanced and unrepresentative. It is a Trojan Horse for failed right wing policies lifted from around the world.

“Her group, which includes such welfare experts as former ACT Party president Catherine Judd, has blocked other political parties from attending meetings because it does not want to hear views it does not agree with.

“But it is not even working under a clear mandate as to what welfare dependency actually means.

“Paula Bennett, while relishing her task of bashing beneficiaries over the last 18 months, has repeatedly refused to define what welfare dependency means. She is either unable to or unwilling to define the issue she intends to tackle.

“The alternative working group however contains people and groups with real expertise and experience in dealing with welfare.

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“Welfare policy in New Zealand and the wider debate about the need for reform would benefit a great deal more from input from the likes of Auckland welfare expert Susan St John than Ms Bennett’s hand-picked adviser, marginalised Australia-based author Peter Saunders.

“Mr Saunders’ views include asserting a link between low intelligence and poverty. He has also sought payment from New Zealand media before he will give interviews.

“While National and its government coalition partners are intent on screwing the scrum to exclude dissenting voices, I am encouraged that it is not only Labour that is hugely concerned about what is going on.

“The experience we’ve had in select committee when debating the Government’s Future Focus Bill is that there are many New Zealanders who share our concerns about Ms Bennett’s solution to welfare issues.

“I hope the alternative group is able to capture these opinions and present them to the Kiwi public so that all sides of the debate get a fair hearing,” Annette King said


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