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Unemployed politically brainwashed on WINZ course

The Green Party is calling for an urgent restructuring of WINZ, following reports the Government agency is forcing unemployed people to attend courses at which they are being told to vote for ACT.

It is understood participants have been forced to attend "confidence building courses" where they were reportedly told by a contracted training provider that they would be better off under ACT's proposed flat tax.

In fact, ACT's proposed 20% flat tax would mean a half a percent increase in tax for all taxpayers who earn less than $38,000 per year, Green Spokesperson on Employment and Income Support Sue Bradford said today.

Ms Bradford said it was completely unacceptable that WINZ should contract with training providers who impose a blatantly political direction on participants.

"I am truly stunned that this should be happening just two weeks before a General Election," she said.

"It is utterly wrong that registered unemployed appear to be subject to political indoctrination on pain of losing their dole - and it becomes farce when the information is wrong to boot," she added.

Ms Bradford said the immediate response needed was a thorough investigation followed by an apology to those affected. She also said that public faith has been eroded to the extent that radical change was needed at WINZ.

"The Department which serves those most in need in our community is overdue for a radical change in culture," said Ms Bradford.

"WINZ needs to respect both the people who come to it for support in their time of need, and value their frontline staff who are often underpaid, undertrained and insecure.

"This change in ethos must also apply to those people and groups with whom it contracts to carry out services. It is simply not acceptable that unemployed people should be required to undergo political brainwashing as a condition of income support."

Sue Bradford: 025 243 4239, 09 423 8667 (h), 09 359 9485 (w)

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