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The Alliance Calls for Positive Thinking

The Alliance Calls for Positive Thinking from the Minister of Social Development and Employment

Alliance Party media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday 24th December 2009

Despite skyrocketing unemployment in past couple of years, close to 90% of those who lose their jobs find another one within a year. As of September this year only 6654 people out of the 58541 on the unemployment benefit had been receiving it for more than a year. And a miniscule 816 people had been receiving an unemployment benefit for more than five years."

"Surely this deserves congratulations to all of those who succeeded in finding new jobs in a very difficult employment market. And a pat on the back for the staff at Work and Income for the part they have played in supporting those who found themselves out of work," says Kay Murray co leader of the Alliance Party.

"But no, the Minister of Social Development and Employment, Paula Bennett, still frets about what she calls "welfare dependency" and, even at Christmas, calls on her department to introduce a raft of draconian measures to make the unemployed and other beneficiaries lives even more miserable. As if losing your job and not being able to find another one, contracting an illness serious enough to prevent you from working, or suddenly finding yourself a solo parent is not enough to contend with.

The proposed measures include comprehensive work assessments for anyone receiving a benefit for over a year, compulsory budgeting advice for those who claim grants too often, and part time work obligations for people on sickness and invalid benefits and solo parents once their children start school.

The Alliance feels that Work and Income staff would be much better employed seeking out genuine work opportunities to offer to those looking for work. They could start by looking at ways non profit organizations, local authories and government departments can provide meaningful well paid temporary work. For example by enabling schools to employ more teacher aides, research facilities to employ more research assistants etc. And the government could offer free tertiary education so that people can up skill or change their career focus without incurring a crippling student loan.

The Alliance deplores the culture of beneficiary bashing and resentment fostered by the sort of policies the National Government intends to introduce.

"Where is the compassion? Where is the understanding of the predicament people out of work find themselves in, usually through no fault of their own?" asks Ms Murray.

The Alliance believes that in times of high unemployment, creativity, encouragement and strong positive leadership are what is required by the Minister of Social Development and Employment, along with an absolute commitment to ensuring that every New Zealander, no matter what their circumstances, receives a liveable income.


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