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Maxim Institute To Host Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith in NZ

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Maxim Institute To Host Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith In New Zealand

Maxim Institute is pleased to be hosting the UK’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, on Friday 22 July, to deliver the Annual Sir John Graham Lecture. The purpose of the SirJohn Graham Lecture is to provide an opportunity for international experts to contribute to the policy debate in our country. With New Zealand beginning to consider ways to improve our own welfare system, and the UK currently in the midst of welfare changes, we believe the visit will offer a timely and valuable contribution to the New Zealand policy debate. The lecture is an opportunity for dialogue, and for ideas to be tested, debated and refined.

As a respected and experienced member of the UK Parliament, who has served as an MP for 19 years, Iain Duncan Smith has a wealth of experience to offer. In 2004, after being deeply confronted by social breakdown in his country, Duncan Smith established the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), an independent think tank committed to tackling poverty and social breakdown. During his time as Director of CSJ, he was heavily involved in research and collaboration with community organisations and stakeholders in the attempt to find ways to improve the welfare system in his country. Many of the CSJ’s policy recommendations have received cross-party support in the UK. As Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mr Duncan Smith now has the significant challenge of working to improving the welfare system, in the context of an austerity budget.

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While the UK experience will not mirror New Zealand’s directly, there will be areas of mutual interest and we are delighted to have the opportunity to hear Mr Duncan Smith’s insight and experience, and to engage in dialogue with him.

Yesterday the Auckland Action Against Poverty Group indicated that they are planning to protest the lecture. We are very disappointed to hear this, particularly given that some members of the group were actually invited to attend the lecture for free, as our guests. It is unfortunate that they have decided to stay outside and protest, rather thanengage with the lecture.

Ms Sue Bradford yesterday stated “We suspect that Maxim has brought Mr Smith to New Zealand so that he can provide moralsupport to the welfare reform changes National has promised to offer as part of its core election strategy.” This assumption is completely incorrect.

The purpose of the lecture is to stimulate debate and hear from someone with considerable insight and experience. Maxim Institute has not taken a policyposition on welfare, and believes that much more research and debate needs to take place in this country. Furthermore, we have invited members of all major parties to meet with Mr Duncan Smith while he is here. Welfare is an issue that is relevant to all New Zealanders. It is unfortunate that members of this group have responded in an adversarial way, as this is both unnecessary and counterproductive for the debate.


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