“We at BAS are saddened to hear that Metiria Turei has made the decision to stand down as Co-leader of the Green Party, and to remove herself from the Green Party List,” says Rebecca Occleston, publicity coordinator for Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS). “Through telling the story of her own struggle to support herself and her daughter on a benefit, Metiria has drawn attention to the inadequacy of welfare support in this country. It is this lived experience that makes her unique amongst New Zealand politicians yet the condemnation she has faced in relation to events of 25 years ago means she has lost the opportunity to contribute to policy that could ease the plight of welfare recipients in this country.
“Metiria Turei’s honesty in highlighting her past actions is to be applauded. That she withheld information from Work and Income demonstrates the impossible situation that beneficiaries find themselves in. Many of those who rely on welfare find they have little choice but to manipulate information if they are to feed themselves and their family. The issue is not that beneficiaries are dishonest but that the benefit does not provide sufficient income to support those in need. This is the harsh reality that those in poverty must find a way to manage on a daily basis. This is the issue she highlighted and, by doing so, has made benefit levels and beneficiaries a topic for discussion in this election. It has divided some people into those who understand and those who condemn. This judgement that Metiria has had to go through is also felt by thousands of beneficiaries accused of benefit fraud, many of whom felt brave enough to share their stories online with #IAmMetiria.
“BAS shares Metiria Turei’s ongoing commitment to beneficiaries and to ending poverty in New Zealand. Anyone requiring advice, information or support in relation to benefits please contact us (details below).”
Rebecca Occleston is the Speaker for Beneficiary Advisory Service, a Christchurch based Community Group who help people on benefits and low incomes with their problems with Work and Income. We are specialists in Welfare Law and provide advice, information, support and advocacy to hundreds of people every year. We are now located in Christchurch Community House, 301 Tuam St, Christchurch Central 8011. We can be contacted on 03 379 8787 and email@example.com or visit our website bas.org.nz.