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NEW ZEALAND: Invest in Jobs and Wages, Not Beneficiary Bashing
Independent News Media
Green Party

August 9, 2010
View the Original Article


Investment in real job creation and a living wage for everyone is what’s needed instead of hand-ringing about ‘long-term welfare dependency’ and trying to force people off benefits into scarce, low-paid work, the Green Party said today.

“At a time of high unemployment, when people are queuing up for supermarket and retail jobs, we need real job creation policies, not scare-mongering and beneficiary-bashing,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

Mrs Turei was commenting on the release of the Government-appointed Welfare Working Group’s issues paper today.

“Everybody deserves decent work, a living wage, and to be treated with respect,” Mrs Turei said.

“The Welfare Working Group has correctly identified that meaningful paid work can be a path out of poverty for many people, but this doesn’t mean forcing them off benefits into any minimum-wage job they can find.

“We can guarantee opportunities for everyone if we invest in a fair welfare system, meaningful job creation policies like those in our Green New Deal proposals, and increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

“This report conjures the spectre of ‘long term welfare dependency’ as something we should all fear.

“But a closer look reveals that the group’s definition of ‘long term’ dependency is only six months. In reality, three-quarters of people receiving the unemployment benefit do so for less than one year.

“Far from the nightmare scenario this report conjures up, most people receive benefits for limited periods to make it through particular challenges, and would love to move back into paid work when they can.

“Parents on the domestic purposes benefit are best-placed to judge if and when to balance their childcare responsibilities with paid work.

“Many people on the sickness and invalid’s benefit would love to move into paid work if appropriate, flexible work was available to them.

“Demonising beneficiaries is not the answer.

“The Welfare Working Group has produced a manufactured crisis which conveniently suits the beneficiary-bashing agenda of John Key’s Government.

“I look forward to the report of the independent Alternative Welfare Working Group as a more meaningful and useful contribution debate about welfare and jobs,” Mrs Turei said.