New zealand: Harshest Welfare Changes on the Table

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett confirmed in Parliament today that she is seriously considering even the most extreme of the Welfare Working Group’s recommendations, including associating benefit receipt with contraception, the Green Party said today.

“I asked Paula Bennett whether she would reject the Welfare Working Group’s harshest recommendations in light of the Christchurch earthquake and she refused to do so,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“In doing so, she confirmed that she is considering the sinister recommendation that women on the Domestic Purposes Benefit be given long-acting contraception in conjunction with ‘information about expectations’ of benefit receipt.

“The clear implication is that benefits could be linked to contraception, a policy that borders on eugenics. The Minister refused to rule this out today.

“In another move that would seriously hurt sole parents and their children, she refused to rule out abatement rates and work-tests that would require sole parents to work 30 hours per week for less than they currently receive.

“Finally, she refused to rule out cutting benefits off completely when people fail to meet work-test requirements three times, even in Christchurch,” Mrs Turei said.

Mrs Turei said the Welfare Working Group’s recommendations looked incredibly harsh and inappropriate in light of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, which had highlighted the compassionate and supportive power of communities.

“The Minister said herself that the earthquake in Christchurch highlights why we need state support: for ‘people to fall back on when they really need it.’

“Thousands really need it right now in Christchurch, and thousands more really need it around the country when unforeseen circumstances like a factory closure or the loss of a partner turn their lives upside down.

“We know that the current system works well at providing temporary support for people in such circumstances: 70 percent of people on the unemployment benefit move off it in less than a year.

“In light of this, and in light of the earthquake, the Minister should reject this report for its extremist, punishing recommendations. There is no place for them in a compassionate Aotearoa,” Mrs Turei said.


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