Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good prejudice

Press Release – Mana Party

National’s unending onslaught against beneficiaries has become a mindless obsession says Mana’s Social Wellbeing spokesperson Sue Bradford. Mana – Election 2011

Media Release Tuesday 15 November 2011

Mana: Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good prejudice, Paula

National’s unending onslaught against beneficiaries has become a mindless obsession says Mana’s Social Wellbeing spokesperson Sue Bradford.

New policies announced by National include cutting the benefit for people who fail pre-employment tests and tightening the Social Security Act around relationships.

‘A report from the New Zealand Drug Foundation earlier this year warned about the consequences of taking exactly the sort of action Paula Bennett announced this afternoon, yet once again Paula Bennett and John Key think they know better than the experts,’ she says.

‘They seem to work on the principle that facts should not get in the way of a good prejudice.’

The NZDF report ‘Welfare reform and substance abuse’ (p 2) says:

‘The use of a graduated sanctions regime for people with drug or alcohol dependency will lead to the further impoverishment of an already marginalised population and the reduced likelihood of successful treatment outcomes,’

‘Like most other New Zealanders Mana deplores benefit fraud, but taking recreational drugs and alcohol is not fraud’, says Ms Bradford.

‘It is something many New Zealanders from all walks of life do, but its only people who are unemployed, sick, disabled or sole parents and in the benefit system who will face the extra penalty of risking loss of all income support.

‘The families of people living with substance abuse problems already have a hard enough time. If the Government really wanted to help them they would be making quality addiction treatment easy to access, not trying to starve their children.

‘Ultimately this welfare change will mean many more adults and their children ending up with no legal means of support.

‘If these changes go through, the consequences for our justice, police, health and corrections systems will be far more expensive than any savings made by Work and Income.

Ms Bradford says Mana is also concerned that the latest welfare changes will feed the unpleasant and judgemental attitude some people display towards beneficiaries.

‘Women on the DPB are particularly vulnerable to malicious rumours being spread about them. There are some people who take great pleasure in making complaints about beneficiaries to Work and Income because they have had a disagreement with them, or out of plain nastiness.’

‘National has worked out that there are votes in attacking our most vulnerable citizens. It’s a particularly nasty way of campaigning, but that doesn’t seem to bother them. ENDS

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