Social Security rewrite entrenches war on the poor

Last night Parliament voted by a vast majority to support new legislation which entrenches New Zealand’s vindictive and pauperising welfare system.

“While we have always supported a rewrite of the hopelessly fragmented 1964 Social Security Act, AAAP completely opposes the new bill,” says spokesperson Sue Bradford.

 “It embeds decades of National and Labour policies aimed at changing welfare from its original 1930s purpose as a safety net for those in need to a system geared to a culture of punishment and disentitlement.

‘Minister Anne Tolley calls the bill ‘policy-neutral’.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, either in its technical detail or its overall intentions. 

“Right at the start the Principles section stresses the paramountcy of paid work as the goal of welfare, rather than the earlier and more humane principle of ensuring that those in need have the means for dignified survival.

 “This focus on paid work ignores both the value our society should place on work such as caring for children and elders in the home, and entrenches the assumption that even people who are sick, injured, disabled and/or caring for young children on their own should be forced into paid work.

 “The latest Labour Market Statistics released last week show there are now around 280,000 jobless in New Zealand, and over 100,000 people underemployed. 

 “AAAP believes that unemployed and underemployed people should be given every assistance possible to access quality education and training and decent work.

 “Work & Income should focus on this rather than on pressuring the sick and sole parents into paid work, where all too often they end up competing for the same casualised, temporary, low waged and part time jobs.

 “The new bill’s Principles also embed the investment approach in the heart of welfare law. This is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of all.

 “The investment model treats unemployed people, beneficiaries and their children as financial risk factors rather than humans deserving of the same consideration as any other person in our society.

 “We congratulate the Greens on being the only party to oppose the bill, and call on Labour, the Māori Party and New Zealand First to reconsider their position in future.

 “We are disappointed that the submission process has been shortened to four months, but call on individuals and groups around the country to join us in making submissions in the time available before the bill is reported back to the House in September.”