Thursday, February 17, 2005

(ACT) Lindsay Mitchell Announces bid for ACT Hutt South

Press Release - 26th January 2005

Lindsay Mitchell Announces bid for ACT Hutt South

High-profile welfare reformer Lindsay Mitchell has announced that she will seek the candidature for ACT New Zealand in this year’s general election.

She is well known as the sponsor of a Parliamentary petition to review the domestic purposes benefit (DPB) and has written widely for newspapers and magazines, appeared on TV, radio and before parliamentary select committees promoting welfare reform .

“I've been considering standing for ACT for some time and I believe the time is now right”, she said today. “For years ACT has worked hard to lead public opinion on the need to reduce welfare dependency. Over the last few months I have noticed the public has become more receptive to our ideas and Don Brash’s Orewa speech has boosted the profile of the issue. Whether his ideas will translate into firm policy is another matter. ACT's welfare policies have always been based on conviction and vision, not vote-seeking.”

“It is clear that despite low unemployment, welfare dependency continues to grow. While businesses report the single biggest constraint to growth is finding staff, there remain 320,000 working age men and women drawing a benefit."

"The number of children growing up on the DPB, sickness, or invalid's benefit has risen since Labour came to office, yet Labour claims the country is in better shape than its been in for decades. It just isn’t true”, says Mrs Mitchell.

“The domestic purposes benefit is the most pressing social issue facing the nation, particularly for Maori, with four in ten of their children growing up in homes where no-one goes to work."

"The incentives built into this benefit make it a total dependency trap. It’s almost impossible for some recipients to regain an independent life. An 18 year old with no qualifications can, including family support and accommodation supplement, be in the same financial position as a full-time working 30 year old holding down a responsible clerical job. There’s no way for the
18 year old to make the financial leap to that level of income in the workplace, so they tend to stay on the DPB and many go on to have more children. Some recipients have been on the DPB for more than 30 years”, says Mrs Mitchell.

"Nobody should be forced to stay in a miserable or violent relationship but assistance to establish a new life should be strictly temporary."

In October 2002 Mrs Mitchell helped organise a public meeting on welfare reform at Knox Church, Lower Hutt. This was in response to Labour’s plans, backed by Ohariu- Belmont MP Peter Dunne, to remove work-testing of beneficiaries. ACT predicted that dependency would worsen (which has proven to be the case). Peter Dunne refused to speak at the meeting to
defend his backing of the legislation.

“New Zealand must deal with welfare dependency now because if we do nothing imagine how dependency will accelerate during an economic downturn”, said Mrs Mitchell.