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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Bradford slams Bennett benefit cuts

December 24

A former politician and unemployed workers union representative Sue Bradford says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is turning her back on her Maori and beneficiary roots in her latest welfare announcements.

Mrs Bennett has announced that the government is considering cutting the unemployment benefit for people who have been on the dole for 12 months if the don't pass a new eligibility test.

Mrs Bradford says as Maori are over-represented among the unemployed they would be disproportionately affected.

“There are not enough jobs to go around and personally I think it’s criminal for any government to simply say to unemployed people that if you haven’t got a job after a year, well we are going to cut you off. What does she really think will happen? If people have nothing to live on there is pretty much nothing left for them except crime or begging or death, and in fact some people die because they are so desperate,” Ms Bradford says.

The former Green MP says the measure would not save the government money as the costs for the health system and the mental health system would outweigh the money needed to keep people on the low rate of the unemployment benefit.


Water Safety New Zealand is issuing a special warning to Maori to be careful in the water this Christmas.

Last year four of the 11 drowning deaths over the holiday period were Maori and the year before three of the 10 people who drowned were Maori.

Water Safety New Zealand's general manager Matt Claridge says the disproportionate number of Maori getting into trouble in the water is affected by the fact that many Maori live and holiday close to rivers and the sea.

“It’s important that children are supervised at all times and for those males heading out diving and gathering kaimoana may need to think about the weather and marine conditions,” Mr Claridge says.

Whanau need to look after each other around the water.


East Coast Iwi Ngati Porou says innovative use of emerging communication technologies has allowed tribal members globally to stay up to speed with tribal affairs.

Te Rau Kupenga the communications manager for Te Haeata says the use of social networking sites has allowed the iwi to better interlink with tribal members.

He says whanau are becoming increasingly media savvy, and with cellphone and Internet communication, it's much easier to stay in regular contact with the tribes 70,000 members through television, web advertising and other means.


Quitline chief executive Paula Snowden says latest figures show that since 2003 daily smoking rates for Maori women have dropped from 49 percent to 40 percent.

And the rate among 14-15 year-old Maori girls has dropped from 34 percent to 22 percent.

She says this is a real cause for celebration going into the holiday period.

“It’s showing the message that smoking’s not our future, it’s not normal, it’s not the thing we need to do as a people, individuals or families is getting through and young Maori girls embracing this message as well as anyone else is the best sign is the best sign of all that we have a smoke free future,” Ms Snowden.

The former smoker from Te Rarawa says nearly one in four new callers to Quitline are Maori.

She says their success in giving up is equal to the population generally which is an excellent result as many live with other smokers.


A Maori political commentator says the Maori party must not stay silent on the latest attacks on the unemployed by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

Matt McCarten says the announcement by Ms Bennett that unless people on the dole pass a special test after 12 months their unemployment benefit will be cut is a sick joke coming the day before Christmas.

He says typically Maori are three times as likely to be unemployed than others because they work in primary production industries which get hit first during hard times and are the last to recover.

“When these sorts of things are being flagged by a minister of the government which the Maori Party is a partner in, saying these things, I think it’s important for the Maori Party to clearly articulate their own position and represent their own constituency and not stay silent on these things,” Mr McCarten says.

He says unemployment has not gone up because people are lazy but due to the fact that the economy is not working, and blaming the victims and kicking the poor will just lead to more beggars in Queen Street.


A new leadership academy is set to open in Whangarei next year.

The programme, which will be run by He Puna Marama Trust, will draw on successful models from the past, including the military, Maori boarding schools, and Maori Trade Training.

Manuka Henare, who was part of the Maori selection panel for the ASB Trust which is supporting the academy says it's targeting tane who have talent but may lack direction.

“It's aimed at young men at secondary school level who have abilities and talents but maybe the abilities and talents haven’t been brought to fruition. It’s a residential programme, customised learning and partnering with the local secondary schools,” Dr Henare says.

The ASB Trust has committed $10 million to Maori and Pasifika education over the next five years.


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