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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tension in coalition over benefit testing

December 24

The year is ending on a sour note between the Maori Party and its coalition partner National.

Co-leader and associate minister of social development and employment Tariana Turia is expressing extreme disappointment at minister Paula Bennett's call to limit the dole.

Ms Bennett has said the Government is considering cancelling unemployment benefits after a year and forcing beneficiaries to reapply.

Mrs Turia is unhappy she wasn't informed before the minister went public with measures which will affect a large number of Maori.

“There's been no discussion with us at all about this matter and what we’re talking about is the most vulnerable community that we have, those on very low incomes, and while I am somebody who support working for any income that we get the fact is the Government did not take up the Maori Party’s offer to reinstitute the programmes such as PEP-type programmes to get people out there working,” Mrs Turia says.

She says it is ironic to be launching such a policy during a recession when most beneficiaries she meets would be keen to work if work was available.


And it may not be only the Maori party and National which are at loggerheads next year.

Labour Maori MP Shane Jones says he's personally going to target the Maori party's MPs.

“It’s gloves off next year. I’ve taken a kind of puppy love approach to my relations in the Maori Party and I felt that the media and the voters weren’t all that keen on hearing from us after the loss of the election etc but next year has got to be the year we make a significant dent,” Mr Jones says.

He's taken on board media criticism that he's been too idle and hasn't exhausted himself as far as his parliamentary responsibilities.


Somewhat uncharacteristically Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira is doing anything but expressing fighting talk.

He says looking back on the year it isn't the controversies that come to mind but the successes.

Mr Harawira says winning National support for a Maori Affairs select committee inquiry into the effect of smoking on Maori gave him a real sense of achievement.

He says while such issues are important for him the thing to remember particularly at this time of year is whanau.

“Enjoy them whanau because at the end of the day no one else will be saving you, no one else will be looking after you but whanau so enjoy the whanau, enjoy the holidays, enjoy your children and most importantly look forward to having a positive smoke free pro-Maori new year,” Mr Harawira says.

His family has been a rock especially when times have been a bit stormy.


The Maori party has given National a clear message that it will not be supporting measures requiring beneficiaries to reapply for welfare assistance after a year.

Co-leader Turiana Turia who is also associate minister of social development and employment says she's deeply saddened by Social Development minister Paula Bennett's announcement that the government is considering introducing the harsher requirements for beneficiaries next year.

“I think that's pretty sad actually because we do know how stressful it is for those who are on benefits to have to go in an reapply, it actually costs them money to do that, there is no way that the Maori Party is supportive of the action,” Mrs Turia says

She is disappointed the Maori party has not been consulted on measures which are in-line with talk back views which are wrong particularly when many of those affected will be Maori.

She says the majority of people on the dole would rather work but work is just not available and National has ignored the Maori party's recommendations for work schemes


Maori sportsman of the year, Benji Marshall is being praised for the influence he is having on young Maori.

Gordon Gibbons, the Auckland and New Zealand Kiwis football manager, says the 24 year old from Tuhoe who captained the Kiwi's on their recent tour to Britain and Europe has become a leader both on and off the field.

He says the former Bay of Plenty touch rep who moved to Australia as a 15 year old has not forgotten his Maori roots as he becomes a worthy role model for rangatahi.

He says despite the national side missing out on the final of this year’s Four Nations championship in Europe, the skillful halfback and standoff who plays for West Tigers in the NRL continues to lead by example.


It's going to be a Christmas with the best of both the Maori and Pakeha cuisine for television cooking host Anne Thorp.

The host of ther "Kai Ora" programme on Maori Television and the Sky's Food Channel has a twist on the traditional turkey and Christmas pudding theme, with a menu of oysters, kina, mussels and crayfish planned.

Anne Thorp says she will be progressively cooking throughout the day to look after whanau and friends.


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