Media release Tuesday 28 August 2012 [10.30am]
Drug testing cruel and vindictive punishment
Paula Bennett’s re-annoucement of drug-testing beneficiaries is cruel and vindictive punishment, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sarah Thompson.
“This policy will effect not only those suffering from long-term drug addiction but also those who, like many in NZ, enjoy a recreational smoke on the weekend.”
“We can see the purpose of drug testing in the case of work that requires people to use heavy machinery or enter the forest, but for the majority of jobs this test is just an invasion of peoples privacy.”
Ms. Thompson says that the cutting of benefits to recreational users will be a punishment not only for individuals but also their partners and children and will only see the increase in child poverty and inequality – the very things the Government is currently failing to reduce.
“Bennett and co clearly haven’t given any thought to what people will do when their benefits are cut – the options are limited to crime and prostitution (which may not be a job of choice), and this is a very real dangerous outcome.”
“We see this policy as a cruel and vindictive way for the Government to shift attention away from recent damning reports that show that inequality in this country is growing and that they are failing to deal with it.”
“What this government needs to focus on is decent job creation not harassment of real people and their families who are trying desperately to survive.”
Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sarah Thompson is available for interview on 021 157 0878