Media Release – More pointless and punitive policies from Bennett

Media release 5 September 2012, 2.50pm

More pointless and punitive policies from Bennett

Paula Bennett’s policy to sanction people who have warrants out for their arrest is pointless and punitive, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sarah Thompson.

The fact that, as Bennett herself says, most people clear their warrant within thirty days, points to the idea that Bennett is releasing policies like this for no major outcome other than to distract the public from her departments continued failure to decrease poverty and unemployment.

There are also major problems with this policy, firstly, many people who have a warrant out for their arrest may not even be aware of this until their benefit is cut.

Second, these people are yet to be convicted of anything, and even if they were to be they would still receive their benefit unless they were imprisoned – which most people are not – so she will be effectively sanctioning many people who, even once tried, would continue to receive their benefit.

Third, while this measure looks simple and sensible on the outside it is actually punitive and dangerous for the children and families of these people who will suffer the most from these sanctions.

Ms Thompson says that this behaviour of Bennett’s is starting to form a pattern with her trying to step into the role of the Ministry of Justice in this instance, and the Ministry of Health in the case of drug testing and offering long acting contraception to beneficiaries.

Bennett should be focusing her energies on her own job of decreasing unemployment and ensuring that those who are unemployed are getting what they need, not trying to assist the Ministry of Justice in their job of locating people with warrants.

ENDS

 For more information:

Contact: Sarah Thompson 021 157 0878 or Chris Zack 021 233 5938

Spokespeople Auckland Action Against Poverty