For immediate release 2 February 2000
UNEMPLOYED UNION DELIGHTED AT MAHAREY MOVE TO AXE RANKIN'S IDEOLOGUES
Today's move by Social Services Minister Hon Steve Maharey to axe the external WINZ Advisory Board has been welcomed by
UNITE!, the community based union representing unemployed, casual and low paid workers.
"This is a good first step in turning WINZ into a department that works for rather than against beneficiaries," said
UNITE! President Robert Reid.
"Although the move could be accused of being symbolic, it is a symbolism that we need more of," he said.
"We are pleased that this step has been taken so soon after the meeting of beneficiary advocacy groups and Steve
Maharey. At that meeting, which UNITE! attended, changing the culture of WINZ was high on the groups' shopping list.
"It is quite possible that many who did not know of the Board would be shocked not only at its existence but also at its
terms of reference and the identity of those who made it up and the fees that they were paid.
"The terms of reference of the Advisory Board do not even mention beneficiaries (or clients and customers) as WINZ liked
to refer to them. The membership of the Board reads like a whose who of advocates of the former Government's failed
economic policies. The meeting fees of $500 to $750 per day are twenty-five times what a young unemployed person would
receive from WINZ in a week, even if working for the dole.
"While the beginning of the WINZ culture change is welcome, we must also remember that people can't eat culture. Today's
report on the poverty levels of New Zealanders are a direct result of the cutting of benefits by the National Party
Government in 1990," said Robert Reid. "Although we recognise that it will be expensive to substantially increase
benefits to realistic levels, the point is can this country afford not to. UNITE! supports the Alliance proposal to
increase benefits by $20 as a good first step to providing an adequate benefit for New Zealanders.
Almost 18 months ago when WINZ was formed, UNITE! launched the slogan "They WINZ, we lose". We are hopeful that this
step will be the first of many that will turn WINZ around from a department that attacked beneficiaries to one that
serves their interests," Robert Reid concluded.
For further information please contact Robert Reid at:
(04) 237 5062 (w); (04) 389 5399 (h); (025) 276 9225 (m)