Carmel Sepuloni doubles-down on her allegations against Auckland Action Against Poverty.
THE MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT is being economical with the truth again. On RNZ's Checkpoint yesterday Carmel Sepuloni again alleged that Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) had organised some one hundred people to stand outside the Manurewa offices of Work and Income at two o'clock on a cold and wet Thursday morning.
This is an absurd claim and it has been emphatically denied by AAAP. It says that what's driving the long queues is widespread economic hardship and that, as a beneficiary rights organisation, it is there to help people get what they are entitled to.
AAAP's Ricardo Menendez has responded: 'Does Carmel Sepuloni also want to blame The City Mission for the fact that 1 in 5 kids are in food poverty because there’s long queues at The City Mission to obtain food parcels when so many of them have gotten inefficient support from WINZ?'
Sepuloni's tactics are obvious. If she can scapegoat AAAP that might deflect attention from the real facts that the market-led economic polices of her government are only exacerbating an already severe social crisis. Its not AAAP's fault that, according to the Department of Health, some 20 percent of children aged 0 to 14 are living in households experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity.
In true Yes, Minister fashion, Sepuloni says she has instructed her ministry to prepare a survey which will be emailed to Work and Income clients. But she couldn't tell Lisa Owen of Checkpoint what would be in the survey or even if the results would be made publicly available.
But Sepuloni received all the information that she needed two months ago in the form of the exhaustive report from the government's own welfare working group. But she rejected most of the working group's recommendations which included immediately increasing core benefits by 47 percent in order to alleviate widespread social and economic distress. Its that distress that is driving the queues outside Work and Income offices and not anything that AAAP are doing.