Kevin Andrews Stands By Comments
23 September 2014 at 3:15 pm
Federal Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews has refused to back down from controversial comments he made about the New Zealand welfare system.
Amidst negotiations with crossbench senators Andrews stated that New Zealand imposed a one-month mandatory waiting period for anyone claiming welfare payments.
"In New Zealand, everybody who is seeking to get welfare payments, the dole equivalent, has a one-month waiting period,” Andrews said in June.
But media reports today suggested that Andrews had stretched the truth.
In response to enquiries by Federal Labor’s families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin, the New Zealand Parliamentary Library said "We have been unable to find a waiting period that matches the description Minister Andrews has given previously”.
While New Zealand does have a 20 day period to allow welfare applicants to complete pre-benefit activities, the library said this was not the same as a waiting period.
The library also said that the pre-benefits requirements did not amend start dates and eligible recipients may receive back pay for this period.
Andrews released a statement today insisting that his comments were truthful.
“I stand by my comments that in New Zealand, applicants can wait a month to receive payments and that this policy has helped divert people away from welfare and into work,” Andrews said.
“In New Zealand, a person who applies for unemployment benefits has a 20 working-day period in which to complete required activities like prepare a resume and attend a job seminar.
“When I visited New Zealand earlier this year to learn more about the social security system there, this was commonly referred to – by Ministers and Government officials – as the one-month waiting period.
“If an applicant does not complete required activities within this time, their benefit claim lapses and typically, some job seekers wait several weeks before receiving a payment.
“By comparison, in Australia 30 per cent of Newstart recipients move off payment within three months and 50 per cent move off within six months.”