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The Government must be upfront with the public that it wants to stop using data and, in doing so, will throw away the greatest opportunity in a generation to improve the lives of vulnerable New Zealanders, National’s Spokesperson for Social Investment Paula Bennett says.

“Minister Sepuloni today said that the Government will work with the ‘social sector to develop a single shared set of rules and tools for the use and protection of personal information in the social sector’.

“National has already done that – it’s called the Data Futures Partnership, and it delivered a report on the use of data in August 2017. ‘A Path to Social Licence’ made a number of recommendations to help organisations work with data in a way that builds trust with individuals and the community.

“The report reflects what thousands of New Zealanders told us as we engaged with people across the country. Now, the Government wants to ignore that and restart the conversation – presumably because it didn’t tell the Government what it wanted to hear.

“The only explanation for the Government’s decision today to form yet another working group, after years of work on how we use and protect data, is because they fundamentally don’t believe data will make a difference to the delivery of social services.

“The Social Investment model is a tool designed to break down silos to ensure vulnerable New Zealanders get access to services targeted to their specific need.

“The Ardern-Peters Government gutted the Privacy Act reforms championed by Amy Adams, and ignored recommendations and advice from the Data Futures Partnership and their own Social Investment Agency.

“It seems ideologically driven to not make any changes that would see data utilised for the betterment of New Zealanders.

“All we will see while the Government blocks important reforms to data usage is more vulnerable New Zealanders missing out on opportunities to move out of dependency.”

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