Serious concerns about the Government’s attitude towards legislation have prompted the National Party to vote against the Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.
“For quite some time, updating this piece of legislation was put into the too-hard basket, but the National-led Government rolled up its sleeves for the enormous task of updating the law to make it easier to understand, and to reflect how social security assistance is delivered in the 21st century,” Ms Upston says.
“This work was never about reforming the welfare system – it’s about making the law clear and user-friendly.
“We recognised that welfare is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and the Bill in its original state addressed some of those areas. We need to ensure those with the greatest need get targeted support.
“Unfortunately though, the Government has introduced a 501-page Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) with significant changes and is refusing to send it back to Select Committee.
“Updating the legislation was a chance to make practical changes, but this is a lost opportunity to support those who need it most.
“There is no opportunity for members of the public to have their say on further changes to the most significant piece of legislation which underpins our social security system.
“But more than that, the changes proposed by the Minister, Carmel Sepuloni, have undone the improvements made by former minister Anne Tolley, and remove the flexibility for case workers in dealing with the individual needs of New Zealanders seeking assistance.
“Carmel Sepuloni talks about building a fairer welfare system but her proposed changes go against providing the best possible services for families in need,” Ms Upston says.