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Bennett's Benefit Bumbles Need Explaining

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Annette King
Annette King

Paula Bennett has given the public two different answers as to whether she supports increases to benefits and she should get her story straight, says Labour's Social Development spokesperson Annette King.

"Yesterday in response to questions about Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples' claims' his party was negotiating a benefit increase in exchange for supporting National's ETS plan, the Minister ruled an increase out. 'I don't want to see benefits going up at all,' she was reported saying.

She was also reported saying she had no knowledge of the negotiations. "Today in Parliament she admitted she had made a 'faux pas' when rejecting benefit increases and tried to claim what she meant to say was that she didn't want to see a rise in the number of people on benefits," Annette King says.

"Paula Bennett then set out to mislead Parliament by insinuating she did know about the negotiations with the Maori Party over benefit increases. "She also attempted the ultimate fudge by suggesting annual CPI adjustments to benefit levels - which happen every year - were what the negotiations were about. This insults the intelligence of both the public and the Maori Party.

"The latter would hardly bother negotiating over a CPI adjustment which is happening anyway. Clearly the Maori Party was after an actual increase in core benefit levels, above the CPI change, or other benefit entitlements - although from Pita Sharples' latest comments it appears Nick Smith may have tried to pull the wool over their eyes on this.

"This shambles is revealing on several fronts. It shows how desperate National has been to cobble together a deal on the ETS and - given how neither party can get its story straight on what's actually been negotiated - how unstable and likely to end in tears it is," Annette King says.

"It also shows how far Paula Bennett will go to try and spin her way out of a mess. She needs to tell the public whether she is considering increases to benefits, beyond the usual CPI adjustments.

"Given her previous dog whistling on beneficiaries, her refusal to rule out an actual increase is interesting. Does this mean she is considering a benefit increase or not?

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