Sunday, August 2, 2009

Protesters summon Paula Bennett

Saturday Aug 1
Stuff

About a dozen protesters faced the rain today to stick a summons on Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's door.

The protest, organised by Socialist Aotearoa was over National's cutting of the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA) and Ms Bennett's revealing of beneficiaries' private information.

Ms Bennett has been under fire this week for revealing the welfare payment details of two solo mothers, on benefits, who complained about the Government's decision to scrap the TIA.

The mothers said without it they would not be able to continue courses which would help them get jobs.

The protesting group, a coalition of community, disabled and trade union groups, was at Ms Bennett's West Auckland office today.

"We think it's disgraceful that people are trying to scapegoat on the poor and the unemployed and single mothers for the problems in society," said Socialist Aotearoa member Joe Carolan.

"We are in a huge economic crisis at the moment where 50,000 people are going to lose their jobs so we need more support and more training for the unemployed in this period.

"To see the National party cutting back on these programmes to help people get off the DPB and advance themselves is shocking," he said

Single mother Jane Ferguson, who is studying to get a degree in sociology, said she was at the protest to stand up for beneficiaries.

"As a single parent and a student myself I know how hard it is to try and complete some training. We need all the help we can get, not to be yet again discriminated against by the Government."

She said the cut would mean she would not have money for travel, text books and it would affect her ability to afford childcare.

"It's going to significantly affect my ability to keep studying."

Ms Ferguson said she would keep studying regardless, but it would be "incredibly difficult."

The summons, stuck on to Ms Bennett's door, called for her to attend a hearing of "the people's court" to defend her actions in cutting the TIA and revealing the personal information of the two beneficiaries.

The hearing is set for next Saturday, at her office.

- NZPA