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Protesters fight benefit reforms

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 21/09/2012
Sarah Thompson
KARINA ABADIA/ Fairfax NZ

FED UP: Sarah Thompson from Auckland Action Against Poverty says the Government needs to do more to help poor families.

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Protesters and police converged on the Ministry of Social Development's Child, Youth and Family office in Ellerslie on Tuesday afternoon to fight against the second wave of benefit reforms announced on Monday.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford and four others were charged with wilful trespass after they entered the office and chained themselves to a pillar.

One other protester was also charged with trespass after running towards a back entrance in an apparent attempt to break into the office.

Chants from the small group of protesters outside the building included: Stand up, fight back; Welfare: Unfair; One solution, tax the rich; John Key's a millionaire, that's why he doesn't care; Paula Bennett, what's the score? Stop the war on the poor.

Auckland Action Against Poverty spokeswoman Sarah Thompson says: "We are here to protest that Paula Bennett is looking to move 44,000 people off the benefit. But there aren't the jobs for those people."

The Government needs to increase the minimum wage and the benefit so families can get by, she says.

"In order to do so the Government could reverse the tax cuts they made last year.

"The underlying idea of the reforms is that they think people are choosing not to work.

"However, when jobs are available and family and health situations allow, people will move off the benefit and into work.

There are areas where the Government could look at growing rather than axing jobs, she says.

"We've seen a number of public service jobs which have been cut over the last year.

"The Government should be investigating how to create more jobs, whether it's in the community sector, teaching or in green initiatives. These reforms are very harsh and very punitive. We need to stand up and fight back."

The six protesters who were charged will appear in the Auckland District Court today.

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- East And Bays Courier

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