Furious mum rejects 'bludger' tag

A Cambridge single mother embroiled in a public spat with Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says she is not a "dole bludger".

Natasha Fuller, 31, is furious Ms Bennett publicly released details of her benefit payments.

The mother of three plans to lodge a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner, because she believes her privacy rights have been breached.

But Ms Bennett is standing by the decision. She said Miss Fuller did not give a full picture of her state assistance when complaining about the scrapping of a training incentive allowance.

"We're really shocked. She has turned the spotlight and put it on us. It's just glorifying the benefit," Ms Fuller told the Times today.

Ms Fuller, a solo mother with three children, aged one, nine and 10, has lived in Cambridge for five years and receives $715 a week on the domestic purposes benefit.

Ms Fuller also received $9500 from the state for a business venture that failed.

"If I'm given $715 a week, wouldn't they want me off the benefit?" she asked.

Ms Fuller, who wishes to do early childhood studies, is one of a group of four solo mothers who created the website www.handup.co.nz, which seeks to reinstate the recently axed Training Incentive Allowance for undergraduate tertiary students who are on benefits or the emergency maintenance allowance.

"We need the working force out there," she said. "We are not dole bludgers ... we want to get out there and work."

Ms Fuller said she had still yet to hear from Ms Bennett or any National Party representative, despite Miss Bennett suggesting on television last night she was eager to speak to her.

"We find it quite funny she would say that," Ms Fuller said, suggesting that it could be "just politician spiel".

Ms Fuller said her group of solo mothers had sent "a number of emails" to Miss Bennett recently, from which she had not received a response. "There's about four of us in our group would love to have lunch with her."

Ms Fuller suggested Ms Bennett reveal what she earned as a Cabinet Minister, or what she received when she was on the benefit.

Labour MP Charles Chauvel said Ms Bennett had breached at least four principles of the Privacy Act by releasing Ms Fuller's benefit details.

Prime Minister John Key backed up Ms Bennett who he said was "just trying to put a bit of balance around the story".

"She wasn't being overly judgmental but simply saying here are all the facts, and New Zealanders can assess whether they are on the right track or not," he said.

The Privacy Act says ministers must not release information about individuals without consent or in an incomplete or misleading way. But it also says consent can be inferred from an individual going public with a matter.

Waikato Times