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Paula Bennett is only interested in advice which supports her punitive agenda and is happy to push through policies which have perverse effects, Green Party social services spokeswoman Jan Logie said today.
"The Social Development Minister arrogantly said she did not need advice from her own department on proposals to drug-test beneficiaries and then ignored the advice she did receive, from the Health Ministry, which highlights serious pitfalls with the policy.
"Paula Bennett's arrogance is breath-taking. Instead of using the department there to advise her she has chosen to act on piecemeal information from other undefined sources.
She said she was acting on information: "From the visits, from face to face meetings, I don't know, from some of the international research I've seen. Just because it hasn't come from the department, doesn't mean that it's not credible."
"The Health Ministry advises that the proposal could see recreational drug users pretend they had a more serious problem to avoid penalties, go onto harder drugs that stay in the body for shorter periods to avoid positive tests, or even increase drug use to avoid the recreational category.
"And of course heaping a whole new group of people who don't really need treatment onto the health system is absurd. Existing waiting lists will balloon and costs rise.
"The Ministry estimates that the savings Paula Bennett planned to make from cutting benefits and leaving those families in financial strife, could easily be more than eaten up by new costs from the policy.
"Paula Bennett should drop this poorly thought out policy and start again - this time she might want her department to give her some advice."