Making welfare work

Prime Minister’s weekly column

At the last election, we promised to comprehensively reform the welfare system in this country. We are now delivering on that promise. Welfare will always be there to support those in need, but we believe that long-term welfare dependency can become a trap leading to a life of limited outcomes and choices. So what we expect instead is that anyone who can work should be in employment, in training or looking for a job. The National-led Government is delivering on its promise.

Last week we marked the introduction of a number of significant changes to the system. We’ve replaced a complex system of benefit categories, reducing them from seven to three. We’ve implemented sanctions to benefits for those wanted by the Police, and we now require that job seekers be drug-free and ready to work. It’s hard to argue that these initiatives are not fair and reasonable.

We’ve also put into effect new social obligations for beneficiary parents, so their children get the health and educational support they need to grow up well and to have the kind of opportunities we want all our children to have. We’ve taken an active, work-focused approach to these reforms because we have aspirations for New Zealanders. We want them to have better lives.

Our basic philosophy is simple: everyone – individuals and families – are better off in work. It is the path to higher incomes and a better standard of living. That’s why the changes we have brought in are about getting people off welfare and into work, giving them a better life, better opportunities and a brighter future for their families.

My upcoming trip to Korea

This week is the second of a two-week recess for Parliament. Later this week I will be travelling to the Republic of Korea, where I will join New Zealand veterans and Veteran Affairs Ministers Michael Woodhouse in commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. Around 6,000 New Zealanders fought in the Korean War. 45 lost their lives and 79 were wounded. This trip will be a historic opportunity to honour our veterans’ service and sacrifice, and their contribution to building a modern, vibrant Korea. During my visit, I will also hold talks with the new Korean President Park Geun-hye. I look forward to updating you when I return.