Paula Bennett finally willing to meet with Hunger Striker
Sam (Kuha) received a letter from Paula Bennett this afternoon after Paula had contacted Hone, who’s been leading a charge amongst the other parties for support for Sam.
Paula Bennett said if Sam comes off the hunger strike, she would be willing to come to Kaikohe and listen to his concerns face to face. A draft reply has been prepared and will be forwarded to Paula through Hone’s office tomorrow morning.
This is a great victory for Sam who’s been without food for 30 days. She will meet with him within the next couple of weeks so there will be a lot of media attention on this too. But as Sam say’s, the battle has just begun and intends upping the ante even further as the Gov prepares itself to vote into law The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill.
According to the Parliament website, submissions to the Social Services select committee are due by 1 November and the committee is due to report back to Parliament on the bill in March next year. What the bill will do:
- The bill will replace the 7 current benefit categories with 3 new categories
- Jobseeker Support for those actively seeking and available for work;
- Sole Parent Support for sole parents with children under 14 years; and
- Supported Living Payment for people significantly restricted by sickness, injury or disability. Those currently on a sickness benefit will be in the first category (Jobseeker Support) and have work expectations put on them – which tells you all you need to know about what’s actually being done with this bill.
- The bill will also require Jobseekers to be drug-free, and will allow benefits to be stopped for those with outstanding arrest warrants.
- It will also introduce obligations on parents to have their kids enrolled in early childhood education/kohanga and at a doctors or have their benefits cut by up to 50%, even though some areas have huge waiting lists to get in to doctors and ECE/kohanga.
There is a petition for those who would like to show their support for Sam. I read out some of the comments to Sam today and he was deeply humbled.
There’s also a campaign page for those on Facebook: