About 150 protesters stop traffic in central Dunedin as
they march against proposed welfare reforms. Photo by Peter
Chants of "National Scum!" rang through Dunedin streets
as workers and beneficiaries united in protest yesterday
against proposed welfare reforms.
They called for Prime Minister John Key to resign and Social
Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett to "go to
About 150 people gathered outside Work and Income New Zealand
in St Andrew St at 1pm with placards, banners and a
A dozen police officers diverted traffic as people spilled on
to the road.
Protesters told the Otago Daily Times Ms Bennett was a
hypocrite and her welfare reforms would drive more New
Zealanders into poverty.
Dunedin resident Michelle Helliwell said workers and
beneficiaries were no better off under the scheme.
"I feel like I'm witnessing a bank robbery where New
Zealand's family silver is being taken. This is the gutter of
a political system that will create more vulnerable
children," she said.
Solo mother and domestic purposes beneficiary Rebecca
Alexander said she should be allowed to look after her own
child, not forced to pay for child care in order to work.
Labour member of Parliament for Dunedin North David Clark and
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei joined the protest.
Women and mothers suffered the most under "punitive" reforms
which robbed mothers of the right to determine what was best
for their children, Mrs Turei said.
Welfare reforms were the National-led Government's response
to its own failure and the war on poverty had become a war on
the poor, Dr Clark said.
The protest coincided with others throughout the country for
the National Day of Action Against Welfare Reforms.