The Salvation Army acknowledges the need to pass legislation that limits the instances of benefit fraud in New Zealand. But we submit that there are some aspects of this Bill that requires further clarification and discussion to ensure that the Bill’s provisions do not further disadvantage some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Section 3 below will detail our responses to the Seven Main Initiatives of this Bill. We believe that some of the tone of this Bill and its supporting documents further paints welfare beneficiaries in a negative light in the eyes of other New Zealanders.
Additionally, this focus on welfare beneficiaries, although necessary, should be seen in the wider context of other types of financial fraud and financial issues e.g. tax fraud, the bailout of financial investment firms and their directors, and so on. Any type of financial fraud, particularly when it involves public money, must be stopped. It is fascinating to The Salvation Army that there is a consistent public targeting of reforms and sanctions for welfare beneficiaries. Yet the pursuit and sanctioning of other types of fraud seems to be not as public or comprehensive as the recent raft of welfare reforms in New Zealand.