MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the
Minister for Social Development: How is the Government providing beneficiaries opportunities for work in Canterbury?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development)
: I am delighted that Minister Brownlee and I were able to announce a new joint scheme called Working InZone, which will see 100 unemployed Cantabrians employed to clean up, maintain, and secure Government-owned residential properties in the red zone. Working InZone is a partnership between Work and Income, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, City Care in Christchurch, and the Waimakariri District Council.
Mark Mitchell: Can the Minister give more details about how the Working InZone scheme works?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: We have provided $770,000 to supplement wages, and to pay for mentors and supervisors, equipment, and on-the-job training. After 6 months they will come out with first aid and site-safety training, help with literacy and numeracy, and driver’s licence upgrades if needed, and they will be able to link their new qualifications to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority framework. On top of that, they will have new skills, real work experience, and 6 months’ wages in their pockets.
Mark Mitchell: Has the Minister seen any reports on unemployment in Christchurch?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes. I have seen many reports on unemployment in Christchurch. Some I have seen predicted there would be 20,000 more people on the unemployment benefit after the Christchurch earthquake. I then saw reports that there would be 24,000 more people on the unemployment benefit after the earthquake. Of course, there were about 5,082 people on the unemployment benefit in February, and that was down by 298 on the same time last year. Those reports, of course, came from Clayton Cosgrove, who is probably the Ken Ring of the Labour Party—his predictions are so off.