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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Paula Bennett fails to attend trial - found guilty in absentia


Around 25 people marched through the streets of Henderson on Saturday 8 August to convene a session of the People's court outside Paula Bennett's electorate office. Ms Bennett had been summonsed the week before to defend her decisions to cut the Training Incentive Allowance for single parents and disabled people, and to explain why she thought she had the right to make public the personal details of beneficiaries. This week's protests was joined by community groups, trades unions, local activists, single parents, disabled people and socialists from across Auckland.

The Minister failed to attend her own hearing, offering no excuse. With Dr Hu presiding, the court agreed to invite members of the crowd to offer a defense, in the interests of justice. However, the jury was unconvinced by their arguments, and found Ms Bennett guilty of the charges laid against her, in a unanimous verdict. Ms Bennett was sentenced to a painful punishment, and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of this fugitive of justice.

We need to maintain the pressure on this National/ACT government to stop making the poor pay for the financial crisis. Limiting access to the Training Incentive Allowance will prevent those students least able to attend university getting an education and a chance to get off benefits. We shouldn't assume that the attacks will stop there. The government has a user-pays agenda, which means more profits for their fat cat mates, while the poor will have to bear the financial consequences. Students should be demanding that their local student associations actively petition on campus using the campaign materials produced by NZUSA that are available HERE.

Community groups and socialists should be organising alongside single parents and disabled people to fight for full reinstatement of the Training Incentive Allowance, and to prevent further cuts to public spending and services.

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