In an attempt to lessen the burden on their welfare system, the New Zealand government has been gifting jobseekers a one-way ticket to Australia to look for work.
The airfare scheme has quickly been terminated across the Tasman with an embarrassed Social Development Minister saying payments had been inappropriately handed out by case managers in dole offices.
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It appears the 'transition to work' grant was introduced by the New Zealand Labour party in 2007. Now in opposition, Labour MPs have been voicing concern over the conservative National Party’s use of the grant to relocate those on the dole out of the country.
New Zealand welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell doesn’t see a problem with sending welfare beneficiaries across the Tasman for work.
"If they're on the benefit, that's three or four weeks benefit up front to get them into a job in Australia,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell added that the ‘transition to work’ grant was asset tested, and the savings that New Zealand would make by not having these people dependent on welfare would easily outweigh the cost of an airfare.
Is this poor form from our NZ neighbours? Leave your comment here.
New Zealand's Social Development Department was unable to say how many grants had been paid out but commented that an audit was underway to discover the extent of money spent. It has however surfaced that in the regimes first year some 16 people received grants for airfares out of the country.
Australia’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations does not run a similar program of providing welfare dependent individuals with a one-way ticket to leave the country.