Details of state benefits received by two solo mothers have been made public by the Government after the pair criticised cutbacks to a training allowance.Click through for the rest.
Staff from Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's office gave the Herald a tally of each woman's weekly income from the state - including benefits and other allowances - after the women spoke out in the Herald on Sunday and Labour used their stories in Parliament last week.
The details were handed over without the knowledge of the mothers, Jennifer Johnston and Natasha Fuller.
Ms Bennett said she had a right to release information on individuals if they left out relevant details when publicising their situations.
"If someone is deciding they're happy to use their case to speak about or against something we are doing, I think it's fair the full story be told."
Ms Fuller said she did not believe she had left out any relevant information and was "astonished" her details could be released without either her knowledge or permission.
Ms Johnston said she was "flabbergasted" but said it would not put her off speaking out about cutting the training incentive allowance.
To me this looks like intimidation pure and simple - criticise the government and we'll put information in the media that'll make you look bad. You don't have to be lily white to have a genuine beef with the government over something. Yet that's the implication of this kind of response, as Neelima Choudary found out too.
How about the Minister for Social Development concentrates her efforts instead on explaining why the Training Incentive Allowance was cut and exactly what her Government plans to do to support solo parents to provide for their families?