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Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Around the World on Welfare

Posted by spritzophrenia on February 12, 2011

I did some investigation a while back which shows that the rate of welfare fraud is very low. However, there will always be some exceptions and this is an amazing one, from my own country.

A Kiwi beneficiary has travelled the world funded by the dole, spending nearly two years seeing the sights of Europe, Asia and Africa without his unemployment benefit being cut off.

In an international escapade that has left Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Work and Income fuming, Peter Freedom, 34, has admitted seeing the world at taxpayer expense.

Mr Freedom left New Zealand for Australia on April 11, 2009, expecting his benefit would be cut off two weeks later. “I was just amazed when it didn’t,” he said from Dubai.

He visited Europe, the Balkans, Britain, North Africa and Asia before his benefit was finally axed late last month.

Mr Freedom used the nearly $28,000 – $287.12 a week, which later increased to $293.04 – to see some tourist meccas. Note: NZ dollars are worth a lot less than US dollars.

Peter Freedom

Peter Freedom in front of the Pyramids of Giza.

His favourites included the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower and bullfighting in Spain. “The trip was funded by the benefit,” Mr Freedom said. “What started as an accident soon became an opportunity.”

He sometimes slept in a car during his travels to save money. “I would always eat at the cheapest place I could find. It wasn’t very much money.”

Mr Freedom “didn’t feel good” about spending taxpayer money but said he was happy to expose the authorities. “I guess I did rip them off but I needed something to get me on my feet again.”

Before he left New Zealand Mr Freedom had been living in Hawera, Taranaki. He said he was keen to work but when a job came up outside town and he asked Work and Income to stump up some money for transport, he was refused. “I just needed a little bit of help but I never got it.” ~Full story here.

No doubt our centre-right government will use this as an excuse to go harder on welfare payments; they’ve already been making hints about it and this provides the perfect opportunity to beat down the 98% of beneficiaries who are honest.

Peter Freedom (great name!) would have to acquire other income or savings, as there is no way one could purchase airfares on a welfare income. I don’t think we’ve yet heard the full story. Still, nice life if you can get it.

Edit: Updating the story, turns out my prediction was right and this story came to light because of a crackdown on long term beneficiaries where hundreds have had their payments axed.


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