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Bennett owns up to wrong advice

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/06/2016

Paula Bennett, with John Key (file photo) © Phil Walter/ Getty Images Paula Bennett, with John Key (file photo) Paula Bennett has owned up to wrongly advising John Key that welfare officials and the Salvation Army had visited people living in cars.

The prime minister last week said "MSD and the Sallies went around and knocked on, I think, eight cars that they could find. All eight of those people refused to take support either from Sallies or from MSD."

The Salvation Army issued a statement saying it actually declined the Ministry of Social Development's invitation to accompany its officials.

"MSD officials did not accompany Salvation Army social personnel to Bruce Pulman Park last Monday night as part of the army's regular visits to the site," it said.

Some of those it helped distrusted officials, the organisation said, and it feared its relationship with those people may have been put at risk because of the incorrect information about MSD's involvement.

In parliament on Tuesday, Labour's Phil Twyford asked Ms Bennett, the social housing minister, whether she was responsible for the advice given to the prime minister.

"Yes. I told the prime minister that the ministry of social development was working in conjunction with NGOS, including the Salvation Army, to reach out to homeless people to see if they could offer assistance," she replied.

Ms Bennett said she hadn't been clear enough that MSD "was not actively with the Salvation Army".

Mr Twyford asked her why she hadn't apologise for "misusing the good name of the Salvation Army".

Ms Bennett didn't answer directly but said a number of NGOs had visited homeless people last week and most didn't want help.

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