Solo mother's income made public before

By Claire Trevett

Natasha Fuller, 31, refused to speak to Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Janna Dixon
Natasha Fuller, 31, refused to speak to Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Janna Dixon

The single mother who is taking Paula Bennett to the Privacy Commission for releasing her income details has had her income disclosed publicly before - by Labour in 2007 and by herself on a Trade Me message board last week.

Natasha Fuller yesterday said she would proceed with a complaint to the Privacy Commission about Ms Bennett, the Social Development Minister, releasing details of her benefit and allowances, which she claims breached her privacy.

Ms Fuller listed some of her entitlements on a Trade Me message board under her user name thehappyhocker last week, before Ms Bennett provided the information to the Herald.

On July 22, Ms Fuller had tried to refute Ms Bennett's claim that solo mothers could earn $1000 a week by revealing some of her own benefits - including an accommodation supplement of $110, a benefit of $260 and a $30 disability allowance.

Her user name has since been disabled and the comments removed, which she said was because she had attracted abuse in the two days since Ms Bennett released her information.

Ms Fuller's income had also been used by the Labour Party in 2007 as an example of the success of its policies. She said she had given permission for then social development minister David Benson-Pope to use the information after she set up a cleaning business with an enterprise allowance.

In his speech, Mr Benson-Pope lists her total support from the state as $180.50, including an accommodation supplement of $91, a family tax credit of $69.50, and another $20 a week from Working for Families.

Ms Fuller said it showed the enterprise allowance was successful at getting her off the DPB, although the business ended in January this year because of her health problems.

Labour continued to put heat on Ms Bennett yesterday. Deputy leader Annette King said the minister had deliberately sought to provoke "beneficiary bashing" by releasing the information.

Labour MPs accused Ms Bennett of accessing the information without being properly authorised to do so and of overstating the amounts received.

Ms Bennett may face a Privacy Commission investigation after Labour and Ms Fuller said they would lodge complaints.

Bennett said yesterday she did not regret her actions and believed it was necessary in the wider debate. Prime Minister John Key repeated his support for her decision.

- NZ Herald

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