Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Ashburton shooting: Sue Bradford's politicising 'a total disgrace'

Former MP Sue Bradford has been criticised for politicising the Ashburton shooting. Photo / APN
Former MP Sue Bradford has been criticised for politicising the Ashburton shooting. Photo / APN

Former Green MP Sue Bradford has drawn an outraged response after saying the Government's "brutal policies" led to today's attack on Ashburton Work and Income staff.

Ms Bradford, a life-long unemployment activist who now lectures in social practice at Unitec, tweeted: "Shocking news coming in of Work & Income shooting: awful, but a risk when office becomes front for brutal policies."

Internet Party Kelston candidate Roshni Sami tweeted in support: "Nats brag that 1600 people p/w move off welfare into jobs, in reality they're pushed off welfare into hardship. Shame!"

But a string of other people following Ms Bradford on Twitter attacked her for the original comment.

"Not appropriate Sue. Of all people you should know that," tweeted Auckland psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald.

Media monitoring worker Regan Gibbons tweeted, "Really Sue, you couldn't give it a day before politicising this tragedy?"

Others described the tweet as "a sick comment", "a total disgrace" and "disgusting." One tweeted: "You are an opportunistic, moralising windbag."

Ms Bradford said she sent out the tweet - which has since been deleted - before knowing that two people had been killed and her sympathies were with the workers who died.

But she said she saw the problems with Work and Income first-hand when she joined other welfare advocates who were overwhelmed by queues of hundreds of beneficiaries seeking help on a three-day "impact" outside Work and Income's Mangere office last month, which placed the Ashburton killings in context.

"It was a terrible tragedy," she said. "But when a Government runs brutal policies that get worse and worse, including what we saw on our Impact just a few weeks ago, that is a risk that the Government takes with its frontline staff."

- NZ Herald

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