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Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own "poor choices" rather than because they cannot afford food.

Responding to a question in Parliament about poverty levels, Mr Key said the benefit was enough to live on, saying "if one budgets properly, one can pay one's bills."

He was responding to a question from Labour's social development spokeswoman Annette King about Salvation Army reports of high demand for food parcels.

Mr Key's comments have horrified Sue Bradford who heads the Alternative Welfare Working Group. Ms Bradford said Mr Key clearly has "no comprehension" of the reality of living on a benefit.

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