What is our responsibility for our welfare?

How much responsibility people should take for their own lives and well being will one of the defining political issues of the decade, a conference on social welfare policy * in Wellington heard today.

The Conference's opening speaker, social commentator, John Bishop, said that what the state could or should do for its citizens and what obligations and responsibilities this placed on citizens was an emerging theme in a number of public issues.

He cited the recent controversy over a study * * that showed cancer death rates were declining for European New Zealanders but not for Maori or Pacific people.

"The study's co-author Bridget Robson blamed big social and economic changes in the 1980's including market rents for state houses, user charges in health and education and targeted income support . "Increasing pakeha advantage in access to and power over socio-economic resources is the primary causes of these health inequalities," she said in the Dominion Post of 10 July."

"In other words social factors beyond the control of any individual. But ACT