From Claire’s story in the Herald this morning:
Ms Bennett said her decision to reveal the extent of the help the state already provided the women was justified because they had repeatedly used their personal circumstances to speak out.
This is what the Labour Party needs to focus on. Many people are unsympathetic to beneficiaries, so I don’t think accusations of ‘beneficiary bashing’ have much traction: but if they make the point that this exposes all New Zealanders who speak out to attack then that has real resonance. Don’t like Bill English cancelling tax cuts and complain about it? The government feels it can publish details of your tax records. Aren’t happy with the service you recieve at the hospital and go the the media? Don’t like the government’s decision on Herceptin funding? In either case John Key will be ‘comfortable’ with the Minister of Health publishing your private medical records, because merely by speaking out you have given ‘implied consent’ for him to do so.
I’m disappointed but not surprised to see bloggers on the right line up behind Bennett: I feel that this isn’t about Labour vs National but about the power of the state vs the rights of the individual. Labour will be back in power sooner or later and if Bennett is allowed to set this precedent then Labour will gleefully use confidential information to fuck over anyone who speaks out against them, cheerfully arguing that their victim ‘implied consent’ by engaging in public debate.