The Dim-Post

March 28, 2010

Minister Potemkin

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:01 pm

Guyon Espiner interviewed Paula Bennett on Q & A this morning about her changes to the welfare system. I thought the final question was illuminating:

GUYON Most of these changes come in on October 4, some of them coming in May this year.

PAULA 27th of September actually.

GUYON September this year?


GUYON Forgive me – so September this year. Are you going to be here to shepherd those through, because you are taking a scholarship at some stage later in the year, are you going to be here shepherding through some of these pretty crucial reforms?

PAULA It’s fair to say that the work’s going on now, it has been going on for the last year, and we’ve certainly got these next few months to get it right, as far as Work and Income being read for them, this is the crucial time, I’m very aware of that and the level of responsibility that I have leading up to that.

GUYON When do you go away on this scholarship?

PAULA I’m going away early October, so I am going away then, but we’re putting them in in September, but I think actually it’s the work that goes on now that’ll make that difference then.

GUYON So are you gonna be here when the reforms actually kick in?

PAULA Yes I will be.

GUYON You will be yeah. Right we’ll see how they pan out. Thanks very much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

Bennett has won a scholarship to the US which will take her out of the country for six weeks – and it sounds as if that six weeks will begin a few days after her new welfare policies come into effect. Presumably the Associate Welfare Minister – Tariana Turia – will be thrilled to front up in her place.

One can agree or disagree with the ideology of Bennett’s reforms but it’s patently moronic to start work-testing beneficiaries and suspending their incomes for non-compliance when there aren’t any jobs around for them to apply for. It’d make a bit more sense in twelve months time – if/when the recovery starts to impact on the unemployment figures – but that might not be personally convenient for the Minister.


  1. I’d have thought the earlier the better. That way Bennett has a (hopefully) improving economy working for her.

    And the reforms are more about getting beneficiaries “work ready”.. not necessarily about instant employment.


    Comment by JC — March 28, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

  2. The questions that Guyon Espiner forgot to ask:

    “Should people be entitled to all their benefits if they decide to leave the country for six weeks, making themselves unavailable for work in New Zealand? And if they receive an income while overseas – a private scholarship, for example – should that be declared, and deducted from their benefit?”

    Comment by sammy — March 28, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

  3. “And the reforms are more about getting beneficiaries “work ready”.. not necessarily about instant employment.”

    Thank you for recycling National Party talking points JC. Always handy. Personally I find you own opinions on Obama more entertaining, however.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 28, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

  4. “work ready” seems to be a term that means “so desparate and broken of spirit that they will accept the most demeaning, physically difficult job that comes along, regardless of whether they want it, whether it makes them enough money to survive on or if it will kill them”.

    Comment by Cameron — March 29, 2010 @ 6:44 am

  5. I’d have thought the earlier the better

    If recent history is anything to go by she must have a deliberate time frame for the changes (i.e taken advise), time to train the ‘frontline’ staff and all that back room pointy head academic type process best practise nonsense. Glad to see one minister who is not hell bent on rushing head long into an into something unprepared and delivering a force ten f&^k up on the nation. c.f. National standards, supercity or anything, electricity reforms or anything to do with Gerry Brownlee.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — March 29, 2010 @ 7:55 am

  6. Illuminating in that Guyon feigned tough-guy investigative journalist before summing up with “yes everything will be fine, you’re right, unicorn candy floss”?

    Comment by garethw — March 29, 2010 @ 8:57 am

  7. She did mention that they have 6000 vacancies on their books. I also quite like her philosophy (shared by Turia) that some people need some “encouragement” to get motivated and ultimately they benefit personally, its not a Richardson approach of saving money. Its hard to fault the motivation for change and studying in the States where Clinton introduced a far harsher regime could be beneficial.

    Comment by David — March 29, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

  8. 7. David, let’s leave inconvenient facts out of this argument, shall we? Nobody likes it up ’em, after all.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 29, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  9. They are tightening up already. A friend on the Benefit was told before Christmas that in the New Year they will have to front up at WINZ every week detailing what they did to get a job..
    Fortunately she got one in Feb.

    Comment by Captain Crab — March 30, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

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