The Dim-Post

April 20, 2012

Hon Paula Bennett vs Lord Alfred Tennyson

Filed under: poetry — danylmc @ 4:36 pm

I wrote a quick cut-up script to merge Tennyson’s Ulysses with Paula Bennett’s instant classic, Address to New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services. See if you can guess who said which line.

It is a pleasure to be here to speak to you all.
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
I am the Minister of Social Development, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I hope you have had a successful conference to date and that you have shared ideas, problems and solutions.
All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
Much have I seen and known: For example; if a woman on benefit had another child when their youngest was 18 they would automatically get another 18 years on benefit.
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all; And this is just the start.

I admire the work you do in our communities, far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
There are moments in my job when I sincerely feel the pull to be working at the grass roots level.
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end of well over 200,000 children living in benefit dependant homes.
They were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From Maori who looked after each other and fought for what they believed in.
A year later and some changes had been made but not enough for this gray spirit, yearning in desire
To stand still is to stagnate, so surely we should take the best of what we have known, the best of who we were and look to who we can be… But I digress beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This afternoon I want to talk about who we were, who we are and most importantly about who we want to be as citizens as New Zealanders.
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This is fair, especially when you consider that 50 per cent of New Zealand sole parents and 69 per cent of partnered women are already working.
A few weeks ago Family and Community Services announced that five providers would not have their contracts renewed this year.
I will subdue them to the useful and the good.

There had to be change and I would spend more time and money supporting that change.
There is over $550 million of contracting for services that MSD does and we are demanding that they all be up to a high standard.
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
The first change for those on DPB, That ever with a frolic welcome took
is that they will be expected to be available for part time work when their youngest is five and be in full time work when their youngest is 14.
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The new system will not punish people who can’t find work. If someone can’t find a job their benefit will not be cut.
The days of a passive system are over. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The next logical question is why?
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It was also for those who were cruelly widowed and there was no such thing as being born into welfare.
That which we are, we are; it is not who we were. It is who we are. But is it who we want to be?
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We were a proud nation.
Moved earth and heaven,
One third of women currently on the DPB started on the benefit as teen mums. That is more than 30,000 people.
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


  1. Heh very good.

    Comment by dpf — April 20, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  2. Hahaha… Amazing

    Comment by Nat — April 20, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  3. Easy peasy. Paula’s is the garbled crap, Tennyson is the one who speaks English.
    Welfare reform in a nutshell: To strive, to seek, to find (a job), and not to yield (to slothful dependency).

    Comment by donna — April 20, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  4. No wonder you have been so quiet lately, stitching this thing together.

    Well done.

    Go to the top of the class (do not take your bag, you will not be there very long).


    Comment by peterlepaysan — April 20, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

  5. You had me there – I was sure this bit was Bennett:

    I mete and dole
    Unequal laws unto a savage race,

    Then realised I was thinking of Collins.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 20, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

  6. Ozymandias: A Country that Works for You
    by David Bysshe Shearer

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: “I’d like to begin with a question.
    A Turkish bath and a special room
    in the basement for grooming dogs
    And 26 toilets
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things.
    Some people may see that as a triumph of prosperity.
    I see it as a sign of failure.
    And I’ll be setting out how we get there, step by step.

    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    Labour will deliver for you.
    Under Labour you will be our priority.
    This is a disaster for New Zealand.
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    Almost invariably I see management and workers intelligently demonstrating good faith on all sides
    And a recognition that everyone’s in there doing their best.”

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — April 20, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

  7. Is there a typo?
    “I admire the work you do in our communities, far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.”
    Should that no read Tory?

    Comment by Tim — April 21, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

  8. Coming to bookstores soon: Cooking for Beneficiaries with Paula Bennett.

    Comment by deepred — April 23, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

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