'The week, I have to say, belongs to Paula Bennett. She connects. She speaks normally. She talks the average person's language. We know where she comes from and she remembers where she comes from. She has the X factor.

Charisma, in its extreme form, can be elevating and inspiring. It can also simply be an aura, a quality, that makes us expect something interesting, something we will connect to or relate to, from the person who has it. So it is with Paula Bennett. She has a little of the darkness that stars have, too, and she is becoming, in her own way, a political star. Paul Holmes in the NZ Herald

In a time of mass unemployment along with high levels of social deprivation and outright poverty, the Government's new welfare reforms are an aggressive attack on beneficiaries. They aren't about helping beneficiaries but they are an attempt to reduce the size of the welfare budget at the expense of the poor and more vulnerable members of our society.

John Key as much as admitted it when he commented: 'The Government remains concerned about the prospects of a growing welfare roll in the decades ahead, accompanied of course by an increasing welfare bill.'

Paula Bennett, who Q+A presenter Paul Holmes lauded as 'a political star' last year in one of his NZ Herald columns , is the one doing the bashing.

The Social Development Minister has mounted a campaign against state intervention in the growing social crisis in favour of blaming beneficiaries for being too lazy and feckless to get jobs.

Bennett, who is an intellectual lightweight, told the media that for many beneficiaries , 'the dream was over'.

What was the silver-tongued Bennett referring to? The dream of never having to live in poverty again? The dream of never struggling to meet the rent? The dream of being able to buy new clothes for the kids?

None of the above. Bennett was referring to the fabulous jetsetting lifestyles beneficiaries are enjoying. According to Bennett the party never ends for beneficiaries and she's the party pooper.

Bennett, who thinks glib phrases and rhetoric passes for informed comment, wants us to believe that too many beneficiaries are spending all day in bed. They should all be in jobs.

Er, what jobs Paula?

The fact that we are in a deep economic hole appears to have not landed in Bennett's consciousness. Instead she's still going to force women on the DPB into low paid jobs (if she can find any) once the children reach school age. She's going to threaten the unemployed with the cancellation of their benefit if they haven't found a job after a year.

Bennett doesn't care about such silly things as economic circumstances, local labour markets with no jobs, the difficulties of trying to juggle some crummy low paid job with raising children singlehandedly.

Bennett, because she's a stupid and reactionary bourgeois politician, would rather moralise. Some people like Paul Holmes have tried to depict this as straightalking from a good old, down to earth, working class gal. Its nothing of the sort. It is a deeply conservative and unpleasant moral outlook on how the poor should be treated in this country.

While the Bennett Morality Show will appeal to the rednecks who ring talkback radio, at the core of her ugly philosophy is a belief that people living in poverty are less deserving of human decency than others.

So sickness beneficiaries are going to be harassed more frequently and the unemployed are going to being living under the constant threat of having their benefit cut or cancelled. I'm sure some of the more unpleasant case managers at Work and Income will be loving that they are going to be given an even bigger stick to bash over the heads of their clients.

Those of us who are not moral authoritarians like Paula Bennett know that being on a benefit is not a reflection of character. We also know that the social crisis is the product of a failing economic system that needs to be replaced.


  1. I agree that this these new measures are a further drive to cut welfare services.

    Bennett's claim that she wants to get people into jobs rings hollow because she cannot explain where all these jobs are coming from.

    Its ironic that at the same time she's talking about people getting jobs her government is putting hundreds of people out of work in the public service.

  2. Paul Holmes is the self proclaimed P crusader. Yet he supports the woman who's policies will cause poor people to resort to crime - including drug manufacturing / dealing, to ensure a reasonable standard of living.
    This will motivate a small number of people to get back into the workforce, but at the cost of an increase in crime/drugs and gangs, more families in poverty, more prisoners and poorer health and living standards.
    I don't know how anybody can knowingly put children into poverty and still sleep at night, but that's what the country voted for....

  3. It is sobering to realise that we live in a country in which the Minister for Social Welfare condones a Bill that contravenes the Bill of Human Rights.
    I am surprised not more is being made of this contradiction.
    Lesser gaffs have brought doen governments.

  4. It's a dark day in New Zealand, walking into a long dark tunnel. I've spent part of today with vulnerable friends dependent on the dpb. I notice no elderly bashing - not brave enough for that one to get up redneck's backs are they?

    Not that I mean that anyone should start elderly bashing; I mean that they pick the same vulnerable scapegoats everytime and if it really was about the actual budget, the cuts would not look the way they do right now. You could have cuts and CEOs are a good place to start and an even better place to carry on would be all the highly paid (I am sure it is masses more than the dole) marketing/media relations people, paid by us taxpayers to put ridiculous spin on immoral decisions.

  5. I wonder what NZ will have to gain by sending the Hon Paula Bennett to America, (of all places!!) to learn about 'Corporate Social Responsibility'. Watch out New Zealand!

  6. I saw her on Tagata Pasifika. Her response to what unemployed Pacific people should do was: 'Our Pacific people tend to be a little bit shy. They need to get out of their shell'. Made my skin crawl.

  7. Its scary when you read about whats behind all the rhetoric. Yes - help the less well off. But dont fund drug production and crime.

  8. I am appalled at the cruelty Paula Bennett shows. I work in Social Services and recently have been communicating with several of our countries mentally ill who receive Govt. Benefits. There is a common fear that they will be forced in to demands that they simply can not meet. Due to the nature of many of these illnesses, this act just might be the very thing that tips some of these people over the edge. The threatening and Bullying tactics of Paulas' schemes are just disgusting, cruel and unfair. She either does not know what she is doing and therefore not intelligent enough for her position or otherwise... she is simply darn right evil!


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