Social Development Minister Paula Bennett lashes out at beneficiaries again. And guess who's there to put the boot in once Bennett has finished? Yes, its none other than Sky City employee, Mike Hosking.
IN ANOTHER nasty and orchestrated exercise in beneficiary bashing, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has crowed about suspending the benefits of 21,000 people for travelling overseas since July last year. And she has been joined in her celebrations by New Zealand's answer to Alan Partridge - but less intelligient - National party cheerleader Mike Hosking.
Of this 21,000 people penalised, nearly 5000 people had their benefits cancelled because they failed to get in contact with Work and Income within two months of their departure from New Zealand.
It is safe to say that this 'missing 5000' have simply abandoned New Zealand permanently, having given up hope of finding a decent job in this country and with little to look forward to but more harassment from WINZ.
But what makes Bennett's attack even more contemptible is that she has used the figures to deny that the lack of real jobs combined with welfare cuts have contributed to widespread poverty in this country.
Her press release reads : 'These figures are the number of people who chose to travel knowing their benefit would be suspended. Every day we hear stories of how people cannot live on the benefit. Today you’re hearing that literally thousands can not only live on it but can afford to travel overseas as well,”
But as Alastair Russell of Auckland Action Against Poverty has said: "Auckland Action Against Poverty knows the reality Ms Bennett continues to deny. Life on a benefit is brutally hard. Children go hungry. Choices are made about what bill goes unpaid. Go into Work and Income and leave your dignity at the door. This is the real world and not the fantasy that Ms Bennett wants us to buy into. We continue to wait for the day when Ms Bennett announces a scheme involving 20,000 real jobs with real wages.'
It wasn't hard to make Mike Hosking buy into Paula Bennett's sordid fantasy. In yet another diatribe from his Seven Sharp pulpit last night, he declared that thousands of beneficiaries were sunning themselves on beaches overseas - all at the expense of the taxpayer.
But, of course, he again provided zero evidence for this claim. And, again, we ask how long - in an election year especially - is TVNZ going to be allow him to openly support the National government and its policies? Indeed, what does the presence of Hosking on Seven Sharp say about the current ideological climate within TVNZ?
This entire episode reads like a repeat of another rotten round of 'bash a beneficiary', again starring Paula Bennett and Mike Hosking.
In 2012 Hosking loudly backed Paula Bennett's claim that many beneficiaries weren't ready for paid employment because they were on drugs - and not because there were few jobs available for beneficiaries.
'This to my mind is a fundamental breach of the agreement you have with the Government and therefore needs fixing. The fixing will come in the form of your benefit being cut,' he thundered.
According to Hosking the government was confronting an 'alarming number' ' of beneficiaries who had admitted that they would not pass a drug test.
Again, he provided no evidence for this claim.
But he was exposed as the lying government toady that he really is earlier this year. The NZ Herald obtained figures that revealed that out of over 8000 beneficiaries who applied for jobs that required drug testing, only 22 tested positive for drug use or refused to take the test.
This, then, was Hosking's 'alarming' number of beneficiaries who were on drugs. 22. Or 0.27% of all beneficiaries tested.
No apology was forthcoming from Hosking to beneficiaries for smearing them with his dirty little lies.
And now Hosking is parading his bigotry on nationwide television. This time though, beneficiaries aren't all on drugs - they're all drinking exotic cocktails on beaches in faraway lands.