I could hardly believe my ears this morning when I heard about Paula Bennett’s plan to drug test beneficiaries and cut their benefits if they fail. Yeah that’s the problem that’s preventing people from finding work. Drugs. Not the 6.8 percent unemployment rate (and it’s higher in the provinces). It’s hard to imagine a more punitive policy. And yet it’s equally hard to name a single policy that creates work or makes it easier for people to move from the benefit to a real job. Except for the 90 days trial period of course.
This government stubbornly refuses to use its own economic muscle to employ or contract to Kiwi firms over cheap foreign labour or services (think KiwiRail) but is willing to waste millions of dollars on this sort of invasive, mean and demeaning nonsense which is only designed to belittle job seekers and appease the righties who are convinced that every beneficiary is a bludger. It makes you want to weep.
But good on Helen Kelly and the CTU for for doing the OIA which showed that the government has “receivedno advice,briefings, papers or reports in the last twelve months about complaints from employers about beneficiaries failing drug tests and is unable to locate the much vaunted complaints from employers about beneficiaries failing drug tests.”
While looking up the figures for this, I read that from 1985 to 2012 unemployment reached an all time high of 11.2 % in 1991 (National) and a record low of 3.5 % in 2007 (Labour). Just saying.