Written By: - Date published: 11:01 am, December 5th, 2012 - 64 comments
Categories: benefits, greens, hone harawira, housing, jobs, labour, mana, Metiria Turei, news, nz first, paula bennett, poverty, spin, welfare - Tags: jan logie, sue moroney
There was a debate in open mike yesterday, on Jacinda Ardern’s questions to Paula Bennett on the issue of WINZ paying transition to employment allowances for beneficiaries to travel to Aussie to get jobs. xtasy raised a very good question about which Labour MPs, especially front benchers, are there for beneficiaries? I would widen this to ask, who in the House is for beneficiaries? Certainly not any NAct MPs. What about the opposition MPs?
As I learned more of the details I swung from one side to the other on the issue of Ardern’s question and statements on the issue. Mary argued that Ardern had wrongly targeted the issue to trigger another round of Bennie bashing in the media. Before midnight arrived, Mary said TV3 were already incorporating the bennie-bashing angle in their reports.
Here are some of the references/sources on WINZ paying for beneficiaries to travel to Aus - I can’t find the Nightline report that Mary referred to, but here is TV3′s report from earlier:
Ardern’s question during Question Time yesterday:
6. JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: How many times, if any, has the Transition to Work Grant, or similar funds, been used by Work and Income New Zealand to purchase tickets to Australia for job seekers who have found work there?
Ardern’s press release yesterday, begins with the appeal to misuse of taxpayer money for beneficiary trips to Aussie:
Revelations today that taxpayers are picking up the tab for unemployed Kiwis to fly to Australia to take up job offers is further proof that the Government has no interest in creating work opportunities here, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.
This shows Bennett is not fully on top of the goings on in her ministry. Ardern’s questions and press releases could have been better targeted to focus on the government’s failure to enable the increase of jobs in NZ: ones that provide a living wage.
I looked at the websites of opposition parties to see who has been most active for beneficiaries recently.
Ian Lees Galway on suicide prevention needed especially for the mentally ill (December)
Clare Curran on disability rights (December)
Jacinda Ardern on Hearings of submissions on the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill (December) [although Ardern's passion and commitment on this issue has been questioned by TS commenters]
Sue Moroney on women’s contribution to the economy being undervalued, with a brief mention of women taking the brunt of rising unemployment (November)
Ardern on Bennett’s poor efforts to help unemployed young people into work (November)
Fact sheet on their up-coming “Feed the Kids Bill.
Press release giving limited support to Labour’s KiwiBuild, but saying Mana wants to go further with affordable housing for low income renters.
Hone Harwira’s feed the kids speech (November)
Mana involvement in protests for state housing and against the removal state housing/”ethnic cleansing” in Glen Innes.
My assessment: Mana is most focused on supporting beneficiaries, but they tend to get marginalised by the media, and as a solitary voice in the House. Metiria Turei in the Greens has especially shown some commitment to speaking for beneficiaries and their children, but the main Green Party focus seems to be on Russel Norman and the economy.
Special mention for NZ First in their focus on the elderly, but it doesn’t amount to speaking for the younger beneficiaries who are the main ones demonised.
I agree with xtasy that there is not a strong enough voice for beneficiaries among MPs: one that counters the dominant MSM line in bennie-bashing.