Bennett: a complete failure

Written By: - Date published: 11:06 pm, March 28th, 2010 - 71 comments
Categories: benefits - Tags: , , , ,

What a complete failure Paula Bennett is. If you could bear to sit through her interview on Q+A yesterday, you would have heard nothing but vacuous crap completely divorced from reality and her actual policies.

We learn now that not only do her policies unjustifiably breach human rights, they were opposed by Treasury because the cost to DPB families of the parent being forced into whatever part-time work they can get is not worth the pitiful monetary reward.

Thanks to the punitive rate that benefits are abated at, a person can earn as little as a dollar an hour if they move into part-time work while on a benefit. Even if you’re an ordinary person on a benefit and working on minimum wage, every dollar you earn over $80 a week gets 12.5% tax plus 70% abatement, a 82.5% effective tax rate, which means you walk away with $2.20 an hour. For $2.20 an hour, Bennett is going to make solo mums leave their kids alone during school holidays.

Add to that the concerns of the Ministry of Health. They say her sickness benefit policy will cause 49,000 more GP visits a year for little appreciable reason. Her overly prescriptive and stupid approach will see the health system clogged with GP visits that simply restate what is already known about the beneficiaries health.

The utter drivel that came out of Bennett’s mouth when confronted with Treasury’s and Healths’ criticism of her policy was mind-numbing. Just a bunch of empty motherhood and apple-pie nonsense. It’s clear that the complexities of administering a $20 billion a year system and understanding the consequences of her polices are simply beyond her and, worse, she is incapable of even being concerned by her own limitations.

Meanwhile, benefit numbers continue to rise.There are 67,000 more working age people on benefits than when Paula Bennett became minister.

National has no solution because they refuse to even consider the one real solution to benefit dependency, a full employment policy.

71 comments on “Bennett: a complete failure”

  1. mcflock 1

    That’s a bit off – not the comments about Bennett, but fiddling with the scales on the graph. Not to mention the year gap between the Labour graph and NAct. During which time a recession was spreading, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of a spike during the last months of labour.

    Hey, I reckon just as much as the next guy that this govt is crap , but it should rest on facts, not fiddling with pretty pictures. Warts and all, not all and add a few warts that don’t exist.

    • Marty G 1.1

      There’s no year gap. The National one starts with Oct 2008 as the base. The Labour one ends in Oct 2008.

      Oh! you got confused because there aren’t labels on each month of the labour graph! Cute!

      But seriously, you can clearly see that it extends beyond the last (Nov 07) tick,

      I haven’t fooled with the scales – they show different things, read the titles.

      • Sarge 1.1.1

        mcflock: “During which time a recession was spreading, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of a spike during the last months of labour.”

        That’s a fair point. Whilst I too hate this govt as much as the next guy, two graphs showing the same thing would be a fairer comparsion (Yes, I realise the scale on the x-axis of Labour’s graph would have to be larger).

      • Ari 1.1.2

        While they may have different titles, they’re both tracking beneficiaries, and it’s a little confusing to have two graphs measuring similar things next to each other that operate on different scales.

      • Chris 1.1.3

        To make your point clearer, perhaps you could switch the order of graphs so that the Labour one is first followed by the National one.

      • mcflock 1.1.4

        Okay, so you have a chart where the tick marks on the axis, rather than the intervals betwwen the tick-marks, indicate the data points. You just haven’t labelled the last one, so it could go either way until I put a ruler against the monitor.

        Secondly, placing two similar, but subtley different, graphs side by side with different scales is misleading. Even when the titles are read and understood, the metamessage can be contrary to the actual data indicated. I read the titles. That’s why I think having a 30 degree gradient (or thereabouts, I’m not putting a protractor up to the screen as well) over the entire chart to represent a roughly 20% increase over one year is a bit off.

        Again, Nact are jerks. But this helps nobody because it looks either amateurish or just plain dodgy.

    • Mcdonalds 1.2

      Precisely why Bennett is asking the long term unemployed to get off their arses and at least try and find work so that the Social Welfare System can return what Savage intended them to be -safety nets for the unfortunate rather than lifestyle choices for the indolent.

  2. So is it a reflection of Key’s piss poor choice in appointing her or is there a serious lack of talent in Nationals ranks ?

    She must have talked a good game in opposition to have suckled her way into the trough but now that shes been found wanting, i’m wondering who the next lil piggy in line for her portfolio is and is it a real possibility that she’ll get shuffled back into the pack before long ?

    • Bill 2.1

      When you want to mindlessly fuck people over, you employ dumb fucks to do the fucking.

      • Janice 2.1.1

        And when she has finished fucking people over the boys will be all surprised at what she has done and sack her, but not unitl she has done their dirty work. Then they won’t change a thing.

        • A Nonny Moose 2.1.1.1

          And then those boys will say “Gosh darn it, look at how the poor little woman failed so miserable. Good example of why you never should have women in government. Ohhh shiney! Lookit that Woman’s Affairs office…let’s do something with that…”

  3. Peter Johns 3

    If Labour Greens is the alternative, then NZ is fucked. Labour had 9 years and produced squat for NZ.

    • r0b 3.1

      You mean squat apart from unemployment down to 30 year lows, crime down, numbers on benefits down, economy growing, Working for Families, superannuation increases, minimum wage raised every year, four weeks leave, 20 hours free early childhood education, fair rents, interest free loans for students, poverty / childhood poverty rates down, suicide rates down, cheaper doctors vists, modern apprenticeships, and employment law which stopped the widening wage gap with Australia. Not to forget, an independent and sane foreign policy, planning for the long term future via Cullen Fund and KiwiSaver, and strengthening the economy by paying off massive amounts of 70’s and 80’s debt (so reducing previously crippling annual interest charges), stimulating a booming rural economy, and with state owned assets (Air NZ, KiwiBank, KiwiRail, breaking up the Telecom monopoly, back to ACC).

      And they did it all without tearing up Schedule 4 conservation land.

      Bloody Romans Labour.

      • Zorr 3.1.1

        LMAO

        Damn you Rob beating me to it!

      • infused 3.1.2

        Yawn, Labour didn’t produce that. They had their finger up their ass. The global boom did this.

      • Jum 3.1.3

        Great Rob

        Keep the list going. I will carry it in my wallet. Can it be a growing thread on The Standard??? A list for National and a list for Labour might be useful.

        I always maintained that everything the last Labour did was positive and everything National did/are doing was negative. I’d be interested to know if that’s correct. Certainly looks like I’m right about positive Labour. National is still weaving its dream and we’re ending up with a nightmayor if all goes according to NAct’s plan.

    • Zorr 3.2

      Honestly, somewhere on the internet, there should be THE LIST – a document containing all the advances that Labour + Greens made for this country in the past 9 years that we can just drag out a link to every time one of these cretins makes this allegation.

      Wait, what I really mean is:
      “All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

      • r0b 3.2.1

        Make a list, post it here! I have my own (as above) which I paste in every time some ninny makes this claim – saves heaps of time…

        • Skippybuckstrend 3.2.1.1

          Labour achievements or policies, with their positive effects and/or the reason they were good policies and then the ones that National has managed to screwup or has taken away so far.

          A pledge card in reverse…

      • Jum 3.2.2

        Sorry Zorr – missed your post. Plus I thought about acknowledging the MMP parties gains – very important if we support having MMP. The Act list will be priceless. The Greens will possibly be the only positive in a sea of negative on National’s list.

  4. B 4

    youve got the figures a bit wrong marty – for the dpb anyway – its secondary tax if you work while on a benefit so around 22% not 12.5% also abatement rate is 30% between $80 and $180 ,then 70% over$180. I think the sickness benefit might have steeper abatement not too sure on that.

    however you are absolutely right its a pretty crappy deal, some other factors are-

    beneficiaries don’t get to keep the first $80 of what they earn – its $80 gross so works out to around $60 – or less of you are on student loan rate.

    Take into account childcare and petrol it works out pretty much to a negative hourly rate after the first $80 ($60)

    • Marty G 4.1

      secondary tax is a withholding tax, it doesn’t change your ultimate tax liability for the year.

      • B 4.1.1

        Sorry about that Im not up on ird ins and outs, does that mean you get a refund at the end of the year? The figures I gave were from having worked part time while on the dpb myself – but dont remember ever getting that secondary tax back

      • JAS 4.1.2

        True Marty, but it does affect low income earners at the time its withheld.

        Theres a major flaw in that secondary tax [b]must[/b] be charged on income from wages, even if that is the greater income, as it cannot be charged on a benefit.

      • B 4.1.3

        anyway regardless – people have to live on what they get week to week – a refund at the end of the year is a little late for those who have hungry mouths to feed today

  5. I think you will also find that they also deduct all or a portion of housing allowance and possibly any child allowance which i think is an IRD thing. It would be nice if someone in the know fills us with some of the details because i expect it is way worse than what it may seem.

    • Zorr 5.1

      Well, I can give you all the figures if you want:

      DPB Solo Parents – can earn $80 before any abatement (can get up to an extra $20 added to this abatement for childcare costs associated with working). The next $100 is abated at 30c in the dollar. And after that it is at 70c. Most people who manage to pick up part time work on this abatement scheme (also includes Invalids beneficiaries) actually do end up quite a lot better off – if they earn $200 gross or less though.

      Sickness Benefit – $80 before any abatement but after that it is 70c in the dollar.

      The one thing to remember here though is that no matter what you earn, as long as you are still capable of receiving any part of a main benefit you will still be able to receive the full rates for the additional assistance such as Accomodation Supplement, Disability Allowance and Temporary Additional Support.

      Plus Family Tax Credits are an excellent incentive in this regard as it does take a significant amount of earning to have them decreased and if you are a sole parent and work 20hours or more a week you can get the $60 In Work Tax Credit.

      Any further questions?

      And yes, I just happen to know this stuff… =^_^=

      • B 5.1.1

        Temporary Additional Support is reduced dolar for dollar

        • Zorr 5.1.1.1

          Depends on the specifics of the situation. Often Temporary Additional Support is either granted or not granted. It also only lasts 13 weeks maximum before you have to reapply for it. It doesn’t quite fall in to the same category as the other two as far as ongoing assistance. It is specifically there to help those who are unable to meet their essential needs with all other assistance (including the other Work and Income options) tapped out. It is one of the last lines of assistance.

          So, in short, yes if you are working then you are unlikely to get Temporary Additional Support but if you aren’t working and require it then you are already in a difficult quandry. And working DOES pay A LOT better than the temporary additional support.

    • Chris 5.2

      Perhaps we could ask Bennett?

    • Ms X 5.3

      From memory I think that the accommodation supplement is safe – because you can get it as non-beneficiary – but the first $80 is the only bit that doesn’t affect the benefit (unless the dyname govt we have now keeps one of its promises and does move that threshold to $100 -wow). After that the rate is as stated above. Accommodation supplement would only abate on high income, as with Disability Allowance – but Temporary Additional support (which replace Special Benefit) goes quite quickly with additional income.

  6. JAS 6

    Dont forget any that are Housing NZ tenants also face a rent increase based on their income.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 6.1

      Good point, if they were truly interested in getting beneficiaries into work they’d stop penalising Housing NZ tenants when they start earning an income.

  7. BLiP 7

    Basher Bennett puts the boot in again . . . rinse and repeat.

    • MikeG 7.1

      Once again she manages to find one extreme example, but with the implication that it is one of many.

      • JAS 7.1.1

        I guess at least this time she didn’t name her example, but she also didn’t provide the entire story, her example could be someone who has saved the country the expense of foster care for children she took in etc etc.

        Of course the majority of NZ jumps to conclusions that shes deliberately popping out babes for the extra fortune she can grab from the govt, just like PB intended.

  8. Jenny 8

    Paula Bennet is the Sarah Palin of New Zealand politics.

    Now if we only had some really good comedy act, able to highlight her embarrassingly vacuous, and vicious nature.

    • Janice 8.1

      Not as well dressed or good looking though, certainly as dumb. Who was the comedian that used to take off Jenny Shipley? She should be good for the job, but who would screen it?

  9. Jenny 9

    Yay, Marty.

    “National has no solution because they refuse to even consider the one real solution to benefit dependency, a full employment policy.”

    Of course for National to consider”A full employment policy”, would mean National having to consider massive tax increases on the wealthy bankers and financiers to pay for it. But, Hey, aren’t they the ones who caused the recession in the first place. And it is not as if they couldn’t afford it.
    Maybe it is about time these sorts of people felt some of the pain of the recession as well.

    How about it Marty, what do you think?

    • goldenshower 9.1

      Why does there have to be a massive tax increase to pay for a full employment policy ………. why not work for the dole ?

  10. tc 10

    And I bet she received a stern examination and dissection of her comments on the publicly funded national soapbox TVNZ provides with it’s intelligent and independant panel………yeah right.

    Remember the day when polly’s were put on the spot by the msm media for poor performances……you’d have to look at Beaston 8.30 tuesday stratos for that now if they show up.

  11. Vivienne 11

    Do not forget the FACTS. It was the Labour-Progressive government which did all the great things. The Greens had a confidence and supply agreement with the government throughout the Clark-Anderton years. Many of these gains came from The Progressives for example Kiwi Bank, Four Weeks Annual Leave, Paid Parental Leave, Interest Free Student Loans, Modern apprenticeships and The Ministry Of Regional Economic and Industry Development driving The Jobs Machine. None of these were Green Party policy. Please ascribe credit were it is due and be honest.

    • mcflock 11.1

      Actually it was Labour-Alliance, right up until somebody in party leadership decided to make up policy as he went along (Afghanistan was the final straw). Then it was Labour-Anderton, during which time more Green policy got implemented that Anderton-whim. And so NZ is flooded with the mad criminals created by the evil NOS…

    • Jum 11.2

      Right Vivienne and these FACTS will be very important when fighting for a tweaked MMP (the tweaking of Act would be a good start.

      I’ve added those to my wallet list.

  12. h1 12

    …. a closet with a few awkward facts lurking within, inheritance anybody…how did the late legator come by the legacy, I mean….. all those trips home….from where…with what…diving gear…. ?

  13. Anne 13

    The drivel coming out of Paula Bennett’s mouth was too much for me. I tuned out. But not before I noted the stacking of the Q&A panel in Bennett’s favour. I’d be interested to know how much influence Holmes has on the selection of guest panellists. Last year he expressed his admiration for both Paula Bennett and Christine Rankin. “I don’t understand what people have against them” he said. He even gave Bennett the top ministerial score (8/10) in one of his HOS columns. One of the first things Bennett did when she became minister was to appoint Rankin to the Families Commission, so it came as no surprise she was picked for the panel. And the other panellist – to balance out the debate – was John Tamihere. Need I say more?

    • B 13.1

      Ill give you the highlights: Christine Rankin waxed lyrical on the power of the human spirit and what amazing things can happen when you tap into it. Tamahere was rambling. Arseneau was the voice of reason but as usual noone was listening.

  14. Ianmac 14

    Be fair. Look for the good aspects of people. Paula Benefit for example has in her favour support from John Key, Paul Holmes, Christine Rankin. And she now has ummm… super, brilliantly WHITE teeth!

  15. Anne 16

    Yeah, she’s been to the dentist and spent a few thousand having them whitened. Coming to think of it, so have Holmes and Rankin. 😀

  16. Anne 17

    On second thoughts they’ve all been to the dentist.

    Crosby/Textor instructions Nov. 2008:
    TOP PRIORITY.
    All National parliamentary teeth to be laser whitened. Essential for ‘smile and wave’ photo ops. and TV interviews. Cost (all up) $285,000 – to be reimbursed by tax-payer funded Parliamentary Services.

    • Ianmac 17.1

      Anne:
      Question in the House: “Is it true that the Ministers who have had teeth whitening, have done so at the taxpayers expense?”
      Answer from the PM: “Everyone knows that Phil Goff is not as sexy as I am, and when Labour was in power for 9 whole years they did nothing about discoloured teeth!” Applause from the Govt benches. Labour MP’s look crushed.

  17. Jum 18

    I was an advocate for people with benefit issues but the main thing that has always stuck in my mind, and which made me laugh out loud at Bennett’s breezy reply about quickly organising a same-day appointment, if the benefit was halved or stopped, to re-instate the benefit.

    On all the occasions I rang the local WINZ office to speak to the receptionist, I HAD TO LEAVE A MESSAGE! I thought receptionists were on duty all the time, with backup for breaks, in any business, otherwise why would you have them! I always had a reply… the following day.

    It was hard enough just linking up with the local office through the customer service number. You could get personal case manager numbers but they were not always available to me, and they were always on answer phone while assisting clients. (The Case Manager’s workload is back to back all day except for lunch and breaks).

    Hence my total disbelief at hearing Paula Bennett saying how simple it would be to get a same day appointment

    Next step; travel in using money you can ill afford (if you still have any) to spend to make an appointment you probably won’t get until tomorrow to get money you needed today…

    Absolutely, every appointment should be kept and I have no patience with those who think the world revolves around them, but let’s not pretend that number is large and certainly let’s not pretend that the Ministry of Social Development is there to support beneficiaries under this government.

    This is like the National Standards garbage, and an Auckland transport problem that became a supercity. A few people in each area that NAct uses to exploit and control the powerless.

    Why, when keyhole surgery would suffice, do they go in for open cast mining? Shock and awe if you will. Doesn’t bode well for the mining of New Zealand…

  18. Anne 19

    @ B
    Before I tuned out, I did notice that Arseneau was looking quite uncomfortable parked as she was between those two… 😀

  19. Anne 20

    @Ianmac.
    Watch parliament during Question Time tomorrow. Check the Nat women in particular. Most of them have sets of molars that would do a lighthouse proud. Maybe it’s true. They’ve been lasered as per Crosby/Textor instructions.

  20. Beth 21

    Paula Bennett is an incompetent fool. I loathe her. What really baffles me is the increased amount of medical certificates required for the sickness benefit. Doctors can select how long it should be before a person requires reassessment depending on their illness, it doesn’t make sense that a Govt department should over-ride that, especially when most of the case managers have no idea what most of the illnesses are and how it effects someone. Also, am I right thinking that a few months ago there was a huge MSD staffing cull? Are they planning on re-hiring those people to tackle the mountain of paperwork these changes are going to produce.
    Also, is the pressure on WINZ case managers to push people into work going to influence them to make unethical decisions to meet targets?

    I had an experience with a patient of mine, a 16 year old boy with severe psychosis, who applied for the Independent Youth Benefit (Sickness) with a medical cert clearing outlining his illness and how it effected him (including: ‘disoriented at times to time and place, delusional and grandiose causing serious risk to himself and others’) and a covering letter explaining that under no circumstances should he be forced into schooling/work at that time, and he left having being enrolled in the BOOT CAMP programme MSD runs!! He was pressured into enrolling by his case manager, who was either too thick to understand what psychosis is, or too lazy and negligent to read their own paperwork.
    I mean seriously, what the fuck is that? How many very vulnerable people, particularly those with chronic, long term illnesses and those with mental illness are going to be pressured into positions that will only make their problems worse?

  21. aj 22

    Anne, at one point Arseneau gave a spanking to Rankin, after a Rankin-esque put-down. Slightly gratify but Arseneaux is too polite for her role.

  22. Frank Macskasy 23

    Beneficiary bashing in this country is definitely becoming uglier by the day. It seems that Paula Bennet’s attacks on beneficiaries – seemingly condoned by the Prime Minister – has given prejudice free reign in the country. It is now permissable to demonise a vulnerable group in society based on the pretext of “ending bludging”.

    The SUNDAY STAR TIMES article “Solo mum racks up 36 years on benefit” (http://tinyurl.com/ydqe7mk, 28 March), was a grubby piece of pseudo-journalism. The article was critical in it’s tone of an un-named woman who has cared for children for 36 years. The article failed on every level of professional journalism to ask the basic questions; What, How, Why, and Who.

    For all we know, that woman has dedicated herself to raising unwanted children from broken families – children who might otherwise have ended up like Nia Glassie or James Whakaruru.

    But we don’t know.

    Because the SST took a few facts and figures (provided no doubt by a compliant Minister of Social Welfare) and presented them in a way to guarantee a moral outrage response.

    This is not journalism. This is propaganda. And though Dr Goebbels would have been pleased with it, I found it vile.

    As for the Q & A last night; we sat and watched with a mixture of horror and amusement (if the two can ever be mixed). Bennet’s statements became more outrageous every time she opened her mouth and god knows what Guyon Espiner must have thought of that grinning idiot.

    The most telling moment came when Espiner suggested that sickness beneficiaries would probably end up working for the equivalent of $1 an hour. Bennet blithly replied that it’s not all about money, it’s about other ‘benefits’ to working.

    I have three responses to that.

    1. Ms Bennet earns an $243,700 (http://tinyurl.com/yfxqkmj) plus perks plus generous retirement packages plus god-knows-what-else. So much for “it’s not all about money”.

    2. Five haunting words, taken from one of the darkest periods of the 20th Century: “Work will set you free”.

    3. John Key originally had more humane ideas about welfare, prior to the election;

    “Before I get into that, I want to talk a little more about welfare in general.

    You might ask why I use the word “welfare” when the vogue nowadays is to talk about “social development”. I unashamedly use the word welfare because I believe in the welfare state. I have a personal commitment to it. My father died when I was seven years old. My mother, my two older sisters, and I had no other family in New Zealand. For a period of time after my father died, my mother relied on the safety net provided by the Widows Benefit.

    My family was poor, and we knew it, but the benefit gave my mother enough security to keep us together and keep us focused on a time when things would improve. By having our most basic needs covered as a family, we were able to hold on to that most precious human emotion hope.

    Over time, my mother moved off the benefit and into work. The welfare system continued to support us, however, by providing us with a state house. It wasn’t flash, but it was home.

    I think almost all New Zealanders believe in the desirability of the welfare state. In particular, I think New Zealanders take it on trust that there will always be a safety net of social welfare benefits. We’re a compassionate and fair people whose instinct is to give a person a helping hand when they need it.

    National is committed to a benefit system that is a genuine safety net in times of need. We’re committed to a comprehensive system of benefits that provides temporary support to people as they return to independence, and also provides indefinite, compassionate support to people who are physically or mentally unable to support themselves.” – http://tinyurl.com/ykaqvob

    Yeah, right.

  23. Anne 24

    I think Frank Macskasy’s comments should be repeated as a “guest post.”

    • B 24.1

      I second that

      • felix 24.1.1

        Me 3.

        • blinded by the right 24.1.1.1

          Really? Even though he twice compares National to the Nazis?

          • lprent 24.1.1.1.1

            I think that we’ve all read No Minister, Clint Heine, WhaleOil and Halfdone with their uninteresting analogies to irrelevant past history. For that matter Tumeke and Ideologically Impure when they get wound up.

            At least Frank put both references exactly into context without much of the ridiculous assumptions used by others in the blogosphere…

          • Frank Macskasy 24.1.1.1.2

            Not quite, “blinded by the right”.

            My reference to Dr Goebbels was in regards to the Sunday Star Times’ article.

            As for comparing National to the Nazis – again, no. I used the statement, “Five haunting words, taken from one of the darkest periods of the 20th Century: “Work will set you free’.” to illustrate how the concept of enforced labour can be exploited and mis-used.

            At any rate, my criticisms in my writings are pretty mild and non-confrontation when compared to some of the vitriol I’ve seen on right-wing blogs (as lprent said); on other internet messageboards; or heard on talkback.

            Why is it, I wonder, that the Right wing will make quite nasty personal attacks on someone presenting an opinion – rather than address the opinion itself?

            Can it be that the Right have no answers to the criticisms expressed by the Left?

            Can it be that the Left deals in facts that are unpalatable to the Right, and the only way to respond is with naked fury unleashed at the individual, rather than the individual’s views?

            This isn’t directed at you, “blinded by the right”. More by what I read here: http://www.thestandard.org.nz/too-far/ the other day.

            Unbelievable, really.

            When we see comments and behaviour like that (irrespective of where it comes from), it shows that those who stoop to such gutter-levels are totally bankrupt in their philosophy and have alienated themselves from the mainstream of society…

            Just something to ponder.

  24. BLiP 25

    mainstream of society

    What’s that?

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