Bennett in yet another privacy breach

Written By: - Date published: 3:48 pm, May 29th, 2010 - 77 comments
Categories: benefits - Tags: ,

Audrey Young reports that Paula Bennett has once again abused the trust and power that is given to her as a minister in her campaign to paint all beneficiaries as bludgers.

“National Party delegates took in a deep breath this morning when social welfare minister Paula Bennett told them about a West Coast couple who had had been living on an invalids benefit for 15 years and were on $1700 a week.”

A large amount of money, about a quarter of the tax cut that National gave Paul Reynolds.

Said Bennett “What gets me most about this story is that in the 15 years they have been on the benefit – the husband has a very bad back – they had 10 children.”

$1,700 a week between 12, not so much, and most of it is actually going to be Working For Families payments.

Now, I don’t know anything about this family. I’m in no position, and neither are you, to assume they are bludgers or legitimate.

But if this family is not entitled to their benefit then Bennett should do her damn job and get them off it. If they are entitled then she shouldn’t be accusing them of being bludgers.

Gee, how great it would be to have a media that asked ministers to do their jobs. Young seems to actually think doing so would be silly: “I guess that will be enough detail for some people to suggest she has breached the privacy of some more beneficiaries – having still not rid herself of the privacy complaint from Natasha Fuller.”

In my dream world, those “some people” are called the press gallery.

Where is our fourth estate? When will they stand up and hold ministers that break the rules accountable?

77 comments on “Bennett in yet another privacy breach”

  1. ianmac 1

    Did she name the couple? If so then a complaint should follow.
    If not named then the excuse for bringing it up would be to shame the “bludgers.” Wonder if there were details of the couple.
    Were the kids all their own or were they a foster family helping out. Were they illegal?
    Was the gasp of horror at the couple who benefited or a gasp at Bennett’s cheek?
    Wonder if she said what should happen to the kids if the benefit was slashed?

    The Privacy lawyer who made comments the other day on Stuff I think, said that he thought that PB had made another breach of privacy by telling the media about the request for Natasha’s compensation.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      You’ll notice that in the article that Bennett implied that if they were capable of having sex then they were capable of working. Of course, even quadriplegics can have sex so all she’s really proved is that she’s ignorant (and all the National people there as well).

  2. Carol 2

    PB is now being so consistent with these kinds of comments, that I don’t believe she is doing it off her own initiative. Looks to me like a propaganda strategy of the party.

    • just saying 2.1

      Agreed Carol.
      And the Nats think it comes best from the mouth of a former beneficiary – (Some would say not-so-much of the ‘former’ as well.)

      • Crashcart 2.1.1

        Have to agree with this one. After getting caught out widening the wage gap by taking from the poor and giving to the rich they probably feel they have to paint those people as a bunch of bludgers to try to get the middle on their side. It’s completely shit house.

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    Wee gripe:

    “most of it is actually going to be Working For Families payments.”

    Wouldn’t it be some sort of an adjustment to the invalids benefit for number of dependents?

    But yeah, a shocking ‘joke’ from the minister, softly reported by Young.

    What worries me is that the PM said publicly that he thinks Bennett has acted honourably throughout over the other matter.

    There was no need for him to step in and say anything while it’s still being played out.

    If he is signaling that he won’t be requiring here resignation should the PC find a breach, which it looks clear that they will, then we now live in a country where the state can use information it holds against citizens for political fodder.

    Nothing for it but to make robinsod the Minister of Revenue in the next left led government.

    • andy (the other one) 3.1

      make robinsod the Minister of Revenue

      Me like idea much 🙂

    • Zorr 3.2

      Invalids Benefit is a set rate. The payment is not affected by the number of children.

      Accommodation Supplement only takes in to account if you have 1 child or 2+ children – doesn’t matter if you have 3 or 7 after that point.

      Disability Allowance is only payable for illness/disability related costs and only to a maximum of around $50 per person receiving it (can get it for the children if they have conditions as well).

      Temporary Additional Support is to cover specific costs and is only meant to be given where such costs were incurred before becoming a beneficiary or where AS or DA don’t cover enough of the costs under their maximum limits.

      I would be very interested in seeing the breakdown of the benefit payments here if only to point and laugh at her stupidity as it gets pointed out that the payments this couple are receiving include Family Tax Credits (which WINZ can pay on behalf of IRD).

      Just ran that through the IRD with a quick assumption of all children under 12 years old for ease – $626.00 pw in FTC alone. Bet that they form part of the “benefit payment” for this couple

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Where is our fourth estate?

    In Nationals’ pockets.

  5. Alexandra 5

    Its likely that people living near the family concerned know who bennett is referring too, including the local school community. Another filthy stunt by bennett. Given the regularity of her performance, I agree that this is a concerted strategy and one which bennett appears to undertake with relish.

    • Jim Nald 5.1

      She gives reptiles a bad name.

    • Zorr 5.2

      Under the laws of the Privacy Act if this couple chose to pursue a case against PB they would win because it does count as a privacy breach if it can be shown that from the details provided by PB that people would be able to reasonably identify them.

  6. deemac 6

    there is no media scrutiny because most of the media is owned by people who support the National Party. That’s why we need The Standard.

  7. Tigger 7

    She’s a poster child for National. A former beneficiary who apparently hates beneficiaries.

    • Jim Nald 7.1

      Poster child. Wow. Might that also be like like a centre-fold for the risque right?

      Ok, I will be polite. I will behave for the rest of this evening.

    • Yeah. She relied on a benefit during a difficult time and then had the opportunity thanks to the state to educate herself and get off the benefit.

      And ever since she has become a Minister she has torched the educational lifeline that she had and she has abused others who have relied on a benefit.

      Her problem is that she is really stupid. She does not realise that unemployment is a product of a poorly functioning economy and not the mass outbreak of bludgerism.

  8. SHG 8

    I’m in no position, and neither are you, to assume they are bludgers or legitimate.

    Well here’s a simple test. If they had children while on a benefit, they’re bludgers.

      • SHG 8.1.1

        Children are expensive. Children are not necessities – they are luxuries. If one cannot afford to live without government assistance, one should not be spending money on luxuries. If one does spend money on luxuries while living on government assistance, one is bludging.

        • Armchair Critic 8.1.1.1

          Children are not necessities
          No, actually they are necessities. Without children we are, as a species, extinct. If you think that only some people should be allowed to have children then you have something in common with governments whose whole policy direction I disagree with.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-replacement_fertility

          • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1.1.1

            Did that clown just say that the poor should eat their children to save the crown some dosh?

          • SHG 8.1.1.1.2

            If you think that only some people should be allowed to have children…

            I look at it from the converse position – some people should NOT be allowed to have children. For example, people who can’t afford it.

            • A Nonny Moose 8.1.1.1.2.1

              Your argument is teetering precariously close to eugenics SHG.

        • Stacktwo 8.1.1.2

          I think I can see why SHG is not a necessity.

    • So during the great depression there was the rampant development of bludgerism and it had nothing to do with the poorly performing economy. Why was that?

  9. Bill 9

    “I’m in no position, and neither are you, to assume they are bludgers or legitimate.”

    Seemingly innocuous statements like that make me uneasy. Unintentional though it is (I’m sure) in this instance, it casts unwarranted aspersions on recipients of welfare payments by suggesting there is a judgement to be made… just not unless or until you are availed of the relevant information that would determine the matter one way or the other.

    It’s the kind of implicit prejudice that the likes of Bennett can play on; that gives ‘dob in your neighbour’ campaigns initial traction.

    Of course they are legitimate! There is nothing illegal or unlawful about being in receipt of state payments. Just ask any banker.

  10. John 10

    They probably live down the West Coast to get away from “people” like PB! But they have been tracked down! How dare they over breed!

  11. Lindsay 11

    Anita, Benefits are supposed to support people as a last resort. The original Labour Party, which introduced most of the benefits we have today, would be horrified that people are producing children they can’t support, in the expectation that other people will be taxed to fill the void. The Social Security Act of 1938 had noble intentions. Had I been alive in those times I would certainly have supported it. But NZ has gone well past providing assistance in the manner originally envisaged. Yes, the world has changed but that doesn’t negate the basic pinciples upon which a fair and sustainable benefit system should be based.

    • Marty G 11.1

      Labour reduced the number of beneficiaries by 100,000. It’s gone up 50,000 odd since National came to power

      • mickysavage 11.1.1

        Yes why is there this outbreak of bludgerism every time a National Government gets elected?

      • infused 11.1.2

        Yeah, they lost jobs because of a recession. God damm Marty, you just spin spin spin. Can’t wait till everyone is off the benefit again and you claim it’s all because of a world recovery. That’s how you lefties work.

    • BLiP 11.2

      So, you want the right to have children removed from beneficiaries. Any other right you like to see removed? Perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to vote either or, maybe, go for a beer or, what about, owning a home?

    • Pascal's bookie 11.3

      I’m pretty sure there were a number of full blown red flag waving, Internationale singing commun*sts in the Labour party in the 30’s, and certainly in the broader movement. I kind of think it’s meaningless to make suppositions about what they might think. That said though, I’m pretty bloody sure that of all the things they would be horrified about in the post 1980 Labour party, welfare policy would be about the last of it.

      When you say you would have supported the SSA of 38, are you saying the 2010 Lindsay would support it, or the 1938 one? I think the only meaningful way of interpreting it is to say that you would like to reinstate the 38 Act today.

  12. Any one know if Paula Bennett’s Daughter is a welfare recipient seen as her baby daddy is in jail? Would be interesting to know.

    • B 12.1

      No she is supported by mummy last time I heard.

    • Hanswurst 12.2

      No, it wouldn’t. The fact that this has got so personal is the problem, not the solution. Bennet’s daughter is a private citizen like everybody else, and invading her privacy would just legitimise Bennet’s actions in the eyes of many and effectively give her a get out of jail free card.

      • A Nonny Moose 12.2.1

        This. Don’t stoop to Bennett’s level. We’re grown ups, and can argue this in a better way.

  13. Lindsay 13

    Marty G, We both know that around a quarter of a million adults remained benefit-dependent even when NZ had the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD and that the recent rise is a response to the international recession.

    BLiP, No, I do not want to remove a beneficiary’s right to have a child. What I want to remove is their right to be supported for many years on the back of that child. There is nothing wrong with temporary assistance to aid people over a period (except where disabilities are involved) .

    As I said I do not understand why you guys defend what your political forbears would have been shocked by.

    • Pascal's bookie 13.1

      As I said I do not understand why you guys defend what your political forbears would have been shocked by.

      Compare, contrast: “Conservative” “Progressive”

      Understand now?

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      We both know that around a quarter of a million adults remained benefit-dependent even when NZ had the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD…

      Which would indicate that people just aren’t paid enough in NZ.

      (except where disabilities are involved)

      the husband has a very bad back

      I’d generally go by the idea that the local WINZ office is doing it’s job.

    • Bill 13.3

      My political forebears, as you term them, were shocked and angered at the idea of wage slavery and fought against it. They were variously black listed, hanged, deported and shot for their troubles. I can only surmise how they might have felt towards your argumant which firstly seeks to elevate wage slavery to some moral and natural or god given high ground and secondly blame and penalise the most victimised victims of this rigged market economy.

    • QoT 13.4

      supported for many years on the back of that child

      Hear here, Lindsay! Because what the Left so often seems to forget is that children don’t eat food [much less require clothes, shelter, heating], thus any amount paid to their parents is just party money.

  14. Lindsay 14

    Walter Nash explaining the rationale for the none means-tested universal superannuation versus the other newly introduced benefits as part of the Social Security Act 1938;

    “The distinction is that old age is the one definite occurrence for which everyone must provide and is permanent while the other benefits apply to disabilities that are fortuitous and, normally only a temporary interruption of the ability of the applicant and his or her dependants to support themselves.”

    Yes Pascal’s bookie, I would go along with the latter part of that statement.

    • Pascal's bookie 14.1

      Firstly, I’m not sure why you addressed that at me because it’s non-responsive to anything I said.

      No one is any doubt about the fact that you would quite happily take welfare back to to pre-war approaches, I was questioning your bs rhetoric that this somehow makes you the heir to the pre-war Labour party. I suspect that if you were around back then, you’d oppose the 38 Act on the same grounds it’s opponents back then used. But just as with your fanciful theories about ‘what they would think if they were alive today’, who cares?

      Nextly, that word, ‘normally’. That means , ‘not always, but mostly’.

    • Bill 14.2

      “The caucus was also becoming more divided over the details of its social security scheme. Again Nash, who had to fund the reforms, was seen as timid and conservative by more radical members.”

      http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/default.asp?Find_Quick.asp?PersonEssay=4N2 (13th para)

  15. B 15

    Bennett seems to have a convenient list of ‘shocking’ examples of bludging beneficiaries ready to pull out in replies to questions at a moments notice. In fact she seems to be in a permanent state of ‘shock’ at the amount of people on the bene, how much they get and the length of time they stay there. Seems a strange stance from a minister of social development because as you say, why doesn’t she make sure people are legit if shes so shocked about these ‘bludgers’.

    Obviously her ignorant comments and tastelss ‘jokes’ are all part of a plan to get the public on her side for when she really starts screwing the sick, invalids, sole parents and their children over.

  16. robin 16

    As much as I deplore Paula Bennet’s approach to welfare reform as it stands, I do think that children of beneficiaries should be automatically forgiven if their parents have allowed them to reset to their own bludgering state, and become beneficiaries too, and who would disagree? In this regard though, Ms Bennet obviously couldn’t give a care less. As some one else stated ‘I think she’s just plain dumb’.

    In Paula Bennet’s first term in a government responsibe for the welfare of our people, she dismissed a simple fact that fruit in our schools was a blessing for our children and canceled this excellent pro-active reform instigated by the former Labour government. She also declared she would put paid to lower level tertiary education such as “Tops” which was primarily aimed at young people from poorer backgrounds, which would have surely included young teens from the welfare state.

    She is grevious to assume, in my view, that up to 10 children shouldn’t have been born simply because their father had a ‘bad back’. This woman, in my opinion, will have a lot to answer come the next election.

  17. You will note that the said offenders in Paula Bennett’s eye is actually an invalids benefit and as such without knowing his/there reason for being there, you can expect them to be long term. What PB infers but does not offer proof is whether all the children are biologically theirs.

    • ak 17.1

      Mauler clearly claimed they were. “In the 15years ….they had 10 children”. In which case it would seem impossible to get to anywhere near $1700/wk – even counting WFF.

      On the other hand, if, as I suspect, this sickening perversion of humanity is lying for political effect and some of the children are on Unsupported Child’s Benefit, the couple in question are actually saving the taxpayer hundreds of dollars per week in foster care payments.

      Either way, we can be assured that every cent is no more than the family’s legal entitlement, and that this is a cold, premeditated gambit: the clammy, calculating hands of NACT are once again tightening round the necks of the poor. The classic satanic act down the centuries: kicking the least of them in the teeth for pure political gain.

      Mauler Benefit, Ruthless Richdaughter, Shylock Key
      Fabulous evil now reality
      How the Dickens to be thwart
      When the scribes are all bought?

  18. Lindsay 18

    Pascal’s bookie said; “No one is any doubt about the fact that you would quite happily take welfare back to to pre-war approaches, I was questioning your bs rhetoric that this somehow makes you the heir to the pre-war Labour party. I suspect that if you were around back then, you’d oppose the 38 Act on the same grounds it’s opponents back then used.”

    Post-depression approaches, reacting to poverty beyond people’s control, and I would have supported it. But 70 years on, the limits of government assistance and intervention are clear. Which is why throughout the developed world countries are reforming their social security systems.

    Labour would normally lead reform. But some at the Standard are so consumed by attacking Paula Bennett (with reason) that they end up defending the indefensible.

  19. ianmac 19

    Lindsay apart from your fuming, which benefits would you can or reduce? There are real people in real need. And yes there are probably a few who are cheating. But I imagine that the size of the cheating would be miniscule compared to the cheating of the very rich through hiding income. Lets put the tiny number of cheats aside or else it becomes like putting everyone in jail for life because there are a few really violent people.
    So Lindsay. Put your mouth where your reforms will be. Waiting.

  20. hellonearthis 20

    If you don’t want your private government information shared, please set OPT OUT to paula.bennettmp@parliament.govt.nz

    • This is a really good idea, there should be a mas opt out campaign.

      Not only beneficiaries should be interested.

      Members of the Business round table have the possibility of their tax details being publicised “so there can be a proper debate” when they advocate for a cut in the corporate tax and also people who chose to advocate for a change in the health system stand to have their medical details publicised again “so there can be a proper debate”.

      The principle is chilling and as the above examples show absurd. Paula must have calculated that a bit of bennie bashing would make her look tough and go down with the wingnuts and the bennies would not fight back.

      I hope she calculated wrong.

    • felix 20.2

      How does this “opt-out campaign” malarkey work then?

  21. Lindsay 21

    “Lindsay apart from your fuming, which benefits would you can or reduce?”

    I wouldn’t reduce any payment levels.

    My priority for reform would be the DPB. Replace it with temporary assistance only (bar those carers with disabled dependants).

    The most difficult area is the sickness and invalid benefits. It was encouraging to see the Australasian College of Physicians issuing a position paper this week saying work is integral to good health and well-being and they believe around two thirds of “sickness absence and long term incapacity ” was due to mild and treatable conditions. There is a growing recognition and acknowledgement that these benefits are also inadvertently hurting some people. Reforms come down to better screening of both applicants and existing claimants, greater rehab and treatment availability (compulsory for claimants) and probably shifting eligibility decisions to an independent body.

    Many people would be better served by unemployment insurance of the kind we see in Europe and the US and funded by payroll taxes. That would at least give all workers a guaranteed entitlement. But the unemployment benefit had reached very low levels under Labour (partly due to the growth of IB and SB) and reform of it isn’t as urgent as the other three main benefits.

    • just saying 21.1

      Link???

      • just saying 21.1.1

        This article does NOT say ….”two thirds of sickness absense and long term incapacity is due to minor treatable conditions”….

        Did you just make that bit up, or somehow exptrapolate it from what was written?

        Btw I see this is a press release from ACC which has a wee bit of an agenda IMO.

  22. Craig Glen Eden 22

    Bennett’s actions are disgusting quite frankly. Once again she is bullying and in this case risking these children’s right to privacy I for one are getting quite sick of this stupid woman’s behavior.

    Bennett claims she is a Westie but clearly she is not, Westie’s are very compassionate people and don’t like pretentious wannabe types or bullies. Westies stand up for the under dog , I think Bennett should be very careful because it wont take much more and I think she will will find she might start getting a bit of rough treatment out West and many will simply say you had that coming “Bitch”.
    Lets hope the media start getting into her and she stops this bullying because I have already seen woman out West warn Bennett in public meetings, she is playing a very dangerous game indeed!

    • Anne 22.1

      While Bennett’s actions are politically motivated, I wonder if she is also a bit of a sociopath? Not a physically violent one of course, but she does exhibit some of the traits. Bullying behaviour… vendettas… narcisstic tendencies… and no genuine empathy towards the individuals she purports to want to help even though she has been (she claims) down the same road. What’s more she’s a liar but she sure hasn’t got that on her own where this govt. is concerned.

      • Mac1 22.1.1

        At a meeting I was at yesterday, a member asked what we should call the successor to the ‘Nanny’ State, beloved of the Right. My take is the word from your post, Anne; the “Bully State”.

        There is an authoritarian streak to this government and its actions. Even if ‘Nanny’ applied to the previous government, at least Nanny had our best interests at heart. I don’t feel the same is true of Bennett and her bullying ilk.

        • Craig Glen Eden 22.1.1.1

          Good point Mac1 “Bully State” does describe the behaviour of this Governments ministers behaviour.

          Bully State it is then!

    • Alexandra 22.2

      Craig, I think Bennetts nasty approach to politics is at odds with westie culture. Your comments though generalisations, are fair. Having lived in the west for a number of years, I found westies to be mostly very generous and decent people. I think Bennetts behavior will worsen as it becomes more and more apparent that she is unlikely to win the seat next year. Bennett will know that she will need carry out all the dirty work the party heirachy throws at her, to secure a winnable position on the party list.

    • Right on Craig.

  23. Lindsay 23

    Just Saying, I am assuming your response was related to the paper I mentioned. This article links to it;

    http://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/un-doctored/2010/may-2010/24/no-work-leads-to-poorer-health,-shorter-lives.aspx

    • Bill 23.1

      When are people going to disavow themselves of the notion that people without jobs do no work or are more or less sedentary?

      Exercise is good for you. Okay. Nothing to do with having a job. Having goals is good for you. Yup. Again, nothing to do with having a job.

      Unless of course, non-job activities and ambitions are written off and devalued by the dominant ideology of the day…which could then lead to those out of a job feeling useless and depressed etc to the extent they have internalised or adopted institutionally promoted ideas of worth and worthlessness.

      In which case, what is the cause of the depression etc?

      Not having a job, or having human worth diminished to suit market definitions of worth?

      • ianmac 23.1.1

        Bill I think that Clinical Depression is regarded as a chemical imbalance rather than situational. Being out of work can be a trigger but being depressed/sad is not the same thing. The treatment has been largely chemical/pills to try and fix the imbalance.

      • just saying 23.1.2

        Exactly Bill, that, combined with the effects of long-term poverty, is a very destructive force.

    • just saying 23.2

      Oops Lindsay, I replied (that the article you cited does not say what you have claimed) at 2.1.1. Where you made the claim!.

  24. Paula Bennett’s “Shock and War” tactics are all about politics, and nothing about reality.

  25. ianmac 25

    Lindsay: Thanks for answering.
    “My priority for reform would be the DPB. Replace it with temporary assistance only (bar those carers with disabled dependants).”
    Did you know that the length of time on the DPB was in the order of a year or so. I no longer have access to current data, but I do know that (the common image tossed around is of some bludger lounging around for years sucking on the taxpayers good will, and even as Key says they use having babies as an ecuse to stay on.) Someone might have some helpful up to date data on this. The DPB is a favourite target because they are defenceless.
    The rest of what you say does not help your reforms very much unless you are a private employment insurance company, who would of course do your damndest to get those sick folk back to work for your own reasons. Privatisation?
    So for me there is nothing compelling about your reasoning.
    People working or contributing to society would certainly increase their health and importance to that community.

  26. Lindsay 26

    Ianmac, I have tried for many years to get an average cumulative stay on the DPB from MSD. Believe me, the data it doesn’t exist. You can go to the benefit factsheets and find out about current continuous stays. At March 2010 76 percent had been on the DPB or any other benefit continuously for over a year, with 39 percent over 4 years. But that doesn’t properly describe dependency over a lifetime because many people have repeated spells on the DPB.

    http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/2010-national-benefit-factsheets.html

    NZ has never attempted the kind of research that Professor Bob Gregory produced in Australia who estimated average dependency over a lifetime was 12 years.

    http://econrsss.anu.edu.au/Staff/gregory/pdf/National%20Institute%20Lecture.pdf

  27. Lindsay 27

    Just saying,

    “According to the Report, work related ill-health is often not life-threatening but it is life diminishing, with two thirds of sickness absence and long-term incapacity due to mild and treatable conditions.”

    http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/cost-absenteeism-reaches-billions/5/49346

    • ak 27.1

      “According to the Report, work related ill-health is often not life-threatening but it is life diminishing, with two thirds of sickness absence and long-term incapacity due to mild and treatable conditions.’

      A meaningless statement with the strong whiff of propaganda. “Sickness absence” could include every cold and sniffle and “sickie” requiring a day or two off: to lump it with “long-term incapacity” is misleading at best. In any case, “mild and treatable” does not mean it is not also totally incapacitating.

      Bottom line Lindsay: every sickness and invalids’ beneficiary in NZ has been examined and signed off by a health professional, and like every DPB recipient and all beneficiaries, has to jump through regular hoops, and Work and Income has a well-resourced fraud squad. If you must insist on politely demonising our most hard-pressed citizens, come up with some concrete evidence or keep your miserable “dependency” bullying to yourself. Or go down to your local foodbank or benefit advocacy service and explain to those mums how they are “living on the back of their child”. On your way to church perhaps.

      • HitchensFan 27.1.1

        Nice, ak. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

        Who is this “Lindsay” anyway? Sounds like a bit of a know-it-all bully to me. Maybe it’s Bully Bennie herself?

  28. You may be interested in this letter sent to PB:-

    Tēnā koe Ms Bennett,

    In recent times you have increasingly been making public spectacles of carefully selected beneficiaries and their families, releasing carefully selected part-information to illustrate your examples. The motivation for your actions has been, presumably, to make ‘examples’ of these people to show how, in your view, the welfare system is being abused by unworthy and undeserving families and, by extension and inference, how most people on a benefit are ripping off the system.

    This sort of appalling behaviour is absolutely reprehensible for a Minister of the Crown.
    In our opinion, you are increasingly throwing aside the basic tenants of your office to degrade, demean, denigrate, humiliate, vilify and malign beneficiaries further marginalising them within New Zealand society.

    In your Cabinet Manual, which outlines what is expected of Ministers of the Crown (amongst others), and how you are to conduct yourself in your office it says under point 2.52 that at all times, Ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards. It is clear that your conduct does not reflect these standards in any way.

    Your actions are putting people in danger by opening up beneficiaries to public attack. You are not only allowing those very people you are supposed to be helping to be judged and sentenced by the court of public opinion but you are actively encouraging this by your public statements and inflaming public vilification.

    Your actions clearly show your lack of integrity and respect for the most vulnerable members of our society and for your office as a Minister of the Crown.

    Here are some quotes posted on a public message board over the past weekend:

    “… It is completely and absolutely unethical for a government minister to target an individual or family and hold them up for public ridicule and cause them to be the subject of vile and ignorant abuse. If the family is doing something illegal it is up to Bennett to put a stop to it, if not then it is disgusting for her to publicly target them in this way.’.

    “So she\’s at it again. And without having all the details, people will feel free to be outraged at this … The more Paula Bennett targets people, the more of a power abusing bully she shows herself to be.’

    “Yes I agree with you that her comments seem to be mostly about communicating a message to the public [but] It is still unethical regardless of her motivations. As for being accountable, many many non beneficiaries recieve government help now through wff, so do many businesses, researchers, people who are involved in the arts…also pensioners. The thing is – do you see anyone from these groups being held up and ridiculed, accused of bludging and having innuendos thrown around about their sex life by a government minister?’

    We hope that you take some time to step back and reassess your tactics and prove to New Zealand that you are worthy of your position where you can make sound, rational and just decisions as they relate to your portfolios of Minister of Social Development and Employment.

    Nāku noa, nā

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