Bully Bennett

Written By: - Date published: 8:03 am, July 28th, 2009 - 67 comments
Categories: scoundrels - Tags:

Stunned. I’m simply stunned. After speaking out against Paula Bennett’s cuts to the Incentives Training Allowance two solo mothers have had their entire financial details publicly released by her.

This is a disgraceful act of bullying which must surely breach the privacy act but it fits with the pattern we’re seeing from National of digging dirt and attacking anyone that speaks out against them.

We saw it with the ongoing persecution of the Worth complainants across National’s client blogs and we got a taste of it back at the start when none other than deputy leader Bill English decided to try to smear the Standard. And the rumour is that National dug around Bruce Burgess’s background after he appeared in the Herald and fed the information they got back to the paper (let me be clear, I’m not excusing Goff’s people for making such a stupid choice of poster boy for their dole scheme).

The message is clear. Speak out against the Nat’s and they’ll do whatever it takes to drag you through the mud. Meanwhile they’re doing everything they can to deny the opposition any (supposedly public) information that might be used against them.

I haven’t seen this sort of suppression of dissent since Muldoon was in power.

67 comments on “Bully Bennett”

  1. Tim Ellis 1

    I disagree IB. What we are seeing is an orchestrated attempt by Labour to put up sacrificial lambs to score political points, and not presenting to the public all the relevant information. The Worth affair was a case in point, as was the Burgess case, and now the “examples” used by the Labour Party to attack Ms Bennett.

    If individuals are going to go public about how they’re being put in hardship by government policy, they should put all the relevant facts on the table.

    • Pascal's bookie 1.1

      Tim, you seemed very concerned about the Cabinet Manual’s rules around privacy with regard to Worth. You felt that those rules tied the PM’s hands so that he couldn’t say why he had lost confidence the minister, because once that minister resigned he became a private citizen.

      How do you think the Privacy Act considerations in the Cabinet Manual play out in this case?

    • Craig Glen Eden 1.2

      Really Tim, so the fact that someone is a beneficiary gives the minister the right to make all their financial details public! Why Tim? Just because they point out the problem with a Government policy. So no right to privacy then if you speak out about the health systems? The health Minister can just blurt out your health details to what, pressure you or belittle you. Put your bloody brain in gear Tim, we have seen you cant be objective, but shit now you are trying to justify Minister Bullying? How much do the Nat’s pay you TIM

  2. IrishBill 2

    Tim, she has used the power of the state to attack two citizens. Where should that stop? You put your real name to public statements attacking Labour when you comment here. Does that mean when Labour gets back in power you’d support them releasing any information the state holds about you to discredit your arguments?

    • Tim Ellis 2.1

      IB, if I misrepresented my personal circumstances to put forward a case, and said something like: “This bl**dy Labour Government, they removed by entitlements for X, and now I only get Y”, when I had deliberately omitted that I had received Z as well, then yes, I would expect to get shouted down.

      • IrishBill 2.1.1

        We’re not talking about “shouting down” we’re talking about confidential information held by the state being used to score political points against an individual. Would you be happy to have your tax records released to the media after you complained about tax rates? How about your medical records if you complained about health care? I’m amazed at how comfortable you righties are with this.

        • Brett 2.1.1.1

          I think that you will find that most people will be highly pissed off with this.
          A beneficiary on the equivalent salary of around 47k and having a moan about how much money they receive is not going to be a vote winner.

          • Eddie 2.1.1.1.1

            A mother supporting several children and in training to get off the benefit. It would be interesting to see how much Key’s mum was getting and how much Bennett was getting and see if you’re so critical of them.

            • Tim Ellis 2.1.1.1.1.1

              The difference is, Eddie, National didn’t misrepresent Ms Bennett’s access to entitlements or Mr Key’s mother’s access to entitlements, or those of the family of Aroha Ireland, as examples to score political points against the government.

              There are many similarities between this and Mr Burgess, and the way Labour misrepresented Mr Burgess’ personal circumstances, and the way Labour misrepresented the position of Mrs Choudhary during the Worth situation to score political points.

            • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.1.1.2

              “National didn’t misrepresent Ms Bennett’s access to entitlements or Mr Key’s mother’s access to entitlements’

              And just how do you know that Tim? I think you are assuming that you know the full stories.

              Key made some political capital about his donations to charity, do you think it would be ok for Labour to have released Keys IRD info, just so we get the full picture?

            • snoozer 2.1.1.1.1.3

              Nice example, Pb!

              Tim, just how did these women misrepresent the facts?

              And where in the Cabinet manual is that a justifible ground for releasing personal information?

            • Tigger 2.1.1.1.1.4

              The Right love kicking the boot into anyone getting any sort of assistance from the government so no surprise re the lack of compassion there. And the entire National line is one of bullying (ie. know your place you poor losers) so this is part for the course.

              Couple of questions:

              Key did make capital about his charity donating so can IRD please release his tax records from last year? Clearly it’s okay for them not to get his permission or even tell him since it’s all in the aid of getting the full story…

              If National are so keen on the ‘truth’ why still no explanation of why Worth was run out of town?

  3. psychotherapist 3

    Who is designing, signing off, and running this ill conceived attack strategy?

    Whoever are in this particular loop of ineptitude need to be fired & replaced.

    A negative attack strategy doesn’t cut with the electorate any more, like the boy who cried wolf no-one really believes it any more.

    Sorry, the truth can be a bitch.

    • IrishBill 3.1

      I disagree, National’s negative attack strategy seems to be working quite well. This might be a step too far however.

  4. psychotherapist 4

    Anyway, good luck.

  5. Shaun 5

    IB, I think you will find that a majority of the public will agree with what Bennett has done. Why should the truth not be out there? These two mothers both receive taxpayer funded benefits and yet still have the audacity to complain. I would be more than happy to receive $715 a week, which is what Ms Fuller is receiving. It is a whole lote better than my paycheck. Good on Bennett!

    • Eddie 5.1

      Ms Fuller is a solo mum supporting several children and trying to do training to get off the benefit. It’s not a huge amount in those circumstances.

      • Shaun 5.1.1

        Eddie, there will be thousands of people out there who are far worse off than Ms Fuller. If she wants to go public on an issue of this nature then she should be expected to be outed for the sheer greed and arrogance she has shown.

        • snoozer 5.1.1.1

          So, a person’s privacy rights are now void if you decide they are ‘arrogant’ or ‘greedy’? Hmm, describes a fair few Tories I can think of, maybe their privacy is forfeit too?

  6. Doug 6

    If Labour wish to use beneficiaries as cannon fodder and outright lies are told by the welfare recipients they should loose the right to privacy.

  7. IrishBill 7

    It’s good to see you righties are happy for information privileged to the state to be used against individual citizens for political purposes.

    • Doug 7.1

      Why then do Labour use citizens for political purposes.

      • IrishBill 7.1.1

        You’re avoiding the issue. Are you happy for information privileged to the state to be used against individual citizens for political purposes?

        • Shaun 7.1.1.1

          In this case it seems to be perfectly justified. If there were cases where it were justified that the government should make information about your health records public then they should do so. If someone goes public saying that it took 12 months to get an op, when it only took 3 months, simply to score a political point about how shite the health system is, should the government stand back and say nothing?

          • Doug 7.1.1.1.1

            It is not privileged information when the individual comes out and releases the incorrect information they have put themselves in the public domain.

      • r0b 7.1.2

        Why then do Labour use citizens for political purposes.

        What, you mean like Aroha Ireland?

  8. I actually agree with IB on this one, it is not a good look for ther govt to be doing this. Equally it is a not a good look for whoever is constructing these attacks by labour.
    Are they so completely disconnected from the population that all they can offer up as examples is a long line of liars?
    Seriously, they must be able to find at least one case where somebody is not hiding income, assets or politcal affiliations.

  9. Mark M 9

    The benefits payable to these woman come from the public purse and as such are public information.

    • IrishBill 9.1

      Your use of public assets such as roads and libraries comes from the public purse as such should the government have the right to make where you go and the books you read public information. Hell, every time you go to the doctor you tap the public purse. Should the minister of health be able to release your medical records? Once again, I’m amazed at how comfortable you righties are with the power of the state being used against citizens.

      • Craig Glen Eden 9.1.1

        Well done IB its not that these people are comfortable with it ( A Individuals private State collected information being used without their permission to make a political argument) they simply are to thick to see that one, it is a breach of NZ Law and two, it is immoral. Bennett is a bully and a disgrace! No excuses for this she should resign.

  10. Mike 10

    Bizarre.
    Was it not earlier this year that Paula Benefit was complaining about her privacy being violated regarding the criminal son-in-law?

  11. Eddie 11

    Who says these women left out anything? I saw question time and the quantum of their benefits wasn’t mentioned, only that they are going to lose something.

    It seems quite clear to me that National has released this information, in gross disregard for their privacy, simply because the apparently large numbers will make them appear as bludgers.

    It’s a huge invasion of privacy. Especially when both Bennett and Key have claimed privacy as a shield for themselves in recent months.

  12. toad 12

    IB said: I haven’t seen this sort of suppression of dissent since Muldoon was in power.

    Nor me, IB – this is very scary indeed. I don’t use the term “fascism” lightly and am conscious of Godwin’s Law, but the State using confidential and personal information to attack dissenters publicly is on of its hallmarks.

    I wonder if nice Mr Key sanctioned this despicable infringement of individual privacy, or if it just another instance of “loose cannon” behaviour that Bennett appears to be increasingly indulging in..

    • Daveski 12.1

      I have some sympathy for the position of the women. The problem I have is Labour’s willingness to use individuals in their pursuit of debatable political points.

      The difficulty I have is that the information provided by Bennett is relevant to the debate.

      As soon as Labour identifies individuals and highlights their individual circumstances, privacy has already been breached.

      Helen definitely ran a much tighter ship.

      • r0b 12.1.1

        The problem I have is Labour’s willingness to use individuals in their pursuit of debatable political points.

        Aroha Ireland.

        • Daveski 12.1.1.1

          Fair cop.

          The problem I have with politicians is their willingness to use individuals in their pursuit of debatable political points.

          • r0b 12.1.1.1.1

            I might even agree with you there. Trouble is, it’s done because it works. People don’t relate to statistics. People relate to stories about people, especially people like them. This tactic will never go away.

            Though I’m a bit uncomfortable with it, a case can be made that it’s OK if the persons used as examples are participating willingly, informed adult consent. If they want to put themselves forward like that I guess its up to them.

            • IrishBill 12.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s also a tactic the media actively encourages. Journalists are always looking for individual cases to add human interest to their stories. The thing is they are there for colour not as political players and traditionally you leave them alone and attack the ideas or the political talent but National seems to have decided civilians are no longer off-limits.

            • BLiP 12.1.1.1.1.2

              Also indicative of media indolence and ignorance – far easier to interview someone and get spoon fed than the application of intellect and hard work to look beyond (let alone understand) the statistics, policy and tactics. Perhaps the daily-news media have a better excuse in relation to deadlines – I look forward with patient resignation to some sort of analysis from the columnists and the monthly media.

    • graham 12.2

      so toad were you out of the country when madeline satchel was attacked by mallard or not in new zealand when the sexual abused reffo was attacked by dailaze or again when helen attacked the timberlands staff member complained about stopping native loging do you want me to go on toad

  13. BLiP 13

    Its frightening that the John Key National Government Inc stoops to breaking the law when it comes to silencing dissent. Basher Bennett & Co have obviously learned from the Dubya/Rove School of Public Discourse – ignore the argument and use ad hominem tactics to tap into the envy/greed/fear emotions to deflect damage – and as a warning to others who might also wish to express their opposition to the government. The media scum that publishes the private details should be held accountable for facilitating this latest breach of public trust as well as Basher.

    I wonder what Bennett received from the state before she pulled up the ladder?

    Still, at least Basher, Crusher, Chopper, We’llmissya Lee, Folly-Acid Kate, Kaikaiwaiu Georgie, the Blond-Brigade and the rest of the National Party women are helping the retail sector with their after-hours shoe shopping sprees – does anyone know if the shoes they bought were New Zealand made?

  14. Maggie 14

    As a budget adviser I can obtain information from WINZ regarding a beneficiary client’s payments only if that client has signed a privacy waiver. Any information held by WINZ is covered by the Privacy Act.

    That people like Tim Ellis appear to have no problem with their government breaking the law to try to suppress dissent should come as no surprise.

  15. coolas 15

    What amazes me about the new Ministers: Bennett, Collins, Power and Tolley is their confidence. All have come out swinging at those who oppose them as if they’re born to rule and know it all.

    You see this all the time. People who have been elevated to positions they aren’t qualified to hold so often mask their incompetence by blaming others and attacking any critics.

    It’s a sad reflection on the depth of talent in National that these dip sticks are the best they have to offer.

  16. Zaphod Beeblebrox 16

    This is not an extended game of ‘Big Brother’. She has a responsibility to look after the most vulnerable New Zealanders.
    This stuff may play well in opposition, but in government you have a role not to whip up negtive stereotypes about easy to pick on individuals.

  17. IB

    And of course Labour would never try to bully any member of the public, huh?

  18. Ron 18

    Digusting.
    You can put any spin you like on it – she’s a bully. And the point about that bullying being a cover for her incompetance is well made.

    IB is quite right – where do you want to draw the line on this?
    I complain about the state of the roads in my area so my travel habits or residential address is made public? I comment on family law and my marriage details are made public? I talk about tax and my income details are made public?

    It’s the old attitude that somehow if you receive support from the state they own you – you have less rights than others.

    It’s a bloody slippery old slope.

  19. Tom Semmens 19

    National have a highly effective comms team that plays straight from the Karl Rove handbook. They don’t seem to care about things like ministerial responsibility or privacy.

    They’ve been bitten by the rage virus that is rampant in the United States Republican Party.

    But you know, if we really did a proper media, a media that didn’t spend its time talking up with banner headlines and multiple stories a proposal for some cycleways that might be approved before Christmas and will perhaps employ 120 people with the possibility of 160 more jobs sometime in the future, then they would be baying for answers from Bennett.

  20. outofbed 20

    She has broken the law and as a minister she has to go
    No ifs no buts

  21. Zaphod Beeblebrox 21

    Scooter Liddy comes to mind. Is he out of jail yet?

  22. outofbed 22

    I bet Bennet has already ordered CYP’s to go through these women’s records to see if there is anything juicy there?
    Oh and had a chat to Tony so that they can go through her health records in case there are STD’s or similiar
    And didn’t she once get Das Kapital out of the library?

  23. toad 23

    Ironically, Bennett’s release of these two women’s personal information may well end up funding their education anyway – through settlements for breaching the Privacy Act, which is compensatable.

    It also could be the beginning the the second National Minister’s demise, as outofbed suggest. Damn – I’d lose my bet that it was going to be Nick Smith,

  24. BLiP 24

    Yeah me too – I hate Folly-Acid Kate as the next to go.

  25. outofbed 25

    I was rather hoping it was the odious Smith myself
    But there is still time 🙂

  26. [Inappropriate Username] 26

    well bennet is not fit for the job as all can see .
    perhaps bennent should tell us all how much in $s she got when she was on the DPB at 17 years old, when she was living at home with mumy and dady.also This so called minister has in fact broken the law,and needs to be sacked no pc crap needed she has to go and take key with her. who said they can sell the roads jails schools and auckland to there greeded mates,the last thing we need is this lot to gut nz, its not think big this time its called think small.such a greeded lot that pays there fat cash boys $2000 a day but would give those under$39,000 a year a hard time. 6 WEEKS WAIT.well done mr key.lol

  27. Swimmer 27

    Bully Bennet – that fits. I think what she did is disgusting.

  28. randal 28

    yes the nats know how to bully allright.
    between hooton and slater and their nasty blogs like the opinions site on a popular auction site and the other creepy one in christchurch they try and get people all round.
    now they are in power their ability to snoop and pry is almost unlimited and they use the blogs to excite animosity in the community against individuals they have singled out.
    the only comparison is nazism now updated for instant persecution.
    its pathological and not nice and looks set to continue until they are voted out which hwill be at the next election.when the world sees what a dark force has been unleashed by this gathering of evil then they will begin to shun us with the same repugnance that is being generated now.

  29. Rawleighsman 29

    Bennett is a bully John Key is even worse for allowing her to bully and The Nz herald is complicit by publishing the information. Typical facist type response. Never mind defending the policy on its merits just attack the critics. Bully Bennett et al

  30. Luke H 30

    Bennett’s bold revelation is surely morally better than the alternative: slipping the information quietly to a journalist.

    I’m just flabbergasted that you can describe the publication of factual information as “digging dirt” and “do[ing] whatever it takes to drag you through the mud”.

    Ha!

  31. graham 31

    are you guys moderating this ? i thought abuse wasnt aloud acording to the policy of the blog or are we aloud to abuse torys

  32. ross 32

    This appeared in a recent Listener article:

    Viliami Haloholo, 23, was jailed in 2007 for four years for attacking a party-goer with a fence paling, leaving the victim with a broken jaw and a 10cm gash to his head. Haloholo was reportedly a member of the Thugs of Canal street gang. Bennett has worked hard to help Haloholo redeem himself, inviting him to live with Ana and his child at her house for six months before sentencing. In 2007 she wrote in support of him at sentencing, offering continuing accommodation and seeking to avoid a prison term. And in 2008 she wrote to the Parole Board offering to let Haloholo be paroled to her house again.

    “He has put his mistakes of the past behind him and I believe that with the support of his partner (my daughter), his family and myself, he will lead a good life and not ever be before the courts again,’ said Bennett in the 2008 letter The Parole Board did not share Bennett’s faith in Haloholo, turning down his parole bid. It said he was “an identified drug user’ in prison and had “numerous incident reports’ on his prison file, one just a month before the parole hearing. Bennett has always refused to talk publicly about Haloholo, apart from releasing a statement saying it was an error of judgment not to inform Key about the matter. Haloholo is due for release in 2011. Does she plan to renew her offer of a home for him next time he comes up for parole? She initially hedges. “At the moment all you know is what you’ve read in the papers. I actually think that I deserve you know, it’s not so much I deserve a level of privacy, I believe my family do. So I’m going to respect their privacy.’

    Hmmm, she has no respect for others’ privacy, but she is keen to protect that of her family. Why the double standard?

  33. ross 33

    > Bennett’s bold revelation is surely morally better than the alternative: slipping the information quietly to a journalist.

    How is it better? If a journalist provided us with the same information, don’t you think we’d know where it came from?

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