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Coverage round-up: Bully Bennett

Written By: - Date published: 10:22 am, July 29th, 2009 - 70 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, democratic participation, Media, national/act government - Tags:

Sean Plunkett: Being vocal in a democracy shouldn’t mean you lose your rights and protections under the law.

Tracey Watkins: “The Privacy Commissioner advises that ministers can release information about an individual who has criticised a department but only that which is “relevant to the issues raised by the individual”. I would take that to mean that Bennett would have been justified in releasing how much each woman received in the forming of training incentive allowances, but releasing their income strays over the line… People will think twice about criticising Government policy if they know they are going to be hung out to dry by the Government. It won’t take long for the Bennett-grad jibes to surface”

Colin Espiner: “What say a minister decided to release the tax return details of a complainant? Or their shonky work history? Or some criminal conviction that had been long buried? Let’s face it, it’s not a fair fight.”

No Right Turn: “Bennett has committed an extraordinary abuse of power here, which reminds us of the bad old days under Muldoon or Shipley. It is authoritarian, it is totalitarian, and it shows no respect for individual’s rights or privacy. But apparently, these things now come second to government spin.”

The Hand Mirror: “intimidation pure and simple – criticise the government and we’ll put information in the media that’ll make you look bad. You don’t have to be lily white to have a genuine beef with the government over something. Yet that’s the implication of this kind of response”

Queen of Thorns: “You want to have a petty little flamewar, Paula, get a fucking blog and don’t use your position as a fucking Minister of the Crown to bully people into silence.”

And just because it’s so hilarious –

“I think it is good the Government is disclosing the relevant information” That pig ain’t gonna fly, David. Quick bury the issue with five random posts. Maybe people will forget about it!

Whale the Welfare Queen will help you! “Neelam Choudary was pimped out by Phil Goff to score points against Richard Worth without disclosing her Labour affiliations, Bruce Burgess’ story was obfuscated by Labour lackies going to the media and now these two silly women hid details about their financial position.” Ummm, maybe not.

[we’ve received several guest posts on this topic. Rather than do too many posts on it today, we’ll hold them for tomorrow]

70 comments on “Coverage round-up: Bully Bennett”

  1. RedLogix 1

    And the normally controlled Kathryn Ryan ripped Mathew Hooten a new …err .. orifice on Nine to Noon for his particularly noxious defence of Bennett.

  2. Your calling someone a bully, yet your giving them a patronizing nickname?

    • snoozer 2.1

      That’s what you’re reduced to, Brett?

      Here’s you: “Just because she’s a bully you can’t nickname her bully, it’s so mean, whaa! whaa!”

    • Must … confuse … debate … and … raise … red … herrings.

    • Craig Glen Eden 2.3

      First rule of Bulling behavior is to claim that they are the one who is being treated harshly or they are being bullied.Check Bennett’s radio interview out, her behavior is disgusting. Defending this behavior says more about you than you realise BD,
      take a listen for yourself then you might want to repost.
      Seriously Bd we should not be tolerating this behavior from any MP, not one and I don’t care if they are blue, red, green or yellow. Any Mp that engages in this type of behavior does not deserve to be in Parliament under any circumstances or for any Party. Time to get a new job Bennett.

  3. gobsmacked 3

    Coverage preview:

    John Key answering questions from Goff in House: “Well, Mr Speaker, I don’t know about following the law and all that pointy-headed rubbish, but what I can say is, when Phil Goff was a Minister in the 1980’s … blah blah …”

    Another Minister (it’s usually Bill English): “Speaking on behalf of the Minister, I am unable to answer …”

    Lots of questions to ask. So will Paula front?

    • ghostwhowalks 3.1

      Did Basher Bennett not front up in Parliament?.
      Shes been all over the evening radio and TV shows .

      So its farewell to Nanny State , hello Bully State

  4. Ianmac 4

    “They” say that the women could go on the Student Loan or Student Allowance but you can’t be on those and keep your DPB+. Each would loose about $500 per week.

    • Bill 4.1

      Anybody bothered to work out the income of a person on min wage with three kids getting wff?

      $12.50 x 40 = $500. Plus whatever for wff. Plus help with accommodation costs?

      Is the $700 odd being bandied about for these women before or after tax?

      The perception that too many are trying to create is that $700 odd is an extraordinary amount of money ( it’s not) and blithely ignore the reality of household income being the necessary norm these days as opposed to ‘breadwinner’ incomes.

      Then there is the question of whether any of the kids need a disability allowance or suchlike.

      And on and on.

      • snoozer 4.1.1

        I think we shouldn’t engage on that side of the debate. The issue is your right, my right, and these women’s right to speak out without the government releasing private information about us in an attempt to smear our names.

        • Bill 4.1.1.1

          I agree snoozer. But. The original issue was the cutting of an allowance. That debate has been swamped by the privacy debate which is being framed in terms that imply the two women are bludgers on a good wicket.

          I don’t believe that they are on a good wicket. Some comparative figures, as they would apply to a theoretical person in the same position but holding down a min wage job would show that up and (maybe) silence the bene basher brigade…or at least show up their assertions as the crap that they are to any vaguely fair minded spectator to the unfolding debates.

          • Bill 4.1.1.1.1

            Edit not working. What I meant to say was that the privacy issue is being shoved aside by the ‘dole bludger’ b/s. And it would be nice to kill that line of argument to get things focussed again.

  5. Plunkett was a pleasant surprise. Chauvel was awfully effective.

    • Maynard J 5.1

      I was surprised by that a bit – Chauvel never once strayed from his purpose, which was to talk about the legal side of it, ensuring as the opposition that the government is held accountable by law. No waxing lyrical or moralising, no opinion outside of law.

      He avoided scoring the easy points, which would have led to the harder questions.

  6. grumpy 6

    Problem is – Labour again chose the wrong individuals to champion.

    One of them has been gloating on the Trademe about her income and has attracted severe reaction.

    Next time perhaps Phil could reveal all details and let he argument hold centre stage, not the undeclared issues that ultimately undermine what could be a serious debate.

    All this attacking Bennett is just a smokescreen top cover Labour’s retreat because the main issue is now irrelevant.

    • ghostwhowalks 6.1

      Labour hasnt been behind the publicity for these two women.

      The Herald On Sunday wrote about them without getting their info from Labour. So spreading lies that Hooten gets from the beehive wont help

    • snoozer 6.2

      Labour simply refered to two women who had been campaigning on the issue. They’re not ‘Labour’s women’.

      And the issue is rights – your rights, my rights, their rights to speak up without the government using its power and confidential information to try to bully us into silience.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      Hey grumpy, are you sure the person on the Trademe forums is her?

      • grumpy 6.3.1

        She claims to be, have a look.

        Anyway, another opportunity blown by Labour by not getting the facts right!

        No use trying to change the subject, most of the country know it’s now about the hugely obscene payouts to those who use having chjildren as an income stream.

  7. Well question time today should be interesting:

    Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What criteria, if any, has she established for the release of personal information about beneficiaries?

    I am surprised that Goff isn’t asking Key whether he has confidence in Bennett as a minister.

  8. As the nation’s most high profile, and possibly wealthiest, ex-DPB beneficiary, Paula Bennett’s actions are reprehensible. Not only does she burn the ladder she herself used to pull herself up from some of the lower rungs of society, but when people complain about the absence of the ladder, she throws rocks at them, like it is some medieval game in which she is worried she could be displaced by another DPB-mum assaulting her heights.

    Paula, you are supposed to pull people up with you, not revel in their despair. You should fucking resign.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    This may be a complete non-issue.

    I heard on ZB today one of the women saying she was quite happy for the information to be given out, and that anyone could have obtained the information by phoning Winz and finding out the entitlements for people who met the parameters that were already made public by the women themselves.

    If this is true, then there obviously has not been any breach of privacy whatsoever. Bennett could easily have contacted her department, given hypothetical cases based around the details made public by the women, and obtained the entitlements they qualify for.

    By making their own details public, the women appear to have made it possible for their circumstances to be deduced. So, it may well be that they have indirectly provided the information themselves. Thus, they have no complaint with respect to privacy.

    • bill brown 9.1

      Ah, the good old tsmithfield alternate universe defence

      • toad 9.1.1

        You miss the point completely tsmithfield. Like the woman concerned, I would be quite happy for people to know what I earn (it’s actually around $60K) or what or what entitlements I receive from Work and Income (it’s actually nil).

        But I would be expected to be asked first – not have a Cabinet Minister just release it.

    • Maynard J 9.2

      tsmithfield – how would you know about medical conditions, child support arrangements and such. Face it, you do not and could not.

      It is not possible to make such inference accurately and appears Bennett got her figures wrong too. It is not as simple as you get X amount with 1 child, Y with 2 and so on.

      They did not make every detail about themselves available.

      Thus, they have rights to privacy. One of them is taking a complain upon the issue, so it is pretty damn obvious they consider more information that was available in the public domain has been released.

      Why do you think Bennett chose against releasing generalised hypothetical examples?

      Bennett, if she were a decent person, could have given a few hypotheticals, but that would not be intimidating enough.

  10. No. Just applying logic, which you don’t seem willing to debate.

    Imagine I launch a public campaign against the police complaining about how a traffic fine nearly bankrupted me, and also disclosed that I had been stopped doing 55 k. Is it a breach of my privacy for a public figure to point out that I would only have been fined $80.00? I think not.

    If people provide enough information for anyone with half a brain to fill in the dots, then they have breached their own privacy and have no reason to complain.

    • Maynard J 10.1

      reductio ad absurdum, mate.

      • tsmithfield 10.1.1

        Maynard, are you saying that the woman from Invercargill who who spoke on ZB this morning was telling porkies?

        These women were spouting off in a lot of places. Do you know for sure that an astute person couldn’t piece together enough information to draw the conclusions about benefits etc. Perhaps if Bennett was wrong on some details, it was because the women weren’t entirely accurate about their circumstances in the information disclosed. Afterall, garbage in, garbage out.

        • jasper 10.1.1.1

          spinning a strawman here.

          Did you even read the HoS article? It was NEVER about the amount of the benefit, it was simply about the TIA being axed for higher learning and now only being made available to those who don’t have school C (or the current equivalent) In other words, it’s now nothing more than a sap to get some menial skills training in place.

        • Maynard J 10.1.1.2

          “Maynard, are you saying that the woman…” No I am not saying that at all. I am saying your argument is an absurd reduction. That is what I wrote, that is what I am saying, no more, no less. Pretty f’n simple.

          “Perhaps if Bennett was wrong on some details, it was because the women weren’t entirely accurate about their circumstances in the information disclosed.”

          That is because they are not disclosing their information for the purposes of their benefits being made public. There is no suggestion whatsoever that these women lied about their situation either, no surprise that it would be you to start with that sort of insinuation (what a creep). It is more complex than your absurd reduction. Hence my comment about your reduction being absurd.

          “Do you know for sure that an astute person couldn’t piece together enough information to draw the conclusions about benefits etc.”

          No, because the only person who tried is Paula Bennett. Perhaps someone astute would have a chance, but given the complexity of it I actually do doubt you could do so from a newspaper article. You might get a rough amount, similar to knowing what a pay band is for a particular role.

    • jasper 10.2

      You’re confusing the argument here tsmithfield

      it’s not about how much the fine would have been, it’s about how many times you’ve been stopped speeding before, and what other driving related or even criminal convictions you’ve got (and possibly including those previously hidden under the clean slate law)

      Would you be happy for that information to be blabbled to the media?

      • So Bored 10.2.1

        You are right Jasper TS is basically trying to defend the indefensible along sectarian lines, As Redlogix says above “And the normally controlled Kathryn Ryan ripped Mathew Hooten a new err .. orifice on Nine to Noon for his particularly noxious defence of Bennett” …TS reflects a disturbing trend. Trotter on the same interview atleast said there has been an issue with this type of abuse of power from both ends of the political spectrum when in government.

        • tsmithfield 10.2.1.1

          So, was the woman from Invercargill telling lies on ZB this morning or not?

          I have based my argument on what one of the women themselves has said. After all, it wasn’t just the HOS where they were raising the issue. I understand their were facebook sites and all sorts of things.

          So maybe there was enough information in the public domain for an astute person to piece it all together. The woman from Invercargill seems to think so and she is one of the women involved.

          I am just basically repeating what she has already said. It was her idea not mine.

          • felix 10.2.1.1.1

            If you provide a transcript or point us to a recording then we can assess it for ourselves.

            Otherwise you’re asking people to accept that you’re representing accurately what was said, which in light of your track record would be highly inadvisable.

  11. tsmithfield 11

    I haven’t got the ability to listen to it because the computer I am on at the moment hasn’t got speakers.

    However, I think this is the link.

    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/audio2/29122606.wma

    • Maynard J 11.1

      So what porkies are you on about? They wrote a submission together and some third party gave the letter to Labour. One woman said that that information could have been gathered, roughly, but others have said not and that the info given by Bennett was wrong. You have not even said what is a ‘porkie’.

  12. randal 12

    this government has taken a sinister turn when members like palu beenit begin telling lies and then claiming it is the truth. she has no principles and no scruple and the sooner this government is ousted the better.

  13. And having claimed to have received advice last night to the media, suddenly Bennett’s office won’t even properly handle OIA requests for it.

    So, should we assume she lied on TV last night (a sackable offence under the previous government)? or that she has utter contempt for the law?

    • burt 13.1

      link whore. – open comments on that site and people will come, read and respond.

      • felix 13.1.1

        Really?

        You have your own blog now don’t you burt? Why not open comments there instead?

        It’s your blog, after all – no-one can tell you what to do with it, can they?

      • Macro 13.1.2

        If you had read some of the abuse from right wing nuts that was given when comments were open you would be closing them too!

        • felix 13.1.2.1

          burt is well aware of the reasons for closing comments at NRT.

          • burt 13.1.2.1.1

            So his spin cannot be shot down?

            • felix 13.1.2.1.1.1

              You have your own blog. Instead of complaining about how others use theirs, why not use your own where it’s up to you to set the comments policy?

              If you write something relevant and interesting, people will come, read and respond.

            • Macro 13.1.2.1.1.2

              can’t you read burt?

    • Ron 13.2

      didn’t she say in parliament that she DIDN’T get advice? If I remember that right why aren’t the opposition going after her about lying to parliament.

      • Idiot/Savant 13.2.1

        didn’t she say in parliament that she DIDN’T get advice? If I remember that right why aren’t the opposition going after her about lying to parliament.

        As Anita has pointed out elsehwere, while Bennett gave the impression that she had received advice, she never explicitly claimed so. So she’s off the hook for misleading parliament.

        OTOH, if the OIA turns up no advice, then she’s on the hook for lying blatantly in the media. which IIRC used to be a sacking offence. Whether its covered by Key’s “new standard” is another question…

  14. Macro 14

    Yes I/S it’s very murky! John Campbell was very insistent on that point! ie Did she receive advice from officials, that this sort of action was acceptable? She was clearly insistent that she had! And that there was precedent. Well the Privacy Commissions web-page clearly stated that it was not acceptable, and the relevant section of the Cabinet Manual is also pretty clear that this is unacceptable so where did she get the impression that it was ok?
    Thank you for your persistence on this matter.
    I’ve written to my electorate MP (John Key) expressing my concern – I expect all my personal details to be published in the Herald tomorrow.

  15. no leftie 15

    In your round up of coverage on this story you forget to mention the New Zealand Herald’s editorial this morning titled…

    MINISTER RIGHT TO GIVE PUBLIC ALL THE FACTS

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10587242

  16. randal 16

    this gubmint is just doing what it likes.
    they have no principles whatsoever.
    they claim to be true blue but it is more like brownshirt.

  17. Plunket has only one “t”.

    You should know that by now. It’s in the Brian Edwards “Dealing With Difficult Media Bastards” manual that you have all been indoctrinated in at the last BBQ at Trevor’s.

    “section 2.3(a) – Always spell their names correctly”.

  18. toad 18

    Looks like the bullying is contagious – now we have David Garrett saying that prison officers who criticise Government policy won’t get jobs in private prisons. At least he’s not a Minister.

  19. IrishBill

    Response to what? Why can’t the left spell Plunket’s name properly?

    I consider that the largest issue in this post.

    Rich people have their income details released all the time to the media. CEO’s, Directors, NBR releases wealth details of individuals every year. Everyone knows what Bennett currently earns.

    It’s about time the “poor” had their turn.

    • Maynard J 19.1

      It’s about time the “poor’ had their turn.

      So you are for equality, but only when taking a dump on beneficaries. Figures.

    • snoozer 19.2

      “Rich people have their income details released all the time to the media. CEO’s, Directors, NBR releases wealth details of individuals every year. Everyone knows what Bennett currently earns”

      Confidential information held by the government about them is not released without their permission ever (let alone ‘all the time’) . Get a grip on reality or run back to Whaleoil where no-one will challenge your delusions.

    • Lew 19.3

      Kate, without their consent? I doubt it. Much of it is speculation, is unverified, rounded or massaged in some way, or is public knowledge which is commonly known or must be released by law or regulation. I’d be very surprised if the details of anyone’s private income comes from audited official financial records, equivalent to the MSD database.

      L

    • IrishBill 19.4

      Oh I know of several CEO’s that have spat the dummy when the press has guessed at their total packages. One even went so far as to email every single employee of the company (several thousand) outlining how libelous the article in question was (but never contacted the journo who wrote it).

      Of course the average beneficiary doesn’t have that much reach. Makes them an easy target, eh?

  20. Murray 20

    Paula Bennett must be an incredibly effective Minister, Shes raised the profile of her department and got a great public debate going
    Paula Rocks!

    • r0b 20.1

      Paula doesn’t think it’s a great debate, she thinks it’s “horrific” and “ugly”.

      Well duhh. That’s why we have privacy laws Paula. The laws that you trampled on so thoughtlessly. Those are your supporters Paula, in all their ugly glory.

  21. dave 21

    good on paula look at the mums one’s been on the system for ever. she’s got a older kid 16 whoknows? the age and a young rug rat. LOL not using the system a mum not getin up the duff to stay in the system a mum. anyway which mum got a grant to start a business and blew it on nappies lol but it wasn’t her fault get a hair cut and get a real job if you girls don’t like the smell of the roses ha ha ha

    • iheartmjs 21.1

      Did taxpayer money fund your education, Dave? If so, I think a break-down of your English grades throughout secondary school would be relevant to this discussion.

  22. ross 22

    > Everyone knows what Bennett currently earns.

    No, we know what she is paid, but whether she earns what she’s paid is another matter. Judging by her recent performance, she is due a pay cut.

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