National has only come up with one employment policy to counter the recession. No, not the cycleway – ‘job ops‘. It works like this: employers get given $5,000 for employing a young person in an entry-level role. To qualify, the must be new and would not exist if the Job Ops subsidy was not available, be a continuous position for 6 months only, be a full-time position of 30 hours per week or more, be an entry-level position that requires no prerequisite skills or experience, and not replace current roles or roles lost due to redundancy.
From the very beginning, Labour warned that without adequate checks by MSD, this scheme would be open to corruption. But Minister Paula Bennett put no such checks in place. She was “too busy puffing her own achievements” and claiming that job ops has created 4,000 jobs (it has really employed fewer than 2,000 people) to worry about little details like ensuring the taxpayer wasn’t ripped off. (maybe someone should have explained it to her with pretty pictures)
You don’t have to be a genius to see this is an open invitation for unscrupulous business people (yes, I know it’s hard to believe but I’m sorry to say they do exist). Just make the roles of your current staff redundant and create new positions to employ some people under job ops (maybe even the same people), and pocket the $5,000. To be on the safe side, maybe pay off the employees.
This is exactly what has happened, according to Annette King:
Did she advise the Prime Minister before he flew into Katikati on a New Zealand Air Force helicopter* that the business he was using for a publicity shot had laid off 5 young people aged between 17 and 19 just weeks before, and had paid them each $500 in what has been described as hush money; and has she been assured by the Ministry of Social Development that it will ensure that no young person is re-employed by that company using Job Ops?
Was Bennett concerned about corrupt use of taxpayers’ money that she is responsible for? Come on, after a year of this useless government, what do you think?
What I did hear about the Prime Minister’s visit to Katikati is that it helped promote job opportunities in that area. Employers stepped up and were very pleased to hear him tell them how the economy is going, and to hear more about this Government’s initiatives, which are incredibly positive and going down very well.
So there you have it. Under this National government, you can be corrupt – you can rip off the taxpayer – and the ministers will be “relaxed”. As long as they get their PR shots.