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Paula Bennett’s rewriting of Pharmac history

Written By: - Date published: 9:29 am, May 9th, 2022 - 22 comments
Categories: health, national, paula bennett, same old national - Tags:

I have followed Paula Bennett’s political career with some interest.

Her attempts to become a Westie I thought were ridiculous but in John Key’s National his caucus had to look like all of us so the effort, misguided as it was, was worth it.

Since leaving Parliament she has augmented stints as a real estate with regular writing spots in the Herald, where former National MPs go to sacrifice the residue of any credibility left at the end of their career.

It is also where they go to forget things.  Like in the case of Paula how she torched the ladder that allowed solo mums to get qualifications in an attempt to drag themselves out of state instituted poverty.

Her latest column involves a complaint about Pharmac and how it is not funding enough.  In the article (paywalled) she says this:

I have said in my columns before how lucky we are to be New Zealanders and have access to our welfare and education system.

We are but she was the person who did her best to undermine the system which back in the day allowed people on the DPB to gain qualifications with the goal of getting themselves off the benefit.

This is something I wrote about her in 2013.  I stand by every word.

She has been an important part of National’s senior line up.  She was a teenage mother on the DPB who according to her pulled herself up by her bootstraps although thanks should really go to good old New Zealand Inc which supported her getting a tertiary qualification while on the Domestic Purposes Benefit.  She then formed a friendship with Murray McCully, got herself on National’s list and rode the National wave in 2005 to enter Parliament.

She won the Waitakere seat in 2008 on the back of a strong surge of support for National although the margin over Lynne Pillay was not great.  She was rewarded with a Ministerial position.  One of her major roles as a Minister has been to pull the ladder up after her so that others in her former position would not enjoy the assistance that she did.

Her ministerial promotion was straight out of the Crosby Textor play book.  Instead of being white, male, and rich she was of a mixed ethnic background, female, and not so rich.  And she had been a teenage mum and on the DPB.  It was a much better look if she, rather than her white rich male colleagues, bashed beneficiaries.  It was presented as if she was trying to help the poor whereas the reality was that it was a cynically targeted dog whistle that caused a great amount of misery but let National supporters think that something useful was being done.

National’s confidence in Paula was overly optimistic.  In the 2011 election despite Labour experiencing its worst result for a long time Paula was almost defeated.  Carmel Sepuloni and her able team led by Enzo Giordani ran a superb campaign and almost won the seat.  They created history by losing on election night, winning on the final count but then losing on a judicial recount by the slimmest of margins.

Yesterday Paula confirmed that she was no longer proud to be a westie but wanted to be a North Shore MP instead.  She announced that she wanted to seek the nomination for the new Upper Harbour seat which contains no part of the former Waitakere seat which she represented.

It is good that all kiwis have access to our welfare and education systems.  As far as I am concerned changes made by Bennett made this country worse.

The subject of her article, that Pharmac funding needs to be drastically improved, is laughable when it is considered that with an aging and increasing population and increasing need during the last National Government funding was essentially static but since then it has increased substantially.  Check out this Pharmac graph to see what has actually been happening.

She says that Pharmac is underfunded in the vicinity of $500 million.  This Government in 2011 dollar terms has increased funding by almost $200 million per annum and on a dollar basis the figure is over $1 billion.  I can’t recall Bennett complaining about Pharmac funding when she was in power, even though at the time the funding was considerably smaller.

She then appears to suggest that funding goes directly to sick New Zealanders.  I presume she thinks we should bypass Pharmac’s purchasing power and clinical expertise and just let kiwis decide what they are going to spend their share on?

Words are cheap.  Behavior when in power is a much stronger indicator of what you can expect from a party.  When National complains that not enough is being done to fix a problem check their record.

22 comments on “Paula Bennett’s rewriting of Pharmac history ”

  1. Ghostwhowalksnz 1

    A lot of Paula's story cant be said , especially relating to after the time she bought a small cottage in Taupo while on the DPB ( yes she got state assistance with that too) and was involved in running the Napier Tattoo club ( a social club for 'hard case' people). I understand lawyers letters sent to the media have warned them off

    • Blazer 1.1

      Paula Benefit is on record as saying she never 'deliberately' mislead social welfare.

      Her friends son was sent a letter regarding his FB allegations .

  2. Pataua4life 2

    From the OP

    "Words are cheap. Behavior when in power is a much stronger indicator of what you can expect from a party."

    Are you going to apply this this ruler to the Labour party.

    Housing, Crime, Education Standards, Transparency, Speaker, Bloated PS, Wasting Tax Payers money. PR spin and the list goes on.

    [Any chance you could address the topic of the post which is Pharmac funding? Saying “Labour does it toooooo is not a debating point – MS]

    • lprent 2.1

      You mean just like the National party . Just more productive because they don't expect that giving tax cuts to the wealthy will stimulate economic growth (it doesn't) and less inclined to the waste of leaving people unemployed.

      Most of those other things are all attributes of modern governments. I could have and did complain about all of those things for the Key government – IMO Carter was a useless speaker for instance.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 2.2

      Pataua4life, I'll see your "Housing, Crime, Education Standards, Transparency, Speaker, Bloated PS, Wasting Tax Payers money. PR spin" (they all do it!) and raise you the political obscenity that was Dirty Politics. Happened on the watch of the much vaunted PM Key.

      Stamp it out (although I doubt the Nats can; it's in their DNA), and keep it out of NZ politics. A simple acknowledgement and repudiation of this politically poisonous behaviour would be a start – are you up for it?


    • Ad 2.3

      This government has done very well on housing construction. Not enough to keep up with the waiting lists granted. But its' actions are already deflating the housing market from its height.

      Crime is continuing to trend down, other than gun crime from gangs.

      A larger public service is necessary when the state faces a major crisis as it has.

      There are better areas to focus criticism of this government.

      • DukeEll 2.3.1

        half a billy is a lot of new money to spend on a stat like crime trending down

    • Patricia Bremner 2.4

      Patua4life, We are not able to help your jaundiced view. Many of the people in this story will tell you they are better off. They do not fear having their details shared with journalists either. National are good at that, including Paula.

      All the things you name are being worked on and during a double whammy of Pandemic and Ukraine/Russia. Not to mention weather disasters eruptions and a massacre, Mico plasma bovis, unhelful Dutton and his 501s, National’s underfunding /selling off of assets and labelling people on struggle street as "useless " or lately "Bottom feeders".

      Right! Tell us what will go when the cuts are made? $2 billion out of 6Billion for tax cuts. What/who else gets no money.?

      Tax cuts at $200 a week for the rich and a very small amount, $31? down to $2 dollars a week for the rest. How long will the stand down be to get a benefit?

      How many businesses will fall over because there is no money circulating in the economy. How many will have to sell their homes as they become unemployed because they have debt to fund their business?

      Who will be there for the fire sale of goods and houses? Garage sales Mortgage sales.. Spoils for the already well off, as they circle making low ball offers to desperate folk facing a 13 week stand down. We have already been there. It was no answer then and definitely no answer now.

  3. Dean Reynolds 3

    Of all the vile people in Key's cabinet, Bennett was one of the worst. Who could forget her invented 'crisis' of meth contamination by the tennants of state houses. With no proof whatever, Bennett evicted state house tennants, destroyed their property on the basis that it was 'contaminated' & destroyed lives & relationships in the process.

    When Labour won power in 2017 it took just one phone call from Phil Twyford to Peter Gluckman, (Key's Science Advisor) to confirm that meth contamination was not a reality in state houses. Bennett could have made that phone call before starting her meth witch hunt, but then she wouldn't have had the pretext to persecute & demonise some of the poorest in our society.

    Bennett is like so many neo lib hypocrites – happy to take all the advantages of the welfare state to advance themselves & then torch the ladder behind them. It was simple justice when the back stabbing & disembowing in the National party caucus led directly to Bennett's political downfall – those who live by the sword…

    • Patricia Bremner 3.1

      devil So real!! So many bad memories for poor families caught in that.

  4. tc 4

    Good piece mickey. Another paid opinion piece behind granny paywall from yet another dodgy former nat MP who struggles with the truth.

    One who admitted to releasing personal details in their role as a minister of the crown as payback. Got away scot free.

    You forgot the club also awarded her an appalling tv show to present which predictably bombed.

  5. Sacha 5

    People leaping to feed a troll does not help a productive conversation.

    Yet look how reliably people do it here.

    • Dean Reynolds 5.1

      Helping a 'productive conversation' includes reminding ourselves periodically of the vile cruely of our political opponents.

      If we drop our guard they will reappear to inflict more damage on people & society, eg. Luxon's tax cuts for wealthy people like himself.

    • Patricia Bremner 5.2

      Sacha, if we let them go unchallenged, people think they "might be on to something"

      In my 80 years, I have that found confronting lies or exaggeration is best. If possible as soon as possible, and in public.

      Those who like the whisper game don't want it associated with it, and usually say "I heard, someone told me, or just straight out lie" Challenged they mainly fold.

      Here you may consider it feeding trolls, but that is allowing deliberate rubbish to stand without challenge.

      • Sacha 5.2.1

        Really need to read up on how this actually works. Most of the first half dozen comments were successfully dragged off-topic.

        • Patricia Bremner

          To talk of Nationa’s general perfidy lies exaggeration and twisting the narrative, plus putting on a persona to fit the moment? Off topic? We are discussing perfidy and Paula Bennet, not the supposed problems with Phamac as MS supplied proof the voted budget for Pharmac has increased during Labour’s term, so Paula is truth denying again!!.

  6. Peter 6

    Pharmac funding and funding the health system and resourcing are really easy when you're not in power. That's nationally and in your own area.

    Paula Bennett, Todd McClay, Shane Reti are amazing experts at it all right now.

    As for that not helping a 'productive conversation,' I consider putting a commentator into the context of their record is being productive. If their record indicates they deserve to be rubbished, why shouldn't that be done?

    A bit like me with my capabilities complaining about and providing much advice to cricketer Kane Williamson as he;'s batting. Anyone telling me "Fuck off Noddy," certainly is helping productive conversation.

  7. mosa 7

    If there was any justice……..Bennett , Key and the rest of his gangsters would be in jail.

    Bennett can't escape the hypocrisy of her post cabinet career …but the media like in 2008-17 who were avid supporters won't enlighten the great unwashed of the utter sickening dishonesty of her current ramblings.

    We really are no better than any other corrupt nation we pretend are so much worse than us.

    • pat 7.1

      What drugs (medications) would you have 100% funded if you were in charge?

  8. mosa 8

    Chemotherapy drugs

    Immunotherapy drugs for bowel cancer ,



    Keytruda which is effective for advanced melanoma but not for metastatic bowel cancer which has been proved effective in treating bowel cancer.

    But if you need to fund the drug to save your life you can take a mortgage holiday to help pay the cost…provided you have a mortgage.

    • Patricia Bremner 8.1

      That sounds personal Mosa. Go well.

      • mosa 8.1.1

        Thank you Patricia for your kind observation. I am fortunate not to have these life threatening cancers but I know of families that have and the cruelty imposed by Bennett and other individuals devalues our perception of Kiwi kindness and a fair go.

        There is nothing fair or just in denying gravely ill human beings life saving drugs just because they are not millionaires.

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