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Pulling up the ladder behind her

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, June 19th, 2009 - 115 comments
Categories: benefits, national/act government, spin - Tags:

bennett-westiePaula Bennett’s image as a Westie solo mum who’s been on the DPB has been an important part of National’s centrist branding. By putting her in charge of the Ministry of Social Development, despite any relevant experience or discernable talent, National gave a clear signal that in their government image would trump substance.

Fair enough then that Labour are challenging that image in the house. Yesterday they questioned how Bennett’s Westie solo mum branding stacks up with her decision to cut eligibility for the training incentive allowance, which is worth up to $3862 a year for solo mums wanting to do university degrees or diplomas.

According to the Herald:

In Parliament yesterday, Ms Sepuloni asked Ms Bennett why the allowance was “good enough for her to take as a solo parent, but now is not good enough for her to give out as Minister for Social Development”.

Ms Bennett responded that the country was living in “different times”.

“Listen up. It is called a recession, and we make decisions accordingly,” the minister said.

We’re hearing a lot of that lately to justify attacks on the poor. But it’s strange times indeed when you need take $2m a year from DPB mums trying to get ahead, but there’s $35m sitting around to subsidise private schools and a billion dollars to blow on tax cuts for higher income earners.

National’s always been about government for the rich, by the rich. And now Paula’s made it there she’s pulling up the ladder behind her.

115 comments on “Pulling up the ladder behind her”

  1. sally 1

    A Westie that lives in Mt Eden.

  2. Craig Glen Eden 2

    Who does Paula Bennett think she is telling others to Listen Up. A few weeks ago I was at her meeting with Hone Carter on the super city. This bloke got up a regular joe,( by that I mean he was not a Labour or Greens Party person) he was speaking well and she interrupts by saying he should be in parliament, “Step up mate oh step up” She kept repeating this as he tried to talk. Her level of arrogance is quite unbelievable even for a Tory.
    She consistently tries to paint her self as a victim of rough Labour personal attaches, but given her arrogance I am not surprised.

    She literally behaves as though she is some sort of hero which she is not, rather a rank opportunist like her leader. She was told by a lady in the meeting to wipe the smile off her face because she wouldn’t be the MP out West for long which actually did wipe the smile off her face quick smart.
    I suspect there will be a few beneficiaries that will actually be on the end of that ladder in 2.5 years time they will be pulling the other way and Bennett might fall of the wall.No kings horse or kings men to put her back together again either.

    • marco 2.1

      That is interesting. I’ve been at meetings with Labour ministers who have talked right through a marae presentation (Marion Hobbs I’m looking at you). I’ve also been to meetings with Ms Bennett and she has never been anything other than gracious and engageing. Today for example she opened the Mangere Budgeting and Family Service with Su’a William Sio and her speech was made without notes and was genuine and heartfelt.
      I did however, get the impression she has been told to tone it down a little because the other times I have seen her she has been alot more energetic. Perhaps the pressure is getting to her but I sincerely believe that she believes in the portfolio. But she is going to have to tow the party line and sell a few dead rats before she can start making genuine changes. TIA being one of said rats.

  3. Ianmac 3

    Remember also that John Key’s Mum benefited from the equivalent of DPB from the time that John was about 7.
    The Nat proposal (has it happened?) was to force parents whose youngest was 6, to work and (?) off the DPB.

    • Merlin 3.1

      They dropped the forcing mums to work policybecause… wait for it… of the recession.

      Great thing this recession. You can use it as an excuse to drop an unworkable anti-DPB policy and as an excuse to put another in.

      • Tigger 3.1.1

        Yep, cut this but extend the insulation benefit to all householders (even mine where our combined income is rather more than the average…).

        You can label National as being hard – and they are – but equally they don’t think things through, we’ve seen several examples of that this year where they’ve said or done something and not actually considered the consequences thoroughly…

        Unintended consequence or not, it’s a pity to see anything to pull people into eduction bite the dust…

        P.S. colour me also peeved over the ‘listen up’ comment. Ick.

  4. Jono 4

    ALso with regard to Brand Paula and her “Up by the Bootraps” backstory, yes she was a solo mum and yes she was on the DPB but as I understand it, she got on her feet, out of Rotorua and up to Auckland and through university with the help of an inheritance from her brother, a commercial diver. That is to say she had a great deal of help not available to many of those in similar circumstances. She is an excellent example of not blowing on it when fortune smiled, not simply of personal responsibility, thrift and hard work.

    • IrishBill 4.1

      She was the daughter of a successful businessman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s not exactly bootstraps stuff.

  5. malcolm 5

    this is a piece from Scoop recently about the Government’s image-making

    If political survival is about being seen to do things as much as doing them, the Government scored a propaganda coup recently when Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, broke up a fight among a group of violent teenagers. Ms Bennett?s street fighting politics hit the media big time.

    Her Government intervention of the most direct kind, although it (surely) wasn?t organised in advance, sent out a clear message. This is the Government that gets things done. That sorts out disagreements. That is not afraid to get its hands dirty in the process.

    In addition to their overt key messages, politicians ? public relations and propaganda theory tell us ? use more subtle ways of ingratiating themselves with us. Think former US President Bill Clinton who must have carried around an onion and knife in his pocket or similar; he managed to mist up so frequently. Whenever he was saying something ?meaningful?.

    When speaking in public, his bud former British Prime Minister Tony Blair liked to take off his jacket and roll up his sleeves in a not-too-subtle indication that he was ?getting to work? and ?sorting things out.? Ms Bennett certainly did that.

    Around the time of ?fiery Westie? Bennett?s (her words not mine) exercise in diplomatic intervention, PM John Key endured the undoubtedly super powerful handshakes of 120 touch rugby players when he?d just broken his arm in two places at the Chinese New Year celebrations. What a good bloke! A real Kiwi battler.

    Maybe there?s an underlying theme the Government?s image makers are speaking to the unconscious public mind: this Government is no nonsense (peace making in the streets) and not for softies (Key?s tough flesh pressing), but does the decent thing and is down with the people (?Westie? Bennett). And, it?s inclusive: think Key very visibly hongi-ing his way through highly placed kaumatua in recent weeks like it was going out of fashion.

    It seems the National PR machine is positioning the Government as a cool older brother (not to be confused with big brother), who will give you a hand up when you need it, but won?t patronise you with a hand out. Forget the nanny state days when the farty old Labour government told everyone how to live.

    This new noticeably younger Government (that understands the electoral significance of generation Y) wants to play fair, and sort stuff out so that people can get on with their lives and achieve?. The Government?s tough and market rules apply, mainly, but this is conservatism with a compassionate trim. Be assured Peeps, this is the new politics of aspiration. This Government portrays itself as centrist, compromising and inclusive, yet tough and enabling Kiwis to get on with their lives; a set of adjectives that spans the political spectrum of appeal. An economically and socially liberal government, that?s well grounded in economic reality.

    However, the same PR theories that tell us that the image of any organisation is important (what it says it is doing), tell us that its identity (what it actually does) is also vital.

    If unemployment continues to accelerate and the signs of tough times turn into very tough times (which they just might), how long is this ?aspirational? government going to help people ? regardless of their levels of aspiration ?to keep their jobs and pay their bills.

    For one thing, last weekend?s all round good vibe at Ratana Pa may soon be replaced by widespread M?ori discontent when the likely economic realities start to bite, unless the PM can protect us against those realities or manage us through them with minimal pain. Remember, M?ori are hugely over-represented in poverty and deprivation statistics.

    Despite ACT looming over John Key?s shoulder on the far right, on the surface this is a compromising, inclusive centrist Government. Corporatist type summits to get all the interest groups working together to start navigating our way through the tumultuous straits of the global economy in crisis come to mind. The tino rangatirataunga flag flying over Parliament and on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

    However, just below the surface, critics might say, lies a starkly different reality. The abolition of employee rights in their first three months of employment recently by what our trade unions are calling the Fire at Will Bill (the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008) is hardly centrist or compromising. Fining parents of truant children up to $3000 will surely hit some of the poorest hardest and is not a politically moderate move.

    How much of a Government of the people is this fresh-faced crew, really? The image work is clever. Listening to John Key on ZMFM recently sharing laughs with the boys about his broken arm or talking about how cool the ZMFM crew are and how his daughter has to be virtually prized away from listening to their show is a little reminiscent of Cool Britannia in the UK ten-plus years ago. Back then Tony Blair met Noel Gallagher from Oasis and Labour politics had a definite taint of the cool about it (or at it least it tried to).

    Yet despite Ms Bennett?s doing everything short of styling herself as the Minister of Jack Daniels, and a ?good sort? of Westie chick (again, her words) the Government?s attempts to portray itself as a group of easy-going, down to earth positive Kiwis may not work in the longer term because their image and their identity are out of synch.

    Lockwood Smith?s stupid comments about Asians and the size of their hands during the election campaign will have got a lot of people offside ? hardly the politics of inclusion.

    And, inclusiveness has an economic dimension as well as a social one. You could call the government?s recent tax cuts for the middle and upper income brackets ?aspirational? and say they are rewarding success, but what about poorer New Zealanders faced with food and petrol prices, for example, which are bordering on the obscene. Where is their tax break?

    Interesting times are on the cards for John Key and his team and the New Zealand voting public whose hearts and minds they want to win. The Government will have to work hard to keep its image and its identity in harmony and take the people with them.

  6. Tim Ellis 6

    Labour seems to be pretty keen to destroy Paula Bennet’s image, even to the point of sneering and engaging in petty attacks on her. Witness Trevor Mallard’s false claim in parliament yesterday, where he claimed that Ms Bennet gave a Labour MP the fingers in Parliament.

    Have to wonder why Labour gets so outraged with Ms Bennet. Could it be that she won the safe seat of Waitakere from Labour?

    As for Eddie’s use of “despite any relevant experience or discernable talent”, that is just spiteful. Eddie, would you care to name how the last three Labour ministers of social welfare had more relevant experience or discernable talent than Ms Bennet?

    • Eddie 6.1

      Not defending Trevor, he can do that himself. But I do think it’s stupid to launch an attack like that without checking your facts first.

      In my view Bennett’s image is fair game. It’s all she’s got. She wasn’t appointed for her experience or talent, she was appointed as a PR move so National could appear centrist. If that’s all there is then that’s what people will focus on.

      • Tim Ellis 6.1.1

        Eddie, you didn’t answer my question. Would you care to name how the last three Labour ministers of social welfare had more relevant experience or discernable talent than Ms Bennett?

        • Eddie 6.1.1.1

          That’s a subjective measure Tim, and it’s not really relevant. Off the top of my head I can only remember Dyson and King, both of whom were very experienced and were appointed Clark because of their ability. You can argue how able they really were if you want, but that’s why they were apponted, not for any flashy PR campaigns or branding exercises.

          Bennett’s a new MP, no experience, and in her performance to date she hasn’t demonstrated any particular talent. That shocking performance on Radio NZ against Goff showed her to be completely out of her depth as Tane noted at http://www.thestandard.org.nz/out-of-her-depth/.

          The only reason I can see for her appointment was that with the proper backstory and PR work she could make National appear centrist to voters.

          • Tim Ellis 6.1.1.1.1

            Eddie, you are applying a subjective measure when you say that Paula Bennett doesn’t have relevant experience. I’m simply asking you to justify the claim by specifying what relevant experience is.

            If we use the Labour Party measure of relevant experience, then I think yes, she certainly qualifies to be in Cabinet. If Judith Tizard, Rick Barker and Harry Duynhoven are the standards that the Labour Party supporter uses to qualify for membership of the executive, then I think Ms Bennett surpasses that by a long margin.

        • Trevor Mallard 6.1.1.2

          Cullen?

      • Daveski 6.1.2

        The TMO ruled no try Eddie.

        Trevor was wrong. Facts.

        • Eddie 6.1.2.1

          As I said Daveski,

          Not defending Trevor, he can do that himself. But I do think it’s stupid to launch an attack like that without checking your facts first.

        • Trevor Mallard 6.1.2.2

          And I apologised immediately – more than Ministers who make mistakes.

    • Duncan 6.2

      Tim – National seems to be putting a lot of effort into the line that any attacks on Bennett’s carefully constructed brand are ‘sneering’, ‘personal’ and ‘petty attacks’.

      I’m sorry but if you sell someone on the basis that they’re a Westie solo mum on the dpb then they’re going to be judged and criticised on that basis.

      You can’t just create a political brand and then break down into tears and piss your pants every time someone tries to deconstruct it.

      • Helen 6.2.1

        I’m sorry but if you sell someone on the basis that they’re a Westie solo mum on the dpb then they’re going to be judged and criticised on that basis.

        Beautiful double standard.

        If us taxpayers make any sort of value judgement about the undeserving recipients of the unconscionable amount of our taxes that gets flushed down the welfare toilet, we’re “heartless Tories.”

        • Eddie 6.2.1.1

          This post isn’t a criticism of the DPB or of Paula Bennett for using it when she needed it – far from it.

          This post is about National selling Bennett, and giving her a ministerial warrant, based on a branding exercise that exploits the “Westie solo mum on the dpb” image they’ve created to make themselves appear more centrist. When she doesn’t live up to the image she will rightly be called on it.

          When did the right become such a pack of snivelling, over-sensitive cry-babies?

          • Pascal's bookie 6.2.1.1.1

            When did the right become such a pack of snivelling, sensitive cry-babies?

            1929.

          • indiana 6.2.1.1.2

            Is there any value in critiquing the person managing this portfolio, I mean what do you really have to gain? So what if thats how National sold her, her true measure will be how effective a minister she is, not her image. If people seriously believe that National won the election on personality, there is really a true disconnect after all!

          • Eddie 6.2.1.1.3

            Yeah, because the new National Party governs by PR to a greater extent than any other in recent history. They’re still hawking Paula out as a Westie chick and solo mum to promote themselves as centrist, check the cover of this week’s Listener.

            So long as they’re using PR to hide their agenda people will critique the PR and compare the image with the reality.

          • indiana 6.2.1.1.4

            Oh yeah…the secwet agenda….sheesh!

          • gobsmacked 6.2.1.1.5

            her true measure will be how effective a minister she is, not her image.

            Agreed. So, how is she effective?

            Policies won around the Cabinet table? No. In the House? No. Her judgement? Er, Rankin.

            Any evidence for the defence?

          • Eddie 6.2.1.1.6

            Um, it’s not secret anymore. Everyone is talking about how much more right-wing National is than it was saying before the election.

          • indiana 6.2.1.1.7

            Nup…no evidence for defence…thought I’d wait until the next election to make a determination of how effective a minister she was, like most normal voters.

        • Merlin 6.2.1.2

          We’re all taxpayers Helen.

    • Maynard J 6.3

      Oh noes, Labour are engaged in ‘sneering’. Is there a set time when the House is sitting that they all stop doing whatever it was (sleeping, reading the paper, checking their phones, as all MPs seem to do) they were doing and launch into a unified sneer? Or has the sneer campaign not yet reached that level of coordination yet?

      As a general question to readers, what is the best way to counteract a coordinated sneer campaign? Fight fire with fire and pull out ‘The Grimace’? Take them Down with a ‘Frown’? Political strategy is so complicated these days.

      • Elvis Christ 6.3.1

        Unfortunately Merlin there are very few NETT income taxpayers left. Working For (Other Peoples) families ensured that particular piece of socialist doctrine.

        • Maynard J 6.3.1.1

          Jesus has left the building?

        • Pascal's bookie 6.3.1.2

          “Unfortunately Merlin there are very few NETT income taxpayers left.”

          Cite? And why limit it to income tax? Do other taxes not count?

    • Waitakere was never a safe seat and the swing last election was actually really small. The local organisation is hardened and passionate and the electorate is really discerning.

      It will be the first seat to return to Labour next election.

      • jarbury 6.4.1

        I think it was pretty shocking for Labour to lose Waitakere. Labour know they lost the election in West Auckland (where people voted National as for some reason your average working class westie thoughts National would be better for them, bet they’re regretting that now as their night-class gets cut so private schools can be funded more) and South Auckland (where the turnout was pathetic).

        That said, yes I would think that Waitakere and Auckland Central could be the first two electorates Labour will win back in 2011. Whether or not they win the actual election I think.

  7. John Dalley 7

    Is it true the “Westie ” lives in Mt Eden??

    • sally 7.1

      It was a rumour going around a little while ago. Someone care to take a look at the Waitakere electoral role? Or the Auckland Central / Epsom (whichever Mt Eden falls into) roles?

      She doesn’t own property in West Auckland – just a town house in Mt Eden:
      http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/A4EB8291-1635-4F18-89C1-C09738171BAC/104350/register2009_1.pdf

      Page 9:
      Hon Paula BENNETT (National, Waitakere)
      4 Beneficial interests in trusts
      Marlin Catching Superannuation Trust
      6 Real property
      Townhouse, Mt Eden
      7 Superannuation schemes
      Marlin Catching Superannuation Scheme
      9 Creditors
      National Bank mortgage

      She might be pulling John Key’s trick – Johnny boy brought an $800,000 house in Waimauku so he could ‘connect’ with his electorate. Never lived in it of course, it was well below him.

      Bennett might rent in West Auckland. But if I owned a house in Mt Eden, I wouldn’t be renting in West Auckland, that’s for damn sure.

      • Pat 7.1.1

        Key owns a house in Huapai, which is his electorate office. I’m not sure about whether he owns a house in Waimauku as well.

        I wonder how many MP’s live in their electorates. Does Goff live in Mt Roskill?

        • sally 7.1.1.1

          I’m not concerned about MPs that live outside their electorate. Many do through choice (Goff springs to mind) or through boundary changes (Anderton and Pillay both ended up outside their electorates).

          What I detest is MPs who think they can buy their way into a community they have no connection with – you know – carpet-baggers. Key did it in Helensville. Burns did it in Chch Central. Bennett talks about how proud she is to be a westie, but maybe she’s too proud to actually live in West Auckland?

          As I said, it was rumour, may not actually be the case.

          And no, Key no longer owns the house in Waimauku.

          • Anita 7.1.1.1.1

            It’d be pretty easy to check where she actually lives.

          • redrag 7.1.1.1.2

            You’ve previously been banned for life under a different handle for abusing one of our authors about their personal life. Please respect this ban.

      • indiana 7.1.2

        Why not? The rent may be cheaper in West Auckland and the town house may be an investment property…makes good business sense to me….ooops we shouldn’t be profiteering here should we…my bad.

  8. One would think that helping parents on the DPB attend university would be exactly what you WOULD want to fund during a recession.

    You know, getting people to upskill so we can take full advantage of the economic recovery and all… or have we forgotten that bit whilst battening down the hatches?

    • Helen 8.1

      One would think that helping parents on the DPB attend university would be exactly what you WOULD want to fund during a recession.

      Waste of time. The DPB exists for one purpose only – to encourage Labour voters to breed in large numbers.

      These are people who will never produce more than they consume, have a predisposition towards criminality and simply will never contribute positively to society.

      Educational funding is better spent on those that actually can and are inclined to one day be productive citizens than on Labour voters.

      • Eddie 8.1.1

        I think that deranged rant says it all.

        • Maynard J 8.1.1.1

          What, that there is some other system at work foring tories to systemically inbreed and turn out incomprehensible idiots like Helen? But most tories are actually normal people (maybe misguided, but that is another story). Houston, we have an outlier.

          Edit – yeah PB – was Ms Bennett herself not on the DPB? She obviously forgot to breed excessively, abuse her kids, be an gambling addict and vote Labour. She had better pay that benefit money back, because it obviously did not all go on alcohol!

        • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1.2

          Yep,
          I’m waiting for Tim to get all offended and hurt on John Key’s mum’s behalf.

        • Chris G 8.1.1.3

          That suggests its an isolated deranged rant from Helen… Thats just what she does normally as far as I’m aware.

          What is it with these deranged righties bursting with anger? (From their safe suburban house)

      • Merlin 8.1.2

        “The DPB exists for one purpose only to encourage Labour voters to breed in large numbers.”

        Like Paula Bennett and John Key’s mum eh?

        It’s like having a conversation with a random bigot phrase generator

      • Pete 8.1.3

        “Heartless tory” *chuckles*

        I LOVE how you contradict your comment a mere three minutes earlier. Gold.

  9. gobsmacked 9

    There are lots of ways to divert discussion of Paula Bennett into soap opera trivia … her background, her family, her looks, etc. None of them relate to the only question that really matters, i.e.

    Is the Minister any good at her job?

    It’s now obvious that she isn’t. She is nowhere near up to it. And no amount of magazine PR and fake victim-outrage on her behalf can hide that fact.

    • Rex Widerstrom 9.1

      In a nutshell, gobsmacked.

      By the by… Labour Ministers of social welfare who could run intellectual rings round Bennett? Surprised no one’s mentioned Cullen, though perhaps that was too long ago to count.

      I recall doing an interview with the newly minted Minister that absolutely knocked my socks off in terms of grasp of the issues and vision for positive change.

      Which made his later descent into a sneering vituperative partisan all the more disappointing, of course…

  10. terry 10

    her time on breakfast gave her the profile to take the seat during a time went the electorate turned on labour…..in opposition things are easy…governing is another story…however her image is based on that solo mun from out west….

    look its a recession…not a great answer…

    national use of spin and backfire….i think bill is one of the few national mps not required a high amount of spin…unlike key….

    i thought bill went well in the house yesterday

    • jarbury 10.1

      Yes Bill English is very strong in the house. He also ended up answering about half the questions – give the man a pay rise?

      I’m still trying to work out why one should make it harder for Mums on the DPB to go to university – don’t we want them to be educated so they can come off the DPB and start earning money once their kids are old enough?

  11. toad 11

    Tim Ellis said: Would you care to name how the last three Labour ministers of social welfare had more relevant experience or discernable talent than Ms Bennett?

    Much to Labour’s embarrasment now I suspect, one of them was the Hon David (Tennis Balls) Benson-Pope.

    The other two (Maharey and Dyson) I would suggest were significantly more qualified for the job than Bennett.

    • gobsmacked 11.1

      All three of them had far more talent than Bennett.

      Tim’s “experience” claim is classic distraction. Not many Corrections Ministers have done time in Paremoremo, nor are Defence Ministers former colonels, and so on. Ability is what counts.

      Anne Tolley? Educated?

    • Tim Ellis 11.2

      Toad, as I recall Ruth Dyson went to Cabinet after one term in Parliament, and then resigned from Cabinet a year later after her drink driving conviction. If I remember correctly Tariana Turia was given a ministerial post soon after entering parliament, and Parekura Horomia and Margaret Wilson were both given heavy ministerial portfolios after no parliamentary experience.

      Cabinet posts are obviously made for a variety of reasons by prime ministers, either direct relevant experience or if the PM sees potential. Clearly Mr Key sees potential in Ms Bennett. If she doesn’t fulfill it then he will be accountable for the appointment.

      I think so far Ms Bennett is working out quite well. There is a lot of sneering from Labour Party supporters, but I think it’s got more to do with intellectual arrogance and a sense of betrayal that Ms Bennett is supporting National instead of Labour.

      • gobsmacked 11.2.1

        So what is Paula Bennett good at, Tim?

        • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.1

          Clearly she’s very good at winning a safe labour seat, GS.

          • gobsmacked 11.2.1.1.1

            Your inability to come up with any examples of Bennett’s strengths as a Minister, duly noted.

          • Maynard J 11.2.1.1.2

            Tim’s distortions and outright lies mean you have to fact check every claim if you want to be able to respond.

            So: “Safe Labour Seat”. Waitakere was abolished in 1984 and reinstated as an electorate in 1993. It was held by National in 1993, 1996 and 1999. It changed to Labour in 2002 and was held in 2005.

            The Labour candidate had a majority of 9756 to 2nd best 7423 (27,131 all up) in 2002 and 15,325 to 2nd best 10,383 (31,667 all up) in 2005.

            Bennett won it by 632 votes, a good turnaround but distinctly average in context of the 2008 general election and taken from a non-ministerial MP.

          • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.1.3

            Maynard J, there were major boundary changes before the 2008 election, giving Labour a paper majority of 9,000. That made it a safe seat.

          • Craig Glen Eden 11.2.1.1.4

            Waitakere was not a ‘strong labour seat’ as you put it. Tim, you do not know much about politics an the fact that you do not even bother to google what you are saying before you open your mouth shows that facts do not matter to you tories. It is all about ranting.

            Ruth Dyson entered Parliament in 1993, that means that she was in parliament for 6 years before Labour was elected in 1999.

            Parekura Horomia was in parliament for one term before he was given his first portfolio, three years in the job counts as more then “no experience” and before entering parliament, he was a senior public servant.

            Margaret Wilson graduated LLB (honours) from the University of Auckland. She has worked as a lawyer, a Professor of Law and Dean at the University of Waikato, and a trade unionist. From 1984 to 1987, she was president of the Labour Party, and from 1989 to 1990, she worked as chief political advisor to the Prime Minister, Geoffrey Palmer. She has also served on the Law Commission, and was appointed as a director of the Reserve Bank. In 1999 she became Attorney General in the House of Representatives.

            Get your facts right Tim!

          • George D 11.2.1.1.5

            Pillay wasn’t a great MP for Waitakere, unfortunately, so Bennett had a reasonable chance even before the swing.

      • Maynard J 11.2.2

        “There is a lot of sneering from Labour Party supporters, but I think it’s got more to do with intellectual arrogance and a sense of betrayal that Ms Bennett is supporting National instead of Labour.”

        You never did tell me whether it was an organised sneer campaign or not. I am getting some pretty funny mental images. I guess the truth in all these observations is what irks you into making these sneery allegations. Not much in it though Tim.

        There is nothing wrong in someone with Ms Bennett’s background supporting National – it is the shafting of those in her former position that is the betrayal, much as you would like to pretend we are personally hurt and smarting from it.

      • Akldnut 11.2.3

        “Clearly Mr Key sees potential in Ms Bennett. If she doesn’t fulfill it then he will be accountable for the appointment.”

        Accountable my arse.

        Tim you’re deluding yourself and bullshitting to the rest of us, you & I both know that if Bennett dosn’t work out that Key will still walk out of this tub shit smiling and smelling of roses. Just like he has with everything else in the last 6-8 months.

      • mickysavage 11.2.4

        Tim

        You cannot be serious.

        BTW Waitakere was not a safe labour seat, it was one of the three most marginal in the Auckland area. It had a 7 % swing last time, one of the smallest in the Auckland area.

        Nice attempt at spin.

  12. exbrethren 12

    The cover feature in the Listener this week goes into how her department have to present reports.

    She won’t read long documents so they have to reduce them to a series of graphs and flow charts with few words in them. Hard to argue with Brian Edwards assessment of her.

    • gobsmacked 12.1

      I watched that ‘Sunday’ interview. Hello deer, meet headlights.

      • Ianmac 12.1.1

        Incredible that a Minister did not have any answer! (See Brian Edwards site including footage of Sunday interview @ exbretheren above 4:29 pm.)

  13. Tom Semmens 13

    The more I see of Paula Bennett, the more I am forced to ask… If one were to posit that Christine Rankin is really an Alien Shape Shifter (and i believe it is reasonable question to ask), then has anyone ever seen Rankin and Bennett in the same room together at the same time?

  14. Pat 14

    This article from Jan 2008 has a lot of the facts about her background – where she got her money from to move to Auckland and start Uni, and where she lived.

    http://www.paulabennett.co.nz/index.php?/archives/20-The-Independent-Financial-Review,-Political-hound-dog-goes-hunting-in-the-House.html

    2nd paragraph states she is the MP Labour dislikes the most. Looks like nothing has changed.

    • Yeah Pat

      She is hopeless and is being used as a figurehead to undermine Social Welfare. And she is being held up as someone that ordinary people can aspire to in an effort to increase support for a party that despises ordinary people.

      She is nothing more than a PR appointment without the skill or talent to do what is an important job.

      Lefties do despise her. She is causing a lot of damage.

      And she is not even a real westie …

  15. gingercrush 15

    Paula Bennett is so hopeless. I mean Labour had to put Social Welfare on their Deputy Leader Annette King. Arguably one of the finest parliamentarians who in her minister roles was able to completely destroy her opposition members. Indeed, she made the health portfolio for several years bereft of controversy. Not an easy task. Yet she’s been in the job for six months. Has King done much damage to what is regarded by the left as an useless minister? No. Bennett can’t be that useless. After all if she was so useless you’d think Labour could do some real damage on her. It hasn’t happened.

    I rather like the idea of the left believing their lies. That National Party so useless, no substance. Nothing but a party that operates on PR. Yet they won the election and won it strongly. They’re doing well in the polls. But you know any day now all of that will change and voters will wake up. They’ll wake up to this corrupt far-right National Party that does nothing else but PR. The evil National Party is going downwards.

    Yeah still waiting for that.

    The more the left underestimate National and its MPs. The further damage it does to any chance the left has to regain power in 2011. As long as the left believe National is nothing but PR and believe all its members are so useless. The more the left believe they just have to wait for National to be exposed. That thinking will never win you an election. 2011 will be an election where Labour has to win. It isn’t an election where you can depend on National losing it. The left often accuses the right of being arrogant. Really its the left that is arrogant. After all you have such wonderful MPs and such wonderful parties compared to the evil right-wing that voters will just walk away from National and vote left.

    Of course National stole the 2008 election. How else could they win. Labour and the left are just so fabulous. Voters love the left.

    • jarbury 15.1

      I somewhat agree with you GC on Annette King not nailing Paula Bennett more. Annette King doesn’t seem to have been that visible lately at all.

      To be honest, it seems like Trevor Mallard is running the Labour Party these days in the house. An unofficial shadow leader of the house it seems.

      • gingercrush 15.1.1

        That is a danger too. Mallard has skills but sometimes he does too much and goes too far. Hence, the silly idea that Bennett gave the Labour members the finger. Labour would do well to control him a bit. Too much of a loose cannon.

        • jarbury 15.1.1.1

          I’ve been pretty impressed with his work in the house actually. He’s made some pretty smart points of order and presents his case very well.

          He worked with Steven Joyce quite closely on the recent “Drug driving” bill, at least on the bit of parliament TV that I watched. He can be a loose cannon at times I suppose, but he’s doing a pretty important job at the moment I reckon

          • gingercrush 15.1.1.1.1

            Mallard has the potential to do plenty of damage to National if he is controlled. He remains one of the best people in the house. If anything, being in opposition suits him even better than as a minister. I question though him retaking the Education portfolio. Whilst Tolley is weak. Mallard’s role as minister of education was at times shaky. I’m just not sure what portfolios he could hold.

          • Trevor Mallard 15.1.1.1.2

            Not sure how to do this technically – but jarbury above :- Ginga 1 was away on thursday so I did act for him – and have done a bit more in the house generally since Michael Cullen left.

            And to the guy below I’ve been working pretty hard to see what influence we can have on government education policy rather than just trying to destroy Tolley. One example is the work this week in the select committee to see if we can use the Ombudsman to get to a point where there is an agreement to stop primary school league tables and thereby ensure professional buy-in to quality standards, not that the current proposals pass that test. For more on that see :-
            http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2009/06/11/education-standards-who-are-they-for/

          • logie97 15.1.1.1.3

            If ever you want a ringing endorsement of an action that Mr Mallard made as minister talk to the principal of Taihape school. The area was subject to school closures under Trevor and all the vitriol that went with that. Now Taihape’s schooling has been rationalised and the people there love it. Well done Trevor and your ministry for a bit of vision.

      • indiana 15.1.2

        Perhaps she’s waiting for the next full moon….

    • Lew 15.2

      GC,

      The more the left underestimate National and its MPs. The further damage it does to any chance the left has to regain power in 2011. As long as the left believe National is nothing but PR and believe all its members are so useless. The more the left believe they just have to wait for National to be exposed. That thinking will never win you an election. 2011 will be an election where Labour has to win. It isn’t an election where you can depend on National losing it.

      You’re absolutely right with this, GC. Labour’s (and to an extent the Greens’) campaign revolved around trying to portray John Key as a n00b. To an extent it’s still happening (though not without some help from people like Melissa Lee). The beating of John Key is in targeting his executive ability, not his political ineptitude.

      L

      • jarbury 15.2.1

        I get the feeling once other countries around the world start to emerge from the recession due to their significant economic stimulus packages, while we’re still stuck in the depths of a gloomy recession, people will start to question the government a bit more.

        How we do come out of the recession vs other countries around the world will really be telling in deciding the 2011 election in my opinion. Especially considering our “hands off” approach is quite different to what many other countries are doing, and therefore quite a gamble.

        • Pascal's bookie 15.2.1.1

          I think it will to early to be seeing much difference in 2011, but I do think that the fact that there will be a large number of countries approaching things from a different ideological framework will count for something.

          When we had rogernomics and ruthenasia, these were considered close to best practice. There Is No Alternative, and so on. That’s not the case now, and the memories of how that was, are still potent.

          I think that ‘no privatisation in the first term’ phrase might come back to bite the Nats a bit. If they signal a turn toward neoliberal solutions in the second term, when no one else in the world is trying them, they’ve got a hard sell. Labour and the Greens will be able to point to alternatives this time around.

        • gingercrush 15.2.1.2

          I think you’ll find New Zealand will come out of recession in better shape than many of those other countries. As those economies are experiencing some recovery signs so too is our economy. Its also unlikely our unemployment rate will be anywhere near to what other countries are experiencing. We were always in better shape than others to combat the world-wide recession.

          We are of course dependent on those countries to recover since exports are that important. And unlike Australia we don’t have minerals that have largely shielded them from this recession. I also think its too early to say the US and Europe are recovering. They have huge debt problems that will cause problems in the future. They’ve got some helpful signs but considering many countries dollars are faring far better against the US dollar surely signals weaknesses the US economy still has. I will say the US is out of the worse they were. Some will say that is because of the stimulus packages they had. I can’t agree with that. That is the market sorting it out.

    • GC

      Any chance of some substance appearing in your post?

  16. terry 16

    labour lost the election….national did not win….

    look at the numbers….

    paula will need a high place on the list to remain after 2011 or stand in a different electorate….

    sorry but that is reality…not left or right…

    • gingercrush 16.1

      ….

      You don’t gain 10 electorate seats and get 1 million votes without having to win an election. Your scenario would work if Labour dropped back without National gaining 5% more of the vote from 2005. National’s numbers are far stronger than what Labour themselves got in the whitewash of 2002. National won this election. You’re just too arrogant not to see it.

      • mickysavage 16.1.1

        And Paula?

        Her electorate will be the first to go.

        And after she is shown to be a failure I suspect she will struggle to get any position of importance.

        Her appointment was another rush of blood to Key’s head. He has had a few of them, the appointment of Lee to contest Mt Albert perhaps being the most prominant failure. But the others also look really strange.

        • gingercrush 16.1.1.1

          Well Waitakere is one of the more marginal seats for National. So undoubtedly if National loses favour (which it surely must from 2008 since if it grows anymoreBennett will lose support its going to get an outright majority) Waitakere will be on the line. But there is a real advantage in being a Cabinet Minister. So while I would agree its highly possible Bennett will lose Waitakere. A high list placing which I think she’ll get should help her.

          if failure is losing your electorate seat. Then it certainly didn’t hurt Darren Hughes or Steve Chadwick in 2008 and David Parker in 2005.

      • Craig Glen Eden 16.1.2

        What you do not realise GC is that Labour still received 33%, a lot more then National in 2002.

        In order for National to get in they had to adopt almost all of Labour’s Policy.
        National assisted by the media ran an anti-Helen campaign for three years leading up to the election. National did not smash labour in 2008. A smashing is what labour served up to Melissa Lee last weekend.

        English is a solid performer for National, so is Simon Power and so too was Catherine Rich. Paula Bennet is not. She doesn’t know National Party policy, in public meetings during the election she was literally begging for her vote saying “It is my turn, give me a go!”.

        • gingercrush 16.1.2.1

          Well of course Labour never suffered a defeat like National did in 2002. I’m not suggesting that. I merely point out that National was able to get a bigger percentage than what Labour could get in 2002. No single party in parliament has been able to get the numbers National received in 2008 in a MMP environment. Indeed even with the disaster that was 2002 for National, Labour still didn’t get 44%+National did defeat Labour of course. By some of the sentiment here you’d think National merely squeaked in. That isn’t the case. National had a sizable win. Was it a win like in Mt. Albert? No. It was still a considerable win.

          From your estimation f Bennett you’d think Pillay would have defeated her with a 3000+ majority. As that didn’t happen. You’re underestimating her.

  17. terry 17

    will act be there after 2011…??? will the maori party….???

  18. jarbury 18

    Act probably will be (unfortunately). There are a lot of wingnuts annoyed about losing out on their (unaffordable) tax cuts, so that might gain Act some support.

    However, if Rodney’s local government changes turn into the disaster they seem to be heading towards (both for Auckland and in general) then that could lose them quite a lot of support.

    Regarding the Maori Party, I think they will be around for a long time to come.

    • Pascal's bookie 18.1

      Agreed on both ACT and the mP.

      The only other thing that might effect ACT is the next two budgets.English has pretty much set himself up for having to make cuts next year to expenditure.

      That might appease his rightie base, but at the expense of the centre voters the nats gained off Labour. The worst outcome for the nats that I can see, is that ACT start climbing in the polls during election year at National’s expense. That will drive those centrists back to Labour, especially if UF stays at nothing.

      And then there is turnout, and those NZFirst voters…

      • gingercrush 18.1.1

        I would think if National’s support falls some Act voters will go back to National. If National’s vote remains pretty solid then I can see Act’s vote grow. Likewise, a huge collapse in National’s vote may trigger a switch to Act.

        I don’t believe a growth in Act’s vote necessarily hurts centrist voters since its inevitable that a National government is going to be dependent on Act. In terms of New Zealand’s First vote. That will largely go the left’s way.

        Turnout is more important for Labour. A good turnout means left voters are voting. Something many didn’t in 2008. Voters on the right typically do go out and vote unless National does badly i.e. Mt. Albert by-election, the 2002 election. 2002 was of course interesting in National received such a low vote. But in terms of the right vote. That simply went to United Future and New Zealand First.

        If Labour somehow does even worse in 2011, I expect the Greens vote to grow with some votes going to more centrist parties. I don’t expect that to happen. The danger for the left is if Labour’s vote surges and that does damage to the Green vote. In 2005 when National’s vote surged upwards, that significantly cut into the votes of New Zealand First, Act and United Future. The same could happen to the Greens. Though Green support seems to be solidly in the 5-7% range.

        I’m rather interested in seeing what Anderton does. Perhaps we won’t see him in 2011. If that happens that should bolster Labour in Christchurch. And Wigram should be picked up rather easily by Labour. Peter Dunne himself is in danger. Sharks and Chauvel could take more votes off him meaning he loses the seat. That would likely be beneficial to Chauvel even though Ohariu should really be held by the National party.

        • jarbury 18.1.1.1

          As much as I like aspects of Jim Anderton’s politics I kinda hope that he and Peter Dunne disappear at the next election (I suspect Jim will retire).

          Would be interesting if we don’t see a centre-party emerge though…

          I think perhaps we could see a 2005 like situation in 2011, with the two big parties being really close and potentially squeezing out most of the others. Who knows aye?

          • gingercrush 18.1.1.1.1

            Agreed. Anderton is more likely to go. He can rest easy with implementing an economic development portfolio that in many ways helped the provinces from 1999-2002. And of course there is Kiwibank. Labour seems to think it was them that created that bank. Had it not been for Anderton’s influence, Kiwibank wouldn’t exist.

            Of course Anderton hasn’t had that influence for a long time. He’s essentially a single MP that really should just be part of Labour.

            Dunne will stay as long as National is in power. I think National will want him to stay. More moderate than Act. Whilst he is unlikely to give National any number outside of his own seat. He can bridge the gap between Act and National. That is itself important in National’s coalition arrangements. Though National will need to get the message out that their supporters should vote Dunne and not Shanks. Since all that does is give Chauvel a better chance at winning Ohariu. Indeed he gained 2, 500 more votes than he did in 2005. Likely the only Labour member to have done so in 2008.

            Its likely some of that was because Dunne declared he’d work with National only. But regardless it was a real achievement.

        • Lew 18.1.1.2

          Regarding NZF supporters. I think we can rightly term them the Lost Tribe, since their brand of welfare statism, economic nationalism and social conservatism isn’t at all catered to in the present parliament – and I think there’s a constituency waiting for its leader. Someone without the baggage of Winston Peters, but with his political competence and charisma. I think Larry Baldock fancies himself to be that person, but he’s delusional. I think Michael Laws would have potential if he hadn’t already burned all his bridges with the Christian conservatives.

          I had a discussion about this with a very politically aware and experienced rangatira at ANZAC weekend, and he thinks the old rake of Tauranga isn’t finished yet. I disagree. But who else is there?

          L

          • jarbury 18.1.1.2.1

            Interesting point Lew – although I must say I’m quite happy that previous NZ First supporters don’t have someone catering to their needs particularly.

            Laws & Baldock are surely to the right of National though….?

          • Lew 18.1.1.2.2

            jarbury,

            Laws & Baldock are surely to the right of National though .?

            I reckon Laws is, Baldock not so much except on a few headline social issues. However above all that they’re populists. Populists are opportunists – they’ll take whatever gap is available and make it their own, and if that means tailoring their principles to an electorate, so be it. The crunch comes, as it inevitably does for populists everywhere, when the behaviour is found to not match the rhetoric.

            L

    • Lew 18.2

      If the “secret agenda” conspiracy theory (to which I subscribe at least a little) is correct, National will campaign hard for ACT and use the rightward swing to justify a stiffening of their policy programme. Under this schema, the current term is the softening-up period, as it were – three years to win the electorate’s trust before a term of fundamental, structural retooling of NZ’s social and economic landscape. National won’t be too concerned at the prospect of spending six or nine years in the wilderness, since after the last two rounds (Rogernomics and Ruthanasia), succeeding governments were largely unable and generally unwilling to change back.

      L

      • jarbury 18.2.1

        National seem fairly divided on that themselves I think Lew – and the extent to which they can manage the tension between their ideological desire to move to the right and the pragmatic need to appease the voters of the centre will be crucial in deciding the 2011 election.

        Issues like privatisation and cutting social services (in a more obvious way than the sneaky stuff they’ve got away with so far) appear fairly unpalatable to the general population still.

        • Lew 18.2.1.1

          Indeed. The caucus contains a number of genuine moderates and liberals (Finlayson, Parata) as well as the usual old Tories (Carter, Brownlee) and the ideologues (Joyce, Ryall). Returning to the topic, I think Bennett is in an unfortunate spot here – I reckon her political instincts are different from the policy agenda she has to implement, and I think she will only be able to contain the dissonance for so long. She is in danger of being typecast in the Shipley mould.

          L

          • jarbury 18.2.1.1.1

            Yeah I’ve been pretty impressed by Finlayson so far – he would probably fit quite well into a Labour caucus I think!

            Regarding Bennett, I just really think she’s out of her depth. Surely in a recession a good Minister for Social Development says “right, I’m bloody off limits for cuts here, the people are going to be pretty desperate”. I guess perhaps she’s done well to avoid further cuts to MSD funding???

            Tertiary education assistance still seems like a strange thing for the Nats to cut though. You know, being fond of a “hand up” not a “hand out” and all….

  19. We are seven months or so into a new government. The successful party was nine years out of office and has a new cadre of ministers. It has few really competent old hands. It is, I think, bound to stuff up. Stuff-ups provide easy targets. The question is: will National be able to turn things around? The answer depends on so many things – the serendipity of events (for example, how deep will the recession be?); ministerial discipline and learning curves; the quality and commitment of leadership; the energy and acuity of the Opposition; and so on. If National is to lose, the explanation will lie only partly in its incompetence in government. The other half of the equation will be the quality of the alternative policies offered by Labour. Whilst the last two weeks or so have been heady stuff, at some stage we might usefully return to the serious business of building an alternative to National and its ACT allies……

  20. Fergie 20

    jarbury
    June 19, 2009 at 6:30 pm
    Act probably will be (unfortunately). There are a lot of wingnuts annoyed about losing out on their (unaffordable) tax cuts, so that might gain Act some support.

    The Nats succeeded Epson to Rodney, by leaving Worth (less) there to run against him – next time will be different – Rodney with be seen for the opportunist he is and for his total mishandling of the Auckland Supershitty…..
    My guess is that by 2011 Key will be rolled and English will be in control – then we will see the face of the real National Party, and politics being played by real politicians – not the PR company versions….. I live in hope ……

    • jarbury 20.1

      Considering that Key led National into one of their best election results ever and English one of their worst results ever…. it would be a pretty long-straw for English to take over in my opinion.

      Regarding Act, unfortunately it is in National’s best interests to keep Act alive so I suspect they will continue to go easy on Rodney in Epsom. It is interesting how Act have never recovered to the 5-8% levels they had in the 1996-2005 era.

      • Pascal's bookie 20.1.1

        It is interesting how Act have never recovered to the 5-8% levels they had in the 1996-2005 era.

        ‘No Brash, No cash’ was probably a part of it as funding shifted back to National. They also lost a lot of the original behind the scenes players from the then Employers Federation. They got quite a bit nuttier for a while, flirting with the fundies and talking about ‘gun rights’ and ‘Lauren Order’. That loss of focus on economic liberalism changed the perception of the party I think. Hide’s ‘perk busting’ phase of small scandal crusading was another symptom of them losing their purist ‘serious thinker’ image.

  21. jarbury 21

    Carmel Sepuloni as the candidate for Manurewa at the next election? George Hawkins is getting on a bit right?

  22. gingercrush 22

    And how lovely.A new Roy Morgan poll which has National’s coalition steady While Labour is up 2% showing Goff is likely getting more exposure. So good signs for both sides. Though Greens falling 1% is a concern. It could point to Labour’s vote growing at the expense of the Greens.

    But what is even more pleasing: The Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating is at 150.5 (up 5 points) with 69% (up 3.5%) of New Zealanders saying New Zealand is ‘heading in the right direction’ compared to only 18.5% (down 1.5%) that say New Zealand is ‘heading in the wrong direction.’

  23. Irascible 23

    An analysis of Key appointees would put Bennett on the same scale of competence as Lee and Worth.
    All appointed because they fitted a PR profile rather than any indications of competence or practical experience.
    Mind you, from what we’ve seen on the media, Key himself looks like a PR failure as well. His bumbling mumbling on TV & Radio doesn’t give any listener confidence.

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  • Budget 2020 date announced
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