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Sanctions for beneficiary bashers

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, July 25th, 2018 - 76 comments
Categories: benefits, Economy, employment, jacinda ardern, making shit up, Media, national, Politics, same old national, Simon Bridges, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, welfare, winston peters, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

I am almost starting to feel sorry for Simon Bridges.  Almost …

He is struggling for relevance.  He has had a month of clear air where he has not had to deal with the might of Jacinda and has blown it.

I commented on this here.  David Cormack in the Herald concurs.  From his article:

Polling is now starting to catch on to this idea of Jacinda as a phenom. She damn near single handedly dragged Labour off the opposition benches after inheriting a dispirited and damaged group seven weeks before a General Election. But our Prime Minister has been on parental leave for a month and in that time we’ve had a sort of political vacuum.

Usually if such a vacuum occurs the opposition might use it to get some cut-through, let the country know what it stands for. But National seems to stand for nothing except an empty jar of hair gel.

I was talking to a Labour front-bencher and they said to me “If you asked me what National’s policy on just about anything was, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, and I sit opposite them.” Which is not a reflection on their listening skills, but rather that National is bereft. Bereft of ideas. Personality. Communication skills. Anything really.

Ask yourself, what is a National Party policy? All I can think of is MORE TAX CUTS, and maybe FEWER ABORTIONS. But the anti-abortion policy is more Simon Bridges’ than National’s, and the tax cuts policy seems to have flown out the door because National keeps complaining that the Government isn’t spending enough money.

And it appears the polling is starting to hurt National.  Again from Cormack’s post:

Labour’s internal polling has Labour three points ahead of National. A fairly big baby bump considering where they have been. But it’s their support parties’ result that is the more startling. Both the Greens and NZ First are at seven per cent each. This gives the Coalition plus Greens a seventeen point lead over the opposition.

So what is a good tory to do?  Well bash beneficiaries, what else?

Two days ago Bridges decided to make beneficiary sanctions an issue.  This is Newshub’s take on the issue:

Simon Bridges says National is committed to bringing back sanctions on beneficiaries to give them “more esteem and more of a purpose”.

The Labour-NZ First coalition has removed, or is in the process of removing, many of the punishments introduced by the previous National-led Government after winning last year’s election – such as docking payments to solo mothers who don’t name the father of their baby.

The number of beneficiaries being sanctioned fell 22 percent in the last year, figures released to NZME last week showed. The biggest falls came in sanctions for failing to show for appointments and failing to prepare or participate in work. Work and Income staff have reportedly been encouraged to explore other options first, and any sanction now has to be signed off by a second person.

Mr Bridges told The AM Show on Monday National would “absolutely” reinstate sanctions if they win the next election.

“We need to be fair to taxpayers, hard-working taxpayers who deserve actually their money to be spent well, but also the beneficiaries who in terms of getting into a job, have a better life quality actually have more esteem and more of a purpose.”

He said the aim wasn’t to be “tough”.

“It was about making sure we had expectations on beneficiaries that would lead to better lives for them. This Government’s going soft in this area – it’s a bit like crime, it won’t work. It’ll mean more beneficiaries, more people languishing on the dole queue, when we’ve actually got low unemployment in this country. It’s a tragedy.”

So according to Bridges sanctions give people more esteem and more of a purpose.

There is however the small matter that all the studies into the subject disagree.  Lisa Owen at Newshub last year discovered that the Government had no evidence that benefit sanctions on solo parents do anything to encourage wayward fathers to pay their share of child support and that it actually put families at higher risk of hardship and long term welfare dependency.

And a UK study’s conclusions were even more pessimistic.  From the Guardian:

Benefit sanctions are ineffective at getting jobless people into work and are more likely to reduce those affected to poverty, ill-health or even survival crime, the UK’s most extensive study of welfare conditionality has found.

The five-year exercise tracking hundreds of claimants concludes that the controversial policy of docking benefits as punishment for alleged failures to comply with jobcentre rules has been little short of disastrous.

“Benefit sanctions do little to enhance people’s motivation to prepare for, seek or enter paid work. They routinely trigger profoundly negative personal, financial, health and behavioural outcomes,” the study concludes.

Let me say this again.  Sanctions do not work.  All they do is make the situation worse for poor people.  But they make some slightly less poor people feel superior.  In political terms this makes them worthwhile.

It is not the only example of poor people bashing that Bridges has recently engaged in.  He also this week lashed out against Tauranga City Council and the homeless. Win win, lash out at Local Government and really poor people who will never vote for you at the same time.  Talk about right wing nirvana.

And the proposal, which Bridges endorses, is that we should change the behaviour of really poor people by fining them if they sleep too close to retail outlets!  That will work.  Make really poor people even poorer is bound to have a beneficial effect.

Bridges’ problem is that he is totally incapable of delivering the message with any sort of authority.  If you want to bash beneficiaries and poor people for political advantage you have to at least be able to sound convincing.

To show how utterly unconvincing he is, this is the video from Parliament yesterday when he chose to use benefit sanctions as the core of his Parliamentary question.

This was the worst display by an Opposition Leader I have ever seen in our Parliament.

Peters was toying with Bridges.  This part of the exchange shows the degree that this occurred:

Hon Simon Bridges: Does he agree with Jan Logie that eight out of 277,000 beneficiaries being suspended each day for breaches of obligation is too many?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: In an ideal world, of course I’d agree with that member. The reality is we haven’t given up. We haven’t given up on the kind of economic and social utopia that we’re organising at this point in time. We don’t take that dismal puritanical view of the roadshow that went around the country filling up telephone booths and calling it a worldwide campaign.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does he agree with Jan Logie, who said that applying obligations to beneficiaries are “not the actions of a decent and compassionate government”, or does he actually believe that obligations are a compassionate tool to help people into work, which will improve their life outcomes?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I could say that it’s been a long time since I’ve heard the neoliberal experiment being described as a compassionate tool to help the poor. This is a new one for us.

Hon Simon Bridges: So it’s quite clear, is it, that he does not support sanctions, that he thinks beneficiaries should be able to languish on the dole queue?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Which of the two questions would the member like me to answer?

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I couldn’t find one amongst that.

Hon Simon Bridges: How can he stand here and defend the policies of Labour and the Greens to soften obligations, remove sanctions, and put more people on welfare, when he clearly doesn’t believe in it himself and his colleagues have actively advocated getting the “nephs” off the couch with sanctions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Because the programme that we have advocated, as a Government” about getting the “nephs” off the couch is about providing the work for them in the first place. You can’t get them off the couch if there’s no place to go and work at—that’s the difference. And I’m going to be concerned about Jacinda Ardern calling me shortly and saying I’d better stay here—this job looks too easy.

I suspect that despite the wintery weather it is barbecue time for National.

Perhaps sanctions should be applied to Simon Bridges, to give him more esteem and more of a purpose.  Nothing else seems to be working.

76 comments on “Sanctions for beneficiary bashers ”

  1. marty mars 1

    Yep he is useless.

    Bring up the next one and they’ll get a short shove too. YAY!!!

    • Chris 1.1

      Bridges isn’t useless. He’s in fact very useful. If he stays where he is he’ll single-handedly steer National to a record low in 2020.

      • marty mars 1.1.1

        Maybe – he could be the best of the gnats or one of the worst – personally i think the rest are worse than him as evidenced by him being able to climb out of the slimepit and claw his way over them to reach the top. This is interestingly, a behaviour shared by some other creatures 🙂

  2. Kay 2

    “So what is a good tory to do? Well bash beneficiaries, what else?”

    Not batting an eyelid…

  3. Kevin 3

    National Playbook 101: When in the shit, bash the benes. Have seen this time and time again.

  4. millsy 4

    I think we should also remember the last time National gave the finance portfolio to a woman from Mid-Canterbury with a dairy farming background.

  5. It’s been noted on Twitter that National’s caucus meeting yesterday took 3 hours, way longer than usual. But let’s not call it a crisis just yet 😉

    I reckon Bridges has a month or so to prove he can foot it. That’s about two weeks of trying to land a blow on Winston Peters, then two weeks to try and do the same to the new Mother of the Nation when she returns from maternity leave.

    I reckon the first week of September will be when National’s brains trust dust off the Weber 4 burner. Soimon can look forward to spending the summer doing a one man roadshow, meeting rull hard working New Zullunders up and down the Mount’s Marine Parade. Budgie smugglers optional.

    • McFlock 5.1

      September through December seems to be the season for leadership changes, even excluding election defeats.

      • “Isn’t it good, isn’t it nice” “Send in the Clowns” by …wait for it!! by Judy Collins. Suggested music for the BBQ.
        Prophetic or what?

    • Kevin 5.2

      Bridges v Peters.

      You could sell tickets to that. Talk about 1-sided.

  6. Cinny 6

    Excellent post.

    Watched parliament yesterday, totally agree with you on simons performance Micky. He was useless. Winny had me in stitches with his rebuttal, simon was totally owned.

    His lack of confidence was on show for all to see. And now that Te Reo Putake has mentioned above about the length of their caucus meeting it makes sense as to his performance. He will never be PM, and his leadership was always over before it begun.

    National party policy… lolololz…where, what? Nada.

  7. veutoviper 7

    I cannot believe that anyone with anything between their ears can really believe that
    sanctions on beneficiaries give them “more esteem and more of a purpose”.

    Watching the faces of Bridges’ fellow Nats in Question Time yesterday, I suspect that very few of them believe that either.

    Even Pete George is expressing disappointment with Bridges’ performance to date and the likelihood that he won’t be leader much longer. In the last few days he has had several posts on Bridges’ lack of popularity etc but this morning’s latest one is pretty straight up on PG’s opinion of him.

    I had my doubts about Bridges when National chose him to take over from the Key/English era but you never know how someone is going to step up in a leadership role, so I waited and watched.

    I didn’t see anything much to give me confidence he had what was required.

    Now I am seeing things that are quite disappointing.

    Successful leaders learn from their mistakes.

    Unsuccessful leaders fail to learn from mistakes.

    Never successful leaders never get enough things right from the start.

    Here is the full link – https://yournz.org/2018/07/25/bridges-tries-to-fake-tough-talk/

    The Dom Post editorial quoted by PG – “Mr Nice Guy bares his teeth” – is also worth a read (complemented with a wonderful picture of a chihuahua baring its teeth in PG’s post. LOL) – https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/105716613/editorial–mr-nice-guy-bares-his-teeth

    Momentum certainly seems to be increasing. TRP’s timeline seems feasible – but WHO NEXT?

  8. Puckish Rogue 8

    Simon Bridges is a good man but, like Shearer, just doesn’t have “it”

    National need someone else…

    • Andre 8.1

      … someone with eyebrows that can shatter glass at 40 paces.

      • Puckish Rogue 8.1.1

        Possibly but they’d need to already be known by the public so there’d be no need for a “get to know the leader” tour

        They’d need to be known to stand for something

        Preferably an electorate MP to show they can win elections

        Not be afraid of a fight because to win the next election will be a real battle

        and while it isn’t a requirement being attractive certainly doesn’t hurt…

        Just wish i could think of someone that ticks all those boxes

  9. xanthe 9

    Perhaps the whole idea of Simon was to make the actual leader (to be announced) look good by comparison?

    • Rosemary McDonald 9.1

      Most definitely.

      They chose wisely too, as this guy seems impervious to criticism. Water off duck’s back. He just grins and carries on.

    • marty mars 9.2

      Could work except he was the best of their bunch by miles. No mates, no talent, no ideas, no nothing know nothing gnats.

  10. Clive Macann 10

    National should just leave Simon where he is. He is doing a great job for the Govt Coalition. Thank you Simon.

  11. AB 11

    We haven’t had a one-term government since ’72-’75 – and then a popular leader died in office and there was the OPEC oil crisis. Absent similar crises, Bridges’ job is to lose as well as possible in 2020 before one of the real contenders takes over.

    He will be rewarded for offering himself up as the sacrificial lamb – but only if he loses well. If he does a 20% Billy English 2002 fustercluck, that is making it too hard for 2023. But I can’t see anything remotely as bad as 2002 happening.

    At the moment Simon is just flitting round trying to shore up 40% for National – being a bit sort of green but not too much, a bit of judicious bene bashing, pretending that business confidence surveys and being the biggest single party in parliament actually mean something, etc..

    Seems like reasonable tactics at this stage, especially when your party’s past record in government is basically mud and public amnesia about it hasn’t set in yet. It’s a horribly difficult job. So I reckon he’s doing an OK job of positioning National to win in 2023 with a different leader. Sure, he comes across to some lefties as an incoherent, embarrassing clown, but that’s just a sign of how snobby and elitist we can be.

    • greywarshark 11.1

      Good critique AB. Rings true.

      • cleangreen 11.1.1

        AB, Now watching ‘general debate’ in parliament today and ‘simple Simon Bridges’ is raving about his ‘regional tour’ last week.

        Bridges sounds upset and angy, and is throwing shit at the Government, but didn’t add anything to how his party was going to mend the country.

        So really he is a hollow vessel with no policy just uses an attack mode so he has nothing to give the voters at all.

        • AB

          Yeah, but whatever I think of him personally, at this stage I think Bridges is doing what he needs to do – sniping criticism, spin lines, half-truths. Quick hit and run attacks without being the solid target that you become by actually announcing a policy. Nats don’t really do ‘policy’ anyway – they’re more about ‘settings’ – low income taxes favouring the top end of earners, giving business a relatively free hand in order to bolster short-term profits and ignore long-term problems, a tax environment that favours speculation over work, and moderate austerity for the rest of us.
          He has held the Nats at 40%+ so far – if that continues he will have done brilliantly.

          • cleangreen

            AB it just shows that the ‘soft’ media are proping up Bridges desn’t it?

            As we never see any carping critisism of this cretin ‘benefit basher’ and this all goes back to when the Labour overnment stubbled over their offer to produce a “free to air” commercial free “public affairs” TV channel like Channel 7 was, that would put the spotlight on the labour policies as positive plans, and since that has been canned by Minister of Broadcasting srewing the whole thing up and stopping it we are now suffering in the opolls as a result.

            Labour need to replace Clare curran and put a effective Minister of broadcasting in place to setup this urgently needed “free to air” commercial free “public affairs” TV channel” now as time is marching onward to 2020.

  12. Pete 12

    Simon will bash beneficiaries if he reads some of the moronic drivel from some of the cretins on Kiwiblog and adopts their neanderthal attitudes and outlook thinking that acting like them will get him votes.

    Meanwhile Simon’s political mate David Farrar will start to run defence for him until he realises it’s a wasted mission.

  13. the other pat 13

    bridges is an endangered species…..but on sanctions…….when a solo mum will not as opposed to don’t know give the name of the father who can then be held fiscally responsible for his child…..well i think a “sanction” of some sort is needed…..the tax payer pays for the mother and child and so shall he in my book.DNA testing will sort any wrongful i.d.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 13.1

      FYI that isn’t how s73 penalties work.

      Fathers and guardians are also penalised if they are on a benefit raising the child. And some cultures and religions object to DNA tests.

      As long as the penalties are in force their are people who are under immense financial pressure to swear an affidavit that degrades both themselves and the child. Does that child not have the right to grow up without MSD knowing (for example) that they were born as a result of incest? Its not like MSD is the most secure and trustworthy place. Imagine if that child grew up and criticised the Paula Bennett equivalent in the media?

      • the other pat 13.1.1

        yes i concur its both fathers and mothers…..but there is an expectation that the good ole community of N.Z support parent and child maybe for the next 18 years……refusing to name a “parent” for less than very very good reasons is just a big fuck you to the tax payer….give me my entitlement now!!!!

  14. Tuppence Shrewsbury 14

    David Cormack? The PR maven with no clients? You are taking his word as the basis for a column on bridges struggling for relevance.

    Mickey, you could have picked anyone of the street and still had more credibility than a guy who uses all caps for emphasis in a newspaper column. Why don’t you just ask high school students to do it in emoji’s then you can blog on it

  15. Wensleydale 15

    Nice work, Simon. Stand your ground, mate. The longer you’re there, the better the government looks. For the sake of all of us who don’t vote National, please remain leader of the National Party. Watching you stuff hand grenades down the front of your own trousers is comedy gold.

  16. Draco T Bastard 16

    Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Because the programme that we have advocated, as a Government” about getting the “nephs” off the couch is about providing the work for them in the first place. You can’t get them off the couch if there’s no place to go and work at—that’s the difference.

    And that is something that National hasn’t seemed to understand since Holyoake. People can’t get off the unemployment benefit if there isn’t any work for them.

    Thing is, Bill English is on record as saying that it’s impossible to get unemployment below 6%. Seems to me that National like high unemployment because it keeps wages low and gives them a target (beneficiaries) to bash so as to distract from the fact that their policies aren’t working.

    • Craig H 16.1

      Exactly right, we have a system with deliberate unemployment, so blaming beneficiaries for not looking hard enough is nonsense.

      • Kat 16.1.1

        Dare I mention we had a functioning MoW back in Holyoakes day.

      • the other pat 16.1.2

        but we have imports brought in because kiwis will not do the work?

        • Craig H

          Sometimes there’s a mismatch between location of work and people, and sometimes in skills/training. And, sometimes the mismatch is that some employers won’t pay enough.

  17. SaveNZ 17

    Winston seems on fire.

    Simon, seems increasingly more like a place holder for the Natz.

    • Enough is Enough 17.1

      Simon is probably best to actually keep his mouth shut at the moment and let the media do his job for him.

      The media narrative is that this Government is a shambles with business and consumer confidence crumbling, industrial action on the rise, and a coalition that can’t afford its promises because it gave Winston everything he asked for and more (acting PM).

      There a grey clouds on the horizon with New Zealand likely to get caught in the cross fire of a super power trade war.

      NZ First will not survive this term and the Greens will struggle for relevance if Jacinda stays as popular as she currently is.

      You don’t need to have firm policy as an opposition if the Government is portrayed in this way.

      • ianmac 17.1.1

        “Simon is probably best to actually keep his mouth shut at the moment and let the media do his job for him.”
        That would be wise for Simon but I hope he keeps on shouting. His open mouth is a disaster.

  18. veutoviper 18

    Simon seems to be trying to be on fire. Having again been walked all over by Peters in Question Time, Bridges is opening General Debate today. I wonder how many times he has practiced his speech in front of the mirror in the last few days? Lots of shouty shouty and lots of finger pointing – AND its ended as quickly as it began … Much shorter than usual General Debate speeches.

    Chloe Swarbrick is now speaking well on citizen juries, medicinal cannabis.


  19. Paul Campbell 19

    yeah, sure, taking away the money you need to feed your kids with really does build self esteem ….. which bizzaro-world exactly does that idea come from? the one with evil Spock?

  20. R.P Mcmurphy 20

    bridges is becoming hysterical and got a warning from the speaker today .

    • Wensleydale 20.1

      Simon’s at his best when he gets flustered and starts behaving like a swivel-eyed loon. His voice goes up a couple of octaves and he appears quite agitated. We had a teacher like that in high school. The kids would deliberately wind him up because watching him flail about in a desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of order was quality entertainment. I suspect Peters feels he’s been tasked with disciplining a yapping dog. Bit of a waste, really.

    • cleangreen 20.2

      Yes RP McMurphy

      Simple Simon Bridges was severely warned by the speaker not to carry on his rants and wrongful interjections .

      The speaker severly warned him that if he does, he will be dealt to by his actions if he persists.

  21. SPC 21

    Restricting medicinal marijuana to the form produced by foreign corporates and preventing the local development of (lower THC) varieties grown for medical use – National once again serving the interests of imperial capital.

    It also signals their opposition to legalisation of marijuana and their support for the failed war on drugs. What happened in Keys war on P … .

    Yesterdays men, yesterdays thinking wrapped up in the regenerating body of Benjamin Button. New leadership that cannot cut it with an aging superannuant past his prime.

  22. Bryan 22

    Unfortunately for Simon and National he is too slow in the thinking department and prone to tell whoppers when he does not know. The giraffe length synaptic gap means that there is no quick response. On morning TV the other week when the nurses were a hot topic he said
    “I am all for them getting more wages. Let me give you the facts: public servants got a 4 1/2 percent pay rise on average last year.”
    Well not in this particular Aotearoa as the labour cost index in the public sector was 1.5%.(excluding the historic catch up for healthcare workers)
    His nose might not grow when he misspeaks but he is crafting a new meaning of wooden boy in his painful performance.

  23. Ha,.. That Winston Peters ! The Silver Fox…

    It was like Peters was impatient to get to someone in authority instead of wasting time on the ‘ boy ‘,at the front desk … he wasn’t just simply ‘toying’ with Bridges No Bridges , – he was lampooning and making a cock-mockery out of him !

    Bridges is an interim ‘ leader’. Peters knows that. He also knows Bridges is a pushover, relatively.

    And I love Peters views on neo liberalism:


    Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: ” I could say that it’s been a long time since I’ve heard the neoliberal experiment being described as a compassionate tool to help the poor. This is a new one for us ” .

    Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: ” In an ideal world, of course I’d agree with that member. The reality is we haven’t given up. We haven’t given up on the kind of economic and social utopia that we’re organising at this point in time. We don’t take that dismal puritanical view of the roadshow that went around the country filling up telephone booths and calling it a worldwide campaign ” .


    And Peters knows full well who REALLY has been trying to subvert our democracy and our economy since 1984…


    … ” We don’t like extremists, – we believe in laws and policy’s that support the mass majority of New Zealanders , and not just a small elite ,… who may have gotten control of the political system and the financial funding of political party’s , … shows that in this campaign ” …

    – Winston Peters.


    Peters said the sell off of New Zealand interests to overseas buyers was the “continuing story of this country’s decline since the 14th of July, 1984”.


    Hes the man.

  24. Dave Jennings 24

    The Proper definition of a Tory is : Brigand , Highwayman ,and Pursuer.
    The Tories have never been the working classes friend , their role is to keep the poor, in their place ;and hand out more wealth to the rich.
    The wealth of society that the working people create.
    The word is of course originally Irish,a word for their oppressors. The English.

  25. Delia 25

    Simon Bridges says National is committed to bringing back sanctions on beneficiaries to give them “more esteem and more of a purpose”.

    Yes National it is such a cool idea depriving families of their food money for the week, it really builds self esteem in children. …It is disgusting.

  26. Sandy 26

    the flagnations need to give it a break

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