So, it looks like Paula Bennett doesn’t hate all beneficiaries with the power of a thousand suns!
After taking a close, careful look at a particular group of beneficiaries – those being paid to look after children of parents who are “incapable or unable to do the job” – Paula’s decided that they’re not bludgers: they’re heroes.
Simon Day of Stuff then handily produces a profile of one of these heroes, a grandmother raising eight of her grandchildren. Hmm … I wonder how he got all her personal and financial information?
And this should be a heartwarming story about people doing what’s best for the kids and the state being willing to support them when they take on the financial burden of raising (eight!) extra children, and coincidentally doesn’t this just prove that Paula Bennett is really kind and compassionate and not just out to screw all beneficiaries?
I guess that means that the beneficiaries she does screw over really are bludgers.
And this is why that narrative works: because Paula Bennett has found someone else to do the dirty work for her, and that person is Diane Vivian, chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
Now, grandparents who step in to raise their grandkids when it’s necessary are doing fantastic work. They’re providing a really important social good. They deserve to have a group which advocates for them.
But that group, and its chair, should take care. Because right now, you see, it’s really useful to Paula Bennett for them to be the ones slagging off parents:
There has been a generational failure in parenting in New Zealand, leaving grandparents to pick up the pieces, according to Diane Vivian, the chair of GRG, who raised three children and two foster kids.
“Parents are putting their own selfish wants and needs before those of their children. What I am seeing from our perspective is there is a whole generation of that,” she said.
… because right now, that feeds into the narrative that Paula Bennett wants: look at me, I don’t hate all beneficiaries, just the evil bludging scum ones, and see, the saintly heroic grandparents agree with me!
Ms Vivian might just like to consider this, though: what if that weren’t the order of the day? What if Paula Bennett hadn’t front-footed this story for her own gain? What if it had been the season for dumping on people raising kids who aren’t their own?
Then, Ms Vivian, you’re fucked. Because the nasty little question you really don’t want journos like Simon Day to ask is this:
Why did you fuck up raising your own kids so bad in the first place?
I mean, Ann Tahitahi, the subject of his second article, is doing a fantastic job. A job which should be supported. She shouldn’t, in my opinion, still have to be working graveyard shift while raising ten kids.
But Paula Bennett isn’t saying “good on you, Ann Tahitahi” out of true admiration. She’s saying it for a political purpose. And if her purpose were just slightly more sinister, she might be saying “why should Ann Tahitahi get paid to raise more children when on her first try she turned out neglectful P addicts?”
Diane Vivian might like to consider that before sticking her foot in the way of a gun barrel. Right now it is convenient for Paula Bennett to be on your side. Do not assume she will be on your side tomorrow.