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When Paula Bennett is positive about a group of beneficiaries, be suspicious

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 pm, March 26th, 2013 - 47 comments
Categories: benefits, child welfare, families, paula bennett - Tags:

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.

47 comments on “When Paula Bennett is positive about a group of beneficiaries, be suspicious ”

  1. karol 1

    From the Heroes article:

    On a cocktail of payments, the eight foster parents received Orphans and unsupported child benefit (UCB), which is paid to support a child or young person whose parents can’t care for them because of a family breakdown, their parents have died or can’t be found, or can’t look after their child because they have a long-term illness or incapacity….

    And the cost of negligent parents is growing. Orphans and unsupported child benefits have grown from $101m in 2010, to $107m in 2011 and $111m in 2012.

    So what’s the evidence for all this money being paid out to compensate for “negligent” parents? Most of it sounds like it is the result of unavoidable circumstamces. The Grandparent’s spokesperson claims that:

    Drug use, violence, neglect and mental health issues are forcing grandparents to take responsibility for children, according to research by the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust (GRG).

    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….

    The growing decline of traditional family values has contributed to the neglect of New Zealand’s children and means the Government has to pick up the cost, Pilbrow said.

    “There is a fundamental breakdown in the family unit. Couples aren’t staying together as much as they used to, so there is a breakdown that way. Or, there is violence. And it is a growing market unfortunately.

    “Family values”? *Sigh*. Violence is a “market”?

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      There is a fundamental breakdown in the family unit.

      And the obligatory fundy BS about the traditional family – the tradition that’s not much older than the colonisation of NZ.

      • David 1.1.1

        I doubt it’s even that old. If one was to have access to the reality of the lives of people in the nineteenth century, one would undoubtedly find that living arrangements were far more varied and complex than people imagine. I suspect that throughout history the trajectory of the majority of individual’s lives has been anything but normal. However, also in history, the myth of “family values” being used by conservative leaders to attack the marginalised has been a long one. Augustus Caesar was a fan of “family values”. In many societies extended family arrangements have been the norm, with the larger group caring for children rather than “mum and dad”. NB the main purpose of “mum and dad” of course is to buy shares in energy companies.

    • prism 1.2

      “Orphans and unsupported child benefits have grown from $101m in 2010, to $107m in 2011 and $111m in 2012.”
      Bul..t. The amount hasn’t grown much -it is mainly inflation affecting the figures. Nothing like making a big hoo hah so as to make the situation sound as bad as possible.

      All the government needs to do is support parents and ensure they have plans for their future and resources, or allow open adoptions and training for both mothers in child rearing so they can communicate amicably, also more control over alcohol and medicalising other drugs to make one of these step changes they were always on about in the heady early days of promise of the NACTs government term.

    • Wisewoman 1.3

      It is sinister how mental helath issues are being tied up with “bludgin”. WOrrying

  2. freedom 2

    figuring why Paula Bene-hit is promoting this story is like throwing a thousand darts at a bouncy castle,

    easy and deflating

    but i do i like what Lady Luna said
    “with people honing in on the fact that she receives an allowance to foster these children – do people not realise that all foster parents receive an allowance for looking after foster children? She works full time, and gets an allowance, that doesn’t make her a beneficiary”

    • karol 2.1

      They aren’t so much foster parents as grandparents who get the Orphans and Unsupported Child Benefit.

  3. Tim 3

    ALWAYS ….. be suspicious of Pulla Bent! For those that haven’t already cottoned on – more fucking fool you.
    An ugly specimen (in EVERY sense of the word UGLY – aesthesticallyi is what most assume. No!!!!. This woman is UGLY in a broader sense – hence – well, hence her want for assemtence amongst leaopard skin ugg booted, alongside fag-hagged finlaysons alOIK.
    I laugh at the philistines – indeed I laugh at those that ponder over the very definition of what consitutues a philistine.
    For now: Bent – HYPOCRACSY, ENVY, POWER STRUGGLE, HOLIER THAN THOU, Attitude of commin from the comman man – when REALLY – she hasn’t, nor ever did in comparison with those that do.
    UGLY UGLY UGLY.
    Ugly in look
    Ugly in mind
    Ugly in intent

    [Disclosure] I have not, nor have I ever been in a relationship with Pulla Bennet.
    I have worked in environments where this over-ambitious bitch [person] has been present and whose word takes second place to the sewerage that exited her exit points – (at the time) we thought it was green-friendly.
    [In her case, I doubt the waste will ever break down. It’s already at it’s lowest: CARBON]

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Gotta love how Tories are so good at divide and rule. Amazing advice they get.

  5. Olwyn 5

    I fear that this could be a step toward normalising the removal of children from beneficiaries and the like who have not met an ever-increasing list of obligations.

  6. Athena 6

    It’s not fair that some people who have already demonstrated that they were crap at parenting the first time around get applauded and funded to stuff up the next generation and someone who ends up on the DPB now is despised by Bennett and her cronies. Yet another example of the Nats inability to think straight.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Yet another example of the Nats inability to think straight.

      Probably more accurate to say that they’re looking after a large part of their base – the old fogies with their Holier Than Thou attitudes.

      Of grandmothers and beneficiaries

      The grandmother is a model of virtue, the transmitter of matrilineal knowledge and wisdom who presides from a certain distance over the institution of the family.

      Yes, the supposed virtues of grandparents comes through loud and clear in those articles.

      Yeah, I know I posted it in Open Mike – fits here too.

      • rosy 6.1.1

        the preference accorded to the noun ‘grandmother’ over the noun ‘woman’ (or retiree, or former teacher etc) is a source of some puzzlement to me. Is this how most women who also happen to be grandmothers self-identify? Is this how most people who aren’t journalists think of them? Or is this some kind of normative nominalism that reduces the individual to the most malleable abstract category available, furnishing a convenient peg on which to hang one’s preconceptions?

        Heh. Good observation.

      • Roy 6.1.2

        What Draco said.

      • Rogue Trooper 6.1.3

        yes, an interesting echo Draco.

    • It’s not fair that some people who have already demonstrated that they were crap at parenting the first time around get applauded and funded to stuff up the next generation…

      That’s a quite remarkable level of confidence in the ability of parents to determine how their children will turn out.

    • Wisewoman 6.3

      SO because PB is manipulating a tragic situation, you have to jackboot salute and blame grandparents for parents who are unable to cope with bringing up children either temporarily or permanently. What is not fair about a grandparent looking after their moko? Your sweeping and generalising statement is exactly like that of Appalling Benefat? Why does ANYBODY have to be judged or despised. She judges the parents, you judge the grandparents. How is you sanctimony any better than hers?

  7. jpwood 7

    Looking at their annual returns the Trust is only solvent because of the benevolence of their largest donor – the Ministry of Social Development. So this taxpayer funded advocacy group is suddenly aligning with the narrative being put forward by the Minister who is keeping the trust afloat.

  8. Mary 8

    This is Bennett et al doing the spadework to begin the “debate” about whether these dead-beat parents giving their children to their parents to look after is becoming a “lifestyle choice”. Guess what comes next.

  9. irascible 9

    Now, TVNZ should create a reality show with Paula Benhit taking on the job of looking after the 8+ children and household expenses for a month living only on the monies paid to the carer with no other income allowed. TVNZ could allow the public chances to create problems for Paula during the month that could threaten her budgetting.
    Could prove a real audience grabber.
    The show could be followed up with Heckia Parrota living & working as a teacher,getting paid on the novopay system and being held to public scrutiny / accusations of not delivering to Notional standards and coping with a set of really demanding parents at a parent-teacher night etc at regular intervals.
    Suggestions for other similar reality shows to be sent to TVNZ … Double Dipton to live on a Parliamentary cleaner’s income for a month…???

  10. pollywog 10

    There ya go young mother, that’s how you can find a job while your littlie is not yet a toddler.

    Farm the wee sprog out to the grandfolks.

    And all you grandfolks who fucked up raising your own kids can now be guilt tripped into making amends with your grandkids.

    No flies on Paula alright…sharper than your average hammer!

  11. Cactus Kate 11

    I was contacted by Mr Day to comment on this story, he OIA’ed what the top 10 beneficiaries earn and found many were receiving orphans benefits. That is the original source material.

    While he did not use my comments I asked what Bennett’s response was and at that time she didn’t have any so any suggestion she planted the story is false, the journalist seems to have gone to her.

    While this grandmother is commendable, it is of course her family that produced the problems here in the first place and indeed her own parenting. I did point this out.

    Had the Minister said this herself I am sure you would have written your piece here and ripped her throat out.

    • Colonial Weka 11.1

      “While this grandmother is commendable, it is of course her family that produced the problems here in the first place and indeed her own parenting. I did point this out.

      Had the Minister said this herself I am sure you would have written your piece here and ripped her throat out.”

      Probably because it’s not the whole, or even a useful part, of the real truth, when it comes from the mouth of the Minister.

      We know that on Planet Bennett, everything is the fault of the individual, but the Tahitahi woman didn’t spoon feed her adult children P did she?

      Besides which, if you want to blame the grandmothers, why not the great grandmothers? Pretty soon we’re back in the mists of time.

      • rosy 11.1.1

        Exactly, Weka.

        It’s no fun being a grandma, bringing up grandkids – A grandma’s job is to love, care for and spoil them, not love, care for and bring them up. And as for being fully responsible for how your kids turn out? Take a look around, bad luck, poor health, bad decisions, inappropriate friends and easy drugs can happen to those you least expect. There are a few high-profile New Zealanders that can attest that point.

        Because you’ve bought up a kid that can’t bring up their own kid doesn’t make you the wrong person to bring up your grandkids, nor does it make you the right person – all sorts of factors come into play. Maybe the husband who used to beat you up and messed with your children’s heads is no longer on the scene, for example.

        If you’re a straight-up person without vices that have damaged you, you have a stable marriage and job and you’ve brought up a kid that turned out o.k. maybe you still might want to just count yourself lucky, when as they get older, all the things that could have gone wrong along the way slowly emerge. I know I still touch wood when I think about how well my kids are managing their lives.

    • Mary 11.2

      “it is of course her family that produced the problems here in the first place and indeed her own parenting.”

      I can’t see how anyone could be so simplistic as to say this without knowing anything about the family, their history, what went on. Parenting is just one factor influencing a person’s make-up. Oh how easy it is to instantly assume it’s all the person’s fault without knowing anything about that person. It’s one of the fundamental errors underpinning the callous uncaring attitudes of many on the right.

    • QoT 11.3

      Yes, I would have, “Cactus Kate”, because beneficiary bashing is shitty. This really isn’t the hypocrisy you want to pretend it is.

    • Mary 11.4

      Day’s story certainly suits Bennett. And in any case, what makes you so sure it wasn’t Bennett? People don’t necessarily just lodge OIAs because they miraculously decide to out of the blue. Sometimes it’s because someone’s suggested that they should.

    • karol 11.5

      So who added the grandmother slant (out of 8500 state sponsored foster parents receiving the Orphans and Unsupported Child benefit) and decided to go with the quotes from the fundy grandparent organisation?

      The article says:

      Receiving $2188 a week, the highest paid beneficiary is caring for eight foster children for which he receives a UCB. He is married, has two of his own children, and also receives an invalid’s benefit.

      The second highest paid receives $1822 a week from the government and is also working fulltime. He and his wife receive an UCB for caring for nine grandchildren, four of whom have disabilities for which the family also receives child disability allowance.

      Doesn’t sound like the first example is looking after his own grandchildren, the second probably is, though it doesn’t explicitly say whose grandchildren they are looking after.

      If they chose not to use CC’s input, who else did they get input from but not report on?

      This article praises (a small number of specific) beneficiaries, in order to attack many more, and make it look like Bennett isn’t against beneficiaries as a group.

    • felix 11.6

      “I was contacted by Mr Day to comment on this story”

      And that tells me all I need to know about Mr Day and his approach to journalism.

      In what fuck universe is your opinion on benefits relevant to the public discourse? Do you have some special expertise or experience in this area?

      Nah, he just thought “hmm, story about some of the poorest and most downtrodden families in the country, better get a wealthy overseas-based nasty right-wing hatemonger’s perspective on this”.

      What a cock.

  12. Colonial Weka 12

    “When Paula Bennett first took over the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) portfolio in 2008 she was concerned at the amount paid to those looking after unsupported children. Now, she believes these caregivers deserve every dollar.”

    Great, it’s taken her 5 fucking years to figure out the obvious.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      She still thinks those on the DPB, the UB and the sickness benefit are getting too much though.

  13. Lloyd 13

    How about Jerry Brownlee living a month as a snail on a mountain that Squalid Energy covets?
    Oh sorry, Squalid Energy has proved that coal mining is soo last century, long live the snails!

  14. Scintilla 14

    And you notice that, once again, it’s all about the wimmin. Who else has a half-share in this scenario? Fathers, grandfathers, husbands – what’s their roles? How did their presence or absence affect their children & grandchildren? Somehow it’s more about the women, in a retro-Freud kinda way it’s always the Mother’s Fault.

    Wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to have Paula Bandit stand up and say “Well done, all you solo mums who’ve stuck it out and brought up your children on the smell of an oily rag and with sweet fuck all help from anybody else. Good on you.”

    John Key raises his glass and says “Cheers to that, I’m rilly relaxed about solo mothers.”

    • Fathers, grandfathers, husbands – what’s their roles?

      In a situation where 35% of Maori babies are supported by benefits at the end of their first year and 21% in the population overall, a significant proportion of the nation’s fathers are effectively sperm donors – the women involved recognise that the deadbeats they’ve been fucking aren’t husband material and look to the state as “defacto spouse,” as one of my commenters put it. It would be nice if the state could impose some consequences on these sperm donors, but effective means of doing so that wouldn’t breach the BoR aren’t obvious.

  15. just saying 15

    … look to the state as “defacto spouse,”

    What absolute rubbish Psychomilt.

    More of your nasty, victim-blaming rhetoric.

    Sole parents are doing the job of two parents – a job that two parents working together often struggle with. The state provides sole parents with a subsistence income way below the minimum wage, which allows them to continue doing the job of two parents 24/7 with no breaks, holidays, or sick leave. If the state didn’t provide this inadequate pittance, it would have to pay much more for the children to be cared for by someone else, and/or through dealing with increased health costs, social problems and crime.

    The state does none of the parenting work, housework, or any of the other tasks that keep a family functioning, and provides the sole-parent with none of the emotional and physical support, that a “spouse” and second parent would be responsble for.

    • The state does none of the parenting work, housework, or any of the other tasks that keep a family functioning, and provides the sole-parent with none of the emotional and physical support, that a “spouse” and second parent would be responsble for.

      Deadbeat dads don’t do those things either. The difference is the state has cash in its pocket and won’t make your life a misery – which makes the comparative attraction of the state as partner in childrearing obvious.

      • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1

        The state is just as much a ‘partner’ in these cases as it is in families that recieve wff, or take their kids to hospital, or send them off to public or integrated school.

        All these families get support from ‘the state’ in different ways, so why single out one type of support and elevate it to ‘defacto spouse’?

      • just saying 15.1.2

        Deadbeat dads don’t do those things either. ..

        Which is why they are not “spouses” if they ever were. As you put it, they:

        …aren’t husband material

        So now you’ve slid away from the state-as-defacto-spouse line, to state as “partner in child-rearing”

        Would you like a list of the responsibilities of an actual “partner in child rearing”?
        Or maybe you can just think about your own responsibilities in this role.

        According to your logic, the state is a “partner” to all private businesses, and to every single one of us, at some points in our lives.

        …….won’t make your life a misery – citation required.

  16. karol 16

    So the research that the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust referred to in the article, was completed in 2005. It was a survey of 324 grandparents and other kin carers.

    the findings were:

    Parental relationship breakdown is a common feature for the children being cared for by their grandparents

    – The major cause of placement with grandparents is drug (40.255%) and alcohol (29.10%) abuse and neglect (as a co-existing state).

    – The age of the parents at the time grandparents assumed primary care of their children was also analysed. The largest cohort for both genders was in the 20-30 year age group. The figures tend to debunk any theory grandparents are for the most part assuming the care of children of teenage parents

    – Nearly 25% of the caregivers have been caring for their grandchildren since birth, with drug/alcohol abuse, mental illness, abandonment, parental incapacity or incapability being cited as the principal reason for the placements.

  17. Rogue Trooper 17

    Reap what ya sow; no guarantee that being raised by a “grand-parent” is going to lead to any better developmental outcomes…considering some of the size of responsibilities identified along with the increased generational / cultural divide. I am personally aware of many situations where the parenting of young people by “grand-parents” is leading to increased “delinquency” outcomes, lack of supervision and understanding of current socio-cultural norms for example.

  18. Rogue Trooper 18

    also, it is arguable that the majority of “Boomers” are Nats / NZLast / Maori Party / Conservatives constituencies .

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