Friday, 26 March 2010

Guest post: Paula Bennett, you don't speak for me!

Many thanks to G for permission to publish this email she has sent to the Minister of Social Development today, regarding the discriminatory welfare reforms in Future Focus and the Minister's quotes on the matter.

Kia ora Paula Bennett MP,

The NZ Herald article about your welfare reforms quotes you as saying: "I think that is a discrimination that most New Zealanders will see as being fair and reasonable." Firstly, please don't speak for me, I am not in your "most" category at all!

I would like to think you were mis-quoted although when I discussed this comment with colleagues today one noted you said the same thing on a tv interview last night also.

I am astounded and appalled that you feel that any some forms of discrimination could be deemed as "fair and reasonable". As you were on the DPB yourself, do you then believe it is ok for people to discriminate against you? Fair and reasonable discrimination is an oxymoron.

Obviously the National Party believe it is ok to pick on certain members on society, to be arrogant towards others, to discriminate when it suits you to. I cannot stand back and wait for someone else to pull you up on this, I am horrified that you are in charge of MSD.

I have limited experience of the MSD system, I tried to apply for some short term employment assistance and was basically told that WINZ didn't have enough contacts to help find me a job that I would be better off doing it myself. I felt so uncomfortable, judged and looked down upon after sitting through a compulsory training course that I suffered for the next two months with no assistance until I found a job.

My mother is on the sickness benefit and was working part time as a in-home carer. She struggled to make ends meet due to the low wages she was paid and lack of petrol money paid by the caring agency. She got little in the way of assistance or empathy from WINZ when her clients died and her hours were cut and she needed more assistance at times.

I tried to help a friend and called WINZ on her behalf only to get the incorrect information about stand downs and have her face her case manager again who gave her a bollocking about daring to question WINZ. She had tried to go off the DPB and be self-sufficient and when she needed help it cost her dearly, only through loans from friends, family and her union did her family (her and two children) pull through their hard time, no thanks to MSD.

There may be a small amount of people trying to rort the system but you make it sound like ALL beneficiaries are taking NZ for a ride. What crap - what evidence is there to back up your assertion that we can pick on these people, that they are all rorting the system?

Stick your tax cut and GST increase - I don't want either. I won't be better off even though I am now fairly well paid. Besides, I would rather my tax dollars went into health, education and helping those in need.

What a shame you show no empathy towards those who are in the very position you were in.

How can you justify your comments?



big news said...

fair and reasonable discrimination is an oxymoron

That's blatantly incorrect. It is fair and reasonable discrimination for example, for men to use different toileting facilities to women. Not all discrimination is unjustifiable in a free and democratic society. Perhaps you are unhappy that Bennett thinks some unjustifiable forms of discrimination are fair and reasonable.

Country Lane said...

Nope, big news, that's not discrimination. It is also not a comparable situation

Anonymous said...

This is a problem with the term discrimination. Many types of discrimination are justifiable, for example, different tax brackets discriminate on the basis of income.
The Bill of Rights Act gives us a right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds set out in the Human Rights Act because as a society we have decided that those are unacceptable reasons to treat people differently.
The problem with this legislation is not discrimination (at least in the Bill of Rights sense). If the Act required everyone in the same situation to submit to work assessments it would not be discriminatory (eg widows as well as widowers, it currently only aplies to widowers). The problem is that it is bad policy.
The fact that the government (or at least Paula Bennett) is being flippant about breaching human rights is a separate (and also concerning) issue.

Anonymous said...

Bandy words like discrimination all you like; the point is MSD believes that because it is paid a wage it is better than the people who use it. Get over it MSD. You are not!


Giarne said...

I agree there are many other issues with the welfare reforms, and while they rankled me it was the oxymoron that made me really mad. I think the Nat's are just really getting me rankled right now, there are so many things that upset me (VSM, National Standards, beneficiary bashing, PAEE ...) that this was the straw that broke my back :)
Thanks for your comments, interesting to see other points made!