July 21, 2013
Welfare changes just a red herring
Opinion: In politics, if you are in government and matters – like Kim Dotcom and the leaked GCSB report – just aren't going your way, the easiest way to fix or deflect the pressure is to bash the beneficiaries.
They, along with ethnic minorities, are the most vulnerable and to stop the bad media on in-house issues, governments introduce sweeping welfare reforms and the public fall for this trick every time.
That's what this National Government has done with the welfare reforms that came into effect this week.
They are the biggest upheaval in the welfare state since the Social Security Act was passed by Michael Joseph Savage and the first Labour government in 1938.
Savage would surely turn in his grave watching this government and the way they have vilified beneficiaries.
The Tories have reinforced stereotype views that most beneficiaries are layabouts and bludgers who sit around all day ripping off the taxpayer, smoking dope and drinking booze.
So this lot knows very well how to get the public behind them by painting beneficiaries as people who are ripping off their taxes especially those unruly ones who have arrest warrants.
But do you really think that on-the-run mums and dads facing court fines are going to care about food on the table for their children or parents rather than their own survival?
I predict a sharp rise in burglary, domestic assaults and thefts. The benefit reforms could force mums who have no work experience or practical skills into the oldest profession in the world, prostitution, to make ends meet.
Believe it or not I am committed to getting Maori off welfare so I don't have an issue with some of the new obligations, like drug-testing for jobseekers in relevant industries. I'd hate to see a truck driver, who is in control of a machine that could kill, not tested regularly for drugs.
But forcing all sickness beneficiaries, sole parents and widows with no children under 14 to look for fulltime employment like other job seekers, will ultimately impact thousands of kids and kaumatua dependent on the state for assistance.
And where's all the jobs for beneficiaries to apply for? Better reforms would be through education to retrain people into areas where jobs will come.
The biggest growth industry at the moment is managing people who can't get a job.
So instead of going to the WINZ office, beneficiaries must instead go to the recruitment line.
This government is abdicating its responsibilities to care and protect its citizens.
Sure, cut the benefit for those on the run but make sure, the ones who depend on a benefit the most are not left without support.
Copyright © 2013, UMA Broadcasting Ltd