Hypocrisy – thy name be National
Most of us remember the situation of Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers, who protested at the canning of the Training Incentive Allowance that was specifically set up to allow single-parents to upskill and enable them to find jobs for themselves.
The Training Incentive Allowance was used by a personal friend of mine, who was on the domestic purposes benefit, to obtain qualifications as a teacher; land a job at a primary school; and earn a salary. Instead of receiving a welfare benefit, she now pays taxes.
Paula Bennett, the Minister of Social Welfare, did precisely the same and used the Training Incentive Allowance to pay her way through University. As I wrote in an earlier piece, Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy, this was Ms Bennet’s own circumstances,
A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…
- Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
- Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
- All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
- Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ benefit)
- Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA – a taxpayer-funded benefit
As is their right in a democratic society which values freedom of expression, Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston both challenged Bennett on her decision to axe the TIA. They reminded Ms Bennett that the TIA was designed to get people of the DPB, and reminded Ms Bennett that she herself had used this allowance for her own betterment.
Paula Bennett did not take kindly to this criticism. On 27 July 2009, Bennett instructed her staff to release sensitive, personal details of both women’s WINZ payments.
It was a gross abuse of ministerial power. It was an attempt to bully the two women into submission, using the reactionary, red neck abuse from certain misogynistic elements in our society. (And those elements duly obliged.)
On 11 August 2009, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff confirmed that a complaint had been laid with her office over Bennett’s releasing of the two women’s details.
The releasing of the Human Right’s document, as outlined by TV3, has ‘upset’ the Prime Minister who feels that Paula Bennett’s “human rights” have been breached,
John Key says,
“It’s a bit odd when something’s before the Human Rights Commission and yet the Human Rights of one of the parties seems to have been breached.” Source
It seems outrageous that John Key is not as concerned that one of his Ministers – sworn under oath to uphold the laws of the land – released private information to “destroy” the credibility of her critics (Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston).
Or is using peoples’ private details to discredit them, if they dare criticise the government, now acceptable practice?
This government does not take kindly to criticism. This list outlines just some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided;
Natasha Fuller & Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers
Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).
Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”
Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan: “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)
Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited” from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.
Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspirational-candidate, Cameron Brewer.
Whilst “Bomber” Bradbury and Ms Malcolm were not directly attacked by this government, actions taken against them were made as a direct result of criticising John Key.
Quite simply, it is apparent that one criticises this government, and especially John Key, at some risk to themselves. New Zealanders should be appalled. This is what is known as going down the road to a Police State.
If you are reading this and are starting to feel uneasy – rest assured, that is a normal response.
It is people who think this is all ok, that worries the hell out of me.