Paula Bennett on unemployment: spin baby, spin!
All ministers have a coterie of staff. They consist of PAs, researchers, speech writers, policy analysts, media experts, and… ‘spin doctors’. Actually, any of the previous list can be labelled a “spin doctor”.
“Spin Doctors” take a piece of information and presents it in a certain, carefully constructed way, that makes their respective Minister look good to the public.
Example; National’s recent policy on 16 and 17 year old unemployed youth was “reformed”, announcing that they would be issued “purchase cards”, to eliminate wasting their benefit on cigarettes and alcohol.
End goal: to make National look good in the public eye, by getting “tough on welfare”.
(Except for one thing. It’s already against the law for retailers to sell tobacco and alcohol products to 16 and 17 year olds. The law is already in place to deal with this issue. And if retailers are selling these products to 16 and 17 year olds, then it’s a RETAIL problem – not a welfare problem.)
But the Spin Doctors quietly ignored that salient fact and simply pushed the message: National is “getting tough on welfare”.
That’s the message being spun and put out to the public to absorb. One simple line.
Anyone who doubts the efficacy of spin doctoring of such messages should check letters-to-editors and on-line fora to see how many low-information, National-friendly “armchair experts” now repeat that one, simplified Official Line; the government is “getting tough on welfare”.
Today, Bennet’s media people released this apparently positive news into the public arena,
But not before her Spin Doctors got their hands on it first,
“More than 5000 people cancelled their unemployment benefits because they found jobs last month.”
It could well be that 5,000 “cancelled their unemployment benefits”.
But as to how she could possibly know that they all “found jobs last month”? How could she possibly know that?
Those 5,000 could easily have been part of the exodus of New Zealanders moving to Australia,
Kiwi exodus to Aussie at new high
11:30 AM Wednesday Mar 21, 2012
“ New Zealanders continued to abandon their home country for Australia, with the speed of annual departures accelerating to a record 53,000 last month.
New Zealand lost a net 39,100 people to Australia in the 12 months ended February 29, 4,100 of whom left in the month of February alone, Statistics New Zealand said today.
That’s the biggest-ever annual net loss to Australia, as just 13,900 people crossed the Tasman to live in New Zealand, though short of the monthly record of 5,000 in February 2001.
People have been quitting New Zealand for Australia for years as they seek higher wages and a better standard of living across the ditch, and in 2008 the National Party won office campaigning on a promise to stem the outflow. ” – Source
If any one of those 5,000 entered into a relationship or marriage/civil union with a working partner – they are no longer eligible for welfare.
If any of those 5,000 began a part time or seasonal job – they may no longer be eligible for welfare.
If any of those 5,000 went on to ACC; a programme of some description; jail; or died - they’re no longer eligible for welfare.
“Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the number of people on that benefit is now at 53,479, which is the lowest March level since 2009.”
“More than three quarters of all beneficiaries will be forced to seek work or face cuts to their payments under sweeping recommendations from the Government’s Welfare Working Group…
… That would more than double the numbers required to look for work from 133,200 of the 360,000 people presently on a benefit to 277,200. ” – Source
At such times, it suits National’s agenda to “spin” the figures as high as possible and accentuate them in the media.
When it suits their purpose to paint themselves in a good light, they quote low figures, and focus on those. The “spin” is more positive.
“Ms Bennett is particularly pleased that 2800 young people who were beneficiaries moved into work last month.”
Let’s give Minister Bennett the benefit of vthe doubt. Let’s assume that every single one of those 2,800 young beneficiaries is now in paid work. Let’s assume that work is full time, and not a part-time burger-flipper. Let’s assume it’s ‘permanent’ and not seasonal fruit-picking.
What has the media release not covered?
Answer: it doesn’t state how many young beneficiaries there were to start with. And the figures are tragic,
Though undated, Duncan Garner’s blog-entry was written during National’s party conference in August last year.
“The National Government has shown real leadership with initiatives for youth employment, including the recently announced Job Ops with Training.”
“Overall the number of people on benefits fell by 6698 in March to 322, 951.”
Finland is #9.
We are #19.
I think Gerry Brownlee needs new Spin Doctors. Maybe he could borrow Paula Bennett’s?
= fs =
For a better New Zealand…
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- Letter to the Editor: Should Key attend Mandela’s funeral?
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