Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > Drug Testing the Unemployed – National’s Epic Fail at Job Creation

Drug Testing the Unemployed – National’s Epic Fail at Job Creation



This blogger has three questions for John Key and  the National Party,

1. Is is true that Paula Bennett made a correct statement when she  admitted on TVNZ’s Q+A, on   29 April 2012,

No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. ” – Source

2. If National can claim the Global Financial Crisis as the reason for New Zealand’s low economic growth – why does the same rationale not apply to the unemployed, and if it does, why spend an estimated $14 million on drug testing when joblessness is a result of economic circumstances, and not drug-induced laziness?

3. How is National’s pledge to create 170,000 new jobs – made in November last year – working out? Especially when unemployment recently increased from 6.7% to 6.8%?

A day after National announced it’s intentions to drug-test the unemployed, Solid Energy broke the news that it was planning to make up to 263 of it’s miners, contractors, and other staff, redundandant.  Workers from Huntly East Mine and Spring Creek on the West Coast will lose their jobs.

See: Beneficiary drug testing plans unveiled

See: Spring Creek mine work suspended

This follows on from other redundancies announced just this year alone,

How many of the above redundant workers will Bennett insist be drug-tested?



But more to the point – is this really a problem? Or, as is likely, is this a shameful attempt by National to deflect attention away from rising unemployment; their failure to manage an economy to generate new jobs; and to deflect blame onto the unemployed?

Because any sane, dispassionate analysis of this problem does not indicate that drug taking is the cause of 162,000 people currently out of work.

See: Unemployment rises: 6.8pc

Especially when in 2007, unemployment stood at 3.4%  – or 77,000 people!

See: Household Labour Force Survey December 2007 quarter

What has changed?

As National ministers  like John Key, Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, et al  like to consistently remind us – when their economic track record is held up for scrutiny – it’s called the “Global Financial Crisis”,

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis. ” – John Key

See: View from the Top

In the midst of a very deep global downturn we expect volatility and low growth, as we are seeing around the world economies.” – Steven Joyce

See: Parliamentary Questions and Answers – August 29

However, the government deferred the increase due to the challenging economic circumstances New Zealand was experiencing as it continued to recover from the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.” – Gerry Brownlee

See: Petrol excise, road user charges increases

The global economic situation is like a dark cloud on the horizon and it’s not going to go away possibly for a generation – certainly for 15 or 20 years.” – Bill English

See: English warns of financial crisis lasting a generation

It’s abundantly clear that National has no reservation in blaming the Global Financial Crisis for the sad state of our economy.  They refer to overseas influences time and time again.

So why does the same economic situation not apply to other economic indicators – like unemployment?

Why try to smear unemployed – who up until recently were in full-time, paid, employment – and brand them as drug-taking, lazy, “bludgers”?

Why did Bennett make this statement,

Recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work. Thousands of working New Zealanders are in jobs requiring they be clean of drugs; it’s reasonable to expect someone looking for work to do the same.”

See: Beneficiary drug testing plans unveiled

Bennett is implying that someone looking for work must be on drugs? Why?

The answer, I submit to the reader, is that National is playing to it’s audience of middle class, low-information voters; right wing extremists; and the plain crazy nutjobs. These are the target demographics for the Nats.

Because any sane person will look at the above list of redundancies from the likes of Brightwater Engineering, Telecom, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc,  – and wonder – WTF?! Why is National spending $14 million of my tax dollars on drug-testing redundant engineers, telecommunication workers, diplomats, etc?!

Because it plays to an audience of predominantly middle class (and quite a segment of the working class), who find it all to easy to believe the cliched  stereotypes  that depict  All Welfare Beneficiaries Are There By Choice. Internet fora are full of uninformed, prejudiced, and outright  crazy ‘trolls’ who revel in their distorted view of those on welfare, or low-paying jobs.

Never mind that four years ago we had half the unemployment we do now.

Do those ignorant fools believe that unemployed are out of work by choice, having given up their average wage/salary of $800 to $900 per week, so they could live in luxury on $204.96 (net, weekly unemployed benefit)?

See: WINZ Unemployment Benefit (current)

Drug testing the unemployed has nothing to do with any perceived problem with drug abuse.

This is a carefully constructed, skillfully diseminated, lie.

National is spending $14 million on a problem that does not exist.

National is desperate to turn public attention away from,

  1. Increasing unemployment
  2. Increasing poverty levels
  3. More and more New Zealanders heading overseas
  4. A stagnating economy
  5. National’s lack of traction in creating the 170,000 new jobs they pledged last year

Middle Class voters are being targetted by National’s tax-payer funded spin doctors and political strategists. Their agenda is clear and simple;

  • Brand  the unemployed as “lazy” and “on drugs”.
  • So it can’t be a failure on the part of National to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us.

See: Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

Above all else, National’s nasty little strategy is an admission of failure on their part. They have failed utterly to,

  • grow the economy
  • create jobs
  • raise wages
  • stem the flow of skilled New Zealanders to Australia

Because clearly, if a government was building an economy that was generating more and more jobs, then what would be the need to create a bogeyman of lazy, drugged unemployed?

Especially when Labour presided over a growing economy with low unemployment,



There was no talk of “lazy/drugged unemployed”  in 2007.

No Global Financial Crisis either.

Truly, National has hit rock bottom with this vile strategy. How long, one wonders, before the middle classes out in Voterland realise that they are being conned by some very cunning politicians and their back-room strategists?

A question for the Middle Classes;

We live in uncertain times. Any one of us are only one step away from being unemployed ourselves. How  would you feel being branded a possible drug-user by the likes of Paula Bennett and John Key?

Not too happy I’d suspect?

And one final question for the Prime Minister,

Where are the jobs?




Previous related blogpost

Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me? (Part Toru)

What’s up with the Nats? (Part rua)

Related Information

Employment-Unemployment Fact Sheet #1: Queues for Vacancies

Other blogs

Tumeke: What the real aim of drug testing beneficiaries is



= fs =

  1. mcclairy
    30 August 2012 at 8:56 am

    I can’t say we are becoming like Nazi Germany, no extermination camps – yet – but a police state comes to mind. The whole drug testing rort is a distraction from the real issues facing the country as explained in this report above. Let’s drug test John Boy as one has to wonder what he is smoking considering the outrageous things he is saying. Ever see him at QuestionTime on Parliament TV channel? Answers questions that haven’t been asked. That was Shipley’s trick…..do they take lessons on this technique?
    As for blaming our job disintegration on the Global meltdown I remember clearly reading that we were spared any negative effects because of our trade with Oz and China who got off lightly. Your stats are amazing Frank, stored for future repudiation when we need to counteract more lies from the not so “dear leader”.

    • 31 August 2012 at 2:01 am

      That was Shipley’s trick…..do they take lessons on this technique?

      There’s an older documentary called Spin that shows that that is exactly what happens.

  2. Alison W
    30 August 2012 at 10:12 am

    It’s not rocket science is it?

  3. Juzzy
    30 August 2012 at 10:13 am

    There are a couple of points here i’d like to make. Firstly i do not think The Government should be in the business of drug testing anyone. That becomes an attack on civil liberties if done in such a way that punishes those who are unwilling.

    This should be an issue between an employer and employee. There should be a bond of trust and if that is broken…then a disciplinary procedure can ensue. I do not like this whole preemptive concept of testing people under one big umbrella system. At one place of employment i expressed this to my employer and in my contract, i crossed out the part that said i would permit a random drug test.

    Now this gets to my other point. If you sign in a contract that you consent to a drug test but then do not, this becomes a breach of contract.

    Now, you can still refuse but you may loose your job. If you are a beneficiary, you must read the small print in the form you fill in, because i would bet that somewhere in the small print, you will have consented to a drug test?

    Then it becomes not so much an issue of whether the test is right or wrong, but one of breach of contract or not. It is a bit of a difficult one because my advice is to cross that section of the form out and maintain your personal liberties.

    I am not sure how that would go down with agencies such as WINZ?

    • Juzzy
      30 August 2012 at 10:47 am

      Also, on every single thing i sign, i generally add “All Rights Reserved Without Prejudice”. This means that you have not given away your rights that are inherent to you.

      • Paul McD
        30 August 2012 at 10:55 am

        juzzy i agree ,nobody should be forced to drug test ,but i would argue all politicians take an i.q.test and have to sit stringent phycoligical testing to make sure of their moral code .this is all about getting our dna.years ago doctors were given the choice3 of becoming part of government scheam to give cheaper visits to there patients the allowed the government access to their patients files .

        my doctor didnt agree as did many other doctors who could see it as an attack on privacy ..this is a backdoor attack on us patients still protected by their doctors .fuckin nazi party rules again

  4. Kris R
    30 August 2012 at 10:18 am

    And as I have said b4 frank its to portray those unemployed as all drug users and it sucks….. I dare these politicians to pee in jar and then ill do it.. Lead by example LOL

    • 30 August 2012 at 11:40 am

      Kris, half of them would return a high alcohol content… Intoxicated at work? Most employers would sack on the spot!

      • John B
        30 August 2012 at 10:51 am

        they would not pass

      • Juzzy
        30 August 2012 at 10:58 am

        I know they are after our DNA. From what i understand, you cannot get DNA from a urine test but you can from a cheek swab. This is another important distinction if this info is correct. Never give a cheek swab ever.

      • Juzzy
        30 August 2012 at 11:02 am

        People like this Paula Bennett are a serious danger. They are dangerously ignorant and when it affects peoples lives via a policy decision, it must come from a moral, principled stance instead of big Government stamping all over the place. I am beginning to really despise this woman and i generally don’t like to hold that posture as a rule.

  5. Mike Pyefinch
    30 August 2012 at 10:41 am

    Nice work Frank – “… National is playing to it’s audience of middle class, low-information voters; right wing extremists; and the plain crazy nutjobs. These are the target demographics for the Nats.” This observation, while hilarious, is also bloody frightening. We must continue to hammer away at blind belief.

  6. John B
    30 August 2012 at 10:42 am

    good idea and at the same time we need drug testing for all of those in parliament which is the most important job in the country ,it should be monthly to make sure those in charge are clean and at the same time they all should be on diets to help effect a better work standard

  7. Ralph
    30 August 2012 at 10:51 am

    Accurate and acerbic once again Frank. Who put these knobheads in control?

    • John B
      30 August 2012 at 11:09 am

      we do ralph we do

  8. Ralph
    • Alison W
      30 August 2012 at 2:19 pm

      ‎^^^ Yeah, when I used to teach I saw a lot of that going on, and children taking care of other children while their mum or dad was at work, because the parents didn’t want to get kicked out on the street or have no electricity, and they couldn’t afford the cost of childcare.

      that’s slavery not employment… :-/

  9. Paul C
    30 August 2012 at 11:07 am

    Badabing! You summed it up perfectly in this statement Frank: “The answer, I submit to the reader, is that National is playing to it’s audience of middle class, low-information voters; right wing extremists; and the plain crazy nutjobs. These are the target demographics for the Nats”.

    Michael Laws and other journalists provide the glue by creating increasingly newer underclasses with their rhetoric.

  10. Paul McD
    30 August 2012 at 11:10 am

    i humilate her in post,s but in the end she,s to be piteyed.she has no brains ,and is only a mouthpeice for mankey.just like shipley ,she will soon be forgotten .i dont think we have had a real political leader since lange and kirk .forgett about shelford ..bringback kirk

  11. 30 August 2012 at 11:18 am

    Having just endured another rather long and protracted discussion that went predictably in circles around and around again with my new WINZ consultant this morning, I am heartened to see this article.

    But goodness me, let not the facts of the matter distract them from their holy writ from on high…. it’s “for the good of the nation and you should be grateful the government cares this much about your future” she said to me. If only my eyes were lasers, the look I gave her back after that statement… couldn’t believe it, “should be grateful” !!! I mean seriously, it’s gone way beyond mere condescension at our local Winz orifice…..

    • 30 August 2012 at 11:20 am

      Alan, feel free to print of my article, and hand it to your caseworker… I’d luv to see the expression on her face…

  12. 30 August 2012 at 11:32 am

    A good article Frank.. just thought I would share this with you also just in case you hadn’t seen it.

    • 30 August 2012 at 11:40 am

      Yes, I have seen that, Barefootegardener, and it indicates why our economy is more sluggish than could be blamed on the Global Financial Crisis.

      I’ve bookmarked Roy Morgan’s report and will go into further shortly.

      (But thanks for pointing it out, anyway!)

      By the way, yuou have an interesting blogsite. Just what I need for some backyard vege gardening our household is starting. We’re doing the old elevated-garden-in-tyres trick, and growing potatoes . As well as composting grass clippings, we’re throwing all our biological kitchen waste into it as well. It’s amazing how quickly it composts down and the worms are breeding like crazy!

  13. Paula Fern
    30 August 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks Frank for another great post. I wonder if you ever sleep though with the time this arrived in the inbox, so thanks also for burning the midnight oil. Very timely and useful as when I was collecting some signatures this morning for the CIR someone said they felt sorry for National inheriting their problems and the GFC…ahhh…(internal scream then smile). There was enough knowledge floating around in the ether to have a conversation and hopefully dispell some misinformation. Is it ill-informed voters that are fed partial information or biased news stories in mainstream media, or laziness for not searching for the facts. The odd article does pop up but are usually hidden in the recesses and have to be uncovered, Matt McCarten’s “There’s one rule for the elite…” in the Herald on Sunday for example.
    Keep doing what you do Frank.

    • 30 August 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks, Paula.

      And I think you’ve hit upon a very real problem. People’s perceptions are generally made up from snippets of news; low-grade information; National Party rhetoric (which usually plays on prejudices and stereotypes); and superficial media analysis of issues.

      Once people lock-in their views, they become the typical low-information voter who identifies with the current meme; that the unemployed are lazy drug-takers. These low-information voters have a disconnect between the Global Financial Crisis impacting on our economy – and the unemployed. The former results in attitudes of “matters beyond our control”; sympathy for National; acceptance of “belt tightening” – whilst the latter is the fault of unemployed.

      It’s that disconnect, I feel, that we need to over-come.

  14. Mick
    30 August 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I’m looking forward to seeing all the answers from Mr.Key.

  15. nznative
    30 August 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Bennetts cynical policy announcement is the ugly face of Nationals public relations media strategy.
    Their simple and corrosive strategy which Bennett in particular has done time and time again is Blame a minority for a perceived problem based on negative stereotypes or urban myths
    They do this to draw attention away from all the things Frank has mentioned and many others like the shameful influence of the booze pushers over the national party, the dotcom disgrace where armed police terrorised with the governments consent a unusual but peaceful New Zealand family, the totally foreseeable Maori water rights debacle etc etc etc. Actually everything the Nats touch seems to turn to crap.

    But Stereotypes are dangerous, powerful and ignorant things which taken to extremes have even lead to genocide quite often in human kinds short history.

    The fact politicians like the nats use them so often almost proves they are sociopaths. Destructive to New Zealand and the values of our country.

  16. 31 August 2012 at 1:54 am

    National’s lack of traction in creating the 170,000 new jobs they pledged last year

    And the year before that and however many the year before that. They’ve been promising more jobs in every budget since 2008 and they’ve failed to deliver any of them.

    • 31 August 2012 at 8:12 am

      That’s an excellent piece, Draco. I’ve shared it on my FB page…

      You’re 100% correct. Like the old Soviet 5 Year Plans, where the ruling Politburo kept promising an increased stand of living; growth; etc, etc, year after year. None of it ever materialised, of course (except in a few major cities perhaps).

      National is doing the same thing – and largely getting away with it, as people forget what the Tories pledged the following year…

      Unfortunately, the media let’s them get away with it…

  17. Sunshine Pa & Ma
    2 September 2012 at 10:20 am

    Is drug testing going to create any more jobs?

  18. 2 September 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Sunshine Pa & Ma :

    Is drug testing going to create any more jobs?

    Only for the drug testing companies Sunshine.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: