Home > The Body Politic > Letter to the Editor: Was Paula Bennett ever drug tested?

Letter to the Editor: Was Paula Bennett ever drug tested?

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the ed
DATE:    Sun, 12 Jan 2014 15:56:11 +1300
TO:      NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz> 

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The Editor
NZ Herald
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Only 22 people have drug tested positive out of the
thousands sent to 8,001 job vacancies which required drug
testing, reported David Fisher in his story, "Minister
claims low drug result as victory" (11 January).

Social Welfare minister, Paula Bennett, says that  "It's
great so few people failed tests in the first six months of
this new policy, that's partly due to the strong signalling
effect of this policy where many people reported quitting
marijuana use before it was even implemented, but we're also
giving people the opportunity get clean before they're
tested."

Or, as is most likely the case, those who are unemployed are
ordinary fellow New Zealanders who've been made redundant
since 2008 and the on-going recession, and are no more
likely to be using drugs than their fellow workers who've
not been made redundant.

Redundancy does not automatically lead to drug taking.

It seems that National's demand for drug testing welfare
beneficiaries stands revealed for what it is - a waste of
taxpayer's money that does not create jobs (except in the
drug-testing industry, maybe).

The policy achieves nothing except cater to the ill-informed
- those who are prejudiced against the unemployed and other
welfare recipients as a matter of course. It is a form of
scape-goating those who cannot fight back against such
character slurs.

Tellingly, Bennett's office cannot answer simple questions
such as how much the drug testing costs; how much it has
saved the taxpayer; how many of all the unemployed sent to
those 8,001 vacancies were drug tested; nor whether in fact
the policy is indeed  affecting drug usage at all. Her
office simply has no information on these questions.

But I have a question for the Minister; when she was on the
DPB herself as a solo-mother, how can we - the taxpayer - be
reassured that she was not a drug-user and smoked the odd
joint or three? 

Can she reassure us that she did not take drugs? Was she
drug tested at the time? If not, why not?

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-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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References

NZ Herald: Minister claims low drug result as victory

 

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= fs =

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  1. Deb Kean
    12 January 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Brilliant! As always, can you let us know if it’s pubbed, and what reaction there is, if any?
    Deb

  2. 12 January 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks, Debs.

    Unfortunately, I don’t always keep an eye on the Herald, so miss many of the letters I send to them. Hopefully someone up in Auckland will give me a ‘heads up’ if it happens? 🙂

    • Deb Kean
      13 January 2014 at 5:26 pm

      I used to read the Herald daily myself, but as I no longer do, I hope someone else does and sees it! Duncan? 🙂
      Deb

      • 13 January 2014 at 11:09 pm

        Good idea, Debs. I’ll check with him. 🙂

    • 13 January 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Just incase the editor ignors such an important question and issue, I copy and pasted it to the relevant story in the herald on their fb page. Hope you dont mind

      • 14 January 2014 at 9:23 am

        MInd?!

        I’m honoured! Thank you, Gina! And feel free to use whatever you find on my blog. 🙂

  3. 12 January 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Another thing not reported is how many of those who did actually pass the required drug tests got employment….WHY has no one in the media taken this up? Here’s how the USA has been reacting to the whole drug test these bludging beneficiaries issue…
    http://www.salon.com/2013/08/29/gop%E2%80%99s_inane_money_eating_sham_drug_tests_for_welfare_a_huge_failure/

    • 13 January 2014 at 8:40 am

      That’s a great article, Neil. Thanks for sharing it.

      I was particularly struck by this very simple analysis,

      In 2013, at least 29 states have proposed legislation requiring some form of [drug] testing for welfare recipients. But these programs don’t save states money, and they clearly don’t identify drug users, so why have they continued to be so popular? The answer can be found in the social stigma against poverty and the political capital that can be gained by exploiting it.

      I recommend everyone read it to gain a better undersatanding of what National is doing, and why.

  4. cirianz
    15 January 2014 at 12:26 am

    And of course the obvious question, since she, and all politicians, are effectively on a “work for the dole” scheme (albeit at a very high rate) and living off the taxpayer money when was she last drug tested and how often are she & other politicians being tested? Since they are making decisions that will effect our lives for years or even decades to come I would consider that we, the taxpayer, have a very vested interest in keeping a close eye on their chemical sobriety. Much more so than in the chemical status of any unemployed person similarly living on a taxpayer supported income. And when you consider how much we pay these politicians it only becomes more important that we make sure that we are getting value for our money.
    Why is that these days people seem to think that anyone in a position of great responsibility should be granted more leniency in any ‘grey areas’ than is given to the average person. Surely, if anything, it should be less. That’s what the being responsible part of responsibility is all about. And the potential consequences of them f*cking up are much much higher than the rest of us too.

    • 15 January 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Indeed, Cirianz. Of the top oif my head, there were at least three MPs whose penchant for drinking (often heavily) was well known; Muldoon, Bolger, and Peters. I wonder how many more there were/are?

      All paid for by the tax payer.

  5. Leave Right Out
    15 January 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Salon money para to me:
    “Welfare-based drug testing is only a symptom of a larger societal ill that sees the poor as inherently parasitic and viceful (e.g., “They take advantage of government programs, not us.” “They do drugs, not us.”). As a result, legislators heap unfair, ineffective policies on those in poverty simply to court public favor by playing to their prejudices. The welfare queen, cashing government checks, smoking drugs and living the life of luxury, continues to be a useful myth when it comes to winning votes. And as more of these policies, whose support is borne by an unfounded disdain for the poor, are enacted, the humanity of those living in poverty is further eroded as the chasm between the haves and the have-nots grows even wider.”

    • 15 January 2014 at 4:51 pm

      I have to admit, LRO, that Salon article was brilliantly written and totally deconstructs the right-wing agenda behind drug-testing.

      I think the results speak for themselves, which means that people like Bennett have other reasons for victimising welfare recipients.

      It’s a shame the media did not address this issue more thoroughly and drive home to the middle classes that National’s policies are a rort to shift attention from their own failures…

      In that case, the entire discussion would shift from welfare recipients, to secret government agendas. And people might be less inclined to be so willingly hoodwinked.

  6. Theodore
    12 February 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I’m surprised (well, maybe not) that nothing appeared on TV3 news tonight on this story. Probably crime and traffic crash stories take too much precedence over things that really matter .

  1. 17 January 2014 at 6:57 am
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  3. 17 June 2016 at 8:01 am
  4. 3 June 2017 at 8:01 pm

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