Watched some of the “hard-hitting” “political news” show Q+A yesterday morning, in which Minister Paula Bennett defended the changes to the welfare system that were announced out of Cabinet last week. (Full transcription of interview on Scoop.)
Part of these changes were introducing work tests to those on a sickness benefit to get them into part-time work. Although this policy was opposed by that renowned left-wing champion of dole-bludgers, the Treasury [Er, is that right? – ed] , Bennett was keen to give it a spirited defense. The spin she was instructed to deploy was plain to see:
“Let’s also deal with the fact which says that people, with low level depression and low level illness are often better off in work, and it’s actually a road to recovery for them, it actually helps them get better. So it’s not actually all penalties, this is actually what I believe is helping people get well and actually work is a big part of that.”
“Look I think that actually those on the sickness benefit will be better off in work…”
“Yeah and many of them won’t be [on the minimum wage]. You’re actually I think underselling them, and I think they’ve got something to contribute, both for themselves and for the economy, and I’m going to back them to do it.”
“I believe there’s people that could be getting well faster and we could be helping them to get back into work quicker.”
I find it hard to imagine a more shameless and contrived policy defense: welfare cuts as therapeutic technique.
Related: Keith Ng’s advice on setting policy, with reference to the mining of conservation areas. “4) If the person gives you a report with NEW ZEALAND MINERAL INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION written on the front, BEWARE! Although they both have “New Zealand” in their names, the New Zealand Minerals Industry Association is not the same thing as the NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT.”