More on the Metiria gamble

Green co-leader Metiria Turei took a radical risk when she admitted deceiving WINZ so she would get more state assistance over a period of three years before she became an MP.

Whether it was organised or it just happened this sparked a ‘movement’ on social media, especially on Twitter where an #IAmMetiria hashtag got the converted excited.

It also got some on the left who have been searching for some sign of their revolution getting off the ground cheering from the blogs. On his Bowalley blog Chris Trotter linked Turei’s attention  seeking to the French revolution – For Metiria …

“We will not be a government that uses poverty as a weapon against its own people.”
– Metiria Turei, Co-Leader of The Greens

And he followed this up on The Daily Blog: Sins Of Admission – critiquing John Armstrong’s attack on Metiria

But, tell me, do you think that Mahatma Ghandi, Dr Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela would have any ethical difficulty dealing with those implications?

He left out Mother Teresa.

Apart from those desperate for a left wing game breaker it’s hard to know whether will attract more support from voters.

But generally it hasn’t been enthusiastically promoted by media.

Thumbs down from Stuff’s weekly ‘Below the Beltway’ bouquets and brickbats:

DOWN

Metiria Turei. The Greens co-leader’s confession she lied to get a higher benefit as a solo mum grabbed the headlines but risked a backlash against the party for overshadowing the Greens’ policy moves.

Tracy Watkins: Mad, bad or bold? Metiria Turei’s big gamble

Everybody lies? Seems so. You don’t need a scientific survey to know that trust in politicians telling the truth is at an all-time low.

Yet the Green Party has always held itself apart from all that.

The party acts like it has a natural advantage in a place where the rest of the participants struggle to sell us on their honesty and integrity.

Maybe that’s why Metiria Turei’s admission that she lied to maximise her income from the DPB is so jarring.

That is a problem for Turei and the Greens. It’s like a revised Animal Farm rule:

Green animals are above lying and cheating. Unless it’s for a Green cause.

In the scheme of things, the “crime” is not huge. Turei claims she did it to feed her child. But that hasn’t made it less polarising.

On the one side there is anger – for every Turei, there are countless more women who managed to feed their children with less.

But on the political Left there is near euphoria.

It got part of the political left excited, but some must have had some uneasiness. A party leader didn’t just admit to a deceit that cheated the system twenty years ago, she promoted it as justifiable now for anyone who thought they or their family deserved more.

So Turei’s confession might be viewed as the politics of “sticking it to the establishment” – even if it doesn’t do other DPB mums any favours, given that it plays up to the stereotypes on talkback.

But at its most basic, Turei’s admission is also an acknowledgement that she’s no better than the rest of them.

She could have used her maiden speech to deliver a powerful message about poverty by revealing her “crime” 15 years ago, but didn’t. She could have used it to fill in the gaps on her “back story” when she was appointed leader – but didn’t.

In fact, she kept quiet about it a lot longer than Bill English stayed shtum over the affairs of his back-bench MP, Todd Barclay.

So Turei has already failed the most basic political test – the hypocrisy one.

But that was always going to be the risk. So why now?

One word. Politics. The Greens are desperate for a circuit breaker and a way to tap into the zeitgeist of the US and British elections.

It was clearly a carefully planned throw of the political dice.

Turei’s speech is an attempt to put a stake in the same ground.

But there will be collateral damage.

The gamble is that the damage will be outweighed by the publicity and support – except that I’m not sure Greens will have recognised the risks, they often seem to have a confidence that what they do is right and just, and never wrong.

Turei’s speech will be a big turnoff to Labour’s target voter, the mythical “white van man” – the blue collar tradie who’s just getting by.

They were never going to vote for the Greens anyway. But it might drive them from Labour to NZ First.

Especially if they don’t have family at home, because Labour’s pledge to ditch the tax cuts will leave many taxpaying workers with nothing and beneficiaries and parents with a lot more.

The damage might be even closer to home for the Greens. A growing number of voters – the much derided urban liberal included – are concerned by the sight of children living in cars or substandard boarding houses.

Turei’s speech might have appealed to those voters on one level. But her DP- bludging confession is a huge turnoff to many of them.

I don’t think it’s easy to quantify the number of voters who will be turned off or own by the confession and the subsequent campaign tactic.

It’s also an in-your-face reminder that the Green Party and the hugely powerful Green “brand” are two very different things.

Most people see the Green “brand” as largely environmental and worthy.

But I think many have reservations about the red part of the New Zealand Greens. The core of the watermelon may be too socialist red for middle New Zealand.

So Turei’s attempt to paint the campaign town red is certainly a big gamble. It could swing the election, but at the moment it’s anyone’s guess which way.

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37 Comments

  1. sorethumb

     /  July 23, 2017

    Also how do the beneficiary bloc feel about high-minded refugee intake. Who got bumped from the state house waiting list in Dunedin?

    Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 23, 2017

    I suspect it is pure, continued self-interest from Turei. She wants to be a Minister of welfare. She knows that her secret crime was a time-bomb waiting to sink her if it exploded in that role so she chose to detonate it now hoping it would be less.lethal. Everything she has said and done points to her being entirely and ruthlessly self-serving on this all her life.

    Reply
  3. Rustinator

     /  July 23, 2017

    The latest herald story says it was between $20 – $50 per week. So if she had named the father she wouldn’t have been docked $25 per week. One reason for not naming the father could be he was giving her the money that WINZ would have required him to pay to them. Given she has said she received support from the fathers family the fraud could be more than just extra flatmates.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 23, 2017

      You astonish me-I don’t think..

      . The Training Incentive Allowance is quite generous, and so is the accommodation allowance.

      I remember when Paula Bennett was driven to reveal just how much two whingers on the DPB were taking in. Far from the pittance they claimed it was, it was a decent income-I forget now how much,

      Reply
      • Rustinator

         /  July 23, 2017

        The $20 – $50 dollars refers to how much extra she estimated she was getting according to the Herald story(at the bottom of her daughters story). I think it was likely it was a lot more.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 23, 2017

          No-really ???? You astonish me 😀 😀 😀 You cynic.

          She committed fraud for $20-50 ? Yeah, right. Even allowing for inflation, that sounds dubious.

          It hardly seems worth the risk for $20 a week.

          Reply
  4. Missy

     /  July 23, 2017

    Okay, Trotter has annoyed me greatly now, he is misusing Les Miserables, (even if it is a slightly misused musical version of a great novel). Les Miserables was NOT set during the French Revolution. It really bugs me when people get history wrong.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  July 23, 2017

      History is often…’wrong ‘..as its written by the. ..winners.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 23, 2017

        Thank God most of it doesn’t stutter through so many ellipses though, B.

        Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 23, 2017

      Intolerable, Missy!

      Reply
    • Missy

       /  July 23, 2017

      Rant of the Day. 😉

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  July 23, 2017

        Too early to make that call. Unless you just mean YOUR rant of the day? 😳

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  July 23, 2017

          My rant of the day G, and as it is 2140 I figure I can make that call. 😀

          Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 23, 2017

      Don’t waste your time, Missy, the ignorant will not be convinced that Les Miserables was not set in the French Revolution. It’s become received wisdom that it was, just as it has that Jean Valjean was given 19 years for the theft of a loaf of bread when his crime was actually breaking and entering. A burglar now who stole something of little monetary value would not have a lesser sentence because of that, I suspect.

      Wrong ‘revolution’; there was more than one on different scales and at different times, and this was, I think the ‘June revolt’.of the 1830s-anyway, NOT the Reign of Terror, Read the book, Chris !

      Poor Hugo ! His brilliant book has been poorly served in many ways.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  July 23, 2017

        And there is so little likeness between c.18 France and c.21 NZ that the comparison would be meaningless anyway.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 23, 2017

          Blazer, there is a vast difference between the portrayal of events according to one side or the other and a blunder which has things taking place in a different century-or which confuses two events. If someone saidt that Dunkirk happened in WWI or that the Great Depression was in the 1890s, that would not be because the winners had written it, it would be because they were ignorant.

          Reply
      • Missy

         /  July 23, 2017

        True Kitty, also Valjean didn’t get the full 19 years for his original crime, he got 5 for the original crime and the rest for trying to escape numerous times, which is something else many seem to not know – mainly because they haven’t read the novel and only seen the musical.

        Indeed it was the June revolt of 1832 that the action at the barricades take place, the novel covers from 1815 to 1832. I agree if Trotter is going to use it as a comparison he really needs to read the book.

        And on that I think it is time I re-read the book, I think I will put it on my winter reading list (a bit too involved for summer reading I think, but a good one to curl up with on cold days).

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  July 23, 2017

          Impressed. With both of you.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 23, 2017

          It’s magnificent, I have read it and The Hunchback several times (in English, alas) and never tire of either of them.

          What a stupid mistake Chris Trotter made there. I did see the latest film-against my better judgement, so serve me right) and it was obvious that this was NOT the Reign of Terror-only someone incredibly ignorant would have imagined that it was.

          We stayed in Hugo’s former house in Luxembourg, now a hotel. If I remember right, it was the one where the lights were on a time-switch so that anyone going up or down the stairs had about 2 1/4 seconds to do this before being plunged into total darkness.

          The director didn’t mind taking immense liberties with the story. It was a shame-and the turning of the wossnames, the innkeepers, into comic characters was bizarre and seemed to be for the benefit of Sacha Baron Cohen so that he could show off.

          Reply
  5. Corky

     /  July 23, 2017

    “We will not be a government that uses poverty as a weapon against its own people.”

    Sorry, Earth Mother. The true indicator of public sentiment, talkback radio, has found you guilty of a conniving fraud. You are sentenced to not gaining extra support..no matter what the polls tell you.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 23, 2017

      I have a friend who did time for bank robbery-he doesn’t make excuses for this, just realised that the crime wasn’t worth the time and went straight. He doesn’t make a martyr of himself and whinge that he was driven to it because he was somehow entitled to the money.

      Fraudsters are worse criminals, in my mind, than the criminals who make no pretence that they are anything other than what they are.

      Ms Turei signed documents falsely-she systematically swindled the taxpayer and took money to which she was not entitled (thus taking it from others whose need was greater) and seems to think that she has done a great thing. The ‘government’ is not using poverty as a weapon against the people. This is arrant nonsense. NOBODY is entitled to use the taxpayer as a substitute father/husband to pay their bills and house them. It is a privilege, not a right.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  July 23, 2017

        Spot on, Kitty. If Earth Mother had taken your sage advice she would not have made a decision that will forever define her, her political career and her political party. Expect her to resign or be push once the post election maelstrom of blame pointing ensues.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 23, 2017

          I don’t think that bank robbery is all right, of course, It isn’t. But fraud is just as much theft as bank robbery, EM was not above taking money for a training incentive allowance as well as the DPB.

          Tangent; I once met Max Heaslehurst, one of NZ’s worst and most heartless conmen. When someone did a crime to HIM, he was in the paper making a great hoohah about it.

          One of his victims said that it was the best news she’d ever heard (or words to that effect) when he died.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  July 23, 2017

            Often enjoy the tangents, when specifically declared & then proceeded with, like this. 👍🏼

            Big fan. 😍 🌹

            Probably best used sparingly ?

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2017

              Well, yes.

              MH was a real pig; a big, fat overbearing man. He wanted to give me a ride home from the university and put my motobike in the back of his van. When the mirrors wouldn’t fit, he forced them down so hard that they were never stable again, which put me at some risk when they moved and made it impossible to see anything. He just ignored me when I said that I didn’t want the bike to go in the van-it’s impossible to keep one upright . My wishes were ignored, he took it from me, tried to force it in and when it was obvious that this wouldn’t work and was damaging the bike, didn’t apologise. Arrogant bastard.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2017

              I tried to prune that, but it went as I was doing it.

            • Gezza

               /  July 23, 2017

              Arrogant bastard.
              There’s always a few of them about. Some of them can be ok when you get to know them, it’s mostly an act – but most of them are exactly what they seem, in my experience.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 23, 2017

              How dreadful that someone was glad to hear of his death-what an epitaph. It was one of those who lost her house because of him.

              MH was the real thing in arrogant bastards. He had no qualms at all about ripping people off and, in some cases, landing them in it so that they lost their houses. His victims were often enough intelligent people, too.

              He may have been a sociopath, now I come to think of it. His wishes were the only ones that mattered, of course.

  6. PDB

     /  July 23, 2017

    “Turei’s speech will be a big turnoff to Labour’s target voter, the mythical “white van man” – the blue collar tradie who’s just getting by.”

    They left Labour for National long ago, along with most small business owners and workers.

    The Greens are the Mana party in drag.

    Reply
  7. Pete Kane

     /  July 23, 2017

    “Metiria Turei’s daughter says she would have “been hungry” if her mother hadn’t misled Work and Income (WINZ) in the early 1990s.”
    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/07/metiria-turei-s-daughter-would-ve-been-hungry.html (couple of hours ago)

    Wouldn’t say much for Mayor Grandma if she was (the MP gig came later – just to get the sequence right).

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 23, 2017

      It oesn’t say much for either side of the family, really. What about Daddy ? Was he prepared to let his little girl starve ?

      The Turei whanau don’t seem to have done much. So much for aroha.

      How much does it cost to feed a small child ?

      Reply
      • Pete Kane

         /  July 23, 2017

        Hi Ms Kitty, to clarify. the ‘just’ former Mayor Grandma was the father’s side.

        Reply
        • Pete Kane

           /  July 23, 2017
          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 23, 2017

          I had heard that, but didn’t know it of my own knowledge, so to speak. She has described the Turei family as generous. It sounds like it.

          I have also heard that the father (and his family ???) gave her money…

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  July 23, 2017

            ??? The Mayor/MP and family left the son’s child and her mother in such need that the poor girl had to commit fraud or let her child go hungry ?

            The way I had heard it made it sound as if it was speculation, but it’s obviously not that..

            Highly likely that the family were so heartless, unless, of course, it was done as a ‘political statement’.

            Reply
  1. More on the Metiria gamble — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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