Turei game changer

Metiria Turei has changed the election campaign game, possibly substantially. But it’s not possible to tell what the end result will be as coverage and opinions evolve.

In his NBR column yesterday Matthew Hooton claimed:

“Private pollsters reported the initial response …was a loss to both the Greens and Labour and a gain to NZ First.”

“But her story has since changed from being about feeding her children to having fun, earning the condemnation of her political rivals. That criticism has led to a recovery for the Greens at the expense of Labour.”

If accurate that means a gain for NZ First, a loss then recovery for Greens, and a double whammy for Labour. The way many are writing off Labour now they are a hopeless case.

But I expect reaction to Turei’s game changer to keep changing, possibly right up to the election. Greens seem to be committed to pushing it as hard as they can, but opponents will no doubt push the negatives hard through the campaign.

ODT sums up the current situation (and doubts) in Game-changer or game over?

This was not a personal indiscretion, or a one-off mistake that could be put down to the innocence of youth, however. It involved active lying over a period of years in order to get taxpayer money to which she was not entitled. Ms Turei was studying law at the time. She should have known better. There was also an amnesty for beneficiaries at the time (although she said she was unaware of that). The fraud may have helped her and her child live more comfortably, but did others miss out because of her actions?

Ms Turei is now advocating for others who are breaking the law when it comes to their benefit entitlements. MPs are not above the law, even if they do make the laws, and they should not condone or promote illegal activity.

As well as advocating for law breaking – something both Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern have been critical of – Green policy is to boost benefits and ask no questions about circumstances like flatmates and work and living with partners that can currently affect benefits.

Tracey Watkins in  Extreme politics, minor party style:

The Greens want to lift benefits by 20 per cent while scrapping all sanctions, including penalties for women who fail to reveal the name of their child’s father, or sole parents who want to begin a long-term relationship. For a period of up to three years sole parents could even continue to claim the DPB while living with a working – or even wealthy – partner.

In other words, they will prevent further rorting/law breaking by effectively allowing just about anything. This is troubling.

But on the other side of the argument from the ODT:

However, Ms Turei is making a valid point —  that current benefits are not enough to adequately live on. By sharing her own story she has brought the issue into the spotlight.

The issue of poverty in New Zealand deserves more serious scrutiny. New Zealanders should feel uncomfortable about it and the desperate measures people are being driven to. It seems we have become immune to the reports.

Yet we should be appalled at the fact hundreds of thousands of children are living in poverty, that families are  sleeping in cars, tents, garages and other sub-standard accommodation because they cannot find or afford housing in our supposedly “rock star economy”.

We should be appalled there are many who turn to dangerous substances and reckless behaviour because that is the only “high” point in their lives. We should be querying what part poverty and desperation play in crime — and in punishment.

Are we too hard on our most vulnerable and too easy on those already at the top? Have we got the balance right in our supposedly egalitarian society?

Ms Turei’s disclosure has changed the conversation around these issues — as it should.

This is something we as a society should have a good think and debate about, and then decide whether we can find a better balance.

I think we can and should do better. I think that there’s quite a bit of similar sentiment amongst the public – but it only goes so far.

I think there could be a lot of support for providing more help for those who are struggling in New Zealand.

But I suspect that many will have a problem with giving people substantially more money with no responsibility required to try and help themselves.

However debate on this isn’t going to happen effectively during a highly charged election campaign.

However, she has made an error of judgement. Now on a handsome salary of $175,000 as a party leader, she should have offered to pay back her illegitimate takings from the State at the same time she made her declaration. Not doing so has called into question her integrity, even as she tried to be transparent about her previous transgressions and raise awareness of poverty in New Zealand.

That hypocrisy may come back to haunt her if the Work and Income investigation draws out. However, her actions could yet energise a marginalised  sector of the community to vote for change. Move over Winston Peters, this could yet prove to be New Zealand’s Trump/Brexit gamechanger.

Or not. We simply can’t know at this stage what the voters as a whole will decide in a bit over a month. Polls may give us a hint but there could easily be shifts in how people see this issue right up until September 23.

Turei has changed the campaign game, but it’s too soon to tell where the goalposts are, who is heading for them, and who might score an own goal.


Leave a comment


  1. PDB

     /  29th July 2017

    People need to realise that we are talking about the 1990’s not 2017 where benefits are plentiful and more generous than ever before. Even discarding that fact Turei was hardly a 1990’s poster-child of struggling beneficiaries but instead an example of a person ripping off the system for her own means which possibly includes even bigger welfare fraud regarding her living arrangements at the time.

    Again where was her disclosure & dismay of the welfare system when she was propping up the Labour party between 2002 and 2008? Selective outrage?

    And if it is to be a ‘vote-winner’ where are these votes coming from? The votes can only come from the left, most likely labour and/or Mana, so does nothing to improve that voting block at the risk of losing left-wingers who don’t approve of stealing of taxpayer money by anyone, especially a high-profile left-wing political figure.

  2. Corky.

     /  29th July 2017

    In fact Turie is a litmus test for just how hopeless, or otherwise, beneficiaries are. If you are a beanie you’d have to be nuts not to vote for Earth Mother. But I don’t see that happening because many beanies don’t know what an election is. They only know from Face Book that Paula Bennett is a bitch because more politically minded beanies have posted that.

    Most Kiwis wouldn’t mind beanies receiving more provided they had to work for it, and were held accountable. National have tried that to a certain degree, and with limited success. The odium they have received means nothing is going to change anytime soon.

  3. sorethumb

     /  29th July 2017

    There is no excuse for Turie’s getting pregnant in the first place – there’s the morning after pill.
    Also, this is spun as a classic lift yourself up by the bootlaces story but the danger of welfare has always been when it becomes (or is perceived to become) a lifestyle choice. Solo mothers were famous for “my husband/partner beat me” but they can’t all be true.

  4. NOEL

     /  29th July 2017

    “There is no excuse for Turie’s getting pregnant in the first place – there’s the morning after pill”
    It .had been withdrawn from marketing in New Zealand in the 1990’s to prevent it being sold over-the-counter.

  5. Oliver

     /  29th July 2017

    If MT is prosecuted for fraud she will become a martyr. She will be the Nelson Mandela of our time. Do we really want that? I think we need to let this one slide. Let the voters prosecute her.

  6. John Schmidt

     /  29th July 2017

    The ODT position simply cannot be true. There are thousands living care of the state and I don’t see anyone starving. As a group they have been living off the state 70 plus years. By in large they are surviving, certianly not living the high life but are living a life significantly better than most poor in virtually any other country.
    Hooton is probably right in that there will be at least 15% of the population who like the idea of having a free ride at the expense of those who do all the work in NZ.

  7. Tipene

     /  29th July 2017

    The left eat their own at a faster rate than the right do.

    WHEN Turei is prosecuted and convicted, aside from a handful of staunch supporters from the AAAP snowflakes, THEN the rest of her “support” will evaporate faster than a warm fart on a cold day.

    The Left love crooks – but they loathe crooks who get caught.

  8. Gezza

     /  29th July 2017

    I’m just waiting for the polls. I think Metz might have cut their vote, not increased it. There’s no question in my mind thousands of beneficiaries who make the best of it, within the rules, being basically honest & truthful, are now NOT going to vote for them.


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