English v Ardern on sanctions on benefits

In Question Time today Bill English asked Jacinda Ardern about the use of sanctions in relation to getting unemployed people into work.

Winston Peters chimed in with a question/comment about saddling up a gift horse.

2. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her statements?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): In the context in which they were given, yes.

Rt Hon Bill English: Does she stand by her statement in regards to her Ready for Work scheme, or Work for the Dole scheme, that: “Our view was that you couldn’t compel people to take up a job.”

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: When I was discussing the way that we would role this programme, we were acknowledging that there’s a range of ways in which we could encourage the uptake of the opportunity for employment. I have also acknowledged that sanctions have long been a part of our benefit system, and that won’t change. Ultimately, though, this is a Government focused on getting young people into work.

Rt Hon Bill English: Does she agree with the statement of her Minister for Regional Economic Development in regards to the Ready for Work scheme that, “They’ll be made to go to work. … there will be no more sitting on the couch.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve said, sanctions have long been a part of our welfare system, and that won’t change.

Rt Hon Bill English: Does she therefore agree with her parliamentary under-secretary Jan Logie who said: “Benefit sanctions punish families who are already struggling to get by …. These are not the actions of a decent and compassionate government—benefit sanctions are punitive and cruel, and it’s going to take a change of government to get rid of them. … The Green Party in government … will immediately end … sanctions.”

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister has no responsibility for Green Party policy, or statements made by someone who was not an under-secretary at the time.

Rt Hon Bill English: Does she agree with the statements made by members of the Green Party in support of the Government that they oppose sanctions on benefits and intend to roll back those that exist?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I absolutely stand by the Labour Party’s confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party, which says that we will look at the excessive use of sanctions within the welfare system. I have to say, the excessive use of sanctions ballooned under that last Government, because rather than focusing on providing employment opportunities like this Government, that’s what they resorted to.

Rt Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister now outline Government policy on sanctions as they may apply to young people who have been on the unemployment benefit?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I have already given a general statement that sanctions have long been a part of our welfare system, but details around the way our particular policy around getting young people into work will go to Cabinet and decisions will be made collectively. But what I am happy to say is that, unlike the last Government, we are not willing to allow more than 70,000 young people not in employment, education, or training to have their lives wasted.

Rt Hon Bill English: If a young person who may be eligible for a scheme of this nature refuses to participate, or attends for a day or two and then refuses to attend, will the Government apply sanctions to them?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’ve given the general principles that we’ll be working to, but final decisions of the programme will go to Cabinet. But, again, this Government is entirely united behind the idea that young people deserve opportunities, and under this Government they’ll get them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister whether it’s her Government’s attitude that the wealth of a country is in its working people, and whether it would be refreshing if some people, instead of looking a gift-horse in the mouth, decided to put a saddle on its back and be grateful?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: This is a Government that is focused on providing employment opportunities, and that’s exactly what our Minister for Regional Economic Development has been speaking to. Unlike the last Government, who labelled young people “pretty damn hopeless”, we’ll get them into jobs.

9 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  December 5, 2017

    Ok. She’s a master of obfuscation to rival John Key already. Not bad. She’s picked up the essentials of the PM job as it’s usually done today. We’re obviously not going to get much but Bullshit & Jellybeans until well after Christmas. The Opposition are having a series of field days.

    • Conspiratoor

       /  December 5, 2017

      Not so sure G, she may be about to land a king hit. I believe the aussies are about to cave on the manu rapugees

      • Gezza

         /  December 5, 2017

        😮 Christ! If that’s true, they obviously bloody hate her with a passion! 😠

      • Gezza

         /  December 5, 2017

        I’ll have to have a look at the Question Time replay on The Parliament TV Channel on Freeview at 10. Trev’s act’s been pretty riveting so far. Best part of it usually.

  2. PartisanZ

     /  December 5, 2017

    It’s just SO PATHETIC! The whole thing is just so pathetic. That’s about as ‘field day’ as a gumboot throwing contest where old redneck farmers get to throw their gumboots at the smart-arse local merchant’s daughter who got educated, made good and came back as the town’s mayor …

    They should all be collaborating to thrash out ways to make ‘Ready for Work’ function properly for the benefit of the identified cohort and the country. For the common good.

    FFS, it’s sound ‘Social Investment’ policy by National’s very own standards … targeted at a group who are EVIDENTIALLY in need …

    And WTF does that question from Winston Peters even mean …?
    “Put a saddle on its back”?

    If this is Westminster Parliamentary democracy at its best, or even functioning properly, IT IS UTTERLY INTOLERABLE, and we need to change it FAST!

    • Gezza

       /  December 5, 2017

      Trev’s doing his best. He’s tried a few novel ideas. Why not email him some suggestions?

      Have you heard anything back back from Shane yet re
      https://yournz.org/2017/12/04/slouches-off-couches-in-work-for-the-dole/#comment-236956 ?

      • PartisanZ

         /  December 5, 2017

        I just now composed and sent it to Shane, Jacinda and Winston, entitled ‘Ready for Work’ (or ‘Saddle Up’?).

        It’s quite long … so it might be a few days in the Beehive digestion system … I’ll report back.

        I was quite surprised how positive it turned out. I told him he was enacting National’s own much vaunted, never launched ‘Social Investment’ policy, as opposed to them hypocritically promoting a ‘Boot Camp’ model. ‘Carborundum nil bastardum’ I encouraged him … Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

        Be proud of the progressive aspect of Ready for Work and don’t slam the NEETs any more, its not their fault. Accentuate the positive.

        One of the great thinkers, perhaps Aristotle, put it very simply. To paraphrase: We can deal with inequality using military-like tactics, including the violence of derision, or we can deal with inequality by making things more equal.

        And Shane, PLEASE don’t plant any more pine trees, NZ’s single biggest upper respiratory tract assailant!

    • phantom snowflake

       /  December 5, 2017

      Hush now PZ. You can’t use “social investment” and “group” in the same sentence Y’know; there is no society only individuals etc etc

      • PartisanZ

         /  December 5, 2017

        Collective … communal … collaborative … creative … caring society!!!

        As Grace Slick says in that song ‘Fast Buck Freddie’ …

        “Sing it NOW while you still …
        Sing it NOW while you still …
        Sing it NOW while you STILL HAVE A SONG!”