Slouches off couches in ‘Work for the Dole’

In an interview on Q&A Shane Jones said that he wants to get young people off couches and into work, in what he describes as work-for-dole initiatives. He says that Labour supports the concept but not the name.

One of the key aims as Minister of Regional Economic Development is to get regional and rural unemployed into work, but this will presumably require coordination with the Minister of Employment and the Minister for Social Development.

I’m calling it Work for the Dole. It may be the Work Readiness Kaupapa. But I am not going to remain silent any longer while my young ne’er-do-well nephews in Kaikohe and other places fall victims to the gangs and they’re in Disneyland. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not happening any more.

There could be some delicate balancing between providing incentives and pushing unemployed people into Government work schemes, and what some have criticised as a punitive approach to people on benefits.

SHANE I don’t want people on the unemployment benefit. I don’t want to have to rely on Filipinos to plant my pine trees. These people will be made to go-

CORIN But you’re implying they’re going to be forced to work.

SHANE No, no, please. They’ll be made to go to work, and where it is necessary, to pay them.

This could be challenging, given the resistance by some to move significant distances from their couches to work.

Q&A interview and 1 News report: ‘There will be no more sitting on the couch’ – Shane Jones goes full throttle on work-for-the-dole scheme

The Regional Economic Development Minister announced his proposal in October and says he has held a number of discussions with Labour who are “behind the concept” but admitted they didn’t like the term work-for-the-dole.

“They probably have a slightly different view of the incentives that should be used,” Mr Jones said on TVNZ’s Q+A programme this morning.

Relevant segment of the transcript:

CORIN Give me some examples of how it’s going to benefit a young Kiwi in the regions who’s struggling to get a job, who’s in a depressed area. Tell me how it’s going to help.

SHANE I think that’s a bloody good question, actually. If I take, for example, the $10 million that would be needed to really upgrade connectivity from where, say, the new Hawaiki cable’s going to arrive up to Kaitaia. Unless you have connectivity in the Kaitaias of the world, then the firms that are there aren’t going to flourish, and then that provides an incentive for employment to grow. But I will say something that really bothers me immensely. Throughout New Zealand, we’ve got this category of young men and women called NIETs – not in employment or training. It’s a category that data’s collected from the stats department. Nigh on $60,000 was allocated by Steven Joyce, and for reasons I’ve never fully worked out, not a cracker, a brass razoo, was actually spent. Unless we build programmes actually employing these young men, then the ne’er-do-well nephs are going to disappear consistently-

CORIN So this is the Work for the Dole idea which you raised.

SHANE I love the idea, and by Christmas, I am going to have announced at least four projects. I’ve been counselled by my friends in Labour. They don’t like the term Work for the Dole, and it’s probably going to be called Work Ready.

CORIN What is it? Is it actually work for the dole? Are they going to be working and getting an unemployment benefit?

SHANE Mm. I don’t want people on the unemployment benefit. I don’t want to have to rely on Filipinos to plant my pine trees. These people will be made to go-

CORIN But you’re implying they’re going to be forced to work.

SHANE No, no, please. They’ll be made to go to work, and where it is necessary, to pay them. They’ll have to receive a minimum wage, but there will be no more sitting on the couch.

CORIN How do you force them to do it?

SHANE Just wait and see until my four announcements are out.

CORIN No. Without specifics, it’s a big issue to say you’re going to force those NIETs to actually work.

SHANE Well, I’m not the Minister of Social Welfare, but read my lips – I’m sick and tired of watching the ne’er-do-well nephs sitting on the couch doing nothing, and I, as a Maori politician and a Maori leader, I’m not going to tolerate it any longer. I’m one voice in amongst 20 Cabinet ministers, but read my lips – that is the advocacy I’m going to bring.

CORIN How are you going to get it through Cabinet?

SHANE Yes, it’s obviously a mixture of charm and knowledge, but I’m one of 20.

CORIN Have you talked to your Labour colleagues about this and about how you might be able to do it?

SHANE I’ve had a number of discussions, in fairness to my Labour colleagues, and they’re behind the kaupapa, they’re behind the concept. They probably have a slightly different view of the incentives that should be used, but I’d be nothing other than honest if I didn’t say to you that’s the quality of my advocacy.

CORIN Right, so let’s just be clear here. You are going to push a Work for the Dole scheme through Cabinet. You’re going to try.

SHANE I am going to take proposals to Cabinet. I’m calling it Work for the Dole. It may be the Work Readiness Kaupapa. But I am not going to remain silent any longer while my young ne’er-do-well nephews in Kaikohe and other places fall victims to the gangs and they’re in Disneyland. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not happening any more.

Shane Jones to lead regional development and tree planting

A claim that (as already predicted) Shane Jones will be the new Minister of Regional Economic Development and also Minister of Forestry.

Newshub: Shane Jones Minister for 100 million trees, $1 billion regional fund

Shane Jones will be the Minister responsible for spending $1 billion a year on New Zealand’s regions.

Newshub has also learned that Jones will also be in charge of the new Forestry Service, which will plant 100 million trees a year – with the goal of planting a billion over 10 years.

The goal is to take jobs to the regions with roles in planting and nurseries.

It is understood that about 50 million trees are already planted in New Zealand each year, meaning the new Government’s planting will double that.

The plan will require 1000 stems per hectare, over 100,000 hectares.

There is an environmental element to the plan, as forests planted on Department of Conservation land will be native trees acting as permanent “carbon sinks” to counter climate change.

Trees will also be planted on Maori-owned land and there will be a big emphasis on getting Maori into jobs.

The new Government department’s headquarters will be based in Rotorua.

Sounds potentially very good for regional development, employment and also addressing climate and conservation issues.

Of course it depends on how well done it is and how effectively the money will be spent. It’s a big challenge for Jones, and he will probably be more visible than Winston peters who is expected to be Minister of Foreign Affairs so should be out of the country frequently.