Brian Edwards Media

Poor choices? Or just poor?


NZ Herald/Mark Mitchell

I grew up at a time when being ‘on the dole’ was shameful, when single women were forced by circumstance and social pressure to give up their babies,  when women with children often stayed in bad marriages because financially there was no alternative. We weren’t very tolerant, we weren’t very caring. ‘You made your bed – now lie in it!’

I’m still a card-carrying member of Gary McCormack’s  Pull-Yourself-Together Party, so I was surprised at my own anger this morning when I read the Prime Minister’s statement that beneficiaries go to food banks because of their own ‘poor choices’.  He said:

‘…anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills. And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.’

Well, here is the news: Some people have unexpected bills, Mr Key. Some people’s cars break down, because cheap, old cars are all they can afford – seen a repair bill lately? Some people need dentistry – seen a dentist’s bill lately? Some people need to pay the rent, which they can’t afford even with an accommodation supplement – seen the news on Auckland rentals recently?

I don’t think those are poor choices. I don’t think those are choices at all.

The Unemployment and Sickness benefits are $198.04 a week including GST top up; the Domestic Purposes benefit is $283.66 with one child. The maximum accommodation allowance for a family is $225. Work it out.  Work out what you spend on food, rent, petrol, electricity, phone. Food prices have risen astronomically in recent months; petrol is $2 a litre.

How many people would choose to live like this, hand to mouth, week after week, month after month, year after year? How many people would choose the embarrassment of queuing at a food bank?

Need a doctor or dentist? Forget it. School trips for the kids? Forget it. Insurance? Forget it. Have a fire, get robbed, prang your car – tough luck. 

There will always be some people who rip off the system. Like the poor, they’re always with us. I have no sympathy or respect for them. They deserve none

However, I do have sympathy for those who spend months trying without success to get a job when employment is high and jobs are few. I have sympathy for those who are genuinely sick. I have considerable respect for women who struggle financially but are still determined to give their children the best possible upbringing. I think they deserve all the moral support we can give them.

And I think they deserve a great deal better than to be dismissed simply as having made ‘poor choices’.

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  1. well said!

  2. I don’t think that he thought this statement through, and i don’t think he has paid much attention to the cost of renting, vs benefit payments.

    When i was on a sickness benefit last year, i received $325.00 a week, which included an accommodation allowance, and a temporary emergency support supplement. The rent for the damp, dump that i live in is $410.00 per week. It was the cheapest place that i could find to house myself, and the three teenagers that i support 50% of the time.

    You don’t even have to take into account emergencies to realise how ridiculous this statement is…just do the very simple math.

    Fortunately, things are looking up for me now, because i am able to go back to work. Not everyone is so lucky though, and that doesn’t always have to do with bad choices.

  3. I remember, as a child, my father worked full time but was what you would call working poor. We received a lot in what was then called family support which paid for the family home.

    We needed to, from time to time, go to the food bank to make sure we had enough. It was not a “lifestyle choice” Mr Key it was what my family had to do to survive.

  4. I suggest that this is the real face of John Key. The face that only seems to appear in parliament when he abandons the “smile” and indulges in sarcasm, snide and cruel remarks, usually when replying to a difficult question.

    Unfortunately, this face does not appear as part of his more public persona. Maybe his high poll ratings would take a plunge if the populace were to see him for what he really is.

  5. I’ve heard countless amounts of total crap today about how people can afford their expenses when on an extremely low fixed income like a benefit, if they make the right “choices”. Fortunately voices like yours, Judy, are on the right track. Is Key truly unaware that rent alone tends to take up two thirds or more of a benefit entitlement? Or is he assuming that beneficiaries are in freehold homes, boozing away their dole? The other scenario is that more & more beneficiaries are homeless, rent-free, with only substance or cigarette abuse as their stress relief to mitigate their suffering. Where is the reality in all this? Clearly far from John Key’s vision of a beneficiary lifestyle.

  6. I’ve never been on a benefit during my many years of working life, so I really can’t relate to the hardship that some people have to experience. However I do have dealings with people on a day to day basis who are struggling financially, particularly at the moment. I am aware of a number of young people who are exasperated trying to find any type of work; people who have gained tertiary qualifications and cannot find even part-time work. I totally agree with Wyndham – This is the true face of John Key. It is ironic that Key lectures benficiaries about making poor choices by having to visit a food bank, while in the same week his government makes one of the poorest choices of their term of government by purchasing new BMW limousines.

    JC: Thought: Maybe John could give those tatty three-year-old BMWs to some nice solo parents who can’t afford to buy a car?

  7. Totally agree my friend!

  8. Well said, Judy.

    It’s worth remembering that John “State House” Key benefited from …

    – a free, taxpayer funded health system
    – a free, taxpayer funded education system
    – a protected economy with full employment

    … all no longer available.

    I’m not suggesting we could (or should) go back to those days. Some things are better today, some not. But the fact remains: those bootstraps John Key pulled himself up by, were generously subsidised by the taxpayer.

    I think the words “Thank you” will suffice, John.

  9. I have never been persuaded by Key’s smiley persona.There lies a heart of stone in the remarks he made on this issue,he simply lacks empathy and his wealth

    Last year I was made redundant from a 70k job and have searched in vain for another position in the same area.I work for $13.60 p/h as a caregiver for a large retirement village chain.The work is physically heavy and can be very stressful,management pay lip service to caring about the staff but really don’t,and there is a very tense atmosphere at times as a small group of favoured employees lord it over the rest of us.The mortgage on my modest house takes up $740 of my $800 (f/n)pay,and my savings have been almost exhausted from dipping in to pay the bills.I need major dental work that is simply unaffordable and the thought of a holiday,or even a long weekend is simply out of the question as I take whatever shifts I can get.

    I have never been tempted to go on a benefit,and have always been regarded as a hard worker,but at nearly 60 I am finding,that despite my best efforts I am regarded as unwanted and of no value.Yet the Nats,the party that would until a year ago would have considered me as part of their natural constituency,must be aware that their policies are punitive to those who have fallen on hard times.

    At times I feel quite desperate.

  10. I’ve been a volunteer budget service advisor for a few years and can assure you I have seen many budgets which leave no room for anything outside food, rent, power and other basic bills.

    We have a check sheet with about 30 general expenditure items on it. Sometimes it may have 6 or 7 entries. Forget the dentist, presents, clothes, insurance.

    It’s true some people have made bad choices in terms of acquiring debts. Most commonly these are cars which are the worst purchase anyone can make. But in general I find people are very keen to pay of their debts no matter how long it takes. For some it’s mathematically impossible due to the magic of compound interest.

    But really it is a struggle for many to just keep their heads above water. As a budget advisor I always think there is somewhere to cut expenses but too often there simply isn’t.

    The recent Savings Working Group had a graph showing that market income had actually fallen for the bottom 5 deciles between 1998 and 2007 (Page 140). That’s incredible at a time when house prices rose 179%. There’s your answer to the inequality.

    It’s not pretty down there in the lower reaches of the economy. But unless you go into their kitchens and sit down with them you can’t really see it.

  11. “There will always be some people who rip of the system”

    You don’t have to be poor to do this. Double Dipton English. A lifestyle choice. Yeah, right.

  12. Desperation is a familiar experience for many single parents on a benefit, and teenagers can make life pure hell when there is no money for ‘vital’ luxuries. Unemployed people haven’t a show of coping without help from friends and family, begging at agencies for food money, or for some, turning to petty crime.
    Perhaps John “Perma-Smile” Key can go into his kitchen and show us how to cook cheap nutritious meals on a benefit (from scratch), just like Jenny Shipley reportedly did. Better still, drag Shipley away from her business (Michelle Boag can hold the fort) and let her teach us all over again. Better yet, let JK, JS, and MB start a cooking show together on TV with clever tips for cheaper living below the poverty line.
    The bloody arrogance of the man! Either that or he is so naive he needs waking up.

  13. well said. thanks

  14. Its another example of the “let them eat cake” society we live in.With this and the outrageous position over IHC workers this Government is really showing its wolf’s teeth in sheep’s clothing.
    I dont think Key saying thank you is enough .I’d like him to show some compassion to the poor.How did they ever get into power?!!!!

  15. Very well said! The sick and disabled haven’t made a lifestyle choice, life has made choices for them. I know many disabled who are unable to afford to go to the doctor as much as they need to as they have to use money to pay their skyrocketing electricity bills. They’re threatened by WINZ caseworkers that their benefits will be cut if they don’t make an effort to get out and work yet there is no suitable work out there for them even if they were physically able to work. John Key truly deserves his nickname of the Smiling Assassin.

  16. “Poor choice” I think it was the voters of NZ that made the poor choice at the last election, but that a side, I can never remember people queuing for a hand-out for food. There has always been food parcels supplied through organizations, but not to this extent. CPW mentioned John Key’s smiley persona, could the name “Smiling Assassin” fit.

  17. “How did they ever get into power?” Simple. (1)A sufficiently large number of voters either didn’t have long enough memories to remember previous National governments or they really believed that leopards change their spots. (2)The Maori Party betrayed its constituency.
    And it will probably happen all over again.

  18. At last, the person under the phoney smile (the smile rarely reaches his eyes) shows his true colours. A man totally out of touch with life at the bottom of the heap – and I suspect even life in the middle of the heap.

    The much maligned Families Commission, that favourite political football, has done some great research on families in debt. It’s called Escaping the Debt Trap and it gives some sobering examples of how families get into debt and what they try to do to get out. It more often than not has nothing to do with “poor choices”. As Judy said, often they have no choices at all. They are trapped in a vicious downward spiral.

    The Commission has also done some good research called Beyond Reasonable Debt. It’s on their website

    Instead of using empty, ignorant rhetoric, Key and his ideologocally bankrupt and out-of-touch cronies might actually look at the evidence base, people’s reality and what works, rather than their present dog whistle policies and practices.

  19. Couldnt agree more.

  20. The heartbreaking reality of John Key’s political and personal orientation come into view. I say personal because it seems a gentle kind of intellectual laziness that actually might be pretty brutal in its effect when you’re saying it as the PM. The worse thing is as a statement it doesn’t even pretend to communicate with those it names – that would be decent. It just glides past to talk to those Key wants to represent.

  21. Great rant, Judy.
    Hmmmm. Well people this is the brighter future NZ voters went after in 2008. So suck it up people. John Key’s abundant inadequacies have always been glaringly apparent to me. The self serving greed and blindingly obvious incompetency of the Nats sticks out like the proverbial dogs b**** Key doesn’t give a toss about you Geddit?. And he will have flogged off our sovreignty before he goes. Which puts my offspring’s future well and truly in the toilet. I have been on a benefit I have been poor. And I can pick a bullshit artist like Key out of any crowd. What I can’t understand is why NZer’s are so stupid that they believe that a useless unproductive currency trader would behave any other way.!

  22. JK is so average. His thoughts, ideas and actions show someone incapable of seeing the larger picture, of imagining life for others, or of caring. The national party has hideously outdated ideals and policy. They seem stuck in 1972. NZ must grow up and search out forward thinking policy for today and quick. For as long as our neighbour stands in the queue at the free food store, so do we.

  23. “Poor choices” . . .

    Like buying a fleet of luxury BMWs to show off in during the rugby cup . . . and then lying about it?

    JC: There is a difference between lying and being misinformed. I think this was a case of the latter. However, spending millions on limos while you’re criticising beneficiaries is just handing your opponents ammunition.

  24. Did John Key ever think about those doing well on a reasonable wage, paying a mortgage, living the good life, who are unexpectedly made redundant and go on to the benefit, given a bit of accommodation supplement to help pay the mortgage – but they find out it doesn’t stretch very far, and they get behind because they have to eat, the power bill gets behind, the WOF and registration isn’t done, $150 here, $250 there, and the fines start mounting up (a particularly clever way for Key to ‘tax’ people is through fining road users – very lucrative).

    These people were living in the way Key and co told them they could. You can have it all now, his banker mates said. They believed him – what fools. Those very same people would have been sneering at those already on benefits and probably would have been therefore using their savings up and having nothing left to fall back on because they were too embarrassed to ask for help.

    When you are forced on to a benefit and you have been used to using a credit card, with banks throwing money at you, able to pay it off each month, using it to the max and then one month you can’t – that debt and interest mounts inexorably to a point where the interest is all you can afford. That’s not a poor choice; that’s a choice of a person who once had a good job and the money to pay the bills. Without these people consuming that Key is now throwing to the sharks, the retail trade would have been a lot poorer. Only now is the retail trade beginning to suffer, like the unemployed. Good. They need to see what it means to not have enough income to look after yourself or your family.

    The only people who are not suffering are the people like Key that the people of New Zealand held up in 2008 as a man they could trust to lead them out of the financial wilderness. They were idiots then – I can understand that because Key lied to them; if they vote him in again to sell off our country’s remaining assets with Douglas helping, then the people of New Zealand deserve to become even poorer than they are now.

    Legislation has already prepared local government assets for sale from 2012. The legislated 75% vote required by the public before these sales could happen re Ports of Auckland, etc. has been removed by this government. They did not do that for fun.

    If they are voted back into government Key stated in Parliament last week that is their mandate to sell/to privatise. Remember that.

    If he promises, before the election, not to sell assets if people say they don’t want assets sold, do not believe him.

  25. It’s taken longer than I thought, but the inevitable moment is here…the emergence of a “gaffe-prone” Government. BMW’s, the bad choices that the poor make…a couple more in quick succession and The Charmer morphs into The Pariah.

    BE: Spot on!

  26. I still say, keep an eye on the Winston Peters vote. There’s some rumbling in the jungle out there.
    And for the record: (1) I’m not being facetious (2) I’m not saying whether this is a good thing; I’m merely observing.

  27. By avoiding questions from serious interviews for so long the PM has maintained his facade. But now having to front up in Election year the facade is starting to be penetrated. The questions are the answers.

  28. Hate to burst your bubbles, people, but Key has just been voted Man of the Year…

    Kiwis have not only been taken in by Key in 2008 but now they’re stepping willingly into the gin trap to lose whatever they have left.

    Sure sucks to be a Kiwi that saw through this spinner yet has to suffer along with the rest of the idiots who danced at his victory party.

  29. Thanks JC – This sort of piece brings me to tears for those (hundreds of thousands!) in this situation.

    So the “it was the fault of:
    A. Labour’s 9 years of mis-management
    B. The global recession (that isn’t National’s fault – nor is their response to it) meme has morphed into a blame the poor routine.

    Honestly, my first reaction is “thank you” to John Key – hopefully a few scales will be falling from eyes (that’s a hope that the fourth estate will stop their shallow reportage BTW).

    @Jum – sorry, I don’t understand what you mean by “Only now is the retail trade beginning to suffer, like the unemployed. Good. They need to see what it means to not have enough income to look after yourself or your family.”

    The retail trade as I’ve seen it (since mid-2007) has been in a downward slide, and a lot of red ink has been thrown around since then. My family-run businesses (two small retail enterprises) employ 15 and have been struggling for quite some time, without respite. The impacts of the GST change have only exacerbated the existing situation – to the point where we are having to consider bankruptcy. Many of our contemporaries have already hit the wall – I don’t see how this is ‘Good’.

    And all this while I’m also being made redundant (for the second time in two years) from a public sector role (making this the end of the fifth role I’ve had in 5 years) – hardly a mechanism for improved productivity/return.

    But – fortunately I’m one of the lucky ones who can still get by without going to a food bank – and I take my hats off to the New Zealanders who struggle through every week and still get the scorn turned on them, and suffer the indignity of rejection from work and having to jump through hoops to sustain themselves and their families – you are heroes.

  30. I’ve just found an excellent piece by Gordon Campbell, entitled “Ten Myths About Welfare”. Well-written and well-researched. And well worth reading:

  31. Poor choices:
    spending our millions on limos for top Nats, giving our millions to the rugby gang for their amusement; spending so little on the salaries of nurses and doctors that hospitals are chronically understaffed and in the nation’s capital it is easier (and more cost-efficient)to die of cancer than get an oncologist.

    Charity begins at home, John Key. One of the biggest government departments is the Prime Minister’s Department? How many millions is that costing us all, and how many staff could it lose before anyone noticed? Any cuts in prospect there?

  32. What’s always amused/saddened me, was that the only time beneficiaries have been seriously bashed, was after this recession and the Stock Market Crash in `89! Both times, jobs were impossible to get- after `89, all those little notices in retail shop windows asking for staff, completely disappeared- and if the odd one popped up (you only saw one in a month or two)- it literally had gone by the next day!
    I knew people who were going for 20 or more job interviews a week, not getting it as they were competing with hoards of others on each job, until they finally got disheartened and gave up several months down the line.
    At this time, the government hassled them hard for being lazy dole bludgers, because they didn’t want to work! It was ironic, considering this was this was the first time that these people had experienced being out of work, and were struggling to survive on the dole- and hated having no money, or self-esteem, and wanted a job sooo badly!
    This time around, when this fact was pointed out to the National government about a year ago- they replied something like, `Well they should become more pro-active and create their own jobs!’. Just how they’re meant to do that is beyond me- not everyone is entrepreneurial, and the thought of running your own business doesn’t normally occur to the average wage earner. And setting up a business in a recession is tricky enough for experienced business people- let alone getting a loan to do anything serious when you’re on a benefit, and in a major recession, and have no experience running a business…
    The government is not just being unreasonable here, it’s just plain illogical!


  33. Dazza: “One of the biggest government departments is the Prime Minister’s Department?”
    Yes. I had heard that the PM’s Department has been increased hugely. Wonder what the stats are? Seem to remember National Opposition having a field day on Helen’s Office numbers.
    And I believe that the security systems border on paranoia?

  34. Pete,

    Did you, or do you know of, hundreds or even one retail/business that remonstrated by letter or through media with the government that it was unfair on workers being forced into accepting the 90day employment probation, with no comeback or reason why if sacked before then?

    The people of this country have been divided and conquered and while I acknowledge you are suffering too, I know that businesses were only too happy to follow Key because he told them that “we would love to see wages down” and set about that as soon as he got in, firstly attacking pay equity for women, sacking 158,000 people who now can’t afford to buy from business, and he has now succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in turning this country of hopeful, re-energised New Zealanders into a basketcase, ripe for the plucking.

    Many people weren’t kept on by businesses when a choice of more profit or keep staff was facing them. With business, the 90days legislation gives them an unfair advantage; at no time did I hear them complain.

    So now I say ‘good’, because maybe now they’ll see that this government is targeting groups they can pick off one by one to the detriment eventually of all.

    Meanwhile, you can contact the other businesses hurting in your area and contact government to stop their deliberate axeing of public jobs because those people can no longer afford to buy from your businesses.

    Another question; did you hear anyone complain about receiving bigger tax cuts than the poorer amongst us or did they just turn their backs and say thank goodness Key didn’t pick me – this time?

    This government has to go. It’s killing our spirit. Douglas did it in 80s; Richardson did it in 90s; we got it back in the new millenium, but are losing our spirit in this decade. Greed has taken over from fairness and we have only ourselves to blame.

  35. Is there no-one from the National Party out there ready to support our PM? Or am I on the wrong blog? Or is that there are none left?

  36. Jum,

    Firstly, I think that you’re looking at this all wrong. The divisions in current New Zealand society are not necessarily predicated on the division of labour. And you also need to consider what the impact of retailers closing down means for the numbers of unemployed, and on increases to the volume of ‘poor’ New Zealanders – as is the central point of Judy’s post.

    Personally, I affiliate myself with the political left – always have. This meant that I was always opposed to the 90 Day probation period (and its extension), and have personally written to the PM on this issue. I also use my personal time to discuss the impact on these policies with others – to ensure that they are not buying wholesale the spin and misinformation being sold through press statements (subsequently released verbatim in the media). I also feel that the parties that represent me as a person (not a business entity) did a stellar job – despite the majority backing in the House.

    In addition, the choice you portray between ‘more profit or keep staff’ is not even on our radar. For one, we have not opted into the 90 day probation period for any of our new employees (we have high turnover). Secondly, as I mentioned in my earlier post, it is not a choice between ‘more’ anything and retaining staff – profits are a pipe-dream for us, we are simply trying to stay in business – which has recently included rationing the bills we can and cannot pay.

    This is the reality for many SMEs.

    You must realise the the likes of the Business Roundtable and other so-called ‘business’ spokes-groups do not speak for us. Instead, we just try to serve our communities, keep our team employed and put food on our table.

    Regarding tax cuts – yeah, I personally heard plenty of people complain. While this may not have dented the popularity of the decision to make the tax cuts I think it’s better we let the cows come home on it. Remember, it’s been quite some time since the tax-cuts meme has been around, and those who aren’t as politically interested as the people reading this blog probably did think they geniunely deserved a break.

    The great lie here was the ‘revenue neutral’ call.

    Jum, I get where you’re coming from, but I think that, if anything, you’re dividing parts of society unnecessarily with comments like the one I picked up in your first post.

    Step back, and realise that we are not living in a completely proletariat/bourgeois dynamic. We can all help change the impact of government policy – if not the government itself – if we band together – as sympathetic businesses/employees/unemployed – or however else you’d like to break it down.

    Yes, we are dispirited, but there is still hope in November – we just need to approach it in a logical way without creating unnecessary additional divisions amongst those who share a desire for the same outcome.

  37. The biggest fallacy of the age is that we are all born equal, that we all have the same capacity to succeed.

    We look around us and see that this is not true and yet key people bang on, and armchair critics and government policy and attitude perpetuate the fiction.

    Such an intellectually lazy and convenient way to categorise and marginalise people.

    Complex contemporary society creates positive opportunity for some and unmanageable difficulties for others in varying degrees.

    Individuals, families, communities and even whole countries emerge and develop as best they can within widely varying environments and circumstances with widely varying abilities to deal with the challenges of their time and place.

    No one is immune to the possibility of problems and difficulties nor is anyone immune to the chance of managing well and success.

    Life choices do not always lead to where you might expect and anyway how do you predict certain outcomes.

    Some people, lives, communities become casualties of their circumstances and other flourish despite all – but there is no one measuring equation and no one formular.

    I do very much believe in people trying their best, pushing themselves forward, growing their communities and society but I am mindful of those who are simply not fit for the task for one reason or another.

    Let’s also look at policies, resources, the dynamics of our communities, the education system, and society that totally foster mediocrity.

    There is no one that I know of in government or in opposition that is true smart enough to think about this stuff or to vision a future that is any different.

    National in particular haven’t come up with a good forward thinking idea in its whole term to date – they will be remembered only as re-arrangers, dismantlers and old donkey whippers.

  38. Go back to the original comment Key made: ‘some people [on a benefit] make poor choices’.

    It’s true. And hardly a criticism of all who struggle on benefits. It does not question legitimacy, rather it suggests that individuals make choices whatever their circumstances. The theme just happens here to be beneficiaries.

    I read in the newspaper, a matter of days apart, of a once-rich property developer sentenced for tax evasion, and a beneficiary tripping round the world. These are individuals making decisions in specific circumstances, both of which have clear ramifications.

    To the point of those on a benefit, undoubtedly there are *some* (Key’s point) who make poor choices. Forget sensationalism around globe-trotting, banal choices abound every day for those on welfare. I know people on benefits who decide that tobacco, alcohol and gambling are legitimate uses of their provided income. In that context, they complain about what the government gives them and expect more. I know of one who seems able to buy drugs in the same breath in which he criticises the paltry amount of his benefit.

    Now, what’s the real issue? Many people make a fist of their lives yet struggle. Key wasn’t dissing anyone in that camp.

    There’s one helluva lot of energy in this thread. How about we spend it contemplating the real issues society must deal with and drop the diatribe?

    Isn’t it far too easy to bash a leader? If you’re sitting there criticising and waiting for something to come to you, you’ve missed the simple point of life that we have to stand up for ourselves, and make choices of strong will in order to get ahead, no matter where in the economic order we sit.

  39. Hey, here’s another thing. Why does this site vet comments and have to approve posting, rather than letting people speak their minds?

    I would have thought the latter was in the true spirit of a left political view. The practice here is alarmingly to the contrary.

    JC: This is not a political site, it is a media site.
    Comments are currently being moderated because we have been threatened with legal action by the Sunday Star Times. It is necessary to ensure that defamatory remarks don’t appear, since we are the publishers of the site.

    BE: You must be easily ‘alarmed’. What we’ve aimed at on this site is a reasonable level of debate. What side someone is on is of no consequence to us. In fact we enjoy a good scrap. We probably reply more often to comments than is the case on most other websites. We object to sustained personal attacks (though I’m occasionally guilty of a sharp response to someone who’s got up my nose), the gratuitous use of bad language, tediously repeated arguments, mindless rants and, as Judy points out, potentially defamatory comments. The extent of all of that in terms of what you call ‘vetting’. I don’t know, but if it were anywhere near 1% I’d be astonished. (We’ve banned 5 people since the site began and let a couple back.) As Judy says, when you run a blog site, you’re a publisher. And as publishers we are liable for anything that appears on our site. No responsible publisher can afford to have an ‘anything goes’ approach or, for that matter, to not care about the quality of what he/she publishes.

  40. How much does a block of cheese cost Mr Key? A block of butter? MILK?!

  41. Viva to you Judy, for this. Damnation to Key and his ilk. They have absolutely no grip on the reality that faces so many New Zealanders. We absolutely MUST get these people out of government!

  42. well said!! great article!

  43. This why I vote for Labour Mr Key. Thank god I am not on a benefit or in need of extra financial assistance by the government, But ten years ago when we had to be, to support a nine year old a fifteen year old, We lived hand to mouth and did what we could to survive, racking up debt to feed and clothe the family. We were 19. My ‘life choice’ wasn’t to have my mother die on me Mr Key, hope your $200,000 BMW is keeping your butt warm on the way to work.

  44. My husband is on the sickness and every 3 months he has to go to the doctor’s just so he can get a form filled out. now he is on 27 pain killers (that makes him want to sleep all the time) my husband wants to work but because the surgeon he has won’t do an op on his knee because he is to young he can’t work more than 15 hours. By the time he has worked the 15 hours a week we are worse off then we are now. I have started a full time course from home as we have 3 kids and one only goes to afternoon kindy so someone needs to be here to look after her in case her father falls alseep from the pain killers….now I can tell you we are on budget advice and yet there have been times we need help from a food bank….I dont like this part of my life where we live week to week…would so love to see how JOHN KEY would cope living like this..

  45. Well, New Zealanders voted Mr Key in – that WAS a poor choice ;-)

  46. Pete M – I completely agree with your initial comment.

    I know that there are many who continue to survive in difficult financial circumstances – people I know and love are amongst them – struggling to survive, let alone thrive. Kudos to you all!!

    However, the fact remains that there ARE still some who make poor budgeting choices. There are people I know and love in this catagory as well – Hire Purchasing plasma TVs and yet only able to afford to feed the kids toast for dinner.

    Mr Key used the words “some people”. I can only surmise that the brave people who have commented above are not included in this “some”. That being said, I will be watching Mr Key very closely before repeating my vote of last election.

    A very thought-provoking and intelligent blog Judy. Well done!

  47. Your choices have brought you to where you are, your choice of having a lack of education, your choice to have children, your choice of where to live etc – look around the world and tell me how disadvantaged you really are. While you think about that have a glass of clean drinking water out of your tap whilst looking at your computer screen.

    Having sympathy and providing moral support for those in need or at a disadvantage is incredibly important and helps make Kiwis who we are. But like John Key, lets get some backbone and call a spade a spade. Lets point out that it’s probably not the best idea to have a third child while struggling to feed the first two. If your living costs are to high then move to a different part of the country or city – start making the difficult and hard decisions that will advantage you to having a better life in the long run. Otherwise keep doing what you’re doing and see how that works out. Not well, I suspect.

  48. “…giving our millions to the rugby gang for their amusement; spending so little on the salaries of nurses and doctors…”

    Just been talking with a radiologist. She is shocked at how much she gets paid for her job. So shocked in fact she can now afford to buy a nice house in Mt Maunganui. Small salaries for nurses and doctors? Think again. Then again she has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is now and thoroughly deserves what she is getting.

    And the rugby gang you mention, we all had a wonderful time at the new eden park last night. Was awesome to see all the families of all race and creeds enjoying themselves. Maybe, just maybe… this small event we are having later in the year may have some econmic benefit for the rest of the gang as well? we’ll see eh.

  49. Of course Key hasn’t seen a repair bill lately. He wouldn’t be caught dead in a Mercedes that’s more than three years old!

  50. So pleased you had a “wonderful time” watching sports. However, what I object to is being forced to pay for your hobby when other sectors of society go begging for basic needs.

    Is there any requirement for the beneficiaries of my generosity to repay the sports subsidy to the state should the event go into profit? No? So it’s just a cash grab, then.

    And I wouldn’t base my opinion of medical salaries on a chat with one lucky radiographer. Bully for her. Look at the statistics instead. I am fresh from spending 8 days in Wellington Hospital, during which time almost all my nurses were from poor countries, including three from African nations. We are mining third world countries for our medical staff because NZ staff are off to better-paying countries to pay off their student loans. And many never come back.

    CCH cancer patients are still threatened with having to travel overseas for oncology treatment because specialist staff cannot be found. Our cancer stats are falling behind, and targets are failing to be met, eg, seeing patients or giving them treatment within a certain number of days. The National Government’s response has been to fudge the statistics and lower the standards. This is a disgrace. Have they no shame?

  51. Mr Keys, Charity begins at home, while I dont begrudge helping other countries in a time of need it leaves a foul taste in my mouth when as a country we are struggling. To hear Keys comment that poverty is a lifestyle choice makes me so mad, I have been made redundant 3 times within 16 months and havent once been entitled to any assistance from WINZ because apparently my husband earns to much. We struggle from week to week with basic living and despite applying for hundreds of jobs and only being selected for a few interviews I am still unempolyed but because we are not entitled to assistance I dont count on the unemployment statistics.I didnt vote for Mr Keys and I certainly dont trust him. We were much better off under a Labour government so come November VOTE LABOUR – GET RID OF KEYS BEFORE HE DRIVES NEW ZEALAND INTO THE GROUND!!!!!!

  52. Ummm … according to Mr Key, these beneficiaries should all be a lot wealthier because of his “trickle down” approach.

    So in theory, they shouldn’t need a benefit at all because the wealthy can afford to employ them.

    This puts me in mind of the incident several years ago when a high school student called Jim Bolger out when he claimed there were no people starving in New Zealand.

    Even if we accept the “poor choices” argument, people’s ability to make good choices is driven from their background and environment. So even if they do make poor choices, it is because they have not been given the opportunity to make good ones.

  53. And while we’re discussing the heartless jonkey, let’s remember the $1000 extra that he gave himself with the infamous tax cuts…the man is a philistine and has no soul.

  54. “I have considerable respect for women who struggle financially but are still determined to give their children the best possible upbringing.”

    There’s plenty of men out there who do this as well.

    JC: You’re quite right. And they’re equally deserving of respect.

  55. Is it not the system that does the ripping off? Quite clearly the dole is insufficient to satisfy much beyond subsistance living. If we accept that it ought to be everyone’s right to a decent standard of living, isn’t ‘ripping off the system’ morally defensible in some circumstances?

  56. Can’t have these big numbers on a benefit forever and a day. Why is it those Maoris and Islanders feel they have they have a right to breed like rabbits and expect the taxpayer to pick up the tab? That’s what’s so wrong with Social welfare, it encourages freeloading and laziness. It becomes a way of life for the least deserving.

  57. I know a person who left his reasonably well paying job to finish his post graduate qualification full time. Now he has that qualification and no job, and has accessed a food bank.. Was that a poor choice to go studying?

  58. Dazza… how do I respond… OK, how about this.
    In 2007 I suffered a serious injury that should have seen me out of work for 3-4 months. Instead I spent one night in hospital – was sent home the next day as the bed would be more comfortable (and omg it was!) and was back at work 2 weeks later.

    Why? Because I am self-employed and I learnt from my early twenties (after losing my parents) that I am relying soley on my ability to bring in income to keep me comfortable and fed!

    And being able to go to the rugby to enjoy the fruits of my labour of the past week. “Wonderful”.

    I guarantee you there was a reasonable percentage of the crowd on Saturday night that were on benefits. Good on them. Not me. John absolutely getting my vote – you want Goff/Peters leading you into the next period? Ha.

  59. Look, so many people complaining and looking for others to blame for their own situations. This is the same ALL over the world. Benefits aren’t there for people to live cushy lives, they are there to provide for “the Basics” and anyone who has been on a benefit knows that, like everything else, if you really need assistance for those hard times you can go spend a few appointments at WINZ and state your case and get extra assistance. Of course John Keys IS NOT talking about EVERYONE that is on a benefit, but there are a huge amount of people that get their Payments and blow it all on the first day with smokes and drinking and gambling to just name a couple of things. If you go to Australia you only get a similar amount if not a bit more and thats because they are a wealthier country and have 5 times more people living there, try USA, if you don’t like it in NZ try and live there on their social security system and you will soon be wishing for the day that you can return to a NZ benefit. Do you really want Labour in power with the other small parties? really, what does Goff have to bring to the table? be honest – he is not a leader and would get walked all over. For once National have a strong leader who is actually working for progression of this counrty, Doing the right things. You want Labour to come into power and give more money to Beneficiaries, more money back to the tax payer and then run the country broke?? AGAIN????? Get real people, I for one have never cared about politics but even i can see that we actually have a government who is doing a good job. I come from a family where my parents are still working in their 60’s because they can’t afford to do it any other way. I have been a beneficiary several times in my life, I dropped out of school with no qualifications and had a troubled times as a teenager where i chose drugs and drinking (lifestyle choice) over working and living properly. I am 30 now and have traveled to USA, All around Australia and around the south Pacific, got myself out of massive debt and fines, Been able to find work when i need and by my own have been able to build skills and a certain amount of learning over the years to be a great candidate for many jobs – All because i changed my attitude. So yes i would agree that many people make “bad lifestyle choices”. Get off his back, if you don’t like it then why don’t you run for his job?

  60. @ Gee

    “Of course John Keys [sic] IS NOT talking about EVERYONE that is on a benefit, but there are a huge amount of people that get their Payments and blow it all on the first day with smokes and drinking and gambling to just name a couple of things.”

    That’s right – and that’s the dog-whistle he was going for – tarring ALL with the brush of what some may do – it’s called ‘guilt by association’, and why many label beneficiaries as ‘bludgers’ without consideration for their circumstances.

    And, when it all comes down to it, the changes that end up being implemented will impact ALL beneficiaries – for this same reason (guilt by association).

    “For once National have a strong leader who is actually working for progression of this counrty, Doing the right things.”

    Name a couple of policies that have been enacted that you can connect up to verifiable good results (AKA ‘the right things’). If you find anything, ask yourself – who does this benefit really?

    “You want Labour to come into power and give more money to Beneficiaries, more money back to the tax payer and then run the country broke?? AGAIN?????”

    I don’t personally vote Labour, but please go back to the commentary around government debt when National came to power and talk to us about running the country broke. Think more along the lines of personal debt fuelled by freely available credit, sub-prime and predatory lending practices, the housing bubble, over-leveraging, rising commodity prices and a market established to trade items without any material value (see currency trading) – all with a sizable layer of ass-covering and back-handers (mostly overseas, but well enough represented in NZ).

    And I’m sorry, but the government’s ineffectual response to the GFC and its impact on the NZ economy (including unemployment and the deperation we are all talking about) has been worse than poor – has the ‘tax change’ “turbo-charged” the economy? Has the ‘talk-fest’ back in ’09 (?) created anything significant other than a paltry novelty cycleway (somewhere)? Where is the REAL leadership? Where is the REAL change – the ‘Better Future’ we were promised in 2008?

    Basically, you have to ask yourself – what if we DID take away social welfare in NZ? Would you be OK with the knock-on effects?

  61. Thank you for that Robyn.
    Would be good if the country could see just how heartless this government is, and the consequences for our future in not caring for those who are not able to themselves.

  62. It is my understanding that Key ‘made it’ gambling on the money market, futures… etc.

    If this is indeed true, his income and thus wealth are the garnered profits of those who made unwise lifestyle “investment” choices.

    He was not ‘self-made’… he exploited peoples poor decisions in the name of market efficiency.

    We elected him in reverence to his (and Nationals) economic vision. We got what we deserved.

    It is truly time for a rent revolt. Social Welfare should cease subsidising rent(s) and thus restore market normality. That has been the folly yet unmeasured for its consequence.

    No policy decision should be made without an impact statement. No impact statement for rent subsidy was ever done.

    Why should my taxes be stolen to indirectly pay (subsidise) an investor in rental property and thus inflate my children’s entry price into the home ownership market.

    This almost incalculable anomaly makes a big lie of the open/free market policy of both Labour and National.

  63. People keen on bashing beneficiaries are likely unable or unwilling to rememebr what happened to kids in hte good old days when excess sprogs were dumped into children’s “homes”. These homes were generally run by religious groups, some of whom, inlcuding the Salvation Army which ran the one I spent two teenage years in, enjoyed a nice double dip. Parents were charged a hefty fee to “board” the kid, while the kid was part of an unpaid forced labour force. Medial and dental treatment was near to non existent. Staff were top heavy with people who themselves were misfits needing a home. The hierachical nature of the Sallies (and other churches) meant staff members who were unhappy with the treatment of the kids were cowed by their “superiors.” Schoolteachers and police ignored pleas for help.
    Note, I haven’t even mentioned the paedophiles who managed to get jobs in these places.
    I must confess to an interest in beneficiary bashing, last year I joined the biggest group of all, national superannuitants.

  64. Petrol $2 a litre? The government should give their 3 year old ex-MP BMWs to solo parents? Ummmmm heard of a bus?

  65. John Key had a Mum who was receiving the DPB and he did benefit from this as a child and had his Mum home when he got home from school, also our social development minister Paula Bennett was receiving the DPB to raise her children I guess they have short memories. They suggest this is a lifestyle choice I don’t make the choice to be on a benefit but my circumstance is I have no choice.. I don’t waste my money I knw where every cent is allocated.

  66. John Key is obviously an adherant to Neoliberal capitalism which has 5 main points-

    1.THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes.


    3.DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.

    4.PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors.Making the public pay more for much needed services

    5.ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.