Green co-leader Metiria Turei has admitted she is a fraudster:
. . I was one of those women, who you hear people complain about on talkback radio.
Because despite all the help I was getting, I could not afford to live, study and keep my baby well without keeping a secret from WINZ.
Like many families who rely on a benefit, Piu and I moved around a lot when she was little.
We lived in five different flats with various people.
In three of those flats, I had extra flatmates, who paid rent, but I didn’t tell WINZ. I didn’t dare.
I knew that if I told the truth about how many people were living in the house my benefit would be cut.
And I knew that my baby and I could not get by on what was left.
This is what being on the benefit did to me – it made me poor and it made me lie.
It was a stressful, terrifying experience. . .
Turei isn’t the first MP to admit to benefit fraud, but this one paid it back:
Parliament is a house of representatives.
I doubt there is any MP who has not done something wrong, just as I doubt any of us who aren’t MPs could put our hands on our hearts and say we’ve never done anything wrong.
Doing wrong is one thing, not knowing right from wrong is quite another.
Turei has compounded the wrong of benefit fraud with no attempt to put it right and with the attempted justification: it made me poor and it made me lie.
What does it say about the morals of the woman who wants to be a Minister?
What does it say to people, especially those on low incomes, who work hard and pay taxes to support people in genuine need?
What does that say to all the people on benefits, all of whom are poor, many of whom don’t have the support Turei had from her baby’s father, her own family and his, and most of whom manage without lying?
It’s a similar message to the one in the policy she announced of removing the penalties and obligations on beneficiaries including the requirement for drug testing and sanctions for not actively seeking work.
Most beneficiaries want to get off benefits, many need help to do so which might include a carrot and a few need a stick.
Without sanctions, fathers of children whose mothers are on benefits will have to pay nothing, people who don’t try to get work-ready and actively seek work will be left to languish on benefits and everyone else will pay directly through taxes and indirectly through the social problems including poor health, low education achievement and higher crime that benefit dependency promotes.
Quote of the day on this goes to Act MP David Seymour:
Green Party policy: If you stay at home and smoke drugs all day you get a pay rise. If you get up and go to work you get a tax hike.
Benefits should help those in genuine need.
Some beneficiaries will need permanent help but for most taxpayer help should be a temporary bridge to help them from dependence to independence.