Here’s the thing. If you are well enough, if you are passionate enough, if you are committed enough to get out and to protest on a cold winter’s day, you are probably capable of getting a job.
Protesters from Auckland Action Against Poverty were out on the streets yesterday afternoon protesting against the social welfare reforms that came into effect yesterday. The reforms are sweeping, probably the biggest changes to welfare since the Social Security Act was passed by the first Labour Government in 1938. And it is time for a change. We all know that welfare payments in this country are out of control - what we are paying is unsustainable.
Talking to Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday morning, there was no sense of throwing beneficiaries onto the scrap heap. She talked about offering support and help to get them back into work. Frankly when your children are 14, why shouldn’t you be working?
It’s as if work is some sort of evil. But for the great many of us who participate, sure it is about income, but it’s about camaraderie, about being part of the community and making a contribution.
I am not anti-beneficiary. On the contrary, I am proud I live in a country where we look after our least advantaged. But when I hear comments like those from one of the Auckland protesters yesterday, I lose all sympathy.
This woman says she can’t work. She says in fact she might have to resort to prostitution if she loses her benefit because she can’t face people properly, that she gets too frightened and hides. Well if that is the truth, how is it she managed to say it to a complete stranger, to a journalist no less?
Photo: NZ Herald