The Soap Box: What did Metiria Turei expect?

Author
Barry Soper ,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 27 July 2017, 5:34AM
She's now calling for an amnesty for those who are illegally dipping their hand into the taxpayer's pocket. (Photo \ Getty Images)
She's now calling for an amnesty for those who are illegally dipping their hand into the taxpayer's pocket. (Photo \ Getty Images)

The twitterati has become apoplectic, fuming at the audacity of anyone posing a provocative question to the patron saint of the poor Metiria Turei.

Why would be want to know whether the father of the child Turei gave birth to in any way contributed to her upbringing? It's pertinent because if you've admitted to ripping off the taxpayer funded welfare system, as the Green co-leader has, then sources of income at a time she was claiming the benefit should be known.

The question though got short shrift from the MP who refused to speak about personal relationships, adding that she doesn't believe women should be interrogated about those relationships. It was a curious response, given that anyone claiming any benefit should declare their financial status before it's paid to them.

In fact she took the argument further, telling journalists they were being unfair, asking the kind of interrogative questions that beneficiaries are subjected to all the time. The same sort of interrogation isn't applied to people getting working for families, she contends, nor is it applied to pensioners. Well the latter's universal, your are paid it regardless of your financial standing and the former is always paid depending on the financial status of the recipient and the number of kids in the household.

It's a pity Ms Turei wasn't interrogated a little more closely when she was defrauding the system. That interrogation will finally come next week when she meets a fraud investigator from the Social Development Ministry, more than 20 years too late.

When she admitted to fraud she must have known the blowtorch was about to be applied, given that she spent the best part of six years on the old domestic purposes benefit.

She's now calling for an amnesty for those who are illegally dipping their hand into the taxpayer's pocket which is a bit lame considering there was one in place when she was doing the same thing and she didn't take advantage of it - so much for feeling guilty.

This campaign is carefully orchestrated though by The Greens to draw attention to poverty and the lengths some people will go to to put food on the table - and that's laudable.

The debate is a valuable one and should have us all thinking about what it's like living hand to mouth.

But on reflection Metiria Turei must be wondering what her admission could do to her career considering up to a thousand welfare fraudsters are prosecuted every year, and if she's one of them, her time as an MP could well be over.

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