Andrew Dickens: Labour isn't as left as the Greens expected

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 May 2020, 4:24PM
Photo / NZ Herald

Andrew Dickens: Labour isn't as left as the Greens expected

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 May 2020, 4:24PM

So there is a big old battle happening on the left after the Government unveiled the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment.

A new programme for those who lost their job because of the contagion. Full timers could get 490 a week and part timers 250 a week.  This is twice what the Jobseeker’s benefit is on an individual basis. It’s also not dependent on age bunlike the Jobseekers where the younger you are the less you get.  Another difference is that your partner can earn up to $2000 a week before it affects your claim.

The COVID-19 Income Relief Payment is costed at $570 million, but the actual cost is $1.2 billion as the so called  ‘saved Jobseeker benefits’ of $670m have been subtracted.

The left and particularly the Greens are pretty livid about it. Not about the benefit itself but because they argue all beneficiaries should receive more support.

Why are the Covid victims any better than any other victim of financial downturn? If the Covid unemployed can get paid nearly 500 bucks, why shouldn’t others already on the benefit. 

Sue Bradford in an opinion piece says it shows that the Government belies there are deserving and undeserving poor.

On social media one beneficiary told his story.

He’s single, 62 and can't work for medical reasons. He’s barely keeping his head above water.  He’s hanging on for the pension in 3 years.  He’s been made redundant twice in the last 30 years and after the 6 week standown ended out on a benefit for an extended time.

He has no issues with the Govt helping out people who have been made redundant but he’s upset that they are getting twice as much as the standard benefit for 12 weeks. He’d quite like to get the same amount for 12 weeks. It would give him some discretionary money to buy new clothes and shoes and get some work done on his teeth.  You can have sympathy.

However he highlights the problem that the Greens and Sue Bradford have when they criticise the Government and ask for the Covid income relief benefit rates for all.

The Covid package is for 12 weeks and 12 weeks only. It’s a true safety net for those who have lost their job, who want to get a new job as soon as possible and who need to refashion their life to meet their new circumstances. But after 12 weeks it’s over.

I doubt very much whether long term beneficiaries or Sue Bradford and the Greens would be prepared for beneficiaries to take the big money knowing that in 3 months she’s all over.   I would actually be quite keen to see some of those beneficiaries given the chance.  In fact I almost dare them.  Nothing like a deadline to concentrate the mind. And long term you’ll even save the nation precious money.

But interestingly it’s also evidence that Labour are not quite the good little socialists the Greens and the real lefty’s wish for.