And she is also blaming Maori for the fact that rates of child abuse and neglect among Maori are so high.
When asked on The Nation on Saturday morning why abuse rates among Maori are so high, Bennett said:
I would tell you that I think it's a combination of isolation. Most of those that are in that sort of situation, their parents have not been parented well themselves, they’ve been notified to Child Young and Family. There is I reckon a bit of isolation, a lack of hope, and a lack of good parenting.Those are all factors, but Bennett failed to acknowledge the main reason why Maori tend to lead the most undesirable statistics: incarceration, poor health etc.
It’s well known that poverty can be linked to just about every social ill there is: violence, crime, addiction, etc. Maori have always been at the bottom of the heap socio-economically, and they continue to languish at the bottom. So it figures they'll be hit the hardest.
But it’s easier for politicians like Bennett to blame a marginalised group. If she was forced to admit poverty was the biggest factor in the rates of abuse, she might have to then explain what her government has done to reduce levels of poverty.
When you consider the steps her government has taken, none of them have had or are likely to have any noticeably positive effect. Tax cuts mean nothing to those on welfare, and for those earning minimum wage any small tax cut will be largely gobbled up by GST rises. The government steadfastly refuses to move on the minimum wage, and continues to call for an end to welfare abuse. It’s all very well to talk about welfare dependency, but when there’s no work what exactly are beneficiaries supposed to do?
The modern age puritans believe work is the only measure of a person’s value in society. They believe that if more people are working and fewer are on welfare, many of society's ills will disappear. It’s a pipedream. Firstly, the work has to be meaningful and pay reasonably for it to make a difference financially. Any job also has to work in with family commitments, such as the needs of children. When parents are absent because they're working shifts, that can contribute to problems in the home.
Much is made of the need for sickness beneficiaries and solo mums to get back to work. Bennett talked about this on The Nation, and the Welfare Working Group report discusses the issue at length. But the part-time job options for many stay-home parents are often lousy. If you’re on the DPB and your kids are at school, just where are you going to find a part-time job that lets you work only between 9-3pm on weekdays, lets you take the school holidays off, and has ample leave allowances for the inevitable child illnesses?
If the government was serious about getting people into work, it would be putting more emphasis on adult education and funding childcare. Instead these areas have suffered significant cuts. So not only are there few jobs, but steps are being taken to make it more difficult for beneficiaries to return to the workforce.
We don’t have a welfare crisis in this country. A crisis is being manufactured, because it suits a government with no economic plan to have a distraction. So they attack and further marginalise those who will probably never vote for them anyway. Spiteful meanness seems to be a common theme in much of the political discourse on the right, so attacks on the poor play well with supporters of right-leaning governments.
I can forgive the Welfare Working Group for their naivety. How many of them have actually experienced poverty? Bennett, however, I cannot forgive. As a former DPB mum she ought to know exactly what it is like at the bottom. But like most apostates, she seems driven to destroy that which once sustained and nurtured her.