NZ Herald political columnist, John Armstrong described reaction to John Key's speech as "ho hum". Nicely put. I would describe the speech as a big yawn. But more from Armstrong;
The other factor against using a welfare theme is that the number of beneficiaries has dropped substantially under Labour, especially those on the unemployment register. Welfare reform is not a "hot button" issue.
Fair enough. Forget there are still almost 300,000 working age beneficiaries - double the number we had 20 years ago.
So what is a "hot button" issue? Crime. And welfare and crime are inextricably linked. Key could have given a red hot speech if he had focused on that.
The underclass isn't everybody on a benefit. It's a group of people who refuse to live in society in a peaceable, co-operative and constructive way. Their thoughts are only for today and themselves. If they aren't already criminals of some kind they are on the fringes. And it isn't an "emerging" class of people. But, judging by what we read in the newspapers and what we see on TV, or what we experience firsthand as victims, it is growing. Bugger reported crime levels. Look at victims of crime surveys.
Then if you looked at WINZ records most of these people are there. They abuse welfare, they abuse or neglect their children, they abuse each other. But most of all, they abuse opportunity.
This country, with its passion for egalitarianism, has bent over backwards to give each and every person opportunity and many have simply hurled the opportunity back in the faces of well-meaning people.
All Key's speech said to me was more of the same. Compassion. At some point somebody is going to have to say, enough compassion now. It ain't working. Not for the underclass.
February 12 in history
1 hour ago