This really is silly season. Usually about once a year all the political parties start clamouring about welfare. It's been Orewa in the past, or some mad scheme of Maharey's, or an idea of John Tamihere. Whatever.
This time it is the Maori Party call for compulsory work-for-the -dole and Key's looming speech about the "underclass" that have talkback lines buzzing and the media in a flap. A lot of it is seat of the pants stuff. Policy on the hoof.
While I appreciate that The Maori Party are at least making some of the right noises, they haven't thought things out.
Why work-for-the-dole when employers are crying out for labour?
Why not work-and-no-dole?
Why did the Maori Party vote against the 3 month probationary employment period if they want their unemployed working?
Why, when only 17 percent of Maori beneficiaries are on the dole are they ignoring the other 83 percent?
Having made the dole much harder to get, without tightening or abolishing other benefits have they considered the migration to those?
Why do they think the state should allow children to grow up in workless DPB homes and then take on the added task of trying to teach these kids a work ethic at 17 or 18?
Why do they think their teenagers will respond any better to second chance education when they blew the first?
Why is Tariana now calling for benefits to be raised to the level of the minimum wage when that will lead to other allowances being abated?
Why is Pita Sharples saying sole parenting is accepted as part of their culture when young male Maori are searching out male role models like heat-seeking missiles?
Doesn't Sharples realise that gangs are surrogate families for fatherless kids?
The Maori Party are going to have to be much more radical than simply calling for work-for-the-dole. Somehow I suspect that Sharples knows this but Turia won't budge on the DPB. She supports teenage childbearing. When past suggestions have been made that it is problematic, and only encouraged by welfare, she has made it quite clear she will not have Maori fertility controlled by non-Maori. That is a sad and short-sighted attitude.
(It has been reported that The Maori Party is reconsidering their policy of split-voting in order to make them a more viable coalition party. Sharples however says he likes the option of being able to split their vote when they can't agree. A pointer to the division that exists.)