I was rung by NewstalkZB at short notice yesterday to talk about welfare; the links to child abuse, Australia's plans to quarantine welfare payments and whether we could expect more from National.
Although I was reported in the following news bulletin as saying controlling what benefit payments could be spent on was a good idea, here is what I actually said;
I can understand why superficially it looks like a good idea but there are two problems I see
1/ Any sort of card or voucher system is open to abuse or fraud. Someone who wants cash badly enough could sell their entitlement for less than it is actually worth , which could leave the children in a worse situation. Or parents could turn to other dodgy means of raising cash like prostitution, or drug pushing.
2/ What we really need is for people to grow up. This paternalistic approach is only going to keep them immature and dependent.
On the upside women without cash do not have the appeal to deadbeats and hangers-on they currently attract and in some cases having no cash may be enough to make them decide to get a job.
What we really need to be saying to prospective newcomers , those young women who are currently contemplating or risking pregnancy, is, don't even think about it. Welfare is no longer an alternative lifestyle.
I should have added that the only support I would give the scheme is as a temporary measure seeing existing children through to independence.
Asked if I thought we could expect more from National I said no. Why? Because their only welfare policy is to work-test the DPB when the youngest child turns 6. The major problem with that policy is a failure to cap the number of children. Meantime, while the biggest percentage increase in births is among the 15-19 year-olds, there are no plans to prevent newcomers into the system. We should be making it very clear that welfare is no longer a lifestyle and that benefits should be time limited, perhaps to even less than the US allowance.
(On reflection I think Tariana Turia would go with a benefit control scheme as long as it was administered by a Maori organisation. Which opens another can of worms...)
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