Friday, May 12, 2006

Half full, half empty

The Maori Party serves at least one useful purpose. Spats periodically break out between their MPs and the Maori Labour MPs. Today it is between Parekura Horomia who is trumpeting Maori unemployment hitting a record low at 8.6 percent and Pita Sharples, Maori Party co-leader who is aghast that the Minister for Maori Affairs should be pleased with coming last.

Just as with any other group of individuals Maori have different ideas about what it takes to succeed and what constitutes success. The Maori Party believe in a collective view but, ironically, will provide the proof it can't be forced on all of their people. And I was encouraged that a few thousand Maori have actually moved from the Maori roll to the General roll during the recent electoral campaign.

On the subject of unemployment and Maori individuals, a teenage boy lives in a beneficiary home where there is genuine sickness and inability for the mother to work. He's not at school fulltime but he is involved with one-to-one educational catch-up for part of his day and has a job at Burger King for the other part. Things are looking up for him....except WINZ are set to cut his family support because he is too old to be a dependent, wiping $80 off his mother's income despite his still being at home.

WINZ recommendation to his mother is he goes on the unemployment benefit. But he doesn't want to go on the benefit, she says. He's got a job. If he has to give her his small wage he'll have none left for himself. He's proud of making his own money, but if he does what WINZ recommends he will have some to give his mother and some for himself. But he can't do that and work, unless he lies about it. Notice too, if he takes the second option the taxpayer will be even further out of pocket. It's a mess. It's so damn typical.

That's big-state bureaucracy. Their massive welfare agency can't be flexible or assess a situation based on its distinct characteristics. They have to stick to rules which keep people dependent, dispirited and directionless. Damn them again.

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