Is the sickness beneficiary real?

August 17th, 2012 at 1:08 pm by David Farrar

Whale has highlighted something interesting. This is what said in 2012:

Last year before the election, I was chatting to a guy in my electorate who had just got home from work. In the middle of the conversation, he stopped and pointed across the road to his neighbour.

He said: “see that guy over there, he’s on a sickness benefit, yet he’s up there painting the roof of his house. That’s not bloody fair. Do you guys support him?”

Yet in 2011 he said:

[T]here’s a number of people I meet in the streets and they’ll say, and we’ll talk about inequality of the tax system, and they’ll say “Yeah mate, but I’ll tell you what, that guy down the road he’s a sickness beneficiary and I saw him up there cleaning his roof the other day and you’ve got to go nail him.

Now it is fine to use an anecdote, but it is not fine to portray an anecdote as an actual specific conversation, with a specific date it happened.

Now maybe it is true that David Shearer meets so many people complaining about sickness beneficiaries to him that he both used it as an anecdote and had a further specific conversation in 2011. Both by coincidence about a sickness beneficiary working on his roof. One of them cleaning it, and one of them painting it.

It is possible, but unlikely.

So which journalists will be first to get an answer to the question “Is the 2011 conversation fictitious or real. Does the neighbour exist?” and “Was he painting or cleaning the rood?”

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42 Responses to “Is the sickness beneficiary real?”

  1. Whaleoil (766 comments) says:

    Which street was he canvassing?
    Which house?
    Which constituent?
    and Which neighbour is the bludger?

    Finally…When did this occur?

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  2. Whaleoil (766 comments) says:

    Is Rufus Paynter even real?

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  3. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    This could be great news for The Standard. Someone who’s able to post – can you please go and tell them. Then they might stop tearing each other to bits and go back to normal, ripping into others.

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  4. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    Or, we could be the bigger man. Politics is about anecdotes, it’s part of good public speaking. For something that identifies nobody by name, and is just an example, I reckon it’s fine. I know, fine line and all that, but people’s speeches will be boring if they have to be footnoted. I’m not up for the CBS style “make it up, cause it’s something that person might have said/done”, I’m less worried about oratorical devices to get a point across and to make something more real.

    Bottom line to me – if there were such a sickness beneficiary, would we agree with Shearer’s sentiment. Ultimately he’s only saying that someone told him this person was a beneficiary – he’s not claiming it’s true there is such a person. No harm done I reckon.

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  5. iMP (2,231 comments) says:

    Roofcleaner Neighbour was probably Stuff’s front page pinup girl Promise, who then cosmetically changed herself to look like Roofpainter Neighbour, both of whom look like Johnny Depp.

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  6. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Bottom line to me – if there were such a sickness beneficiary, would we agree with Shearer’s sentiment. Ultimately he’s only saying that someone told him this person was a beneficiary – he’s not claiming it’s true there is such a person. No harm done I reckon.

    No harm done? Have you had a look at what’s been happening at The Standard over the last week? It may be self harm bet there’s a-plenty.

    They don’t actually care if the story is true or not, the fact that Shearer would dare cast aspersions even on a mythical beneficiary is enough to send them into a frenzy of ripping other people’s hearts out.

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  7. Lloyd (125 comments) says:

    The bigger myth is the idea that David Shearer is the leader of the Labour party. Pffffft…

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  8. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,790 comments) says:

    Naaaaaah, nothing wrong. Really! (sarc)

    It’s straight out of the socialists’ handbook. Just like Harry Reid and Mitt Romney’s taxes.

    If you haven’t got it, just make it up! Real people call it bullshitting, PaulL.

    You wouldn’t hire these guys to run the toilet block at a sewerage farm. Would you?

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  9. Nookin (3,033 comments) says:

    “You wouldn’t hire these guys to run the toilet block at a sewerage farm. Would you?”
    Yep. But not in many other jobs.

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  10. peteremcc (341 comments) says:

    Whale says 2008 but I’m assuming DPF is right as Shearer wasn’t even around then.

    Also, not getting stories/anecdotes 100% correct when you tell them often doesn’t really seem like a big deal.

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  11. peteremcc (341 comments) says:

    Having said that, if it was John Banks, the left would be calling for him unfit to be a minister because he forgot.

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  12. simonway (371 comments) says:

    This is what David Shearer said in 2012:

    Last year before the election

    So… in 2011. Apart from the painting/cleaning thing (which is a minor detail, and easy to forget), I don’t see the inconsistency.

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  13. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    Pete George: no harm done in the discussion about whether it’s a real anecdote or a “collage” anecdote. The infighting on the Standard is over the concept, not about the words. They just don’t agree that it would be a problem if there were a sickness beneficiary painting his own roof, because:
    – even pointing that out is evil and right wing
    – why shouldn’t he paint his roof, it’s nobody’s business
    – he might have some disability that stops him from working, but doesn’t stop him painting his roof

    They’re taking it all too literally. Shearer gave a clear indication that the Labour party wants a safety net for those who need it, and a tough line on those who abuse it. That’s a very mainstream set of values that is electable. Some on the Labour left want a safety net for those who don’t want to work, because it’s a right for everyone in NZ to have the same living standard, and there’s no obligations that go with that. It’s a fundamental principle that needs to be straight, and it sounds to me like the Labour party haven’t worked out their view on that principle.

    Shearer needs to be right if they’re ever going to get elected again. But some of the crazies to the left can’t stomach it. To be fair, some of the crazies on here (especially those whose tag combines a colour and an action) think that what National is doing is irresponsible, notwithstanding that it’s what got them elected. There are always those who would rather keep purity on the sidelines rather than compromise in govt.

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  14. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > not getting stories/anecdotes 100% correct when you tell them often doesn’t really seem like a big deal.

    Especially in comparison to a Minister who brazenly breaches the Privacy Act and then gives the Privacy Commissioner a one fingered salute for daring to reprimand said Minister.

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  15. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    ross69 – Well said. When will Mr Key stand up and sack Bennett.

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  16. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    ross69: I believe that she wasn’t found to have brazenly breached the privacy act. And I think that you mischaracterise her actions when you ask stupid questions like:

    Can Paula Bennett confirm that she will release the private details of beneficiaries who come out in support of the Bill?

    Paula Bennett was quite clear that she disagrees with people who make political statements in the public media based on misleading information about their personal situation. Once they’ve said “I’m hard done by because I only get $xxx per week” it is legitimate to respond with “actually, that isn’t true. Someone in that particular individual’s situation is entitled to, and gets, $yyy per week.”

    Do you disagree with that as a principle? Do you think it’s actually OK to publicly completely misrepresent the support you’re receiving from the government as part of a political campaign, and that the government should not be able to respond?

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  17. La Grand Fromage (145 comments) says:

    I would ease up on Shearer a bit.

    He is the best chance we have for a National lead government in 2014

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  18. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Paul @ 1.51 pm – I agree with everything you say except perhaps to rephrase your last sentence:

    There are always those who would rather keep impurity on the sidelines rather than compromise in govt.

    They think their ideals are pure but they’re severely tainted.

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  19. david c (254 comments) says:

    Wow….these are the real issues.

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  20. Agent BS (10 comments) says:

    How about the converse flip side of the coin? Theres a guy who’s capable of working yet sits on the benefit drinking and getting his missus pregnant. How does Labour position itself in regards to accepting his vote?
    There are many reasons why someone may be on a sickness benefit…but only a couple why you would be on an unemployment benefit…

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  21. Jinky (169 comments) says:

    As Simonway @1:47 has pointed out this is just Shearer repeating the same anecdote.

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  22. BlairM (2,286 comments) says:

    So David Shearer starts to move to the centre by building a political consensus on welfare fairness, and the reaction of the Right is to question whether his anecdote is real?!!!!!!

    You. Fucking. Idiots.

    STFU and support this man bringing the Labour Party into the real world. Do you want a sensible Prime Minister Shearer, or a batshit crazy Prime Minister Robertson/Cunliffe/whoever in New Zealand’s future.

    Stop being morons, stop focusing on the petty minutae, start focusing on the big debate of where New Zealand should be heading. This is why we lose and they win.

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  23. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > When will Mr Key stand up and sack Bennett

    Come on, he is attending to his priorities…watching his son play baseball.

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  24. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Paula Bennett was quite clear that she disagrees with people who make political statements…

    Bennett dislikes any criticism of her. Tough luck. The Privacy Act is clear on what Ministers can and can’t do. They can’t disclose private information in a fit of pique. Christ, even Lockwood Smith thinks she behaves worse than a 3 year old…why would anyone want to defend the silly tart?

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/113427/bennett's-behaviour-worse-than-3-year-old-speaker

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  25. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    ross
    You are obsessing again about John Key. It’s just not healthy for a grown man.

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  26. calendar girl (1,172 comments) says:

    This post and Whale’s are something of a beat-up. Simonway and Jinky have pointed to the possibility – quite rightly in my view – of Mr Shearer having been mildly confused as to whether the subject of the anecdote was “cleaning” or “painting” the roof in question. That’s a minor inconsistency in the story that alters its underlying message not one jot, unless we demand that our politicians be word-perfect in every detail they ever utter.

    It’s time to leave this little saga to the agitated contributors to the Stardard where it belongs.

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  27. Fox (201 comments) says:

    This is a complete non-event. All Whale and DPF risk doing by trying to make a big deal out of this, is making themselves look like a couple of donkey’s asses.

    As someone before me already has pointed out, it is entirely possible, and infact most likely, that Shearer in both anecdotes is actually referring to the same conversation, about the same sickness beneficiary.

    Furthermore, I’m no expert painter, but I thought before you paint something, the general idea is to clean it first (?), in which case you can’t even accuse Shearer of the minor fumble of getting painting and cleaning mixed up, as the beneficiary in question may well have been doing both.

    This kind of beatup over nothing is entirely to be expected from Whale, given his general ‘hit-and-miss’ style of blogging.
    However, I really thought DPF vetted his stories better than this.

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  28. Zapper (925 comments) says:

    Ross69 at it again. I repeat my comment from here:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2012/08/300m_saved.html#comment-1007220

    One day in the distant future, ross69 will not attempt to hijack a thread. Anything bad about Labour = “but but but National did X, Y and Z which is just as bad!”

    Anything good about National = “but once upon a time, National did something that didn’t work! Sure it is nothing to do with this government but I desperately need to change the topic!”

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  29. Cunningham (811 comments) says:

    ross69 (731) Says:

    ‘Come on, he is attending to his priorities…watching his son play baseball.’

    I can’t think of any other way to say this – Ross you are one sad pathetic wanker.

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  30. Zapper (925 comments) says:

    Sounds like the perfect way to say it Cunningham.

    John Key seriously being criticised for making his family a priority???

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  31. Cactus Kate (545 comments) says:

    I couldnt care less if Shearer makes up a story to bash beneficiaries.

    But the lefties in Labour do because it cuts to the core of what they hate about the right. That Shearer is making it up is terminal for him. Not with us, but the faction(s) in Labour who believe they should be paying much more to “the guy on the roof” as a beneficiary.

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  32. Jinky (169 comments) says:

    Ross is doing what DPF; Whale and others do. Divert attention from the negative stories. No big surprise is it?

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  33. Zapper (925 comments) says:

    I’ve never known a negative story about National that DPF hasn’t posted on. Maybe you could give an example?

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  34. Keeping Stock (10,092 comments) says:

    @ ross69 and Hamnida – here’s a wee question for you:

    Q: Who prepared Natasha Fuller’s complaint to the Privacy Commission?
    A: Charles Chauvel (Labour, List)

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10642684

    Even shills like you should be able to see that this is a beat-up, and it’s not about Natasha Fuller at all; it’s a political attack on Paula Bennett.

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  35. Peter (1,577 comments) says:

    I often clean my rood

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  36. Reid (15,917 comments) says:

    What’s interesting is that Shearer got in ahead of Cunliffe precisely because his supporters – including Hulun – thought he wouldn’t be doing shit like this.

    And now he is.

    And where does this leave all the Liarbore people who weally weally care about all those beneficiaries? Isn’t there any Liarbore leader who actually gives a shit?

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

    Seriously they really do need help don’t they.

    All this self-harming really demonstrates to the country they’re just not fit to govern.

    Time for Wussel and Metewia to step up to the plate and bleed off a few more percent into the land of the truly insane and bewildered.

    One can’t imagine why they’re all being so very mental about the whole thing. I mean if anyone should be making inroads in this time of global calamity, it’s them. Perhaps they just don’t know what’s going through the mind of the nation.

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  37. swan (659 comments) says:

    Complete non issue. Does anyone really believe David Shearer literally cast his eyes across the street to see some guy painting his roof, that his constituent was complaining about? No wonder young earthers still exist if people believe that.

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  38. MH (624 comments) says:

    Surely to find the ID of the beneficiary on the roof is Paula’s responsibility. She has no right to sit on the fence. There can’t be that many sickness beneficiaries in Helensgrad with 2 year old painted roofs. Street Google it.

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  39. Reid (15,917 comments) says:

    Complete non issue. Does anyone really believe David Shearer literally cast his eyes across the street to see some guy painting his roof, that his constituent was complaining about? No wonder young earthers still exist if people believe that.

    Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt.

    swan, if you are the Leader of the Opposition talking to the media, you don’t simply make up any old thing off the top of your head as if you were having a passing conversation with your mate on the way to the dairy on a Saturday morning.

    No wonder young earthers still exist if people believe that.

    Exactly, swan.

    Surely to find the ID of the beneficiary on the roof is Paula’s responsibility. She has no right to sit on the fence. There can’t be that many sickness beneficiaries in Helensgrad with 2 year old painted roofs. Street Google it.

    See this is where Liarbore is mental and National is heroic, MH for the correct answer is: buy a Predator drone, send it up to loiter, do some face recognition matching with the social welfare database, if it’s a beneficiary working on their roof then wham, instant whatever it is the Minister decides to dish out, from death to anything down to nothing at all except filed away on record.

    And isn’t that just much more sensible than your stupid, impractical and expensive Street Google idea?

    I mean, honestly, what the heck is wrong with that? Who could possibly object.

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  40. MH (624 comments) says:

    Politicians get painted into corners all the time,it was a by election after all.Thank goodness it wasn’t a state house.

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  41. MH (624 comments) says:

    I disagree Swan,I bet Taito Fields would have crossed the floor,sorry street to get his card.

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  42. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > it’s a political attack on Paula Bennett.

    Haha thanks for the laugh.

    I didn’t realise Lockwood Smith was part of the Opposition.

    Bennett is not fit to be an MP let alone a Minister. When she isn’t behaving worse than a 3 year old, she is brazenly breaching the Privacy Act. Then she talks about the problem of beneficiares on drugs, all the while having not received any advice on the issue. Then she talks about savings that could be made by drug testing beneficiaries, conveniently ignoring that it could cost $14 million. What is clear is that she hates herself and hates beneficiaries.

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