Paula Bennett profile

May 25th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff has a profile of Paula Bennett. Extracts:

Her conference speech had just outlined the Children’s Action Plan – a piece of work that Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills calls the greatest focus on child abuse since 1989, and the piece de resistance of Bennett’s tenure so far as the country’s welfare kingpin. …

Next stop is Work and Income’s Manukau office. The 10 people waiting in stacker chairs by the door show no interest as Bennett breezes past. They clearly have no idea who she is. Or maybe they just have more pressing worries.

She parks up behind the reception desk and greets a woman with a baby with a cheerful “good morning”. She’s undeniably good with people. She seems genuinely interested and there’s no supercilious talking down. And why would there be? She has been that young mum with a stroller asking about her benefit.

Raised with two brothers in a roundly middle class family, Bennett is no longer sure whether getting pregnant at 17 was a conscious choice – a continuation of the smoking, drinking, truanting, protesting rebellion that marked her teenage years. “I don’t know if I got in with the wrong crowd – that seems so cliched really. Some would argue I led the wrong crowd, given half a chance,” she says with a trademark cackle.

But she does remember what shook her out of a “lonely, scary, frustrating” life of welfare dependency in which a future was hard to see. It was the school holidays and she was looking after daughter Ana and a friend’s children. Her two-bedroom unit was “an absolute disaster zone”.

“Someone knocked at the door. It was someone I had known from school who had been away and come back and I just remember standing there in my pyjamas with this house that was an absolute bombsite and imagining how I looked through their eyes. I just went ‘This is it. This is actually my reality unless I do something about it.’ I do remember that being quite a moment of reflection and change.”

An interesting profile.

15 Responses to “Paula Bennett profile”

  1. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    Solo mothers are not heroes, and we should stop seeing them as such.

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  2. Keeping Stock (12,357 comments) says:

    Perhaps so Redbaiter; some have no ambition beyond receiving a hand-out each fortnight. But solo mothers who have the motivation to get off their backsides, get educated and have careers should be applauded.

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  3. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    Bennett gets my vote as the best welfare minister ever, given that she has introduced the expectation of work for the DPB and sickness benefits, and is also clamping down on benefits for under-20s.

    It’s interesting to think of how Crusher Collins would have gone with the welfare portfolio. She may have been even better than Bennett.

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  4. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    Ann Coulter-

    “Our prisons are overflowing with the results of the Democrats’ experiment of subsidizing illegitimacy. Children raised by a single mothers commit 72 percent of juvenile murders, 60 percent of rapes, have 70 percent of teenaged births, commit 70 percent of suicides and are 70 percent of high school dropouts.

    Controlling for socioeconomic status, race and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is being raised by a single parent. (The second strongest predictor is having a tattoo.)

    A 1990 study by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that after controlling for single motherhood, the difference in black and white crime disappeared.

    Human beings in God’s image are being born into ruined lives at rates that boggle the mind. Illegitimate children are never given a chance, their lives destroyed by this social pathology. “

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  5. wat dabney (4,135 comments) says:

    Ban tattoos!

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  6. wf (758 comments) says:

    wat dabney (2,704) Says:
    May 25th, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Ban tattoos!


    Wonder if our stats would show the same results though?

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  7. somewhatthoughtful (494 comments) says:

    Nice of her to make a transition, paid for by the state, such as the one she has been through all the more difficult for people who are in her former situation now.

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  8. Nookin (4,568 comments) says:


    Nice of you to overlook the distinction between someone who makes a wrong choice and sets out to overcome it and someone who makes the wrong choice and sets out to make a career move of it.

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  9. Doctor Who (61 comments) says:

    wat dabney (2,704) Says: May 25th, 2013 at 10:26 am. Ban tattoos!

    ban wetday(s)

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  10. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock-

    You are always so full of typical National Party platitudinous crap. Sure, anyone who strives to improve their situation is worthy of support and encouragement but the fact you so glibly skip over is that we should not have solo mothers in the first place. Can’t you damn well get that? The sad truth is that if you really want to totally white ant our societies, then you could hardly choose a better way than producing thousands of illegitimate children. That should be your primary concern. Not that after the horse has bolted it should be encouraged to run down the road as best it can.

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  11. kowtow (13,192 comments) says:

    Red raises an interesting (as always) issue around Illegitimacy.

    Our race to remove all stigma and shame and create a utopian society based on absolute equality has led to some very undesirable consequences.

    No matter ,the now all powerful state will step in to ensure that taxpayers bear the cost of a morally bankrupt and disintegrating society.

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  12. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Nice for Paula Bennett, who had the state pay the costs of her education, and never having to worry about paying a cent of it back. Not like the thousands of students, who weren’t silly enough to get themselves ‘knocked-up’ and end up paying back huge student loans – for trying to do it the right way.

    Solo mothers, like everyone else, should have to pay back the cost of their education once they are on a decent wage. No problem with them getting support for day to day living, but the education sets them up for life – and that should not be at our expense.

    Would be nice of Ms Bennett, now that she is receiving a very nice income, to lead by example and pay back what we gave for her education.

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  13. David Garrett (10,969 comments) says:

    What was the welfare state like in Jamaica?

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  14. hamnidaV2 (247 comments) says:

    Kiwiblog themes: Beneficiary bashing; David Garrett columns on law and order; Maori bashing; and lowering wages to close the income gap with Australia.

    Tory views haven’t changed in over a Century.

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  15. mandk (2,000 comments) says:


    You are obviously so consumed by anger and or envy that you cannot see that it does no one, absolutely no one, any good to leave them dependent on benefits. It’s just plain cruel not to encourage people off benefits.

    The problem with you socialists is that you rely on large numbers of beneficiaries to be vote fodder. Yet you pretend that conservative are uncaring. Your hypocrisy is nauseating.

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