A difference between gossip and a leak

June 16th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The TVNZ journalist Paula Bennett’s press secretary leaked to was Rebecca Wright – a journalist with whom the Social Housing Minister has crossed swords in the past, including taking an unsuccessful complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The minister’s press secretary told Ms Wright about a police investigation into the handling of a case by Te Puea Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis, after Mr Dennis informed the minister about the matter in a private meeting last week.

The police investigation is not a criminal investigation into Mr Dennis personally, who could not be immediately reached for comment today.

Opposition MPs have claimed that the press secretary, Lucy Bennett, must have passed on the information with the minister’s permission. Paula Bennett has denied this, saying the first she knew about the leak was when a Radio NZ reporter asked her about it on Tuesday.

She has described the leak as inappropriate and has apologised to Mr Dennis, who is on leave from his role as police inspector and iwi liaison officer while the investigation is underway.

RNZ was the first to ask the minister about the leak. It is not known how RNZ found out about it.

Ms Wright has not responded to requests for comment. Lucy Bennett, who is not related to the minister, declined to comment or confirm Ms Wright was the journalist she spoke to.

My understanding is that what happened was gossip, not a deliberate leak. Press secretaries and reporters exchange gossip all the time. In this particular case, many in the media were already aware of the investigation into Mr Dennis, and an assumption was made Rebecca Wright already knew.

It was an error of judgement on Lucy Bennett’s part, but not any sort of deliberate act.

For those convinced it was some sort of deliberate strategy signed off by the Minister, well if so the last person they would choose to deliberately leak to is Rebecca Wright! As in even if every other journalist in NZ had Ebola, Paula would still not choose to deal with Rebecca Wright, let alone leak to her.

If TVNZ and Radio NZ had revealed immediately that the journalist talked to was Rebecca, then I doubt any one else in the media would have taken seriously the accusation that this was a deliberate leak. The ill will between the Minister and Rebecca is well known. You wonder if it was a deliberate decision not to reveal this, so the story would be more potent.

John Lehmann

March 26th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The man who trolled Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett over her charge against the sexist slogans says he’s had threats made against his daughter since he posted his comments.

John Lehmann wrote on Ms Bennett’s Facebook page yesterday that a “bit of sexual violence never hurt anyone … LOL”, sparking outrage from anti-violence campaigners.

He has had a barrage of angry messages from strangers, some more extreme than others.

“I had one that sent me a photo of my daughter and said ‘let’s try some abuse on her’.

“Those are the nutters bringing your kids into it,” he told the Herald.

Mr Lehmann, an Auckland resident, said his comments were “taken out of context” and admitted it was tasteless and he didn’t in “any way advocate violence”.

“It was a joke, just a wind up,” he said.

He said he wrote “LOL”, – laugh out loud – to show it was a joke.

However he said the actions of Ms Bennett singling out his comment on her Facebook page was “quite malicious”.

“She set the population against me and is trying to get political mileage,” he said.

What a doofus.

Anyone who writes on someone’s page “A bit of sexual violence never hurt anyone” is incredibly stupid or moronic, regardless of the LOL.

To do it on the page of a female Cabinet Minister is even more stupid.

All Paula did was highlight the comment. She didn’t even link to his profile. And you know what Lehmann did? He proudly commented on that thread, gloating there, thinking he was invincible.

And then the media picked it up, and he’s now whining over the attention.

While he received negative messages, he’s had many say the actions of the associate tourism minister were “tacky”.

“A vast number of people were horrified a member of public was used as a target.”

A vast number means him. And he made himself the target. Paula did not.

Phillip Reweti Bear

March 22nd, 2016 at 2:35 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

Paula Bennett has been attacked on social media and the other day she highlighted one instance which the media have jumped all over.

Fair enough. But this case is so much worse than what John Lehmann ever said.

Meet Phillip Reweti Bear. He’s a protestor, meat worker, and thinks that “scabs” should die.

He also has a message for Paula Bennett.

And what has he said on Facebook:


And if that is not bad enough:


And this is not some nobody. He’s a union activist who seems very cosy with Labour.


The photo above is from Facebook. Whale has others of him posing with Labour MPs.

I hope all my principled friends in Labour condemn him for his statements.

Chris Kahui attacks Key and Bennett

December 22nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil reports:

AN IRATE Chris Kahui has taken to Facebook to support Maori nationalists seeking to undermine the John Key-led National Government.

The usually reserved Kahui, who was acquitted back in 2008 of murdering his three-month-old twin sons Chris and Cru, has fallen in behind extremists wanting Key’s Government to legislate for the return of confiscated Maori land. …

Recently Kahui ‘shared’ this post from Maori Life on his Facebook page: “What a pathetic leader you are John Key and your best mate Paula (Bennett) who likes to tell people they can’t have the support like she did many years ago. These two should be run out of the country for good. Two low life scum of the earth people,”  

You know having Chris Kahui call you a low life scum of the earth person is probably a great compliment.

Bennett on local government

July 22nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A good speech by Paula Bennett to the LGNZ Conference. Some extracts:

I imagine there are some who think that because the Commission has decided to take large reorganisation off the table for greater Wellington and Northland, and because I have clearly stated I will not legislate for large amalgamation that you can all continue as you have.

Well you can’t.

It is not in the best interests of the people of New Zealand.

We simply have to look at growth across a region, and your current structure does not strategically or cohesively support that.

A clear message the status quo is not acceptable.

They are going to work alongside you and your communities to ensure that we have the right structure, legally, financially, and with the right accountabilities to ensure sustainable growth in our towns and cities.

This might mean a CCO on water or transport across a region.

It could mean a different business structure or increased responsibilities and accountabilities for Regional Councils.

It could even mean in areas that might put a number of CCOs in place for key growth and infrastructure that there is no longer a need for a Regional Council.

Some councils may even choose to amalgamate.

I fully understand and accept that one solution will not work across all of New Zealand.

That is why the Local Government Commission will be working up various structure options for each region to look at and decide what works best for them, and then where necessary I will legislate to either set a new CCO up across a region – or even to take something away.

And in case there was any doubt:

I have zero interest in imposing unwanted change on you.

But you know that our regions are not as cohesive as they need to be to support our challenges and our future growth.

So I implore you to do something about it.

Be brave – own the change and both the Commission and I will do everything we can to assist and support you.

But let me be clear – there will be change.


The Government is aware of the cost pressures many councils face, and the Funding Review document launched this morning shows you are thinking about different mechanisms to manage growth.

Structural change should be one of them.

This is a conversation worth having, but first and foremost local government needs to demonstrate that it can live within its means.

Ratepayers are not willing to pay more for services while they see waste.

Most Councils seem to have little fiscal discipline. If they can show some fiscal discipline, then I’m for looking at expanding their funding tools beyond rates.

I expect you to look closely at your costs and have free and frank conversations about what is driving your expenditure and whether that discretionary spend is assisting your council to achieve its strategic goals. 

This is exactly what the Government has been doing, with our Better Public Service targets driving a more integrated delivery of services in a way that gets results and saves taxpayers’ money.

Wouldn’t it be great if local Councils did that also – commit to actual specific outcomes from the money they spend, rather than just outputs?

Expanding the investment approach

October 8th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Agencies that spend $34 billion worth of public money each year face a big upheaval as new State Services Minister Paula Bennett rolls out an “investment approach” from the welfare system across the rest of the public service.

Ms Bennett’s promotion to fifth place in the new Cabinet, in charge of one of the Government’s three key coordinating bodies, the State Services Commission, is a sign that senior ministers want to get better efficiency across the whole public service in the same way that Ms Bennett has driven it through her welfare reforms.

In welfare, her “investment approach” calculated the average lifetime costs of every person who went on a benefit, then shifted staff efforts into those with the highest likely lifetime costs.

That meant pouring resources into “wraparound” support for the most at-risk groups such as for teen parents, who cost taxpayers an average of $246,000 in their lifetime, while giving less support to unemployed jobseekers who cost an average of only $116,000.

Ms Bennett, who also gets an associate role with Finance Minister Bill English, said her new jobs would let her take a similar approach more broadly.

“I definitely think we need some reform in state services and in how we are doing cross-agency work, which you can only do to a certain level within a portfolio. So State Services gets me to oversee and overlook all of it,” she said.

“And both Minister English and I have the intention of rolling out the investment approach wider than just Work and Income. You can see how it fits particularly with those children who are most vulnerable across all different agencies. We’re talking about the same children. If we know who they are earlier, then we’re willing to invest more for that long term gain, both for them as far as what they can achieve in life and it always makes sense as well balancing the books.”

I’m a big supporter of the investment approach which may mean spending a bit more money early on, if it will save money down the track.  However this also means that low quality spending should be canned in favour of spending that produces the biggest benefit.

The reshuffle coincides with a Productivity Commission inquiry into “enhancing productivity and value in public services”, ordered in June by Mr English and outgoing State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman.

The commission has published an “issues paper” today asking for public feedback on how the Government should drive better productivity through the way it buys social services worth $34 billion a year from state departments, district health boards, schools, early childhood and tertiary education providers, the Accident Compensation Corporation and more than 4000 non-government organisations (NGOs).

NZ Initiative director Dr Oliver Hartwich said the investment approach could justify putting more resources into higher quality teachers in low-decile schools to help their students get better jobs in future, or into child health services to reduce future costs when those children grew up.


We should spend more money on the under 5s and less on the over 65s – to be blunt.

Caption Contest

May 23rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


Photo sent in by a reader. Have fun below with your captions. As always they should be funny, not nasty.

Welfare costs reducing

January 16th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Bennett announced:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has welcomed the latest valuation of the welfare system showing a significant reduction in the liability.

The June 2013 valuation shows the current lifetime liability[i] is $76.5 billion.

“Of the $10.3 billion reduction in liability[ii], $4.4 billion is due to Work and Income actively exceeding expectations by getting more people off benefit for longer, and less people coming onto benefit,” says Mrs Bennett.


“This translates to benefit payments being $180 million lower than expected for the year.”

Just over $1 billion of the $10.3 billion liability decrease is due to more sole parents going off benefit and fewer going on during the year.

“I hear from sole parents every week who say they’re really grateful for the support from Work and Income case managers; who are often the first to ask them what they want to do with their lives and then help them find work.”

“We provide childcare assistance, training, assistance with CVs, handling job interviews and help with the actual work search,” says Mrs Bennett.

The value in investing close to half a billion dollars in welfare reforms over the last two Budgets is evident in the results.

This is key. The Government did not just change laws around work testing and the like. They have invested hundreds of millions into training, childcare assistance and job placement to help people move from welfare into work.

The June 2013 valuation shows 62% of 30-39 year olds currently receiving benefits; first went on welfare as young people and constitute almost 80% of the total liability for this group because they’re long-term dependent.

“What’s really interesting; is that two thirds of people who went on benefit aged 16 or 17 also came to the attention of Child, Youth and Family as children and 90% lived in benefit dependent homes as children.”

A cycle of dependency.

Sip it Sweetie

December 23rd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Irreverent Cabinet Minister Paula Bennett has produced her own pink wine label on a chardonnay this Christmas called “Sip It Sweetie”.

Some will find their way into Christmas stockings, but most will be auctioned to fundraise for her campaign in Upper Harbour next year.

“A fruity little number, plenty of sass and spirit,” the label says.

“This classy chardonnay will impress at a barbecue, beach picnic or a fancy-pants dinner party. Good drinking now but even better after a third term.” …

Prime Minister John Key has established a tradition of dispensing bottles of fine pinot noir at Christmas. Mrs Bennett says hers “is not as sophisticated as his, it would be fair to say”.

Heh I might bid for a bottle.

Bennett v Rankin

December 15th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin Espiner reports:

The Conservative Party is poised to stand its high-profile chief executive Christine Rankin against National’s Paula Bennett in Upper Harbour, setting up a potential battle of the former solo mums next election.

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times that the party’s board had formally asked the controversial former boss of Work and Income New Zealand to stand in next year’s general election. …

Bennett and Rankin have similar back stories; both grew up in households without much money, had children at a young age and raised them alone on the domestic purposes benefit. Both ended up in charge of their former paymaster; Rankin as chief executive of Work and Income New Zealand and Bennett as Minister of Social Development.

It will be an interesting contest. I suspect both women will agree on a lot of stuff around welfare reforms but perhaps disagree in other areas.

Polling had indicated Rankin would do well in the proposed electorate that would wrap around the north and west of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. …

Independent polling by Research Solutions for the Conservatives obtained by the Star-Times shows Rankin has 24 per cent support in Upper Harbour, with 20 per cent opting for “another candidate” and a large 56 per cent undecided.

I’ve blogged on this before, but a poll which names only one candidate has little value in predicting the outcome of an election. A poll should either be totally unprompted (Which candidate or party’s candidate would you vote for) or totally prompted (Which of the following candidates would you vote for). A poll which just asks “Would you vote for Candidate A or some other candidate” has relatively little value.

Paula Bennett on the Yeah. Nah Party

November 8th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Paula Bennett in the General Debate. Very good. A nice covering of how Labour is more and more saying different things to different people.

What Hone was fighting against

July 27th, 2013 at 9:48 am by David Farrar

Paula Bennett FB


This is what Hone broke the law to fight against. That terrible Government providing houses to low income families in Northland.

Hat Tip: Keeping Stock

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.

Bennett on welfare reforms

March 21st, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:

As the second round of welfare reforms come back before Parliament Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the 650 children born to women already claiming a benefit in January are reason enough for her tough reforms. …

There were 659 subsequent children born to parents already claiming a benefit this January, she said.Under changes introduced last October, they will have to return to work when that child is 12-months-old, if their older children are aged over 5.

Bennett said Work and Income staff used discretion to excuse 22 of those parents from the work requirement, largely because of timing around the announcement and implementation of the policy.

Meanwhile, in 2010 more than 7.5 per cent of live births – 4800 of 63,900 – were babies born to sole parents on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) and Emergency Maintenance Allowance.

And between 1993 and 2011, 29 per cent of sole mums on the DPB had another child.

”It does tell us that those that are already on benefits with children are still having subsequent children,” Bennett said.

I think there is a fundamental difference between having a child, and then ending up on welfare (because your partner leaves you, turns violent, dies etc) and already being on welfare and choosing to have further children.

Bennett admits work testing for sole parents was among the ”tougher” reforms.

But in 10 months of last year there were less people going onto the DPB that coming off. A feat which has only been achieved twice in the last 16 years, once when Working for Families was introduced.

A good start.

Free contraception uptake

January 31st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Low uptake negates fears beneficiaries and daughters being pushed into free scheme, says minister’s office.

Only 35 women took up the Government’s offer of free long-term contraception for beneficiaries in the first five months – far short of the number expected.

Last July, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced the Government would pay for female beneficiaries and their daughters aged 16-19 to get long-term contraception such as an implant, intra-uterine device or the Depo Provera injection.

She set aside $1 million over four years for the policy – enough to fund thousands of grants covering doctors’ fees and contraceptive costs each year.

This is the policy that saw the disgusting cartoon that compared Paula Bennett to Josef Mengele. Shameful.

However, in its first five months from the end of July to the end of December only 35 women took it up.

Ms Bennett said she was not troubled by the low uptake.

“It’s going as I’d expected. We’re not promoting it so there hasn’t been significant uptake, but we’re looking at advertising it more so people are aware it’s available.”

It would be good for more people to be ware of it, so there are fewer unwanted pregnancies.

Bennett v Fuller

August 15th, 2012 at 2:50 pm by David Farrar

The Human Rights Commission reports:

The Director of Human Rights Proceedings announced today the resolution of a complaint under the Privacy Act against Hon Paula Bennett, Minister of Social Development.

The Director, Mr Robert Hesketh said, “On the basis of the Minister’s letter to me, I have agreed to close my file. The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. The letter from the Minister is attached. We have all agreed that the letter speaks for itself and we will make no further comment.”

The complaint had been referred to the Director by the Privacy Commissioner. This is the normal process under the Privacy Act when the Privacy Commissioner considers a complaint has substance, but the parties cannot agree on a settlement.

The letter is here. Bennett says she maintains she was justified in her actions, but regrets the comments same others made re Fuller, and the hurt that caused.

I do believe that if individuals who receive state support portray themselves publicly as “hard done by”, that there is an obligation for the full nature of such support to be revealed. Without it, we the public, have incomplete information.

However the best practice in future would be for the individuals involved to be asked to consent to MSD releasing their details. If consent is refused, that should be publicised, and if then a decision made on whether to release without consent.

Note this does not apply to individuals on state support criticising the Government or its policies generally. Absolutely not. Only if they talk about their individual circumstances in a way which doesn’t provide the full picture.

Let’s not forget the deadbeat dads

May 10th, 2012 at 12:47 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Ms Bennett said there were men in the benefit system who had fathered numerous children, but they escaped much of the criticism. Some had up to eight children to different mothers – and even if they were employed they could not afford child support.

“We talk about teen mums a lot and yes, they are left with the babies. But you hear of older men with multiple children and they actually prey on young women as well,” Ms Bennett said. “I’m not sure we actually identify that as the problem that it is.”

The deadbeat dads are the ones who walk away leaving the mothers with the baby, and the taxpayer with the bill. Good on Paula for focusing on them.

Last night, Mr Craig released the international research he based the claim on – including a survey of behaviour such as one-night stands by an academic at Bradley University in which NZ came second to Finland. Another was the 2007 Durex Global Sex Survey of 26,000 people nationwide, which found NZ women had an average of 20.4 sexual partners – well above the global average of 7.3.

The Durex Sex Survey is not a scientific poll, but a self selecting survey.

Congrats Paula

April 16th, 2012 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports:

Cabinet minister Paula Bennett has confirmed that her new husband is Alan Philps and that he is an old boyfriend.

“Alan and I first met over 23 years ago when he was a truck driver and used to stop in at the diner I was waitressing in,” she told the Herald.

“We recently got back together and Alan and his kids moved back from Australia to New Zealand so we could be a family together.

“We are very happy, and both feel very lucky to have found each other again.”

The pair married on Saturday on the beach at Piha. The wedding feast was champagne and fish and chips.

They are having a brief honeymoon and she is expected back at work tomorrow.

It can be challenging to find time for romance, while being an MP, let alone a Minister. Congrats to Paula and Alan.

Westies never change

March 8th, 2012 at 8:50 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A quick bite of chocolate cake and a glass of champagne was all National MP Tau Henare had time for as he headed straight back to work after marrying his partner at Parliament yesterday.

The list MP sprang a surprise on the House, which is sitting extended hours this week, by marrying Ngaire Brown in the former Maori affairs select committee room during the dinner break.

West Coast-Tasman MP Chris Auchinvole acted as celebrant and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett gave a speech on behalf of friends and colleagues.

Congrats Tau.

About 30 National MPs attended the ceremony, along with members of the Labour, NZ First and Maori parties. Labour Maori Affairs spokesman Parekura Horomia gave a mihi, or formal speech. …

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean described the service as beautiful, although she reserved special praise for Ms Bennett’s speech.

“Her speech was more about farting than anything else.”

The mind boggles.

Bennett wins back Waitakere

December 16th, 2011 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

The judicial recount of Waitakere has found a number of invalid votes for Carmel Sepuloni and the Judge has found that Paula Bennett received more valid votes, and with a majority of 9 is declared once again the MP for Waitakere. That’s a wonderful result for Paula, who so loves being the local MP out west. A big ups to her and her team.

For Carmel, she is out of Parliament entirely, and Raymond Huo is once again a Labour List MP. A bit of a blow to the rejuvenation efforts for Labour, but at least a boost to their fund-raising efforts.

Carmel might now regret her ungracious tone when she was declared winner after specials. Of course she has open to her the option of an electoral petition, but those things can cost $200,000 or so and off memory National has never lost an electoral petition, well for the last 40 years or so anyway.

Nice try Greg

November 22nd, 2011 at 4:34 pm by David Farrar

Been released some amusing e-mails from one of the participants (should be easy to guess). Well known Labour activist and wannabee candidate Greg Presland e-mailed New Lynn and Waitakere candidates the following:


I am the acting chair of the Titirangi Ratepayers and Residents Association.  We are intending to hold a “meet the candidates” meeting on November 22, 2011 from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Presbyterian Hall, 244 Atkinson Road Titirangi.  As the area has parts of two seats in it we are inviting all candidates for the New Lynn or Waitakere seats to attend. …

I am in the process of arranging an independent chair for the debate part of the meeting.

Can you each confirm that you are available..  Can national secretaries send this email to their local candidates.

Greg Presland

This was sent on the 10th of November. Most genuine meetings have had incites go out well in advance of the final fortnight. Now Paula Bennett could have just replied with a I’ve already got something on that day (which she has) but her reply was:

Dear Greg –

I must admit your invitation did make me smile. I well remember 6 years ago as a very new candidate unwittingly going to this meeting that was a complete set up by the Labour Party and how appallingly it was run and how rude everyone was, fool me once and shame on me, fool me twice … well it ain’t going to happen. I will not be attending.  Since the boundary changes around 4 years ago, none of the Waitakere electorate is in the Titirangi catchment – hence why I wasn’t invited 3 years ago.

Anything involving you would be blatantly party political as you are the West Auckland Labour Party Chairman and constantly negatively blog about me under the psuedonym Mickeysavage, I could bring as many of my supporters to match the Labour stacking that will go on and everyone could have a mud slinging match, but what a waste of everyones time.

Enjoy your evening.


So it was an invite for a group that do not even live in her electorate by the main Labour activist in West Auckland. Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out there won’t be a single undecided voter there. Now Paula’s response was fairly polite. Then Greg replied with this:

Dear Paula

Six years ago I arranged for a local Headmaster of impeccable standing to chair the debate because I acknowledged that I have strong political views and I considered that an independent chair was appropriate.  There were at least two members of the National Party on the TRRA executive at the time and I was careful to make sure that the meeting was conducted properly.  I received no complaints and thought the meeting went well.

Last election we decided to have candidates from the Tamaki Makaurau seat, this time we thought that we should have Waitakere candidates again.  And you are wrong, part of the Titirangi area is in the Waitakere seat.  You should get out a map some time and check the boundaries.

This time Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse will chair the debate.  Am I missing something?

As for blogging well using taxpayers money to advertise constituency clinics deserves criticism and your particular style of politics is appalling.  Why someone who gained a degree using public funds should destroy the opportunity for others to do the same is beyond me.  And your disrespect for the rights of privacy of beneficiaries while supporting a Prime Minister that tramples over the independence of the media in trying to protect rights of privacy that were surrendered as soon as he called a press conference is distressing in the extreme.

May this election return a Government that will work in the best interests of ordinary Kiwis.

By the way I am not the West Auckland Labour Party chair.  There is no such position.

The funny thing is Greg sent that version of the e-mail with the paragraph part-bolded just to Paula. The next day he sent a sanitised one to all the other candidates, including Paula.

What is funny is Greg regards Penny Hulse as an independent chair. I have no beef with Penny, but she is a politician of the left and not independent, in the sense of someone apolitical.

Anyway good on Paula for not falling into the same trap twice.


November 7th, 2011 at 3:35 pm by David Farrar

Paula Bennett announced:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is pleased to announce the successful applicants to the Fresh Start Innovation Fund.

“Nine providers have received funding to make a real difference with young offenders, particularly with young Maori,” says Ms Bennett.

“As part of the Fresh Start policy for young offenders, the Innovation Fund supports new ideas or programmes that offer a different approach to working with at risk young people,” Ms Bennett says.

Providers in this round will receive a combined total of almost $402,700 funding, out of more than $3.3 million awarded to 43 providers to date. …

“My thanks to independent selection panel chair Katherine Rich and to Sue Bradford who helped assessed the applications and recommended the successful programmes,” says Ms Bennett.

Good to see that Paula will involve someone who is a harsh critic of her policies, and is in fact standing against her. And also credit to Bradford for being constructively involved.

The Green Paper for Vulnerable Children

July 27th, 2011 at 2:59 pm by David Farrar

Paula Bennett launched the first green paper in 14 years at Aotea Square this afternoon. By coincidence I was up in Auckland (for the Blair lunch tomorrow) so I popped along. Excellent speeches by Sir Peter Gluckman and Paula, plus some amazing singing and performances from various young musicians.

The only protesters were Penny Bright and the Men’s Rights brigade – five in total.

The Government poses solutions to complex issues facing children and then asks the public to consider the questions that are raised by those issues, including:

• When should adults who care for vulnerable children be prioritised for services over others?
• How can the Government encourage communities to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their children?
• How much monitoring of vulnerable children should the Government allow?

“What it doesn’t do is tell people what to think. It is intentionally written in a way that lets people make up their own mind,” say Ms Bennett.

“This is a genuinely open consultation process, giving New Zealanders a chance to have a real say in how we protect our children,” says Ms Bennett.

There are many policy issues I care deeply about – tax rates, performance pay for teachers, youth minimum wage etc etc. But let me tell you that I’d trade them all for some measures which would reduce the level of child abuse in New Zealand. There is nothing worse than a young person not having a happy and productive childhood.

If it would make a difference, I’d happily have those caring for vulnerable children prioritised for services.

The Green Paper for Vulnerable Children can be found online at:



The actual green paper is directly here. It’s only 40 pages, and an easy read. For me one of the key questions is:

When should government agencies step in and intervene with families and whanau?

I think one there has been one major adverse incident, then the threshold for intervention should be relatively low.

Breaking Hearts

July 11th, 2011 at 3:26 pm by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday reported:

Youth Affairs Minister Paula Bennett broke young hearts after a paperwork error saw her announce the wrong winner at a prestigious school acting competition.

The frontpage has now changed, but yesterday it had a big picture of the Minister and the headline was about how the Minister broke young hearts.

Bennett told a large crowd at the ASB Theatre that Cambridge school St Peter’s had won the night – but a helper had given her the wrong slip of paper. Auckland’s St Cuthbert’s were supposed to have been crowned the champions in the Auckland leg of the 2011 Stage Challenge last weekend.

So the mistake was not the Minister’s in any way. She was as much an innocent victim, as the poor kids. Yet the reporting (not so much the story, but the headlines and extracts) makes it sounds like the Minister stuffed up in some way, and made the mistake.

ACC as model for welfare?

May 31st, 2010 at 6:14 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

ACC’s focus on getting beneficiaries back to work could become a model for those on long-term social welfare, invalid and sickness benefits, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

Such a new direction would be costly, for example, by funding drug and alcohol rehabilitation and other treatments for social welfare beneficiaries, she said. And it could require a culture change to address.

As a taxpayer it is a cost I would be fairly happy to pay, if successful.

Ms Bennett told the Herald she had particular concerns about people as young as 16 and 17 being put on the invalid’s benefit for conditions such as Asperger’s Syndrome or low-level mental illness and remaining on it for a lifetime.

“It feels like sometimes in Work and Income that the whole system is set up to concentrate on what people can’t do.

“If we change that whole culture into one of what can they do, what can we actually do to get that support … it would make a big difference.”

A focus on treatment and work sounds good to me.