Herald Editorial: Minister right to give public all the facts

Editorial: Minister right to give public all the factsPaula Bennett has been accused of serious wrongdoing after releasing details of the benefits received by two solo mothers who had criticised cuts to a training allowance. According to the Green Party, the Social Development Minister… [NZ Herald Politics]

The NZ Herald Editorial is right on the money.

In this era of blogs, the internet and modern news gathering it is incumbent on politicians to get all the facts on the table, they’ll end up there anyway in a very short space of time.

Once all the facts are known then people can make an informed choice about the situation without the taudry spin that politicians are prone to put on the story.

People can make a reasonable assessment of the women’s position only if such information is in the public domain. They now know enough of their circumstances to draw a conclusion on whether they have, as Ms Bennett suggests, been given a “fair go”. And whether, as the minister proposes, they have the sort of financial foundation that makes it possible to invest in their own future. The introduction of interest-free student loans is certainly a major plus for women in their position wishing to undertake tertiary study.

Ms Fuller suggests that she did not believe she had omitted any relevant information when making her criticism. That is disingenuous. Once in the public arena, her complaint was bound to be fully scrutinised. The degree of that examination was ramped up when the Labour Party used the two women’s stories in Parliament last week.

Yes, so if anyone is guilty of bringing these women to prominence it is Labour, echoing once again my position that if you need assistance don’t go to a Labour MP they will just hide som pertinent facts and use your case for political gain. Then they will leave you swinging in the wind when it all blows up in their face.

There are obvious parallels between this case and an earlier one involving Bruce Burgess, a redundant worker. Labour helped him to go public with concerns about losing his lifestyle block because his wife’s $21,000 income meant he could not claim an unemployment benefit. No mention was made of him also owning two rental houses. The Labour leader, Phil Goff, said these were not relevant because they were not returning a profit and asset wealth was not part of the means test for the dole. That may have been arguable in theory, but Mr Goff must also have known the additional information would have a major bearing on the popular response.

The Government was clearly encouraged by the defusing of that issue and the embarrassment to Labour. Upbraided by two solo mothers, Ms Bennett has taken it upon herself to unveil “the full story”. The upshot will not be that people stop speaking out or that the Government escapes criticism. It will be that all information relevant to an issue is more likely to be put before the public at the outset.

Exactly. Let’s see if Labour will learn. I doubt it because what is apparent is that Labour are rudderless.