Hooton on Paula Bennett

I had to steal a NBR from the Koru Club to look at Matthew Hooton’s latest column. Of course I no longer buy the rag after Barry Colman abused bloggers in  mad rant.

He comments on the saga of Paula Bennett bringing some truth and honesty to the debate about benefits.

The first thing that needs saying about Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s clash with privacy laws is that there probably was a technical breach, although her defence of implied consent may have merit.

The second thing is: “You go girl!” Ms Bennett presented relevant facts to the public, drew attention to the extraordinary generosity of the New Zealand welfare state, and was upfront and honest to the extent that the more genuine of the two women involved, Jennifer Johnston, is now working with the government to improve the support available for sole parents wanting to retrain.

He then goes on to look at similar cases that Labour and Helen Clark have used in petty politicking.

From 1999, Helen Clark had no intention of enduring the same criticism. Instead of releasing personal information honestly and facing the consequences, her regime’s solution was, as usual, to lie, leak and smear.

Thus, personal information on Police Commissioner Peter Doone was obtained by Ms Clark, probably illegally, and leaked to the media.

False allegations about Erin Leigh, who raised concerns about political interference in Ms Clark’s Ministry for the Environment, were trundled out by Trevor Mallard under the cover of parliamentary privilege.

Ms Dalziel – oh so noble in her defence of Mr McKeown’s privacy – smeared a young Sri Lankan rape victim by leaking her personal file and then lying about it.

Matthew also looks at close links between Lianne Dalziel, the Labour Party and Natasha Fuller.

Of the two women in the media this week, Natasha Fuller is the more deeply involved with the Labour Party. In 2007, she allowed her personal information to be used by Labour’s PR machine to promote its policies. This month she received media advice from none other than Ms Dalziel, who should have known better than most about the likelihood of wider scrutiny.

In what has all the hallmarks of another Labour Party misinformation campaign, Ms Fuller wailed that changes to the training incentive allowance would force her to drop out. Once again, Labour and its proxy neglected to point out relevant information – in this case that a sole parent with three children in Auckland could be receiving $1000 a week, having available to them interest-free student loans, student allowances, childcare subsidies, the accommodation supplement, subsidies for out-of-school care and recreation, 20 hours free early childhood education, temporary additional support and special needs grants.

Labour resents such information becoming public because its long-term political interests depend on it funnelling as much money as possible from taxpayers to beneficiaries, while keeping taxpayers ignorant of the extent of it.

Sooner or later the media will actually stop taking Labour’s spin directly.