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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unrepentant Bennett must resign or no confidence in Govt [UPDATE]

[UPDATE-- 3:30PM: Question Time in parliament this afternoon put the Minister on the spot. She tried, with Gerry Brownlee running interference throughout, to avoid giving a substantive answer to the question as to what possible defence she was offering for getting her ministry to release confidential information about her political detractors to the media...

All she would say is that she consulted the Privacy Commissioner's website about "implied consent" and said that the two people involved (seemingly by complaining about the government's policies) had in her mind implied their consent!? An answer as ridiculous as it is lacking in foundation. The answer she was trying to step out of - and did - was whether other Ministers were involved in getting her to take this course of action. But if you go to the website that she is leading people to believe was the only source she used to form her opinion as to what she was doing was proper or not we get...Where is it? "Implied consent" - very hard to find any reference to it on the site she supposedly consulted. Nothing relevant here. And yet somehow she found something to say it was OK... really? Why didn't she check Limits on disclosure of personal information instead? If she read that she would find nothing whatsoever about "implied" anything.

And then she had the nerve to end on a patronising note about one day a beneficiary (like she was) one day "may even be a Cabinet minister". What is the word for the person that exhibits that sort of behaviour? I can think of a few.

Unbelievable. On the day she should have resigned she makes that statement - gloating effectively that she is still a Cabinet Minister! There can be no confidence in this Minister - and because she is protected by the Cabinet and her Party colleagues there can be no confidence in the entire Ministry while she goes unpunished.

Why provide any government agency with information if it can be used on a whim and without any repercussion against you/made public as an act of political revenge by Ministers of the Crown? This is the new reality now. It is totally unacceptable.Some people just don't get it. It's not about the benefit - it's about every person who has any confidential information held by the government having the right to have that information protected. You don't give up that right by complaining about the government!

To a right winger the class of person someone is (and specifically their financial dependency on the state) is a relevant consideration to whether or not they ought to have the protection of the law. What they don't seem to understand is that when we defend the rights of these beneficiaries we are also defending the rights of the right wingers to their privacy as regards all their dealings with the state too. But for them it's a matter of class and of privilege. Those right wingers who think it is acceptable to do this to these people deserve all their private dealings with every government agency released to the media. You whinge the Herald gets a fax from the IRD, MSD, Courts, Police, DHB etc, etc. Is that fair? --UPDATE ENDS]Paula Bennett must resign. She must. A Minister cannot order their department to furnish them with the personal details of their political detractors for the purpose of then breaching their privacy and scoring political points using that confidential information. And a Minister most certainly cannot then release those personal, private details to the public. The only valid reason would be an overwhelming case that the information passed to the Minister had an over-riding "public interest" in being released. That simply is not the case here - there is no legitimate public interest in knowing the benefit details and income of this Minister's political enemies.
She could have made the same point she seeks to make by giving hypothetical examples - not the actual cases themselves. That was a step too far and it must be met with a strong rebuke and loss of office. The Minister's tactic this morning of pretending it's some sort of normal practice tells us that the Nat's have not got a handle on this. Are they intending to run this line at 2pm during question time in Parliament?

They seem to think that a couple of lowly beneficiaries having their financial details with a government department released to the media is not going to have repercussions... wrong. That standard must be applied to everyone else having any sort of financial relationship with the State. Well... those that the National government don't like. They are mistaken - totally mistaken on the scope of this breach. The category of person that the National government thinks should not have any privacy rights - at this moment in time - are hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries.

But the question - at this moment in time - is what other categories of person does this new rule apply? Unhappy contractors? State employees in wage disputes? Patients complaining about a DHB? It's a very long list.

You start at a couple of "whinging dole-bludgers" as a target, but if consistency and principles mean anything it will also apply to every person having any sort of connexion with the government; which via taxes and assistance programmes, pensions, contracts etc. is a vast majority of the population. Complaining about your tax situation... and you don't like Peter Dunne... is it now OK for Peter Dunne to release your tax records to the NZ Herald? This is the new standard if Bennett remains.

The PM cannot condone that - the precedent would destroy more credibility in the NZ Government itself than losing/demoting Bennett would do to the National Ministry. If the PM or senior ministers try to defend this there will be no confidence in the government.

I just heard her on the radio saying it was done "in the interests of fairness." !? It was done to score political points. There is no option now but to resign from the Ministry, or at the very least accept a heavy demotion in lieu of a sacking. But at the moment they seem to be closing ranks. It's a mistake. She's made a terrible blunder - a precedent that should not be set. Her fellow ministers cannot condone this and they cannot defend it.

Goff ought to be firing all cannons this afternoon, but no doubt the Nats will use his leaking of Don's "gone by lunchtime" comment (when Goff was Foreign Minister) that was a breach of his privacy for which Goff claimed - with much success - was of public interest and was right to be revealed. But these cases are miles apart - this is the little guy versus the Minister, not top-level political intrigue.

This is Goff's chance to put the "millionaire beneficiary" case of last week behind him too. However much more is at stake this afternoon than ephemeral politics.

[UPDATE: And David Farrar will apparently not mind his financial relationship with Parliamentary Services and the government being released to the media then...One rule for them... --UPDATE ENDS].

16 Comments:

At 28/7/09 1:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that this is over the top and sets a dangerous precedent however I disagree with this: "That simply is not the case here - there is no legitimate public interest in knowing the benefit details and income of this Minister's political enemies."

I think there is public interest in knowing that someone complaining that the government is being unfair to beneficiaries is receiving in income well over the national average, on top of the nearly $10,000 they were given to start up a business which has since failed by the sounds of it.

 
At 28/7/09 1:49 pm, Blogger Kerry said...

The bitch should be sacked!

 
At 28/7/09 2:15 pm, Anonymous Gosman said...

It is not the little guy versus the Minister. This is anouther example of the Labour party identifying a person or persons to use as examples to try and discredit the Government.

Now there is nothing wrong with that except if they are going to do it then they have to be sure they have all their fact correct.

Once againit looks like the full facts were missing amongst the spin of the initial story.

If people are willing to let themselves be used in such a partisan manner by a political party then personally I think they abdicate any right to privacy.

If they feel they have a genuine case with their true situations being made public then they can follow it up through the judicial system.

 
At 28/7/09 2:20 pm, Anonymous Gosman said...

Is it correct that Labour ministers also engaged in this sort of stuff?

If so then were any of them sacked or reprimanded by Clark?

 
At 28/7/09 2:30 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Kerry we've been down the 'bitch' road before, I think Anon made their point.

It is not the little guy versus the Minister. This is anouther example of the Labour party identifying a person or persons to use as examples to try and discredit the Government.

Now there is nothing wrong with that except if they are going to do it then they have to be sure they have all their fact correct.

Once againit looks like the full facts were missing amongst the spin of the initial story.

If people are willing to let themselves be used in such a partisan manner by a political party then personally I think they abdicate any right to privacy.

If they feel they have a genuine case with their true situations being made public then they can follow it up through the judicial system.


Thank you for your comment, welcome back Gosman.

1: Are we certain about the claims that these benefits are so plush? Do the costs they can apply for meet what the actual costs are? And if we accept that being a solo mum is really hard because motherhood is so hard, shouldn't we be making sure that job isn't made any more difficult by a culture of 'bash the solo mum' which becomes such a repeatable mantra when recession's hit. Even if, even if there are some women who freeride the system, even if it's 10%, are you going to punish the other 90% who need it?

2: Gosman do you really want this precedent set? Anyone who complains has the eye of mordor fall upon them? Come on, that's the role of the media, not for the Government!

 
At 28/7/09 2:36 pm, Anonymous Gosman said...

I would agree that if someone went only to the media to complain and then the Government made public their situation then that is pretty unsavioury and not wanted. However I think most of us here are intelligent enough to see that this smacks of an organised beat up by the Labour party all over it in terms of how it has been handled.

Now this could be wrong, the Labour party might not have been aware of this case before it hit the Herald on Sunday however if it isn't then these people are allowing themselves to be used in a partisan manner to score political points.

By agreeing to this they are, in my opinion, opening themselves up for this sort of thing. If they were unaware that this might happenethen perhaps they should take it up with the Labour party handlers that they dealt with.

 
At 28/7/09 3:39 pm, Anonymous Frankie said...

It's her hypocrisy that's so gobsmacking.

Well, it was only a matter of time before she made a serious fuckup, I've been waiting with bated breath to see what it would be, but she has surpassed my expectations by far.

This is a serious serious breach of privacy, extremely unprofessional, and basically just idiotic, the rights and wrongs of the individual cases aside.

Please, please, someone at WINZ, leak HER details to the media and tell us all how much she has received from the State.

People in glass houses, Paula...

 
At 28/7/09 4:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are they intending to run this line at 2pm during question time in Parliament?

The bitch lied when she said no to breaching child support info as well.Charlene Shovel's (Charles Chauvel's the only effective labour m.p right now in the house but when oh when are they gonna stop the saboteurs like shane jones in te reo and little miss turei who couldn't get her privatise the education system to maori just like the prisons and everything else) got the betta of w3 team-mate locky and their gonna tag team jerry brown-shirt till the prick bleeds.

 
At 28/7/09 4:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BENNETT IS PULLING THE LADDER UP AFTER THE HORSE HAS BOLTED AND SHE GOT A BIT OF ASSISTANCE TO PROPEL HER INTO THE CLUTCHES OF CAPTAIN JOHNO BIG SHOT NEW YORK RED-EYE OVERNIGHTER OVA DA ATLANTIC BRO!

 
At 28/7/09 4:29 pm, Anonymous anfield1973 said...

Bennett is all class. Look out Mr Key, don't attend that conference in Scotland any time soon - she wants your job next.

 
At 28/7/09 4:42 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosman do you really want this precedent set? Anyone who complains has the eye of mordor fall upon them? Come on, that's the role of the media, not for the Government!

Well to be fair she released the info to the Herald, she didn't issue a press release, but of course she shouldn't have released the info in the first place.

A bit rich of the Herald to publish the info, and then muse on whether Paula Bennett should have released the info to them in the first place!

 
At 28/7/09 6:02 pm, Anonymous Dave S said...

Gosman can speak for himself but I'd like to discuss some of the points you have rasied.

Are we certain about the claims that these benefits are so plush?

This woman is receiving nearly $200 more than the average wage per week, how can she plead poverty? Maybe it isn't plush but unless she is living in Remuera or Herne Bay she likely getting more then than most people in her neighbourhood.

Do the costs they can apply for meet what the actual costs are?

Why doesn't she get an interest free student loan to pay for her education like everyone else? She wouldn't even have to start paying it back untill she was earning a good wage.
In any case she is going to have an easier time meeting those costs than the family down the street who are working for their money but only getting the national average. Those people aren't getting state funding to start a business either - that seems to be rubbing salt into the wounds of someone who is earning their money.



And if we accept that being a solo mum is really hard because motherhood is so hard, shouldn't we be making sure that job isn't made any more difficult by a culture of 'bash the solo mum' which becomes such a repeatable mantra when recession's hit

I don't think anyone is saying that being a mum or a solo mum is easy and I don't see anywayone saying "Bash solo mums" but I think an awful lot are going to be saying "what the FUCK!?, How can that be fair?" when they find out that this woman gets more from her benefit than they do working 40 hours per week, especially when they are struggling to pay bills themselves. Like it or not: Paying some beneficiaries more than the average national wage during a recession is going to seem like a luxury we can't afford during a recession.

Even if, even if there are some women who freeride the system, even if it's 10%, are you going to punish the other 90% who need it?

I think you miss the point here:
- this woman isn't being held up as an example of somebody rorting the system like some solo mother who get the DPB while working and getting paid under the table.
- this woman isn't woman isn't being held up as an example of some drunken trollop who who has 9 kids to 9 different men and gets pissed every night while her kids sit at home playing with matches.


This woman is apparently legitimately receiving an income from the state which is considerably greater than the national average wage, and I think a shit load of people are going to be very surprised and upset when they find that they are expected to work 40+ hours a week, for less than she is getting to fund her lifestyle and choices.
Seriously, ask working people from her neighbourhood if they think its fair that she gets more than they earn.

do you really want this precedent set?

Here I kind of agree with you - I would have been pissed if Labour did this to their opponents.

Anyone who complains has the eye of mordor fall upon them?

Well this isn't just anyone. These people have very much put their heads above the parapet and seen fit to take their cases to the Herald and have it reported that they are at a disadvatage. That's all well and good but both of these individuals get their all their income from the state - this is going to be seen as biting the hand that feeds you.
I know the left are seeing this as a huge own goal by National but I think that might be surprised when they hear everyone saying things like like I overheard today: "Stiff shit! She's getting more than I do a week and I fucking do hard labour to pay for my kids education, why am I paying her that much so she can go back to school?"



Come on, that's the role of the media, not for the Government!


The Media? The NZ media????. Now you are just trying to be funny, the NZ media is fucking useless, and in this particular case I don't think they would have been able to obtain this information anyway.

 
At 28/7/09 6:41 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Well done Mr Selwyn - you've caught her lying about finding implied consent on the website she quoted!

Total proof she lied!

 
At 30/7/09 7:16 am, Blogger freshairprince said...

Did you express the same outrage when David Cunliffe released a statement during the RDA/DHB negotiations saying that junior doctors earn $88000 a year? Is that different to this case?

 
At 30/7/09 7:54 am, Blogger Bomber said...

The case is so different the fct you are using it shows how desperate the right have become to justify their hatred of people on the dole.

 
At 30/7/09 12:49 pm, Blogger McPoster said...

All the Labour stuff aside, what would it take to get an apology out of her I wonder?

A misile fired at her fascist evil mean spirited corporate puppet devil cocksuckin' ass?

 

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