Friends of Welfare Reform
"What this economic buoyancy has done, however, is to lay bare the reality of a welfare system which is no longer about providing a hand-up in times of adversity. We now have a deeply entrenched problem which has little to do with the availability of jobs and everything to do with systemic, structural, problems within the welfare system.
If ever there was a time when beneficiary numbers should have fallen to record lows, it is now. Instead, we have over 300,000 working-age adults on benefits, about 15% of the workforce.1 Around 109,000 are on the DPB, around 79,000 on the Unemployment Benefit, and some 119,000 on the Invalids’ and Sickness Benefits. Add in the children of these adults and we are talking about more than the equivalent of Christchurch and Dunedin combined - the combined population of two of our largest cities, on welfare, at a time of a booming economy. The latest fiscal projections show that the numbers are projected to increase by a further 18,000 within three years."
Don Brash, Leader of the Opposition, January 2005
"Sickness and invalid beneficiary numbers rise while ministers crow about the dropping unemployment figures. Maharey is being disingenuous about them, while the media who are mostly in Labour’s pocket, try to help. Fifteen per cent of working age people are still on welfare after an unprecedented burst of economic growth. Maharey could already have reached Brash’s beneficiary target if his heart was in it. And there’s 109,000 people on the DPB today when there were only 12,600 in 1975. Does anyone believe that a 30-year epidemic of domestic violence caused it, and that more DPBs are the solution, as the Minister implies?
We need to go further than the terminally polite Don Brash. Economically we can’t afford so many idle people, and the welfare costs to Police, Education, Health, the Courts, and Correction Services keep growing. The world of welfare has become a national tragedy. As incidents of domestic violence multiply, racing ahead amongst the welfare segment of society, someone in government should have worked out that benefits help create domestic violence, not solve it. Low-lives, many on welfare themselves, batten on to DPB recipients. There is daily evidence of parental neglect on TV. It can usually be sheeted back to welfare."
Michael Bassett, Columnist and Historian, February 2005