Has David Shearer put beneficiary parents on his roof again?


shearer-final-form-300x300The shadow of the politically correct Nanny State bogeyman built in the Frankenstein laboratory of right wing spin doctors shrouds everything the Labour Party says and does.

The repeal of section 59 cast Labour as the we-know-best social engineers who wanted the voters to be better than what they really were. The little brother self sabotaging mindset NZ personifies had been probed and fed by the right wing spin doctors and the backlash resentment was so brutal and perfectly manufactured that Labour have been paralyzed from being active in social welfare for a decade.

Rather than blame themselves for their lack of Public Broadcasting funding and vision that would have deflated the corporate media generated anti-smacking hysteria, Labour decided they couldn’t ever be perceived as weak on social welfare ever again and started over compensating.

Enter a political leader with no institutional knowledge or instinct of the Party. Shearer’s initial advisor was John Pagani who preached the Pagani Doctrine. It envisioned a Labour Party that was tough on Social Welfare like the patronizing good hearted parent who had concluded tough love was suddenly needed.

Rather than inspire the 800 000 enrolled voters who didn’t bother to vote, Labour seem to be intent on winning the hearts of National Party voters over. Hardly a visionary plan.

Shearer’s worst implementation of the Pagani Doctrine was the infamous roof painting sickness beneficiary. Here’s the Aaron Hawkins interview with David Shearer over those comments…

Hawkins: To quote a famous Labour politician, ‘I’ve been thinking’ about this constituent of yours in Mt Albert that you have used to illustrate fairness and responsibility to society, this sickness beneficiary who’s up painting his roof, and I have to ask on behalf of Giovanni Tiso, who has been campaigning now bilingually to get a straight answer from you for ten days now. Did that actually happen? Is that a true anecdote from your time… [Shearer interrupts]

Shearer: Yeah, yeah, I was going around the streets before the last election, knocked on a guy’s door, he walked out on the lawn with me and pointed over and said this guy supposedly – I think he said he had a bad back or a bad something or other – and the point was, I mean, wasn’t actually… whether this guy was right or not I don’t know, but the point is, what I was trying to make is the point about fairness and the way New Zealanders feel about fairness. They don’t want… this guy in particular said look I’m working hard, I pay my taxes, I’m doing all the right things and this guy – in his opinion, and that’s what I said in my thing – is ripping the system off. Now I don’t care if you’re a millionaire not paying his taxes or somebody on the benefit who shouldn’t be getting one. The way that New Zealanders see that is that it’s not fair when somebody is not doing the right thing. That’s the point of what I was saying.

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Hawkins: So you don’t know if it’s true, at no point did you go talk to the beneficiary in question?

Shearer: No, the point was Aaron – the point was how people perceive others not playing by the rules, that’s all I was saying. So I mean that’s a story – the account of this guy, if what he was telling me is true, but I didn’t do a police investigation on somebody, but the point was how do people perceive others, and I think overwhelmingly in New Zealand we don’t like people who are not playing by the rules, in a sense not adhering to what I call the social contract.

Hawkins: I don’t think it’s the equivalent of a police enquiry to simply fact-check an anecdote that you are going to turn into a political platform.

Shearer: It’s not a political platform, the whole point of it as I keep saying to you is illustrating how people feel about others. That was all it was saying. It was somebody relating something to me and I was relating that on. It is about how people feel about others not playing by the rules. And we have a very highly developed sense for that in New Zealand, for good or for bad, and I actually think it’s good. But what does happen is that if people have that perception it means that everybody who legitimately receives a benefit – and overwhelmingly New Zealanders support that as well – they actually get tarred with the same brush. It’s really important that we make sure that the system works well and that people have confidence in it.

Hawkins: Isn’t that what Paula Bennett was doing, using a couple of examples of people not playing by the rules and not playing fairly within the welfare system to show up its flaws?

Shearer: Well what she did was she went into the Ministry, pulled out people’s private information and using her privileged position as a Minister and then put them into the news media because they happened to disagree with it. I think it’s a quantifiably mega-jump more than what I was talking about.

…the Leadership understand that there is a resentment amongst their blue collar voters towards those on welfare and instead of highlighting National’s anti-union employment policies in the 1990s as the explanation for the reason why those blue collar workers have such pitiful hourly rates that they look at the welfare cheque with envy, Labour decide to flirt with the darker angels of their nature by having Shearer dog whistles up some welfare fraud anecdote at a Grey Power meeting.

The backlash by Labour Party voters was enough to have David Shearer move from complaining about beneficiaries on roofs to 100 000 affordablish roofs for the children of the middle classes. He’s followed that up with the impressive Labour/Green electricity reforms but seems to have slipped once again in welfare.

This is David Shearer on feed the kids

Labour leader David Shearer said providing breakfast to children was ultimately a parent’s responsibility and any programme must be targeted.

…blaming the parents for hungry children and refusing universality is the exact same position as the National Party. Ruth Richardson set the welfare levels beneath the weekly minimum nutritional levels for adults, they’re designed to keep those on welfare hungry as an incentive. That Helen Clark never changed that in her 9 years is a deep sin stained on the soul of the modern day Labour Party.

Where is the compassion and social justice perspective in regurgitating National’s position?

Standing up for the weak requires political courage, Shearer’s comments suggests he’s still sitting down.


  1. Labour does seem without conviction at the moment, much like national, going where the votes blow them. However the statement about targeting the program is beneficial. blanketing it to schools based on decile is a bit crude, some local principles have been commenting that targeting it would enable kids at some decile 3-4 schools to be included as well, and not all parents at decile 1-2 would want/need their kids fed. If he says a targeted program however, get together with mana and come up with one…

    • Best option is to have breakfast and lunch provided at all schools. Just start the roll out at the low decile ones.

  2. Another uninspiring performance from Shearer this morning being interviewed by Rachel Smalley on TV3. Only towards the end did he say something (can’t remember what) that showed a bit of spirit and a willingness to take the fight to National. But most viewers would have drifted away by then.

  3. Key must be laughing at Shearer, he knows that while Shearer is leader of the Labour Party Nationals’ chances of winning in 2014 remain reasonably good as Shearers’ uninspiring leadership style is not going to attract middle calls voters back to Labour or inspire the 800,000 who did not vote last election to vote in 2014.
    I curse Labour and their impotence and meekness as we are almost certainly condemned to another three year of this dreadful government. I fail to see Shearer has the ability to lift the Labour party’s fortune and inspire Kiwis to vote for Labour. These are dark days.

  4. In way, the MMP system which fragmented the Monolith Labour party into Labour Rump, the Greens, various Maori-focused parties (Mana Motuhake, Maori Party, Mana Party), etc, is the surest way to determine where we want the Left Bloc to go.

    The more votes the Greens ans Mana get, the more “spine” is given to Labour.

    It’s the left version of how ACT sees itself, in relation to National.

    The “trick” is, as I see it, is to convince those 800,000 non-voters that Mana and the Greens have more to offer than a “midddle” Labour.

    And if we can convince 200,000+ State House tenants to vote – it will all go to firming up the Left and taking Labour in a more progressive direction.

    As for Shearer? Like Key, he can be the “non-threatening” face to the Middle Classes who, let’s face it, are easily spooked.

    Point in case, the irrational fear shown in polls by those who oppose the NZ Power policy. Pardon?! Who is opposed to cheaper electricity?? That’s how easily the Middle Classes can be frightened – even the prospect of lower power bills turns them into neurotic nervous nellies…

      • Based on…?

        Considering that bulk-buying works well for big corporate retail stores, I’d’ve thought the same principle would work well for a State purchaser.

        Personally, I think we should have choice in this.

        Supporters of NZ Power could sign up and get cheaper electricity.

        Opponants such as National/ACT supporters could opt to remain customers of powercos; buy electricity directly from them; and pay so-called “market rates”.

        Everyone would be happy.

    • “And if we can convince 200,000+ State House tenants to vote – it will all go to firming up the Left and taking Labour in a more progressive direction.”

      Surely the fact that they are all on notice in their houses should help but then again with Shearer in charge they just may not bother.
      Me? I’m voting Green this time!

  5. And then all at once……the oleaginous one repeatedly announces a previously inconceivable tory food-in-schools scheme and the frigid Ryall-high spectre suddenly finds empathy for post-natal depressives….

    Followed by Greens under the bed! Just something in the internal polling breeze – or more bad news from the orient? Concerned mums and dads want to know….

  6. did everyone else notice the nudge-nudge/wink-wink david parker gave to the neo-lib elites over the weekend..?..



    “…and those looking to labour to effect serious reform here..to end poverty etc..are only going to be left with a bitter taste in their mouths..

    ..those doubting this should remember david parkers’ mask-slip on a political talkshow last weekend..”

    phillip ure..

  7. Sometimes David Shearer as leader of Labour fills one with despair for the future more than John Key as head of National

  8. Um, yep. Shearer ought to have said that there may be deadbeat parents out there but making sure that every kid has a chance of maximising their education and a proper chance of learning is much more important. And how can the argument be about whether or not to feed a hungry six year old kid?

  9. “Labour leader David Shearer said providing breakfast to children was ultimately a parent’s responsibility and any programme must be targeted.”

    Thankyou Bomber. I heard Shearer speak a few weeks ago and yes, the above quote is exactly what he said. We nearly walked out at that moment. He is simply taking the National Party spin and running with it because he hasn’t got what it takes to change the narrative on this issue.

    Shearer should not mention anything about “parents responsibility”, that is just National’s way of avoiding the issue, he should simply highlight the number of people in NZ living in poverty because there are NO JOBS and the cost of putting a roof over your head takes a huge % of your income. This is the main cause and perfectly explained in Chris Trotter’s Bowalley Road recently.

    Shearer is a huge liability for Labour, he made me really angry when he mentioned this. Was thinking about re joining Labour but after hearing him speak, and particularly the angle that he took on this issue…no way.

  10. For health reasons, if I owned a house and wanted to paint the roof, I could probably manage about 12 hours a month. Would this be fair? Would Shearer cover the roof would mango skins so I’d fall and stop ripping off the taxpayer?

    Or would he actually bother to find out that I’m employed full time in non-physical work? The best I can come up with is that it would depend on who asked him.

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