According to Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett, New Zealanders who are receiving particular benefits, such as the Jobseeker Payment or the Supported Living Payment are abusing the ‘privilege’ by going on luxury overseas vacations.
Personally, I find it very hard to believe that the issue is as severe as Bennett claims it to be. Labour’s Social Development Spokeswoman Sue Moroney puts it better than I ever could. “If Paula Bennett thinks it’s easy to live on a benefit and somehow have money left over to go travelling, she needs to have a go at living on a benefit for a while and see how she gets on. Might have been the case in her day, but it’s not the case now.”
First and foremost, I think more of an effort needs to put into making it clear that people on the benefit are not really on it by choice, nor is it something that people generally brag about. It’s hardly considered a long-term solution. Instead it’s more of a measure taken out of necessity to provide for an individual and / or their families until another, more desirable option comes along.
This means that not only are beneficiaries are put into a situation where there are little or no other options they can take to look after themselves, but they are also demonised for being between a rock and a hard place, which is almost never out of choice.
Secondly, benefits only fund the bare necessities, which takes me back to Moroney’s point. To say that beneficiaries are living the high life and possibly taking innocent taxpaying New Zealander’s money overseas is a baseless argument. If the real issue was to stop hard-earned money going offshore and out of circulation in the New Zealand economy, which it should be, beneficiaries are not the culprits we should be targeting.
It’s possible that the beneficiary isn’t even the one funding their overseas trip and that it was for no legitimate reason; what if it was a gift from a family member or friend? What if they need to visit someone? Do they have to be sick in order to see them? a special occasion perhaps? These are only two of many possible scenarios. This shows a real lack of insight or an analysis of the situation from a holistic perspective. No one deserves to be bound to a country for reasons totally out of their control.