Resignation fever! Who is advising our political leaders?

By   /   August 9, 2017  /   31 Comments

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I really wonder what sort of advice is being given the leaders of the Labour Party and the Greens.

I really wonder what sort of advice is being given the leaders of the Labour Party and the Greens.

When Andrew Little raised the issue of his possible resignation in public, there was only one possible outcome – his resignation. Luckily that has proved fortuitous for the Labour Party because of the Jacinda effect, but it was simply stupid if he wanted to remain leader which is what he claimed to want to do.
When Metiria Turei decided to go public with the difficult choices she faced as a solo mother, it was a brave thing to do. It had the important and needed impact of highlighting the mistreatment many welfare beneficiaries face.
If it those decisions involved cheating the system to some extent then someone should have grilled her as to the extent of that cheating. There were already things in the public arena around Paula Bennet and where she lived and who with. An advisor worth their salt would have asked those challenging questions before they were asked in public.
Even when an acceptable narrative had been developed, the first thing that needed to be sorted before going public was repaying WINZ. It doesn’t matter whether she thought it was right to lie in the first place or not.
To most people, if you are on the public payroll to the tune of $175,000 a year, you can afford to repay money obtained in the past by some form of deceit, justified or not. There is a strange, and unjustified, sense of entitlement to think otherwise.
As far as I’m aware to this day she has said she will only pay it back if WINZ ask for it. That is just arrogant and stupid.
Now the opportunity to shift the debate to how badly WINZ claimants have been treated is being lost.
I have estimated that the deliberate denial of access to people’s entitlements to welfare when unemployed or ill is costing working class families a billion dollars a year.
Those who have seen the film “I, Daniel Blake” will know that this is a deliberate policy option by governments in the US, UK, Australia and NZ. There are practice techniques of abuse and humiliation that are easily recognizable.
It has been revealed that WINZ staff have target for benefit number reduction that can only be achieved by acting illegally. Victims of this policy have been driven to suicide.
The radical reduction began in the last few years of the last Labour-led government. It has been broadened and intensified by this government.
The Green’s are right to raise this issue and challenge Labour on the issue. They deserve the perceived increase in support they seemed to get in the polls before the right-wing pundits in the media swung into action to discredit the bearer of the message.
It is a shame the message is getting lost. But the Greens have to bear some of the blame for that. There is no excuse for not seeing what was coming after the announcement and preparing for that with the obvious response that every cent would be repaid. Failure to do so is just stupid.
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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union

31 Comments

  1. Marc says:

    Mr Treen, you know who is running the show in this country, you negotiate with some of their members all the time, as employers of your union members.

    They have power, real power, the influence the MSM, the media, they pull strings, we have endless right leaning think tanks and more, advisors, consultants, professional arseholes all over the place, they are almost ALL paid by the vested interest parties, who have NO interest in a change of government.

    Jacinda Ardern is just another one they have already more or less bought, we are fools if we believe she will bring change, she will not even have a chance, as if she dares rock the boat, they will pull the rug from under her feet and Labour.

    Some donations may have flooded in, I ask who from? I suspect also large business donors.

    This is a corrupt little shit country in the South Pacific, I know heaps about it, know that even so called watch dogs here are BS artists, all too keen to protect the very interests mentioned above, also government, we have NO democracy.

    This country is a disgrace the way it is run, and it is a shame too few get it what goes on, and simply lie down and let themselves be raped and shat on.

    • C G Smith says:

      You are right Marc. Well I have just had the stuffing knocked out of me! I don’t care any more. Another 4 years of national. Thank god I’m 70!

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      … ” professional arseholes all over the place ” …

      I like it. Says it all about far right wing neo liberals.

    • mikesh says:

      The Green Party will still have the power to get what they want by refusing a confidence and supply agreement if they don’t. One would hope they might use that power to force Jacinder’s government to rectify the treatment of beneficiaries.

  2. Michael says:

    This sums up a number of the thoughts I have been having around this issue.
    Behind the scenes there should have been a mapped out strategy as to how handle the blow back that was going to occur after her announcement.

    It does not make it right the way she has been treated (this affair has exposed the viciousness that exists within our society) but it was always going to be expected.
    If you threaten or expose the powers that be they will return fire regardless of the right or wrongs of the situation.

    In her speech she made mention that she had a great case worker, support from her parents, her partner and her partner’s parents, those statements were always going to create problems especially with the fact that her partners mother was the former mayor of the North Shore.

    It may sound cold but someone in the Greens should have “stress tested” this speech. I agree with Mike’s point

    “An advisor worth their salt would have asked those challenging questions before they were asked in public”

    It would have taken a lot of guts for her to have made that speech and it would have been highly emotional for her so I would have expected someone in the back-office should have taken on this role.

    It is sad what has occurred. She was a true champion for the people out there struggling and she has my thanks for that.

  3. Michal says:

    I disagree Mike. It wouldn’t have mattered what she did the MSM have played a huge part in bringing down one of the few hopes we had for this country.

    I never thought she should pay the money back or cooperate with WINZ on any of this.

    The real problem was the comemts by those two useless MPs that are unfortunately still in the party and who knew prior to the speech what wasin it. I would have sacked them! I will leave the party if they come back into the fold.

    The fact that Metiria couldn’t rememberwhat she had done 20 years ago (really, 20 years ago, how many of us remember) and that she had not voted where she lived, despite piles of people currently doing this, that added to her misdemeanours in the eyes of some of the public.

    I think the vote has gone down primarily because this latter stuff came out and a big beat up was done on it and Ardern, you know the woman who worked for the war criminal Blair got the job as head of Labour, you only have to be young, and ‘pretty’ and shake hands and your in. Someone had a very good piece in the Press yesterday about how how Ardern has worked on her image, being seen with young people and having selfies and all that crap, shame so many people are taken in by it, so little substance. The woman is a flake.

    Seymour and all those other dumb right wing media we have in this country have a lot to answer for, all of them baying for blood, because gee we musn’t have someone in a position of power who really does care about the poor.

  4. J W says:

    Agreed. Metiria did the right thing in speaking truth to power but she and her advisors absolutely should have realised they needed to make it watertight. If this had been handled properly we could be looking at a rejuvenated public debate, sadly we’re seeing a major decline of the left. Go well Metiria..

  5. Marc says:

    John Campbell on this, and the follow up:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/336833/green-party-co-leader-metiria-turei-resigns

    Whatever the truth, NEVER, if any of you, have ever bent the rules with WINZ, my advice: NEVER tell the truth that may be, survive, and stay clear of such risks!

    We live in a rotten, hypocritical and nasty society, and being honest is next to commit suicide, do not go there.

    • bert says:

      Simply put, “dirty politics”, this time by David Seymour. Seymour was responsible for leaking this story to the media, he has already confessed. He stated he was leaked this information by an informant.

      Let us hope the same person leaks similar information of someone in the National party and Seymour is similarly eager but then he would cut of his nose despite his face given the “dirty, filthy deal” he has with National in Epsom, the only viable way for him to be relevant.

      As for the informant, a previous head of Winz has been extremely vocal of Meteria recently?

  6. Marc says:

    Feedback on RNZ, from yesterday, but MS do of course not report on this:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201853999/manurewa-voters-have-their-say-on-turei-s-benefit-fraud

    Prostitution is ‘legal’ now, a ‘business’ activity, so WINZ and government can get away with forcing women and men into earning a living like this, although they will dispute it, what a disgusting and hypocritical society NZ has become.

  7. Andrea says:

    A while back the Greens had the choice between Metiria Turei and Sue Bradford – and they made their choice.

    If they really wanted an advocate for the poor, low paid and beneficiaries Ms Bradford would have been the much better choice because she walks her talk. Did so in parliament, despite the jeers from the other side.

    She stood for ALL people in similar dire straits.

    Sorry, Greens. More PC than sense.

    • Marc says:

      Absolutely, Sue would have stood firm and told the media, take a fucking hike, excuse my language. Metiria was naive, and is sensitive of course, and she caved in. Fully understandable given the nasty attacks, but Sue is hardened, we need her to lead the fight on the streets now, go AAAP.

      http://www.aaap.org.nz/
      https://www.facebook.com/AAAPNZ

      There is NO alternative, we must get back to action, on the streets, on sites and National Party shit conferences.

      • mjh says:

        quite right! wish Sue was still in and leading the Greens! Bet Metiria has been grossly abused. This is the new Dirty Politics, and it is sickening to hear others who are/were poor and on a benefit ring in to talkback radio and attack her. Mike Treen is right so — this story starting breaking just after I saw “I Daniel Blake” and I immediately thought it is exactly the same thing and it is a heartbreaking tale, repeated over and over again.
        If you haven’t seen I Daniel Blake — see it and weep! It will haunt you!

      • WILD KATIPO says:

        You don’t tug on superman’s cape
        You don’t spit into the wind
        You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
        And you don’t mess around with Sue.

        So absolutely right, mate.

  8. Marc says:

    I have had quite enough of the BS that so many here put up with, I have had the guts full of the shit this commerce controlled dictatorship is all about, and the dumbed down people put up with, I suggest FIGHT back to get your fucking country back, that is if you care:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1q246N1mM0

  9. Veritas says:

    Mr Treen is correct. The story was never checked before it was told and the failure to pay back the money first was at least totally misguided. As for the poor solo mother story, if Cameron Slater could find photos of mother, baby and father all looking happy as well as grandmother and grandchild on labour election material, why couldn’t Green strategists and advisers. Are they resigning? Have a look at Whale Oil, the photos are there.

    • e-clectic says:

      Yes – this is a critical issue – if the Greens want to play in the big boys (& girls) club they need to play a lot smarter.
      If they haven’t got one, they need a hard arse on their team who black hats everything and runs the scenarios looking at the downside risks. This is political management 101.

  10. Siobhan says:

    I think the Greens should have grabbed the narrative of inequality by the scruff of the neck and gone hard, extending the issues to include the struggling workers.
    Dividing off beneficiaries as a separate ‘special needs’ group is a tough narrative to get through the media filter.
    And even people who have at some point relied on benefits tend to want to distance themselves from ‘the other’ current beneficiaries, who are magically less deserving than they were.

    But if you include ALL ‘The Battlers’ then you get folk talking to one another at the petrol station, opening up as one big group who face the same trials and uncertainty in life.

    United we can make a stand…but divided we fall.

    • e-clectic says:

      Astute stuff again, Siobhan – but there was clearly no plan.

      Now, who is covering James Shaw’s arse? It’s necessary.

  11. Penny Bright says:

    IMO – and I’ve been saying this for years – the answer is to focus on the ‘undeserving rich’ – private consultants and contractors who are receiving literally BILLION$ of public money at local and central government through ‘corporate welfare’?

    That’s where the money for ‘social’ welfare can come from.

    Rollback Rogernomics – bring back the genuine PUBLIC SERVICE model and cut out the contractor$.

    Penny Bright
    2017 Independent candidate for Tamaki.

    Exposing the $1.6 BILLION Tamaki ‘Regeneration’ – GENTRIFICATION $CAM.

  12. Micko says:

    I, too, am astounded at the totally abysmal lack of political nous that has led to this all-too predictable outcome. WTF was she thinking?

    Worse, I’m now wondering whether she actually was “on the bones of her bum” at the time or, perhaps, really was rorting the system. And her “I’ll pay it back, but only if I’m required to” stance, coming from someone on her salary, is a slap in the face to people on a fraction of her income. I’ve pretty much lost all my respect for her now.

    I have been a contributer to the Greens who have had my party vote ever since their inception. I may vote red this time to give Ardern strength to keep Winston in check. Depends on what happens next.

    • aom says:

      Her “I’ll pay it back, but only if I’m required to” coment suggests there is some doubt as to whether a debt was incurred at all. Also, it’s all well and good to say the money should have been paid back prior to going public but surely, one can’t make payments before a debt is properly assessed. Imagine the uproar if MT had paid back $5000 then the debt was assessed at $7000.

  13. savenz says:

    Agree that the advisers (and communication teams) of the parties should be scrutinised. When I first heard Metiria come out with her WINZ past, I thought it would be a disaster – then was really happy that Greens shot up to 14% – but ultimately it’s caused her resignation and the polls are down. Weird they were up so much and then down, so I think if anything, the parties need to stop watching the polls so much and reacting to each one.

    I don’t think Andrew Little was wrong to say he thought of resigning. Who wouldn’t think of resigning with all the muck being thrown at him? To me he came across as humble and honest and worn down by the lack of support.

    However it seems like going with Jacinda has resurrected Labour, although how much was the shock of Metiria announcing $180 per week for beneficiaries which was so shocking to MSM and all the neoliberals out there. Maybe this helped them be ready to embrace someone left who will deliver a safe platform with few surprises. I have always thought that Labour needed to appeal to middle NZ, get elected and then start reversing the Natz disasters.

    One winner out of it all, might be James Shaw whose support of Metiria has been strong and made him much more likeable and real to many Green voters. This might be because it sounds like he was raised in a single parent family and therefore knew the challenges that brings.

    There is also a fairly positive article in Granny about him.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11894794

  14. Priss says:

    I was so ashamed to be a New Zealander last night.

    In fact, I still am.

    What a rotten society we have become. Petty, vindictive, selfish, intolerant. And led mostly by white, privileged men. Need I say more?

    Patrick Gower and David Seymour, you disgust me.

  15. Louis says:

    Been asking myself the same question Mike. On another thought, I dont think after the election it will be the last time we see Metiria either, she will carry on the fight in another capacity. I feel certain of it.

  16. […] Leftwing union activist Mike Treen also makes this point: “the Greens have to bear some of the blame for that. There is no excuse for not seeing what was coming after the announcement and preparing for that with the obvious response that every cent would be repaid. Failure to do so is just stupid” – see: Resignation fever! Who is advising our political leaders?. […]

  17. Steve King says:

    Am I imagining it or has Paula Bennett been VERY quiet this week?

  18. HC says:

    It came as I feared, Metiria Turei took a great risk, but did not realise how nasty many in the so called mainstream media are, when digging for stuff in people’s past, and trying to find things they can then sell as scandal like stories.

    There has always been a nasty side to journalism, ethics is not much of a virtue within some. Add the prejudice that exists in the population, large parts of it at least, and the pressure put onto the Green’s co-leader got too much.

    She should never have come out with all she did say about her past on the benefit.

    Perhaps she was somewhat protected from the not always that kind society out here, while serving as an MP for so many years, with a high enough income to live securely.

    So it teaches people something, if you have ever been on a benefit, and may not have told WINZ all the truth, do not talk about it in later years, unless you have to. The risk is far too great, and the damage that can happen is not worth it.

    Meanwhile, why do the media jackals not hound down one Paula Bennett now, surely, some stories that go around cannot be without any truth behind them? Why is she treated differently, and can go around telling others to pull up their socks, while being pressured by WINZ, when she herself benefited from welfare in times where it was more accessible and perhaps even a bit more generous after the nasty reforms she brought in, kicking the rungs off the ladder behind her?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/8450326/Bennett-unapologetic-about-welfare-reforms

    “Meanwhile, in 2010 more than 7.5 per cent of live births – 4800 of 63,900 – were babies born to solo parents on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) and Emergency Maintenance Allowance.

    And between 1993 and 2011, 29 per cent of solo mothers on the DPB had another child.

    “It does tell us that those that are already on benefits with children are still having subsequent children,” Bennett said.

    “The effects of them potentially being longer on [a] benefit are what have lead us to make this sort of policy change.””

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/94627131/One-lied-one-says-she-never-did-The-untold-back-stories-of-political-leaders-Paula-Bennett-and-Metiria-Turei