Why does Carmel Sepuloni bother to get out of bed in the morning?


Well there you have it. Two Labour Party ministers confirming yet again, if any confirmation was necessary, that Labour remains as mired in neo-liberalism as it ever was in the 1980s.

Side by side Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni, with straight faces, announced that newly unemployed New Zealanders in fulltime work before 1 March would receive a tax-free weekly benefit of $490 for 12 weeks. This compares to a maximum $250 – taxed – for people over 25 on the existing jobseeker benefit.

As many commentators have pointed out the government is once more dividing people on low-incomes into the “deserving poor” and the “underserving” poor. Middle-class level welfare for the victims of Covid 19 compared to unliveable “bludger” level welfare for those struggling at the bottom.

It mirrors what the Helen Clarke Labour government did in 2005 when it introduced Working for Families which has tax credits for children with a parent in employment but specifically and deliberately denies the same payment to the children of beneficiaries.

Once again Labour withholds essential government support from those who need it most.

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When asked why this relatively generous untaxed payment of double the money available for someone unemployed before 1 March compared to the thin gruel of the “jobseekers benefit” for those unemployed before 1 March Grant Robertson says it is to “cushion the shock of being newly unemployed through no fault of their own”. The immediate implication is that sole parents raising children have themselves to blame when a relationship breaks up. It’s too awful to even consider as a response.

Behind the scenes now Labour MPs will be whispering to key people: “We didn’t want to do it this way but New Zealand First wouldn’t agree”, repeating the messages from Labour MPs in 2005: “We wanted to do more for beneficiaries but Helen and Michael (Helen Clarke and Michael Cullen) wouldn’t let us”. Gutlessness personified.

For 30 years the poorest New Zealanders have been kicked in the teeth repeatedly by Labour which prefers to fund an army of support at the bottom of the cliff rather than fix the fence at the top.

As for Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni – why does she bother getting out of bed in the morning?


  1. Well said, John. There have been plenty of people who lost their employment through no fault of their own -myself included- and struggled for years on below-subsistence levels of support from the ‘welfare’ system.

    This latest slap in the face for a multitude of people in this country -by people on extraordinarily high salaries for what they do- demonstrates how out of touch the government is.

    It is a poor recommendation for ‘Labour’ that it would be worse under National. Yet that is what voters are required to weigh up: the least bad of two (or more) evils.

    I love the ‘As for Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni – why does she bother getting out of bed in the morning?’ comment.

    The answer is, of course, to keep her snout in the public feeding trough. Failure to turn up for work, even if she does bugger all, would eventually be noticed.

    • Yes more of the same indeed, just slightly different versions but they sing form the same song sheet. The middle class are the main problem. They are the biggest bashers of beneficaries and many of them will now be the ‘deserving’ poor.

  2. Well said John. Middle class white folk would have been traumatised by being spat out by the WINZ/MSD punishment maze you see.

    Reform was there for the taking via the Expert Working Group’s 42 recommendations including individualising benefits and raising them substantially-but no, billions in bailouts for employers ( down to self employed level) and nothing for the underclass largely created by “Roger’n’Ruth” in the first place!

  3. What is missing in this commentary is the fact that the Greens support and vote for this as well just like the totalitarian police state laws. The Greens have lost my vote, my money and any form of support over the pathetic excuses for being Labours Lap Dog (my apologies to all dogs I like dogs a lot more than I do the Greens at the moment). The pathetically spineless middle class Brahmin Left that infect the Greens need to be made unemployed on September the 19th maybe then activists can retake the party after the election. If I had known in 1997 when we voted to leave the Alliance that this would be what becomes of the Greens I would never have bothered to vote to leave.

    • TMM
      Hasn’t the parliamentary GP (belatedly) disagreed with Labour on this very issue in the past week. Here is Campbell on that:


      But is it really preferable to have an unfettered labour party to one (however marginally) pulled leftward by the GP? Possibly their getting under 5% this election might lead to a renewed activist GP, but a slow fade into oblivion seems more likely. Not something I am willing to bet on.

      If we want an activist GP, then we will have to do the long and tedious task of getting activists into co-co and other structural positions. However that requires a sustained political temperament that is nearly opposite to that of the hot and quick burning firebrand.

      Pressure on government to lower the threshold and starting new uncompromised political parties might be more effective. But that hasn’t happened yet. For now, I will stick with; volunteering, and party voting, for the present GP – as the best of a bad bunch for beneficiaries. I realise that is hardly the most inspiring description though.

      • If you’re just looking at welfare and directing people to only read welfare policy then yeah, you can be the ultimate winner all day in your own head.

        But if you want to achieve even the most basic levels of political honesty then you have to take a parties policy agenda in its entirety and trust me no one wants to spend there evening going through online policy web boards.

  4. How dare these people. I didn’t vote them in to be left behind. I trained in public service and science so Robertson and his cronies should be doing their utmost to get me into employment in these sectors especially (my references have lapsed is all), or raise my benefit to a level I can live on, or quit and let someone else have a go. We need someone who cares about all New Zealanders.

  5. Seems awful risky this close to the Election, considering the Subsidised top-up will expire prior to 19/9. If Grantie fails to level the playing field before Labour’s Big Day Out, they risk a General Strike within days of what they think is going to be a slam dunk… You can take that to the Bank…

    • They had already increased mainline benefits $25 a week and doubled the power income supplement

      And personally I like the idea of a 12 week higher rate of payment and think it should be permanent. And including partners is a nudge in the right direction. Hopefully they move to pay the non working partner the dole for up to 12 months (allows retraining).

  6. One other thing @ JM.
    labour seems terminally infected with the psychiatric ‘greed and success’ disease which seems to define most of western humanity as a species. We must, so we’re told, all hoard and consume more than we need because that’s what we do and 99 % of us are deliberately rendered so ignorant that we can’t think our way around that particular conundrum.
    national are audaciously exploitative and gleefully cruel and sadistic and so are as good at being sub-human beings as labour is in its current, unapologetic neoliberal form.
    So? What to do? Clearly, what ever we do needs to be entirely new.
    I think a brand spanking new political organisation is required. One that’s modern and progressive and focuses on an entirely new vector and away from the ‘greed and success’ mental illness.
    A politic that’s more Scandinavian and less white hall or white house. Less white, generally, would be nice.
    Check out Finland for example, or Denmark? I read somewhere that those countries have high taxes certainly but are populated by the happiest people and they have populations similar to ours.
    I think we need to ignore corrupt and sick labour and pathetic little national and hope they just quietly wither and die while we, out in the warm new sunshine have a more vigourus intellectual politic that promotes humour, wit, kindness empathy and co-operation. Like AO/NZ families were before neoliberalism poisoned them off with toxins like poverty and ever escalating costs on already taxes -paid -for stuff and things.
    I imagine a new politic that aggressively campaigns our primary-industry agrarian infrastructure to tempt them away from the greedy lunacy of national and helps those people in that industry to integrate with their urban down stream service industry people.
    Any new politic that’s diametrically opposite to all that is available to we AO/NZ’ers at this point would win hands down provided we’re smart enough to recognise a good one should it come along because honestly? What we’ve had to endure for the last 40 or so years is miserable, plain, boring, dull and above all, dangerous.
    In short? We have to bring our farmers to town and we must shoulder to shoulder with them to drive the greedy, success obsessives out, banks and all.
    carmel sepuloni is a divisive fucking idiot. So is grant robertson. Get rid of them.

    • Does Bombers Fortress (or Pa, as someone cleverly suggested) Aotearoa fit the build?
      I’ve asked him (on here) to launch the party and I’ll support and help out in the Kerikeri area.

      • Come on Bomber has been full of Labour’s hero status for ages, and especially Ardern who apparently has a halo.

        The fact is capitalism doesn’t work for the majority and all of the parties in parliament believe in it and do their best to ensure it continues as it is.

        • Yet a new party based along the lines of any of the Scandinavian states would immediately undermine both Lab/ Nat arguments.

          And ensure the wealth multply’s for all – not just the entitled few.

    • …’ A politic that’s more Scandinavian and less white hall or white house’…

      That’s it! – for years and years I have always maintained this ! The Scandinavians leave us all in the dust when it comes ‘how it should be done’… some have said ‘yes but they enjoy the close proximity to the EU’. Rubbish ! We could just as easily restructure things along those lines and gain the benefits and still do our trading thing.

      The people who adhere to that argument are being deliberately blinkered and willfully obtuse against such reforms. Thinking that smacks of the vested interests in maintaining the poverty culture for their personal gains. And that’s all it is.

    • The where does it come from is so simple, I’ve written on here many times about it.
      Two most obvious of many options.1) Close down WINZ/MSD and make IRD infinitely smaller. Huge savings. Which according to Gareth Morgan’s big kahuna will in 2000 save money even if we pay every adult $200 p/w. So call that about $300 in todays money.
      2) We (mainly the USA Fed, but others with their permission) already create money out of thin air and then even worse give it to the uber wealthy at basically zero cost and at trivial cost to the wealthy and then after inflation has been caused allow us 90%’er to pay infinitely higher interest to buy stuff that has since gone up in price, see Cantillon effect.

      So use 1) and ONLY allow the Govt to create money, so ALL the profit from that exercise, which is HUGE, see the profit per year of the banks for doing a whole lot of nothing.

      Problem solved, other than ‘the Mafia’ will be pissed that the people aren’t being milked by (and for the benefit of) the uber wealthy and might send in their army, see Iraq, Libya and what is trying to be done to Venezuela, Iran, China, Russia etc.

      p.s. The USA is infinity worse than Weimar Germany, Zimbabwe, etc, but it has a HUGE military and who’s going to tell them to stop?

  7. Kia ora John
    There are links to past policies and signs of future ones in this decision. ACC, the original Labour government’s superannuation scheme and KiwiSaver are all based on the principle of giving more to those who already have most.
    The present government has started using the phrase “unemployment insurance” in place of “unemployment benefit”. Ergo, if the Ardern government survives, it will bring in unemployment benefits calculated on average past earnings, so that those at the bottom of the heap, those at the top and those in the middle will stay where exactly where they are in the event of redundancy.
    Meanwhile those in work will be motivated to work twelve hours a day seven days a week, not just to survive in the present but also to protect themselves from the future prospect of unemployment.
    Unemployment insurance may be a good strategy for capital, and it may even assist Labour’s electoral prospects, but it will institutionalize and entrench inequality, which, sad to say, is really what the post-1972 Labour Party is all about.

  8. Yes well said – watching her & actually all of them asked about this subject is a day wrecker followed closely by the “media’s” ineptitude/collusion/mocking bird performance – I would like to acknowledge & thank John (& the many others I have never heard of ) for his deceny & efforts for humanity. I am over 60 & for long as I can remember this name kept coming up, often being arrested, battoned or badmouthed. His efforts have cost him his privacy & only john & god know the pressure, threat & cost he has been subjected to from the powers that shouldn’t b !! To swim against the tide for so long for such meagre progress & lack of appreciation is rare – thank you

  9. “Why does Carmel Sepuloni bother to get out of bed in the morning?”
    I think a salary for her role as the Min. MSD of $288,900 might have something to do with it?

  10. John the simple fact is that apart from the Greens ( with lip service ) there is NO political party cares about those who are economic refugees of neoliberalism.

    They in most cases don’t vote , have no influence except too be used occasionally as either a dog too beat or as an example too make middle class and wealthy people feel better that the welfare net should be enough for these miserable people too eek out a living , oh and it shows the whole elitist system is working.

    They and i include myself here have NO representation other than too give the Labour party a marketing tool too say they care but are doing jack shit in reality.

    As long as the rest of the country prospers and has a clear conscience with regards too how they treat the most destitute among with a $25 per week pay rise and they can sleep well at night that something is being done that is all that matters.

    • Too many ‘o’s to be believable. ever since Ruth Richardson welfare has needed reform but making a big issue over a 12 week special circumstances payment only makes you look greedy. The effort needs to be put into getting decent wages for all those that work, benefits that people can live with dignity on & housing affordability 1960’s style. Selfishness is rampant in society & the majority of those working who see beneficiaries get increased income will complain about it which is why wages for workers (especially the low income jobs) need to improve. The other problem is that there is a small % of the population who would jump at the chance to stop working if benefits were close to today’s minimum wage & logically that would be a rational decision but I should not need to remind anyone the danger in having most people on a benefit & few workers. While there are people who are not able to contribute to society I would be more inclined to listen to those complaining about the payment difference if they offered to do a few hours to a days community work for the extra payment.

    • This from No right turn.

      Labour doesn’t care about the already poor
      The government has announced another income support scheme for people affected by the economic aftershocks of the pandemic: a $490 a week tax-free payment for the newly unemployed, which you can get even if you have a working partner. Which is great, because its supporting people who need help, but at the same time the fact that it is double the unemployment benefit, which does not allow a working partner (and indeed, WINZ will hire PIs to peer in your bedroom window at night to see if you’re sleeping with anyone who “should” be economically supporting you because love is an economic transaction to them) kindof stinks. To ask the obvious question: what about the already poor? Don’t they deserve this level of support too? Or does Labour not care about them?

      But I think we all know Labour’s answers to those questions, don’t we? While they talk about “kindness” and “wellbeing”, when push comes to shove, they’re happy with existing inequalities, happy even to exacerbate them, happy with the underclass Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson created, happy with the status quo and all its injustices. Because doing anything about any of those problems would mean them having to pay more tax on their $180K+ salaries, or on their property portfolios or family trusts, and that seems to be something which is simply unthinkable to them now.

  11. How well said. An army of support at the bottom, where the ‘help’ is likely to be with force applied. A bit
    like the Ozzies who wanted to straighten out the aborigines and sent the army to get them into line.

  12. For the first time in 15 years I was able to collect the supported living payment previously known as the Invalids Benefit, My wife walked out of her last job because her employer was bullying her, this was just before this covid thing hit, but we werent given the big fat cushion of the sudden shock of having to go on a benefit. The wife immediately started looking for another job, found one and even had the interview via zoom during the lockdown. She got that job and just started work this week, its well below the 2 grand limit but since we got onto a benefit before this lockdown my supported living payments have stopped.

  13. So we cast Sepuloni on the rubbish heap of neo-liberalism. What I want to know is why an MP who gets personally involved with the poor in her electorate is going along with this miserable policy that keeps punishing the country’s poor. Be good to hear her own account of what and why she’s doing it.

    • It would also be good to hear why she thinks we are not interested in the rorts of the wage subsidy scheme and why the government refuses to publish the figures.

  14. And this is set to continue, John. In the announcement, Grant Robertson makes several references to Labour’s interest in setting up an “unemployment insurance scheme” – in other words, making permanent the two-tier benefit approach.

    This would allow future governments to ignore those forced to rely on benefits for a long time – needless to say, there are many, many circumstances where people may end up severely incapacitated and are unable to work by no fault of their own. Robertson’s two-tier approach is very dangerous and must be strongly opposed.


  15. Chris Trotter calls you radical Left yet we all agree about the content of what is good. The main diff is HIS tactics. He’s more into realpolitik. Ridiculous for truth to go quiet on that basis. The need of the poor and climate change may not be purchasable by the masses who vote, but they are the ones who are wrong. Now is our last chance. 36 years of defeat doesn’t matter in the face of fin de species.


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