Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Let Them Eat Weetbix" says Paula Bennett.

At a public meeting on Health, at her office in Henderson last night, Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett said that no child needs to go hungry as all the parent needs to do is give them Weetbix with hot water.

She is saying that hunger is the beneficiaries' fault!
No matter , to Bennett, that the entire week's benefit has gone immediately to pay (a) rent-which may be higher than the benefit in the first place; (b) debts or car expenses

Unite Waitemata members brave the cold to protest
health and benefit cuts and privatisation. Monday 25 July 2011

(c ) emergency medical costs such as out of hours A@E costs for children; parking costs at a hospital, doctor's fees for anyone over five; (d) the school demands some more money for 'donations" or a school trip;
or (e) the water could even be cut under the Auckland City Council's new rules. So not even water with the weetbix! And the world cost of wheat, as with rice, grains, vegetables and all basic foods is rising astronomically due to floods, droughts and climate change.

So then- where does the money for the "Weetbix and water" diet that Bennett prescribes come from? And even if there was a few dollars to buy a packet of weetbix-how is that going to provide adequate nutrition for anyone?

Bennett does not even dare to mention Weetbix with milk, given the astronomic cost of milk. Where's the calcium? Where's the protein?

What does Bennett expect people to do in order to afford their Weetbix? Live on the street or under bridges? Beg, steal, or prostitute themselves? Send their kids out to work all night at MacDonalds or Burger King?

And if people decide to make sacrifices to pay the rent- they may go hungry, or suffer from overcrowding, or damp mouldy houses. Then Bennett blames us for not feeding our children Weetbix every morning .
Or for living in "clusters". Overcrowding, hunger, stress and poor housing is a recipe for domestic abuse and disease. But the the National and Labout governments take no responsibility for their part in drastically cutting benefits in 1991 and continuously eroding them ever since , with the worst yet to come!
The government's policy towards low income people and beneficiaries is economic violence. Cuts kill.
Children with poor nutrition not only can't learn at school, but suffer a life time of poor health and die young. So do women or children who have suffered domestic abuse.

The Child Poverty Action Group is calling on the Government to fund food programmes for hungry children in schools, now that the Red Cross Programme has collapsed due to supermarkets pulling out of the programme. This just goes to show, says the CPAG, that we can't rely on charity. Too right we can't. It's time for the government to step up to its responsibility and to stop blaming parents who can't make ends meet on sub- poverty incomes. Shame on you National! and Shame on Labour before! Neither have lifted a finger to help beneficiaries and their children out of poverty in over 20 years! Shame upon these governments for letting things get so bad that the Red Cross had to step in!!!

A single parent with three disabled children who relies on the DPB and works part time as a teacher aide said that she has to take her children to the hospital each week and each time pays exorbitant hospital parking fees. She pointed out that many people would not get the health care that their children needed faced with these costs. Doctors fees are also prohibitive for all but the under fives; and even they have to pay at after hour A@E centres.
Citizen's watch dog Penny Bright asked where was the accountability for the private health providers who had contracts with the Department of Health; and suggested that if enormous amounts of money was not siphoned off to some of the middle men that free parking would be quite affordable. She said it was totally unacceptable for people to have to pay for parking for health care.
There was also a lively debate on the pros and cons of raising the drinking age, with young people arguing forcefully against it and a representative from CADS begging for some intervention to prevent people drinking too much. One person suggested gradually raising the smoking age, and some National Party supporters even thanked Hone Harawira for the legislative changes about smoking that he brought about.
The single parent of the three disabled children also asked: What about alternative medicine? Why do the Regional Health Advisors refuse to acknowledge that this is valid, as had been her experience? Paula Bennett did not accept that they were doing this. Here we have a beneficiary's actual experience being contradicted by a Minister's assertions.

Poverty , hunger and ill health is the Government's Shame- Not Ours!

Living Benefits and Living Wages Now!
Free Nutritious Food in Schools Now !


Anonymous said...

Do you think Bennet is being used by National supporters/party members as a "clown" in a bit of Election "Theater"? choosing the Social Development portfolio sends a message that National do not take the portfolio of Social Development seriously. Instead they hide behind a farce which prevents the serious consequences of their policies from (A) being heard, (B) being taken seriously by voters who do not follow politics,( they are usually the ones who are doing quite nicely thank you very much) so will think it hilarious and vote National at the election!I think Paula is taking us for a big fat ride.
Is it her role as a politician to bait the public by drawing protesters into humiliating situations and arguments and creating farcical situations, inserting herself into them with silly arguments(?)that trivialize WINZ as a government department,trivialize the victims in the war on poverty, and humiliate ordinary people who object to her silly statements,and OTT policies.(See Onion TV).
Each of the statements that provoked the public are arguments that are (deliberately?)outrageous (eg; using a slogan that is so well known as being associated with oppression, and concentration camps to make a point about WINZ recipients,and parents being baited into taking her advice seriously and providing dangerous diets to their children, that lack nutrition. This is the sort of humor Fascists appreciate. I'd like to bet that they are laughing their t*ts off behind closed doors at National Party offices and social functions. Paula's antics create huge headlines and discredit the WINZ office, their employees, and benefit recipients, so that they will make themselves look ridiculous and petty in public? What do you think? She must be getting a big fat bonus for doing this if it is true? No-one who manages to get elected can be this stupid. It must be a ACT. If so what's next. I can think of a few things but I'd like to hear some other opinions.Please I don't mean this as a joke.

president said...

I think there's a lot in what you say, although I don't think Paula is consciously being stupid or a clown, she's just being herself. But yes I think she was chosen partly for the reasons that you are suggesting.

Anonymous said...

I am currently in battle with work and income they removed my special benefit even though they weren't taking into account all my costs. They also denied me a child disability allowance for my youngest even though my son received the allowance for the same condition from a younger age without a peaditrition signing the form. They also removed our funding for alternative treatments forcing my son and myself back onto medication which we had been free from for months. I am currently going through a review process the special benefit review has been going on for nearly 2 years now. I now left with $15 for petrol and less than $100 for food I have 3 children all with extra needs and myself.All the while I'm trying to complete my degree all unassisted in order to be able to move off the benefit system.

Secretary said...

Hi Anonymous 2. It sounds like you are having a very difficult time with WINZ. Kia kaha in your brave struggle! Maybe we can help, but we only have the resources to help our members; we like to help each other as much as possible and can talk to WINZ with you. It sound wrong for WINZ to abolish your special benefit and child disability allowance. Perhaps we could help you with your review. Why don't you come to one of our monthly meetings to meet us? Every third Saturday of the month at the Avondale Community Centre. Our next meeting is our Annual General meeting. Or ring Keith 8369104 for further information.