Collins' Comments: 30 October 2006
Judith Collins Clevedon MP 30 October 2006
For what was meant to be the biggest change to our welfare system in fifty years, Social Development Minister, David Benson Pope’s recent announcement on benefits was a flop. Despite an imaginative use of jargon the big secret was the supposed “new”idea of having a job search service to help those able people on sickness and invalid benefits get into employment. Shouldn’t this type of assistance already be in place? Behind all the spin, and what the Minister did not announce, is that the numbers of New Zealanders on either a sickness or invalids benefit has risen to just under 126,000. This number has been on the rise for some time, and is at a record high. It has risen by 50% since Labour came to office in 1999. Evidently, there does need to be more scrutiny in assessing people on this benefit. This might be difficult considering that on National Radio, the Minister confessed to not knowing the sickness and invalid benefit numbers. Mr Benson Pope did confirm that Labour’s flagship welfare policy for the last few elections, the Single Core Benefit, wouldn’t be introduced until around 2010. Labour has been promoting this imaginary core benefit since 1989. I don’t believe it will ever see the light of day, and nor should it. Merging the different type of benefits into one, is merely a way for the Government to conceal numbers, like the large number of people we now have on a sickness or invalid benefit. Also, it would be very nice to know just how many millions of dollars has been spent on bureaucrats running around trying to find out the obvious – that plans for this single core benefit are simply not realistic. This benefit was meant to be introduced in 1991, 2002, 2007, and now 2010. The other change made was to make it easier for people to qualify for the unemployment benefit by reducing the “stand-down”period to 2 weeks. So, after all the hype, another let down.
Drinking Water to cause another hike in Rates. Those in rural areas will be paying millions of dollars to fulfill requirements for Labour’s proposed Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill. Rates have already increased outrageously and now the Government wants to slap rural people with heavy costs in a bid to raise water standards. Many rural people already have installed water filtering and purifying systems, so what is the point in them paying more in rates to access a service they already have? Reports have already been issued claiming the $150 million Government subsidy would most likely need to be doubled, and Timaru District Council are already citing a figure between nine and thirty million for its ratepayers. The bill is extremely problematic, and raises many flaws. As an example, it isn’t fair that our rural ratepayers will carry the cost burden so that farm animals and flower gardens will have access to the same quality of water as homeowners. The Government has unrealistic expectations, when it comes to rates. Labour shouldn’t be so careless, and actually put adequate thought and analysis into a Bill which makes little sense in its current from.
Dunlop Targa Rally Race Starts in Papakura. Despite the torrential rain over Labour weekend, it was heartening to see supporters in Papakura cheering on the start of the Dunlop Targa car rally around the North Island. It was definitely a special event for Papakura, and I was privileged to flag-off the start of the race on Labour Day. Despite the weather, everyone was in good spirits. Well done Dunlop Targa!
Don Brash’s speech to the Northern Regional Mini Conference on Auckland issues dealt with the non-PC subject of fatherlessness and the need for boys to have good fathers or father figures. The text of Don’s speech is at http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleID=8510
The Harlequin Musical Theatre in Pakuranga Road, Howick is performing “Stepping Out”. It is a warm and funny play about the lives, laughs and loves of a group of women and one man who attend a weekly tap dance class. The play is running until 11 November. I attended the opening night and was very impressed with the professional standard shown.