Dyson Lacks Credibility
By Lindsay Mitchell
Ruth Dyson's flippant description of herself as Steve Maharey's "stunt double" and tongue-in-cheek reference to her "non-controversial portfolio's", ACC and CYFS, which produced publicity and, "in politics, any publicity is good publicity," got the crowd laughing at a forum on child poverty held at the Wellington People's Centre last night, said Lindsay Mitchell, petitioner for a parliamentary review of the DPB.
"I was appalled at the audience's response and angry that a Minister would make light of any 'publicity' given to a department she is responsible for. One of the results of CYFS failure is the prolonged suffering, and sometimes, the death of children."
"On the subject of child poverty, the focus fell on taxing workers more and spending it on welfare. Ms Dyson told the audience she believes Labour should go to the polls in 2005 promising higher tax because she was herself quite prepared to pay more."
"The budget will apparently deliver more for low income families with children who rely on a benefit. There was no discussion about how good policy might discourage people from getting themselves into the benefit trap - and it is a trap because low income jobs pay less - in the first place."
"The majority of children in 'poverty' are on the DPB. A retired plunket nurse in the audience asked Ms Dyson what she thought about solo mothers, already on a benefit, having more children, sometimes to different fathers. I supported this with the fact that in 2002 nearly 5,000 children were born onto a benefit which had been in place for 10 or more months."
"Ms Dyson's response was to say, the government does not make a moral judgement. The government does not condemn people's actions. This elicited a round of applause from an approving audience."
"Frankly," Mitchell said, "I am not interested in the neutral-value views of this inadequate government. What I want to know is why do we persist with a policy which pays people on benefits to have more children when those workers footing the bill don't enjoy the same privilege?"
"Dyson went on to detail how much Labour are doing to get single parents into work which prompted me to ask, why then, aren't the numbers coming down?"
"She denied this and I repeated that the numbers have not come down since 1999."
"In November 1999 there were 190,723 children on the DPB. In November 2003 the number had climbed to 191,420. Ms Dyson may only be the Associate Minister for Social Development but she should get to know her portfolio a little better. It is no wonder CYFS is struggling with this quality of leadership."
Lindsay Mitchell Petitioner for a parliamentary
review of the DPB petition forms available from