Paula Bennett says she didn't lie about her circumstances to Work and Income

by RNZ / 17 July, 2017
Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett says she "didn't lie as such about my circumstances". Photo / Getty Images

In an interview, Paula Bennett was asked about her own experience of being on a benefit and whether she was ever dishonest with Work and Income.

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett, who also received a benefit as a sole parent, says she was never in a position of having to lie to Work and Income, as Metiria Turei did.

There has been a mixed political reaction to Ms Turei's admission that she lied to Work and Income in the 1990s so her sole parent benefit would not be cut.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said Ms Turei was brave and honest to admit to breaking the rules, but National Party MP Steven Joyce said people would be disappointed.

Mrs Bennett said she was often on a sole parent benefit herself, but also said Ms Turei's admission was disappointing.

She said she had never found herself in a position where she had to lie to Work and Income.

"I think people work really hard in this country and they pay their taxes and they want it to be fair and for that we expect people to be honest and not cheating.

"I was often on benefit, I had jobs and I was always trying to get off when I was on, because I wanted to work and didn't want to be on a benefit.

"But no, I didn't deliberately lie, I didn't lie as such about my circumstances ... I didn't lie to them about my circumstances to get more money.

"I remember hard times on the benefit and I've never bought into that people choose to be there ... and that it's a great lifestyle, because it's not, it's actually really hard."

She disagreed with the Green Party policy of removing the practice of cutting benefits to those who failed to comply with particular rules.

"I think we should be talking about the fact that they're talking about taking away work obligations as part of their policy, and I've got to be honest that just completely horrifies me.

"It's never for missing one job interview, there's always a warning system, there's always a series of circumstance.

"I can tell you that for most of those that receive a sanction they never actually get any cut in the weekly amount they get."

She admitted there were thousands of people who did have their benefits cut, however.

"We've equally, though, got the lowest number of sole parents that we've had since 1988.

"And those women and their children - they are predominantly women - are doing so much better off benefit, not just financially but equally for the hope and everything that they've got in that household.

"If you can work you should be, and if you are on a benefit and you can be looking for work then I think most New Zealanders expect there to be a mutual obligation that you're doing that."

Comparing Todd Barclay to Metiria Turei a long bow - deputy PM

She said it was a wide bow to draw to compare it to National MP Todd Barclay who, after a scandal where it is alleged he secretly recorded staff at his electorate office, announced he would not be standing in the next election.

Mr Barclay has not shown up at Parliament for the past three weeks, but was still being paid about $3000 a week.

Mrs Bennett said he was still working.

"He's certainly been advocating on behalf of his electorate, he's still doing that work, he's still doing work on behalf of his constituents and things.

She said it had been recess for the past week and the coming week, and although he had not been at Parliament for the two weeks before that she expected he would return to Parliament after the recess.

"He's not fronting to the media and he doesn't actually have to do that. I mean, he has been doing his job in his electorate and I expect to see him in the next three weeks in Parliament."

"I think most people would give him a week, or six days that he wasn't in Parliament, to be fair."

She said she thought the government did give beneficiaries a fair break as well.

"For those who have their benefits cut the difference is they can recomply really easily, and as such get their benefit back."

This article was originally published by RNZ.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Voluntourism: When charity does more harm than good
80318 2017-09-21 00:00:00Z Social issues

Voluntourism: When charity does more harm than goo…

by The Listener

Some of the world’s poorest children are taken from their families and used as bait for the booming business of feel-good “voluntourism”.

Read more
6 Days – movie review
80298 2017-09-21 00:00:00Z Movies

6 Days – movie review

by James Robins

Tension and intrigue abound in Toa Fraser’s rigorous retelling of 1980’s deadly Iranian Embassy siege.

Read more
World of WearableArt's new creative director on bringing the 'wow factor'
79696 2017-09-21 00:00:00Z Arts

World of WearableArt's new creative director on br…

by Kate Evans

From choirboy to creative director, Kip Chapman has always gone for the “wow factor” - now he's tackling NZ's biggest stage show.

Read more
Still my mum: Learning to cope when a parent gets Alzheimer's
80115 2017-09-21 00:00:00Z Health

Still my mum: Learning to cope when a parent gets …

by Mary de Ruyter

Mary de Ruyter on the master-class in letting go – and holding onto the light – of her mother’s descent into dementia.

Read more
How reading books helps fight Alzheimer's disease
80291 2017-09-21 00:00:00Z Health

How reading books helps fight Alzheimer's disease

by Nicky Pellegrino

Aside from the pleasure it gives, reading staves off Alzheimer’s and helps make your personality shine.

Read more
Privacy complaint lodged over Paula Bennett campaign text
80293 2017-09-20 14:02:57Z Politics

Privacy complaint lodged over Paula Bennett campai…

by RNZ

National's deputy leader Paula Bennett is at the centre of a complaint after her campaign sent a text to 40 constituents that included phone numbers.

Read more
Fuel crisis: Neighbours detail swamp kauri mining at leak site
80287 2017-09-20 13:49:28Z Economy

Fuel crisis: Neighbours detail swamp kauri mining …

by Lois Williams

The Northland property where the Marsden-to-Wiri fuel pipeline was broken was mined for swamp kauri two to three years ago, neighbours say.

Read more
Three great Auckland food events featuring oysters, quinoa and venison
80280 2017-09-20 13:04:17Z Dining

Three great Auckland food events featuring oysters…

by Kate Richards

Oysters, quinoa, kawakawa, venison and more, feature on the creative menus of these three upcoming Auckland food events.

Read more