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.

Latest

Kiwi film Stray shows an ambition that is often lacking in NZ cinema
97738 2018-10-15 15:01:54Z Movies

Kiwi film Stray shows an ambition that is often la…

by James Robins

It doesn’t say much, but there is something hypnotic in Dustin Feneley’s crowdfunded debut feature Stray.

Read more
Simon Bridges amended electoral donation return, insider claims
97734 2018-10-15 13:26:57Z Politics

Simon Bridges amended electoral donation return, i…

by Jo Moir

A National Party insider has told RNZ that Simon Bridges amended his personal electoral donation return to remove two donations totalling $24,000.

Read more
Simon Bridges points to Jami-Lee Ross as the National Party leaker
97732 2018-10-15 13:13:30Z Politics

Simon Bridges points to Jami-Lee Ross as the Natio…

by RNZ

The MP is denying he was responsible.

Read more
New Zealand finally gets its own version of The Great British Bake Off
97514 2018-10-15 00:00:00Z Television

New Zealand finally gets its own version of The Gr…

by Russell Brown

In a reality-television landscape riven with cruelty, the popular Bake Off competition is actually nice to people.

Read more
Big bang theory: The annual torment that is Guy Fawkes
97356 2018-10-15 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Big bang theory: The annual torment that is Guy Fa…

by Mike White

Guy Fawkes might only come around once a year, but the sale of fireworks means noisy nights for weeks after November 5.

Read more
New claims of war crimes and sex assaults inside the NZ Defence Force
97663 2018-10-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

New claims of war crimes and sex assaults inside t…

by North & South

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager reveals a culture of impunity and cover-ups within the New Zealand Defence Force.

Read more
The good and bad news about Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment
97633 2018-10-14 00:00:00Z World

The good and bad news about Brett Kavanaugh’s Supr…

by Paul Thomas

The US is more divided than ever with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh. The mid-term elections loom as the next round of bipartisan warfare.

Read more
Putin's treatment of his critics is causing problems for Russians in the UK
97672 2018-10-14 00:00:00Z World

Putin's treatment of his critics is causing proble…

by Andrew Anthony

Like Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Litvinenko, many opponents of Vladimir Putin have died in strange circumstances in Britain.

Read more