"If National needs a scapegoat, if you like, we could be that scapegoat," he said. The main priorities were to cut government spending, reform the Resource Management Act, restore a youth minimum wage and raise the age of eligibility for superannuation.
No problem with those but it's so disappointing to again see ACT failing to prioritise welfare.
Yesterday these policies appeared on-line:
ACT will continue to push for major welfare reform. A Party Vote for ACT is a vote to:
• Ensure that there is strong, adequate support for the genuinely needy;Some good stuff. Some not so good. For instance I don't think whanau ora is about reducing Maori benefit dependency. I think it's about teaching Maori to be better parents. Different things. Not sure about work-for-the-dole although I understand why the WWG recommended a programme. Perhaps PD services could be extended. Cutting WFF (which is only a return to pre-2005 conditions) is absolutely the right move. ACT will be the only party proposing that. Things like budgeting courses and rehab are already used - just not mandatory. Excepting (I think) that if a beneficiary applies for extra assistance multiple times they must accept budgeting advice. But I would have to verify that. It was National Party policy 2008.
• Re-introduce a youth training rate or minimum wage;
• Introduce obligations for sole parent beneficiaries to ensure their children are properly cared for including taking budgeting instruction and meeting regular health checks;
• Introduce sanctions – such as suspension of the unemployment benefit and mandatory work-for-the-dole – in cases where reasonable offers of employment are declined;
• Require mandatory drug rehabilitation or loss of benefit for unemployed beneficiaries who fail work tests because of drug or substance addiction;
• Introduce income management and the requirement to live with a responsible adult for parents under the age of 18;
• Have independent, government-approved gatekeeping and assessment of applicants for the sickness and invalids benefit, and six monthly reassessment of sickness beneficiaries;
• Outsource all employment placement activities to private sector providers and foster a competitive market for sickness, invalid and employment insurance;
• Encourage practical Maori-focused solutions, including Whanau Ora, to lift Maori out of poverty and benefit dependency;
• Introduce a hotline (like Crimestoppers) to report benefit fraud;
• Cut welfare payments to middle and upper income earners through reform of Working for Families.
Trouble is, when you focus on and set up conditions for receipt of a benefit you are actually sanctioning the receipt. And the very receipt, for perfectly capable people, is wrong.
So what is missing?
The single-most important policy required is time-limits. The single-most important message is, welfare is no longer a way of life. It certainly isn't an option for raising children. We need a sea-change in thinking. These policies aren't going to achieve that.