When Paula Bennett is positive about a group of beneficiaries, be suspicious

So, it looks like Paula Bennett doesn’t hate all beneficiaries with the power of a thousand suns!

After taking a close, careful look at a particular group of beneficiaries – those being paid to look after children of parents who are “incapable or unable to do the job” – Paula’s decided that they’re not bludgers: they’re heroes.

Simon Day of Stuff then handily produces a profile of one of these heroes, a grandmother raising eight of her grandchildren.  Hmm … I wonder how he got all her personal and financial information?

And this should be a heartwarming story about people doing what’s best for the kids and the state being willing to support them when they take on the financial burden of raising (eight!) extra children, and coincidentally doesn’t this just prove that Paula Bennett is really kind and compassionate and not just out to screw all beneficiaries?

I guess that means that the beneficiaries she does screw over really are bludgers.

And this is why that narrative works:  because Paula Bennett has found someone else to do the dirty work for her, and that person is Diane Vivian, chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

Now, grandparents who step in to raise their grandkids when it’s necessary are doing fantastic work.  They’re providing a really important social good.  They deserve to have a group which advocates for them.

But that group, and its chair, should take care.  Because right now, you see, it’s really useful to Paula Bennett for them to be the ones slagging off parents:

There has been a generational failure in parenting in New Zealand, leaving grandparents to pick up the pieces, according to Diane Vivian, the chair of GRG, who raised three children and two foster kids.

“Parents are putting their own selfish wants and needs before those of their children. What I am seeing from our perspective is there is a whole generation of that,” she said.


… because right now, that feeds into the narrative that Paula Bennett wants:  look at me, I don’t hate all beneficiaries, just the evil bludging scum ones, and see, the saintly heroic grandparents agree with me!

Ms Vivian might just like to consider this, though:  what if that weren’t the order of the day?  What if Paula Bennett hadn’t front-footed this story for her own gain?  What if it had been the season for dumping on people raising kids who aren’t their own?

Then, Ms Vivian, you’re fucked.  Because the nasty little question you really don’t want journos like Simon Day to ask is this:

Why did you fuck up raising your own kids so bad in the first place?

I mean, Ann Tahitahi, the subject of his second article, is doing a fantastic job.  A job which should be supported.  She shouldn’t, in my opinion, still have to be working graveyard shift while raising ten kids.

But Paula Bennett isn’t saying “good on you, Ann Tahitahi” out of true admiration.  She’s saying it for a political purpose.  And if her purpose were just slightly more sinister, she might be saying “why should Ann Tahitahi get paid to raise more children when on her first try she turned out neglectful P addicts?”

Diane Vivian might like to consider that before sticking her foot in the way of a gun barrel.  Right now it is convenient for Paula Bennett to be on your side.  Do not assume she will be on your side tomorrow.


  1. Dan

    Another thing this sepia-toned little story does is lends credence to the lie you can bring up children effectively on a pittance, so what are all the other bludgers whining about?

    As an angry white guy, the best weapon in my arsenal is the anecdotal information I trot out whenever anyone is listening (and they are, because as an angry white guy I am loud and everyone hears me; the system’s set up that way) that “my parents raised me on *insert tiny sum of money here* a week, we weren’t WELL off but my parents SCRAPED by. These other parents must be all *insert moral panic of the week* with their money”

    Incidentally, ‘P addicts’ made good press for ages, but I do think if ‘bath salts’ become a massive *thing* in the NZ media, then for a few months ‘bath salt-addled beneficiaries’ will be confusing.

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  3. K

    Yea, overall the impression of the article is it’s socially acceptable to receive welfare if you are working like a dog in what must feel like an impossible situation involving living from week to week, and an expectation of endless self sacrifice.

    What pisses me off though is that nobody has questioned what is happening here – she shouldn’t have to work these hours just to pay the rent as stated in the article. For example, is she receiving:
    – child support from the parents
    – her full and correct entitlement under the benefit system
    – proper housing support
    – Working for families
    – family tax credit
    – access to proper health care (children from the P family may have complex needs but the article suggest everything is coming up Milhouse now they live with Super Nan)
    – transport for the family (try THAT without a minivan!)
    – respite care as required

    Is it reasonable that she attends each child’s parent teacher interviews just before her night shift starts?

    What happens to the rent money if this woman ever get’s sick, a distinct possibility given her exposure to so many children?

    What happens when any of the children want to attend extra curricular activities? They just miss out because it is unaffordable, and can’t travel there anyway? After all, the article does specifically state there is nothing left. I just can’t see this grandmother being a soccer mum to even just four of the kids.

    Someone needs to assess that she is getting everything, preferably someone left leaning so this can be turned on it’s ear.

  4. Diane Vivian

    *Then, Ms Vivian, you’re fucked. Because the nasty little question you really don’t want journos like Simon Day to ask is this:

    Why did you fuck up raising your own kids so bad in the first place?*
    Personally he did, the children we raise are the result of 1 of the 2 foster children we took in at 14 years of age.No secret and nor am I afraid of this question.
    *And this is why that narrative works: because Paula Bennett has found someone else to do the dirty work for her, and that person is Diane Vivian, chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.*
    I do not do anyone’s dirty work I only work for justice and the rights of those who have stopped their lives to hold the hand a nurture a child in need.
    *Diane Vivian might like to consider that before sticking her foot in the way of a gun barrel. Right now it is convenient for Paula Bennett to be on your side. Do not assume she will be on your side tomorrow.*
    I am well aware of this and if push comes to shove who do I back, Our Grandparents and caregivers. Perhaps you may like to enlighten yourself by reading some of our stories and research, then you have a right to comment. http://www.grg.org.nz

    • QoT

      It’s great that you “work for justice”, Ms Vivian, but the fact is Paula Bennett is using you and the people you represent to shit on other beneficiaries.

      It’s easy to be unafraid of questions about your own fitness as a parent when your group isn’t in Bennett’s sights.

      This is my blog. I’ll comment on whatever I choose to.

      • Diane Vivian

        Fair enough I stand strong, she is not using me at all I do this for the greater benefit of our people. No one else, they deserve all the support they can get..

        • QoT

          Um … you’re not really getting the point, Diane. I’m sure it’ll click once grandparents are no longer convenient to push Paula Bennett’s latest spin.

          • Diane Vivian

            [Diane, you are actually not addressing the point of the post, nor the content of my comments. This is not a forum for you to grandstand about how awesome your group is. This correspondence is now closed.]

  5. David

    Sorry, reading this one a bit late QoT, been busy. I can’t believe that Ms. Vivian would say something as dreadful as what was quoted. Shame on you Diane, what a cruel, heartless repugnant thing to say about parents in NZ, sure there is a problem, but from my experience as someone nearing 30 there are plenty of good parents out there in my generation. You strike me as being utterly unsuited for the organisation you are head of, kind of like Garth McVulture and his crap too. To be involved in the advocacy and support of any beneficiary category and work with Paula Bennett instead of against her frankly shithouse punitive welfare ‘reforms’ is downright rude, and any of my good friends who are parents need your help, I sincerely hope not, you sad little mole. Sorry, reading that made me see red, what a plonker

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  8. Trace.

    This lot could only make you stronger Diane Vivian. Lots to say but can’t handle the medicine when it’s pored back down their throats (hence your “deleted” replies.) KIA KAHA Grand Parents Raising Grandchildren. If these grandparents had not have stepped up no doubt more little one’s would be suffering in the hands of the so called “qualified and vetted caregivers” that we see all to often splattered across the nations newspapers today.
    This so called blogger is nothing more than a “key board” warrior……. all Grrrrrrr behind the safety barrier that is the computer screen.
    KIA KAHA Diane Vivian….. YOU ROCK!!!

        • QoT

          Hey Trace, just a bit of advice: that comment could sound a bit, you know, threatening. I’m sure it’s not how you meant it at all, but other people might think you were somehow trying to intimidate me, and I’m sure you’re not that kind of person. Plus, Diane Vivian probably doesn’t want her supporters to come across as angry thugs or anything. Hugs and kisses!