Oh look, Diane Vivian: Paula Bennett DID come for you

I really do hate to gloat, honest, folks.  But it’s not that often that I get a four-month turnaround on my political prophesying.

See, back in March, I criticised Diane Vivian, chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, for being a mouthpiece for Paula Bennett’s then-most-recent attack on beneficiaries.  Ms Vivian, you may recall, said

“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.

And in step the brave grandparents to pick up the pieces.  And good on them.  It’s a tremendous job they do and one which, I noted, doesn’t actually get nearly as much support as it deserves.  Like parents caring for their adult children with disabilities, our society likes to ignore the hard, vital work done by people when it’s family doing it.

Then, totally by coincidence, Diane Vivian got to head up a group doling out $35 million in extra funding to extended family members raising children.

At the time of my first post, Ms Vivian insisted

[Paula Bennett] is not using me at all I do this for the greater benefit of our people

And I surmised,

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.

And here we are today.  A mere four months after Paula Bennett used grandparents who raise their grandchildren as a meat-shield, exploiting their hard work to build a case that she doesn’t hate all beneficiaries, just the evil bludgers, after she claimed

“In general I have found them to be remarkable people doing a job that very few would. When I added all of those things together I thought it was a fair spend for a small number of people,”

… suddenly, the worm has turned.

Diane Vivian Chair of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ says their phones have been ringing non-stop from upset grandparents who have received letters stating they now need to go into W & I for an appointment to seek work. Most of these people are aged 55 to 64.

Vivian says, it is time a Carers Benefit was looked at to enable them to safely care for these vulnerable children

Gee, Ms Vivian.  Do you think that argument might have been more compelling if you hadn’t pushed Paula Bennett’s lines about evil bludgers?  Hadn’t literally labelled an entire generation as selfish no-goods?

And now she’s come for your people.  How much less damage do you think could have been done if you hadn’t laid the groundwork of beneficiary-bashing for her?


  1. Janet Lake

    Right on, girl. As a retired community worker I have for years watched people with no political analysis be duchessed by politicians. Don’t suppose they’ll ever read Freire.

  2. collhug

    (Sorry,my apologies, no “spell check”)

    Unforunately so very true. I am one of these people bringing up their grandchilren, saving the Govenment heaps $$$$,and turning this abused childs life around and ensuring he turns out a “normal”, healthy individual, equiped and able to partisapate and contribute possitively to socitey. Yes I’ve had the letter, been in, HAVE to work full-time, not to sure how long I have before they cut my “benefit” (widows, be the way)
    It completely blows my mind HOW so called smart and clever people are so easily swayed and twisted by Government officals.

    But what REALLY REALLY (I say shouting) REALLY gets me is this:

    “When she only 19, Paula Bennett was on the Domestic Purposes Benefit but was able to buy her own house in Taupo for $56,000, courtesy of Housing Corporation loan. Bennett said she’d worked part-time but that she “pretty much fell apart because I was exhausted and I WENT BACK ON THE DPB”.

    “But now she’s a minister it’s a different story” said Harawira.
    “It was OK for Paula to go back on the DPB because it was too hard to survive,but it’s tough luck for her sisters today.
    “It was OK for Paula to get a Housing Corp loan back then,
    but National made sure that it’s no longer available today.”
    “It was OK for Paula to stay on the DPB to raise her daughter, but she’s
    making sure that young woman won’t have that privilege anymore.”
    “It was OK for Paula to get a paid tertiary education back then,
    but not today. In fact she was the Minister who abolished the Training Incentive Allowance.”
    “Paula Bennett basically set herself up in life with direct assistance
    from the state,but now she’s the Minister of Social Development, she’s gonna make sure nobody else can ever get that kind of help”
    “Her hypocrisy would be laughable, except it’s so bloody tragic.”
    Hone Harawira Mana-Te Tai Tokerau MP

    Share this round, so people know.

  3. K

    I’m suspicious of the $35M “extra” funding. Wondering if the funds might actually be something else in disguise, like for example Child Disability Allowance (differs from Disability Allowance in that it is only paid for a child who requires constant care and attention…like someone with ADHD for example) which they might already qualify for but not be taking up yet.

    I volunteer as a benefit rights advocate and can tell you there is a clear pattern with older people – they feel very uncomfortable applying for any additional assistance such as a disability allowance/

    And being Maori I couldn’t help but notice the apparent difference in the level of sympathy from the government. My family gave their firstborns as a “gift”, a sign of respect (Whāngai) to grandparents which is very common amongst Maori. Of course anyone who cares for a child even if they themselves is working receives free education, tax credits, subsidised medical care…etc. The line of whether or not the public considers you to be bludging is somewhat confused in this area. Suddenly advanced age of caregivers is something that matters enough to give extra money? Or is it more the case that with those over the age of 50 who have avoided welfare for the most part are only just beginning to realise just how harsh the welfare reforms really are?

    • QoT

      I think a lot of people may have bought into the idea that grandparents-raising-grandchildren are “worthy” beneficiaries. But, like Diane Vivian, they didn’t understand that this idea was only being used to label all others as “unworthy” – it wasn’t a real recognition of the hard work and responsibility those grandparents have taken on.

  4. Rhinocrates

    I never cease to be both amazed and depressed at “they’re coming for them, not me” excuse that people cling to and their surprise when the powerful inevitably come for them too.

    • Rhinocrates

      Addendum: the lesson is, if they’re coming for someone, they’ll eventually come for you.

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  6. Frank Macskasy

    There’s been more on Radio NZ on this issue and the Dom Post has had a front page story on this problem( I refuse to call it an “issue”). Bennett commented on RNZ – mealy mouthed words that contradict the new hard-line policies.

    Unfortunately, the Middle Class only become upset when National policies directly affect them (eg; increased classroom sizes). When it’s “only” bene-bashing or bashing the poor – ‘meh’.

    This may sound cruel, but perhaps the Middle Classes need to experience a dose of National’s harsh policies to appreciate what others are going through.

    This may be a step too far for bene-bashing Nats…

  7. Deborah Kean

    [QoT: Hello there, Vicky32. What on earth makes you think I want you to comment here?]

  8. peterlepaysan

    “And now she’s come for your people.”
    Very very apposite for Herrler. Godwins law notwithstanding.
    After all NZ is non racial (heh) you do not have to be jewish to be bashed, just broke and vulnerable.

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  11. Diane Vivian

    Get your facts straight, I do not ‘head up’ the panel, there are 6 of us and all on equal footing.
    Also Ms Bennett has now made an exemption for certain grandparents raising, in the work requirements in the new reforms. That is one battle we took on and won……………..there will be more to come, that we know.

    • QoT

      My apologies. You’re just one of a very small, hand-picked group of people in charge of $35 million, and you just happened to be appointed to said group after doing the Minister’s dirty work for her. I’m sure you’re very proud.

      Meanwhile, a huge proportion of the people you claim to advocate for are still being screwed over, and you actually think you’ve achieved something by getting a vague promise that some people won’t be forced into work. They’ll still get hounded by WINZ, of course, and they’ll still be receiving a complete pittance of a benefit, and you’ll still be an active contributor to the wider beneficiary-bashing narrative which hurts them, but hey, token victory! Woohoo!

  12. Diane Vivian

    All i can say is if this happens to you or your parents whose door will you be knocking on, ours at least we try to do something for you. Better than doing nothing End

    • QoT

      In the first instance, you have no idea who I am or what my family situation is. As someone in the know, your passive-aggressive insinuations are fucking hilarious.

      And when my family needs help? Believe me, we know better than to ask for it from someone who will sell us out for their own self-interest.

  13. Diane Vivian

    No self interest otherwise we would not have 5419 caregivers behind us. Dear lord my girl. It is obvious you know nothing about this organisation. Sad 😦

    • QoT

      Dear lord, my woman, it is obvious you have no interest in ever addressing what I’ve actually written. Fact: you shat on the majority of beneficiaries in a way which made Paula Bennett’s punitive policies look more reasonable. Fact: you just coincidentally got $35 million directed to your interests. Fact: now Paula Bennett doesn’t need you any more, the people you claim to represent are suffering. Fact: you fucked them over when you decided to help her put out the idea that beneficiaries are lazy and should be forced into work.

      You undermined your own people and apparently you’re too fucking stupid to realise it. Further self-justifying comments which ignore the above facts will not be published, especially if they’re just more passive-aggressive guilt-tripping bullshit.

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