Unemployment is so low and employers are crying out for workers, but there has been a 53,000 increase on Jobseeker’s Allowance, writes Paula Bennett. Photo/Getty Images
Thursday afternoon I went to the pub. I work in the Wynyard area and there has been a great initiative by local businesses to support local hospitality by shouting out drinks for their staff at the
local bars. The bars were full, it was free drinks, after all the atmosphere was buzzing and people couldn’t care less about a budget read in Wellington. But while the strange hangover subsides for customers, the hangover in our economy continues for years.
Public spending has increased by 66% since Labor took office. That means they’re spending $51 billion more than in 2017. I really want to repeat that. $51 billion. The Labor Government won’t mind me repeating that number, because most of you don’t think in billions and so you won’t be too bothered because the number is so big that it’s unrecognizable to the average person.
So let’s make it relatable. It’s $10,000 per New Zealander. Yes, you paid $10,000. So far. Well, actually, they borrowed most of that, so your kids and grandkids will have to pay that back. When people say spending $145 million on consultants at our Waka Kotahi transportation agency, that’s currency, that’s you.
The government is spending $8 billion more on welfare now than it did in 2017. Sorry – my bad – YOU are spending $8 billion more on welfare now than you were in 2017, yes do the math, that’s over $1500 per New Zealander coming out of your taxes. I know I don’t need to explain how ridiculous it is when unemployment is so low and employers are crying out for workers. There was an increase of 53,000 people on Jobseeker’s Allowance – by definition jobseeker means able and ahem, ready to work. Obviously not.
There are a lot of things happening under this government. The number of children who do not regularly attend school has increased. That’s not your problem because you’re a good parent who can afford to read Premium? Well, it’s like these kids are disengaged from society, some illiterate because they haven’t learned the basics, they’re going to be problems in the future. At best they will spend a lot of time on welfare, at worst they will join the growing wave of crime because they feel they have nothing to lose.
Rents have increased by around $150, house prices are at record highs, the number of people living in motels is on the rise, the waiting list to get into public housing is three times higher than it wasn’t and more are homeless and desperate. Yes, we are thriving. Our basic needs like food and gasoline are also at record highs and our sanity through all that is really suffering.
Do you think there is a plan in place? Do you think your children’s future is secure? I don’t mean to be catastrophic – that’s not really my nature, so here’s some good news: some of you can enjoy $27 a week for 12 weeks. I think I’ll go back to the pub.
Paula Bennett is a former Deputy Prime Minister and National Party politician who now works at Bayleys Real Estate as National Director – Client Engagement.