The reporting around the Rotorua Protest against the recent Government Budget (May 20) showed two things: provincial media reporting is often sloppy and that the Members of Parliament Todd McCLay and Te Ururoa Flavell patronise and ignore the Poor.
What qualifies me to say so?
I am an educated, young Maori woman who is a single mother. I am one of the people who protested regarding the recent Government Budget. I was one of the few people on the megaphone for this protest and making sure the issues of my whanau and friends were heard.
My aunt Irihapeti Waaka was taking part because “I’m not too happy about what the Government is doing to benefits and student loans,” she said. “People are trying to get ahead but they are put down at every turn. Food is going up all the time and yet benefits are going down. It’s just not fair.”
I write this because I am one of the 8000 “beneficiaries” of Rotorua. The Rotorua Work and Income office is one of the largest in the motu. This is not a shining example of social engineering. It is a pimple on the posterior of those who are insistent that we, as the Poor, do not exist.
Eight thousand is too large a number to ignore.
“…nothing was released in Budget 2011 which would affect beneficiaries”, Mr McClay said.
Todd McCLay is wrong.
The Welfare Working Group that created the Rebstock Report was commissioned by this coalition government. Particular issues that effects us as tangatawhenua include having no entitlement to a social security allowance if you return to your papakainga. Another suggestion of the Rebstock Report is that young mothers are put on long-term contraception. Both of these suggestions are racist and interfere with the continuance and expression of whakapapa. This is no surprise from a National government, yet, from the blaring silence on the issue, the Maori Party is in coalition with these guys and is therefore, compliant. The Maori Party promotes ethnic cleansing and genocide.
The Rebstock Report and its suggestions are in line with the National/ACT/Maori Party bottom line of PROFIT BEFORE PEOPLE. The old chestnut of a single core benefit, this time named a Jobseeker allowance, will pay all benefits at the rate of the lowest of the current benefits: the Unemployment Benefit. Essentially this is a thinly disguised benefit cut!
Mr McClay said he found it “difficult to understand the demands of the group” but invited them to “sit down and formulate what they wanted clearly and then their concerns could be passed on to the Government.”
Of course McClay finds it difficult to understand the demands of the Poor. His Party caters to the demands of the rich. “Formulate what they wanted clearly” is patronising. Many of us are quite capable of articulating our position. As for the “could be passed on to the government”? He won’t. It does not serve his interests.
Cherie Taylor of Rotorua’s Daily Post also got it wrong.
We chanted “They say CUT BACK: We say FIGHT BACK”.
Even if the media is provincial, there has to be some sort of accountability for poor reporting.
Towing the State line instead of reporting accurate information makes her article closer to an opinion column than an account of actual events. Emphasis was given to the two balaclava clad men atop the Rotorua MP’s office and the trespass notices issued to them by Police. The actions of protestors must grab your attention, not be emphasised as crimes because they are not the actions of a docile community.
Cherie Taylor also pushed the opinions of Todd McClay: as if the Social Security Recipients of Rotorua have no credibility.
On responsible reporting, several suggestions must be made: the first is a shift in language. The word “beneficiary” implies that we actually get something positive out of this system. We certainly don’t “benefit” from the system! The benefits go to those who are rich that are getting the tax breaks. I am a supporter of the Mana Party’s HONE HEKE tax and certainly see this as a way to ease the cost of living for the poor. It’s about paying for your share, proportionate to your income. This is fair, not about punishing, blaming or shaming the Poor.
Social Security Recipients is a more accurate and respectful term that acknowledges the hand up intentions rather than hand out assumptions of the poor by the rich.
“I think this was more about politics and their dislike for the National Government.”
In response to the arrogance of Todd McClay’s accusation of National bashing? This is hardly a bashing. It is however, a concern that the MP’s for Rotorua and Waiariki are ignoring the relationship between the recent Budget and the policies that will bash the poor.
Yes, I did mention Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell’s lack of voice on these issues…he has also left the most vulnerable of his people out in the cold. I like to call this “Coalition Un-consciousness”. Neither MP seems aware of the policies their Parties flout. It would be nice to have faith and believe them: but the “ignorance is bliss” passing of the buck just won’t cut it. The word cowardice comes to mind…
The list included wanting: a complete re-write/restructuring of the Social Security Act 1964 to “eradicate the distinction between the deserving Poor and the undeserving Poor“; benefits transferred to Inland Revenue for administration and benefits to be paid at the current rate of invalid’s benefit regardless of marital status. The list also included an immediate increase of $25 a week for all beneficiaries and that work testing of beneficiaries be halted.
I would like to take this opportunity to mihi to Paul Blair, champion of Rotorua people, Nga Tai o Te Reinga and all those who supported the Protest by either being in attendance or tooting car horns!
This is an election year. Make no bones about it we will be lied to and fed propaganda. Every Party will attempt to seduce you in some way.
My advice would be to be discerning, read between the lines and watch out for empty promises. Bullshit is the perfume of politicians.
Many, many thanks to Chanz Mihaere for this korero from the frontline and kia kaha to her and all whanau who join together to build community campaigns that seek to lift all people.