Alf admits to being in two minds about the beneficiary who has travelled the world funded by the dole.
As a hard-working taxpayer whose money has been misused, and as a politician with a Calvinist predisposition to preach and uphold industriousness and thrift, he is appalled.
But he has a sneaking admiration for someone who has – according to Stuff – spent nearly two years seeing the sights of Europe, Asia and Africa without his unemployment benefit being cut off.
And he is amused that Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Work and Income have been left “fuming” after a bloke called Peter Freedom, 34, admitted seeing the world at taxpayer expense.
Frankly, he thinks the buggers should be thoroughly embarrassed and be hastily checking out their administrative systems to find how the bludger could outwit them for so long.
According to Stuff –
Mr Freedom left New Zealand for Australia on April 11, 2009, expecting his benefit would be cut off two weeks later. “I was just amazed when it didn’t,” he said from Dubai.
He visited Europe, the Balkans, Britain, North Africa and Asia before his benefit was finally axed late last month.
Freedom is reported to have spent nearly $28,000 – $287.12 a week, which later increased to $293.04 – to see the sights.
Alf can think of a few politicians who could match that, although instead of dole money they have been chewing up perk money.
The thing is that Freedom took a couple of years to gobble up that sum of money. A free-spending MP could blow it in next to no time.
Parliamentary Services should hire the fellow to instruct the politicians in how to get a much bigger bang for the taxpayer’s buck.
Freedom’s favourites included the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower and bullfighting in Spain. “The trip was funded by the benefit,” Mr Freedom said. “What started as an accident soon became an opportunity.”
He sometimes slept in a car during his travels to save money. “I would always eat at the cheapest place I could find. It wasn’t very much money.”
He says he “didn’t feel good” about spending taxpayer money but said he was happy to expose the authorities.
He has certainly done that.
Alf’s colleague, Chester Burrows, is saying he has known Freedom for a decade and helped him to get on the benefit several years ago.
He also said he was hugely disappointed.
“I’d wondered where he’d got to. There is no excuse for what he’s done. He was certainly capable of being a contributor to society and not a bludger. This annoys me because this is someone who had so much potential … this guy’s ripped off the taxpayer.”
Burrows isn’t half as bright as Alf, of course, and fails to see how he could help Freedom to tap that potential by coming back and writing a travel manual for MPs.
Around the World in Thrifty Ways, or something like that.
It would would save the taxpayers heaps.