The bloody NZ Herald was a bit behind the eight-ball, when it reported on The Boss’s defence of the latest round of welfare reforms. These reforms, admirable stuff, will result in benefits being cut for people who fail or refuse to take drug tests.
The Herald built its news report today on stuff broadcast on TVNZ’s Breakfast Show.
The details on new rules targeting beneficiaries who take drugs were being finalised by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett but could take effect next year, it said.
It referred to our campaigning on the matter last year.
National’s pre-election policy document said beneficiaries who did not apply for a job because a prospective employer asked them to take a drug test would have their benefit cancelled.
Under new rules, a beneficiary that takes a drug test and fails it will also be sanctioned.
Now this stuff will soon be hard reality.
And The Boss has been doing a splendid job of explaining what it’s all about.
Prime Minister John Key said on TVNZ’s Breakfast today that tax payers should not be supporting drug-users who refuse jobs that involve drug testing.
“If we’re paying you a benefit; your responsibility is to be work ready, and to be work ready means that you can go along and actually pass that drugs test.
“Otherwise we’re sending completely that wrong message – we’re actually condoning illegal behaviour.”
But TV3 were on to this story a few days ago, when they reported here that from July next year people on the dole will be tested.
“Companies insist drug free – we do too,” says Social Development Minister Paula Bennet.
But the minister says there are absolutely no plans to extend the testing.
Bill English doesn’t seem to be aware of this.
The TV3 mob focused on what seems to be a misunderstanding, although what he said went down well with rural people.
The Government is already planning to drug test people on the jobseeker benefit. What it’s not planning to do is drug test all beneficiaries – but try telling that to Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.
“… Which makes you wonder whether we should have a drugs test for putting people on benefits,” he said today at a Federated Farmers AGM, to cheers from the audience.
The idea was obviously a popular one at the meeting, TV3 reported.
But it was not so popular in Parliament and it seems to have got somewhat dismaying critical reactions from our coalition partners.
“I don’t support, as a sort of point of principal, a mandatory approach,” says United Future leader Peter Dunne.
“On all benefits – don’t be ridiculous,” says ACT leader John Banks.
On the Opposition benches, TV3 proceeded to point out, they are asking: why stop with beneficiaries?
“Might be a good idea to test some of these MPs when they come to the house as well,” says Mana leader Hone Harawira.
“Working for Families, superannuation – beneficiaries should not be singled out,” says Maori party co-leader Metiria Turei.
“The National Government does tend to lend itself towards stigmatising beneficiaries,” says Labour MP Jacinda Ardern.
We did get some common sense from NZ First MP Brendan Horan, however. He said he would support drug testing beneficiaries during work hours.
“Well shouldn’t they be out looking for work?” he says.
They are doing something like that in Florida (according to what Alf found here).
Beginning July 1, if you fail a drug test, you will be denied benefits for a year. If you fail it a second time you would have to wait three years before you can apply again.
In two-parent households, both adults would be tested. If there are children, benefits could be awarded to a third-party recipient, who must also be drug tested.
And Alf has a few more tests in mind for beneficiaries.
All males, for example, should have their sperm counts tested.
If it’s above a level that suggests the buggers will soon be spawning another generation of dole bludgers, then something should happen to them.
Alf hasn’t determined yet what that something should be.
Compulsory sterilisation is a possibility.
That’s likely to go down well with Federated Farmers, too.