What people are saying about the Paula Bennett affair

David Farrar, Kiwiblog:
"Now I should make clear that I think it is a good think the two women want to access tertiary education and have a path off the benefit. Good on them. But with interest free student loans and childcare subsidies, it is not a given that it is impossible to undertake study while on welfare. And if they claim it is impossible for them to do so, then the public (who fund both their welfare payments and their tertiary studies) are entitled to have relevant information to assess that claim."

The Herald Editorial:
"The crux of this issue is whether the information now released by Ms Bennett is relevant to their case, or merely an attempt to intimidate, as critics say. The two women claim genuine financial hardship is thwarting their prospects of escaping the benefit and building a career. ……People can make a reasonable assessment of the women's position only if such information is in the public domain. They now know enough of their circumstances to draw a conclusion on whether they have, as Ms Bennett suggests, been given a "fair go".

Colin Espiner, Stuff
"Bennett's office has been getting increasingly frustrated that the coverage the women have been getting in the media hasn't included exactly what the pair already receive courtesy of the taxpayer.

Now, the usual way of dealing with this is to quietly slip the details out to a friendly journalist, or suggest someone ask a question that would reveal the information. Let's be clear here that Labour did this all the time. It's standard practice."

The Herald Your Views section:
The nzherald.co.nz Your Views section is running hot with hundreds of views pouring in to this discussion. Here is one:

"We are not addressing the real issues.
What gives anyone dependent on the state the right to expect taxpayers to fund a tertiary education. Moving off a benefit does not require a university qualification, there are plenty of other options. This whole debate simply reinforces the mindset that now prevails in this country, don't take any responsibility for your actions, someone else will pay to fix up the mess. "

Even the TradeMe message boards have got into the discussion:
"They are all backing Paula for disclosing what the lady gets on the DPB. Sorry Paula but that is personal information and I don't agree that the country needs to know what one earns, and yes it is hypocritical that she won't reveal what she was getting," writes one poster.

David Slack laments the debate on Paula Bennett's actions:
"It could have been on a matter of public policy - is it desirable to fund solo mothers into further education? Instead it has become one in which bullying and shaming has been used to mute the voice of a querulous private citizen. This tactic plays very well with people who like to make angry declarations concluding with the words "end of story " or "full-stop." She is our very own Sarah Palin. Good on ya Paula. You're right, they're wrong, end of story"

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