The Offal Pit: Ending a bad RAP

Since drought was announced, right-wing bloggers, left-wing bloggers and talkback callers have had a field day with Rural Assistance Payments, or RAPs, administered by Work and Income.

One blogger, 'Cactus Kate', sums up many a talkback caller; why should farmers get state bailouts, small businesses can't?

She wrote, "When people/trustees/companies sitting on million dollars of assets can apply for welfare assistance when the one major risk of their business pops up, why cannot anyone? No doubt the usual twaddle will be rolled out about farmers being the backbone of the nation etc ..."

That was her being mild too.

However, it seems to me that RAPs are the reason for all the tut-tutting and talkback abuse. No amount of saying you need to be bankrupt before you can get one seems to stop those who believe farmers are getting privileged treatment.

These people seem to believe farmers can rock up to the Beehive anytime we want using a special 'farmer access card' we all have. We hit the lift button and waiting there for us on the ninth floor is a beaming John Key.

Not only does he give us a cup of tea, he hands us a briefcase full of cash to help us out. No questions asked, nudge-nudge, wink-wink ... yeah, right.

The truth about RAPs is that they are the dole. They are means and asset tested just like any other benefit. Unlike what 'Cactus Kate' may fantasise about in Hong Kong, where she lives, you cannot squirrel away money in a trust either.

Since WINZ is our society's safety net for anyone down on their luck, farmer or not, I ask why do we need RAPs and the toxic PR they generate. These benefits may make politicians feel good, but farmers can really do without the bad RAP right now.

The Offal Pit is an opinion editorial not necessarily reflecting the views or policies of Federated Farmers.

- Hamilton News

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