Paul Holmes on New Zealand

Paul Holmes is an award-winning Herald columnist

Paul Holmes: Cycle needs to be broken - bit by bit

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Colin Craig, a young man with seriously strong political ambitions, who is hoping with all the warmth in his Christian heart for the fall of John Banks in Epsom, got me thinking this week. Am I or have I ever been promiscuous?

I'm not a woman, of course, but Mr Craig claims that NZ women are the most promiscuous in the world.

This assertion was jumped on immediately by Prime Minister John Key, who said he'd never seen anything to stack up the claim, which I'm sure Bronagh Key was pleased to hear.

I don't know how anyone really finds out how promiscuous anyone is. I'm not sure you could count on honesty in any survey.

Men might like to enlarge their actual number of sexual encounters, women might be inclined to reduce theirs. Such is the stigma of promiscuity women endure while no one cares how many women men got to bed with. Anyway, I suppose I was once. A bit. But lots of people were. Well, they had to be, didn't they?

It stands to reason. There can't be promiscuity if there aren't lots of people doing it. And Mr Craig thinks they are. He quotes a Durex survey claiming we're right up with Finland when it comes to crawling in the sack for a one-night stand.

Wikipedia, I note, recognises the term "one-night stand". There's quite a section on some of the most promiscuous people in history, John F. Kennedy being the first name on their list.

But sex goes on, protected or otherwise and so you can't stop it and sometimes the people involved simply can't stop it once it's screaming in their heads and this is why only a churlish fool would dismiss the Government contraception offer this week to mothers on benefits and their daughters and to teenagers on benefits.

We're talking long-term contraception, internal devices, which are not permanent. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's approach is easy to see. It's a gentle pincer movement: contraception if you're on a benefit and a discouragement to have a second child while you're on the DPB with an insistence that you start looking for work when that baby is 1 year old. And if that seems punitive, well, the Government is balancing that imperative with free contraception.

You can raise the bogie of state control of women's bodies and so forth but there's a real problem of intergeneration welfare and bit by bit, whatever it takes, it's a cycle that has to be broken. And that's the only way it's going to be: bit by bit.

The actual numbers of teens who have babies and claim the benefit is low, in the DPB scheme of things. But 16 per cent of those on the DPB are between 20 and 24 years old. No responsible government can fail to address that group and to look after them. Many of them will be vulnerable people. The free contraception might help.

David Shearer says the men, the young men who get the women pregnant, must be held to account. No one will disagree with that. We've been saying that for years. Finding the men is another thing entirely. Where do you find them, in Australia?

It was always the way. Knowing who they are is one thing, making them pay is quite another. Mind you, knowing who they are is, I understand, in the younger demographic, another thing entirely.

Something else that always intrigues and disturbs me when big social welfare changes are mooted or announced are the utterances of condemnation from groups that appear to represent beneficiaries, professional beneficiary lobby groups.

They speak as if the shape of social welfare is intended to be locked in time and any changes must be fiercely guarded against. It's as if being on a benefit is to be part of an industry. It all shows how important social welfare has become in and to our economy and turning things round seems to become like turning a great ship before it hits the iceberg.

The social welfare changes and Colin Craig's desperate exhibitionism conspired to take the heat off John Banks. Mr Banks will have been happy about that. After a week at the hands of the fire-breathing dragon from Coatesville, Mr Banks did the right thing.

He shut up, weathered it and sat back. It was reckoned by Tony Blair's press man, Alistair Campbell, that if you can survive the first fortnight of a crisis you'll survive. I have found this to be true myself. Nothing, after all, is news forever. Mr Banks will be hoping so.

Anyway, I'm now a rap performer. Mr Dotcom has made me a star by giving me generous appearances in his new super hit, Amnesia . It's a great line. Iambic pentameter, I think. It scans beautifully. Mr Dotcom and his engineers have given me a real rap beat. I'm groovy and dangerous again.

- NZ Herald

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