The Government has lined up seven ministers to put together a welfare package to put to the country before the election, after which, assuming they win a second term, they'll implement it. We'll see.

Anyway, it's the Government's response to the super-tough and fearless Welfare Working Group.

The WWG could afford to be tough, of course. They were on a stipend. They had nothing to lose. Unfortunately, they released their report on the day of the February earthquake in Christchurch so they were almost long forgotten about. But the Government went away nevertheless and quietly read their stuff.

Too many people on welfare in New Zealand, said the WWG. Thirteen per cent of working age New Zealanders. Meaning the other 87 per cent of us are paying their way. And it's been like this for a long time.

I'm sure there are a lot of bludgers among them. You know it. We all meet them, people about whom we sense that if they put in a bit more effort, exerted themselves a little harder, got round the place a bit more aggressively, they'd be able to find and do some work.

I've been gifted with good health over the years, on the whole, so I have real difficulty understanding, for example, chronic sickness and ill health. I don't understand how someone can continue to be sick year in year out.

I realise for some readers this will sound ridiculous. But I just don't understand chronic sickness that drags itself out over years. And I certainly don't understand bone-idleness.

The sicknesses that entitle you to a sickness benefit are the weird ones. Serious mental malfunction is a part of it. When you try to work you have a meltdown, or soon after beginning you will have a meltdown. No one wants to hire such a person.

Actually, as political commentator and my former colleague John Pagani told me on the radio last weekend, everyone trawls the orchard of welfare to try to reduce the bill, but they all find that "there are no low-hanging fruit."

In other words, nothing is easy to pluck. Make a cut here and you affect something here, which negates the point of making the cut here in the first place.

What people particularly resent is the DPB. There is a widely held perception that young girls of 16 or 17 years, having no direction in their lives, get pregnant even though they have no means of supporting the child, no partner, no nothing, but go ahead with the knowledge the rest of us will pick up the bill.

Forty-five per cent of them will then have another child while on the dole. Our bill goes up.

Such a mother will then remain on the DPB for up to 10 years, never having worked, never having had a job.

Never mind that Christine Rankin who, when it comes to welfare, knows her stuff, says that being on a benefit sucks. That you never have enough money. That you're always broke. Never mind this. The perception is that young girls go on the DPB because they can. And the rest of us, who get up in the morning and go to work and try to manage our own kids, pay for them.

Yes, and they give the kids these absurd names like Serrendipity Ragamuffin Sunshine or Thus Spake Zarathustra, names we hear when the kids arrive at Starship with their heads stoved in by a recent boyfriend who can't stand their screaming.

But that's another issue entirely. That's where you start to mull upon sterilisation. That's where you start to mull on granting certificates before pregnancies can proceed. And God knows, parenting is the hardest thing.

So I interviewed Paula Bennett, the breezy and amiable Social Development Minister, last weekend on Q+A. What can we really do about cutting the welfare bill and is it a realistic goal the WWG set to get 100,000 people off welfare by 2021? Everyone knows this 100,000 figure is La La Land, of course, but never mind.

Interviewing Ms Bennett is akin to trying to interrogate a speeding velvet covered train. Ms Bennett is formidable. She is a very nice person. She is completely up to speed on her brief. Her life journey has been admirable. There is no menace about her as there is, just a soupcon of it, in the psychology of Judith Collins. And whatever you think of Paula Bennett, you know that she's been there.

Her main theme seems to be that we can't just dump people on a benefit and leave them there and forget about them. The DPB, for example, has to come with training or work of some kind. What I didn't ask her - sometimes an interviewer can forget the most obvious question - is what does the Government then do if the person won't turn up for the work or the training? Stop the benefit? Then who feeds and clothes the kids and keeps the house warm? In other words, it's pretty much a hopeless cause trying to reform and reduce welfare.

One thing I note that everyone agrees on. No kid coming straight out of school going neither into training nor tertiary education should be given a benefit. This is an automatic ticket for long-term hopelessness and poverty.

Steve Maharey, a former Social Development Minister, says such children should have to do two years of some kind of national service where they have to get up in the morning and spend the day being productive.

Giving kids the benefit straight out of school is a mistake we're still making. No taxpayer money should ever be given to people, it seems to me, without there being a requirement for some kind of reciprocity.