Cracks in government ranks over work for the dole

Labour are muscling up, despite the smiles from Jacinda Ardern, over work for the dole.

Richard Harman at Politik reports:

Employment Minister Willie Jackson says he shares Shane Jones’ passion to get Maori unemployment down and he has proposed a package of measures in a paper to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to address the issue.

He met Jones yesterday and agreed to incorporate some of Jones’ ideas in his paper.

But he says he stops short at Jones’ “work for the dole” proposals.

And he says that idea would never be accepted by Labour or “the boss” – Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.  

He says that jobs that are funded by the Government have to be real jobs “not just scrub cutting.”

Jackson and Jones are both outspoken, high profile Maori who have also both returned to Parliament after a period of being away.

They have both come back with a mission to address Maori unemployment.

They come from different backgrounds; Jackson the urban Maori media star and one time left-wing MP and Jones the establishment bureaucrat and businessman with strong connections into more conservative provincial Maori society.

They always moan about “not real jobs” but you have to start somewhere, and you have learn to get up in the morning and go to work.

However, both are seized with wanting to bring down the Maori unemployment figures.

The September 2017 Household Labour Force survey showed Maori unemployment at 9.9% against European unemployment of 3.5%.

But it was Jones’ comments on “Q+A” on Sunday when he said he was taking a “Work for the Dole” policy to the Cabinet that has provoked a more widespread discussion on the issue.

“I am not going to remain silent any longer while my young ne’er-do-well nephews in Kaikohe and other places fall victims to the gangs and they’re in Disneyland,” he said.

“They’ll be made to go to work, and where it is necessary, to pay them.

“They’ll have to receive a minimum wage, but there will be no more sitting on the couch.”

Jones’ language was probably provoked by a desire by NZ First to brand themselves as distinct to Labour.

No one should be sitting in the couch. Work for the dole makes sense, but it is fraught with difficulty.

But the imperative for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to maintain a seamless unity between Labour and NZ First.

So at her post-Cabinet press conference yesterday she said that what Jones was calling “work for the dole”, Labour was calling “ready for work.”

We are essentially talking about the same thing,” she said.

Asked about Jones’ proposal to end dole payments if unemployed didn’t take up jobs she said there already was a sanctions regime in the welfare system.

“That’s provided us with the tools to ensure that people do take up the job opportunities that are available to them.”

Semantics. I bet there are a lot of latte sipping Auckland liberals who will be aghast that their saviour, Jacinda Ardern, is looking at work for the dole. That is a “tory” solution.

Jackson though wants to see an employment strategy which strengthens communities and provides real jobs.

“You don’t fix unemployment by following Jonesy’s idea and chucking a few Maori out there cutting scrub for a few months,” he told POLITIK.

“You have to create a real job, jobs with dignity, by forming relationships with local Maori, with trade unions, with businesses.

“We have to target the Kaitaias or Northland or South Auckland or West Auckland where there are 27,000 unemployed and target these groups who have not been supported or funded by the National Government.

“I’ve been working on getting that funding across.

“There is money that is available.”

Unions have never created jobs, usually they are wrecking jobs. There is ample evidence of that, and no evidence of them building businesses and creating jobs. Asking a union how to solve unemployment isn’t the smartest thing anyone could do.


This issue is causing problems and swapping out strong words for weasel words isn’t helping anyone.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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