Welfare And The Key Government

Former Prime Minister John Key’s government in New Zealand held a negative position towards the provision of welfare and aimed at making it harder to access for those in need. Key implemented several reforms to the welfare system at the time, enforcing tougher regulation by making it easier for benefits to be suspended or cancelled, making process and wait times for applications longer, and creating more regulations which were indiscriminately applied to their welfare policy.

Key’s government’s reform throughout his three terms in office helped to solidify beneficiaries as “dole bludgers,” who grew dependent on welfare. By painting all beneficiaries as lazy, the Key government furthered a stigma towards those on social welfare. Key’s government introduced further steps for disabled and sick people to be able to access long-term support as it believed it would create long-term dependency on welfare. Lived experiences of those living under the provision of welfare need to be taken into account and compared with the people who want to remove the practice.

Often, those who have spent time on welfare have recognized the benefits of providing it as an option, to provide basic necessities and only live on the benefit for a short period of time. John Key earned hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as prime minister and had privilege in being able to do so. It is heavily hypocritical to criticize the provision of welfare in a position of privilege and does not account for the experiences of those who have lived on welfare.

Welfare dependency will occur regardless of the welfare system that we have in society. As this occurs in only a small number of cases, welfare dependency is not a significant enough reason to be able to not provide for the poor. The issue of welfare dependency creates a stigma around the rest of welfare provision, which is harmful. By creating a blanket stereotype over those on welfare, we do not uphold the rights of the poor. We have an obligation regardless of the length of a person’s need for welfare to provide it for them. Providing welfare as a concept aims to provide equality for the poor while upholding their fundamental human rights and dignity.

Welfare payments include lower income households, those on sickness and disabled welfare, single parents, students, and the elderly, who because of complex needs are unable to work full-time and often need extra support, resources, and welfare. No one on welfare should be expected to live in poverty to be able to survive. Being a democracy, New Zealand prides itself on its high quality of human rights, which is misleading if we aren’t providing the support of basic needs for those in society who need welfare the most.

Arguably, at the current rate of welfare support, it creates its own dependency because the welfare isn’t enough to live on: it becomes a cycle of debt leading to further support on welfare as an individual’s basic needs are not cared for. The rate at which beneficiaries are paid creates its own cycle of poverty. To be able to create long-term financial stability for welfare recipients, we need to raise the rates of our welfare support to better reflect the current costs of housing and other living costs.