Such is the arrogance of Paula Bennett and such is the contempt she has for beneficiaries and the working people in general, she is refusing to accept the decision of the Human Rights Commission which has ruled she breached the privacy of a beneficiary, Natasha Fuller, who dared to criticise her welfare policies. Bennett released details of her benefit, without her permission, in July 2009.
Not only will she not admit to any wrong doing she has had the audacity to say she might do it again if the situation warranted it ! What is she saying? Any beneficiary that publicly criticises her or her Government runs the risk of having their personal details splattered all over the media? Is she trying to intimidate into the silence the people who are the victims of her belligerent and draconian welfare 'reforms'?
She should no longer be in cabinet but instead she has received the backing of her cabinet colleagues.
The Government's benevolent attitude toward Bennett is in stark contrast to the punishment meted out to ten WINZ staff in recent months. They were sacked for breaching the privacy of beneficiaries. Seven were dismissed from the Manukau office of WINZ in November last year for what the Ministry of Social Development described were "appalling" breaches of the code of conduct which included improper use of private files belonging to family and friends, as well as inappropriate email use.
But Bennett doesn't get her marching orders.
Indeed Acting Prime Minister Bill English has hinted that beneficiaries who are thinking of speaking out should think again.
He told the media: "People who enter into public debate are welcome to do so… and they should provide their full information to the public."
This is the same Bill English who recently raised the possibility of beneficiaries being drug tested.
He said: "In my electorate, a lot of the jobs available to younger people are in forestry and in the meat-processing industry. And I'm told by those employers they often can't employ our own locally unemployed young people because they can't pass a drug test."
But English was being 'economical with the truth'. The Combined Trades Union sought information from the Ministry of Social Development about how many complaints the had received from employers about young beneficiaries failing drug tests. They had received none.
But its not just Bill English and his cabinet colleagues who think Bennett is doing a fantastic job.
In the media beneficiaries are regularly bashed.
The likes of Michael Laws, Leighton Smith and Mike Hosking have all done their little bit to whip up an atmosphere of intimidation against beneficiaries which has made it so much easier for Paula Bennett to put the boot in.
In fact some media 'personalities' have gone into raptures about Ms Bennett.
This is what Paul Holmes wrote about Paula Bennett in his NZ Herald column of August2, 2009:
'The week, I have to say, belongs to Paula Bennett. She connects. She speaks normally. She talks the average person's language. We know where she comes from and she remembers where she comes from. She has the X factor.
Charisma, in its extreme form, can be elevating and inspiring. It can also simply be an aura, a quality, that makes us expect something interesting, something we will connect to or relate to, from the person who has it. So it is with Paula Bennett. She has a little of the darkness that stars have, too, and she is becoming, in her own way, a political star. '
Pass me the bucket...