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A Pinch of Politics

– with Natasha Tziakis

When does modern survival become fraud? Metiria Turei, co-leader of the Green Party, recently admitted to lying to WINZ about her income when she received a benefit years ago. Her lie was that her flatmates at the time were not paying rent, when in fact they were. This lie allowed her to feed her child and herself and to stay, for the most part, warm and dry.

Turei’s admittance has caused a huge public reaction – some totally support her, and others have denounced her. Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) were not adequately supporting her and her family, so she turned to other methods. Does this mean she was trying to survive in modern times or was she committing fraud? In my own opinion, I believe that the word ‘fraud’ connotates that the actions were carried out with malicious intent, and I do not believe this is what Turei did.

An unexpected reaction to Turei’s life experiences and the new policies were how Twitter took off. The hashtag #IAmMetiria stormed the Twitter-sphere nationwide, with everyday New Zealanders telling their stories of how receiving government benefits allowed them to better their lives. Although their stories do not discuss lying about income to gain the benefit you could say social media has played an important role in combating the demonisation of Turei, which other people have done.

It’s very easy to sit here and judge her, but think about what you would do to ensure a roof to live under for you and your family.

The announcement of Turei’s past was made alongside the Green Party’s new policies surrounding benefits and tax. The main points were that the Green Party would increase all benefits by 20 per cent if elected, and remove punishment for failed drugs tests and lack of job-searching. The party hopes this will destroy the stigma that all beneficiaries are drug-addled and lazy. Remember they are not all like that. They are people, just as much as you and me.

Political policies are often huge leaders in changing public opinion and helping people help themselves. The only worry about these policies around benefits and taxes is that if the Green Party get into government and do not follow through with them, they will be slammed for promising false policies for votes.

A lot of people tune out as soon as they hear the word ‘politics’, but it is something that concerns how our lives will look like in the future. Policies like those the Green Party have put forward consider raising people out of situations where they are forced to lie about income by actually raising that income. And small changes like that can have a profoundly positive impact on the rest of New Zealand society.

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Morgan promise $200 for students

Gareth Morgan, the leader of The Opportunities Party, has announced his Unconditional Basic Income policy. This policy would see every New Zealander aged between 18 and 23 receiving $200 per week or $10,000 per year. There would be no examination, no drug testing and no stand down periods. The way Morgan proposes to pay for this is through abolishing student allowances and by taking away the tax cuts National has promised. Morgan believes having a ‘basic income’ to cover costs would encourage young Kiwis to go out and find employment.

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Student election time

We are getting closer to our own election here at Massey. Students will have to decide on who will be their student leaders for next year. Students can can nominate someone they think would be best suited for a role on the student executive. For more information, check out your student association’s website.

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