When Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones placed his proposition on the table to get people to earn their dole money, there was an eerie silence, then the expected outcry. Why? Because the New Zealand First MP reckons people should work for their dole rather than waste away on it.
The Minister of Employment, Labour Party MP Willie Jackson, quickly curtailed some of the sting by saying while Minister Jones’ sentiments are right, the specific policy tool is not. But what is right is both men are determined to raise employment in urban and rural areas – especially for Māori and Youth. To achieve meaningful change, the ministers will need to work collaboratively.
Māori are a race of people locked into a class of income. Māori have been in the lower income areas of society since the arrival of the European. That happens when you lock a race of people into a class of work. Their skill set and their ability to build a middle class becomes difficult, if not impossible. Add to that the unjustifiable confiscation of their economic worth and assimilation programmes and we have an unfortunate and difficult social cocktail.
The economic redress bought in under Rogernomics put 44,000 Māori men immediately on to the dole queue because they didn’t have the skills or capacity to migrate anywhere else but the dole. Proud men became frustrated because they were no longer providers for their families and turned to escapism through drugs, alcohol, violence and crime – hence the unacceptable and shaming incarceration rates of Māori.
What Rogernomics also created are 3rd and 4th generation beneficiaries’ families who have deeply imbedded wrong values. For example, they believe stealing off your neighbour is good if it feeds you and the family. Or being happy requires you to indulge in alcohol or drugs because this is the only time you see your family happy and smiling.
These are not values that lift family – they actually drag that family down and impact other children and families in the same community in all the wrong ways. A person not waking up with a cause, knowing they are not going to contribute to themselves, their families, their communities or their country, is a person without a moral compass.
Up to 76,000 Kiwi youth aged between 16-18 years are not in employment or tertiary training. Guess what they will be getting up to?
We need answers and the solution is in welding together Jones’ no nonsense messaging with Jackson’s employment package that must include ensuring that money spent in Education, Welfare and Health supports and stimulates the package of employment promotion policies, even if subsidised by the state.
The alternative is to look at the cost of locking up one person for one year is $110k. The cost of an inmate’s 15-year journey of Care and Protection costs, to Youth Justice costs, to Court, Probation, Corrections, Legal Aid and then Prison, costs the state $1 million per person.
We either intervene early and fund prevention rather than high cost ambulances at the bottom of the cliff. We need to release positive energy, rather than lock it up.
Let’s see what the bringing together of these two minister’s policy rollouts bring.
As always time will tell.