Dearest Anne Tolley, Minister for social development.
Thank you greatly for reading the first line of this page, you have probably already broken the record for most words read in a letter sent by me to one of your colleagues. I am inspired, therefore, to continue.
I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down at my keyboard to write a letter of this manner, of this level of anger, at this magnitude of disbelief, at this unhealthy record of sadness.
This evening I received a RadioLive link via an online acquaintance on the social networking site Facebook. The headline read, and I quote directly; “Beneficiaries are living a pretty good lifestyle – Anne Tolley”.
Mrs. Tolley, I regret to inform you that I wholeheartedly disagree.
Let me tell you very briefly a bit about myself before we move on to the topic at hand. I am in my later teen years, a student, and I have been brought up my entire life by one woman; my mother. Yes, a solo-mother. I know this is a demographic the National government detests with a devouring passion but please continue reading. At the age of seven, or about that, the Labour government introduced the Working for Families benefit. That paid for my dinner, which was, usually, store-bought pasta with a conservative rationing of grated cheese.
Ah, the good life.
I don’t just hear it from my mother, i hear it from people all around me. Walking into your local Winz office, knowing full-well the stereotypes surrounding those on welfare, is nothing short of humiliation. It is not enjoyable. It is not a memorable family-outing to jot down in the diary.
Nowadays I am lucky enough to live very comfortably. My mother attended university despite financial difficulties, and earned herself consecutive jobs teaching across the Wellington region. I myself will soon be employed in work, despite not actually needing to at this point in time. Whilst our family would easily be better off under a National government and the tax cuts they offer us, I and my family will never, ever cast a vote for your party knowing the attitudes expressed to those on welfare, which you exemplified today, still exist.
As I walk past my local Winz office in Newtown, south of central Wellington, i do not see a happy association of people. I see desperate families. I see young people. I see old people. I see people to whom you and your government owe responsibility and owe the quality of life most New Zealanders are fortunate to enjoy. I see young solo-mothers, lining up for pittance, desperate to feed their children. Desperate to pay the looming and existing power bill. Desperate to keep up with the rising – no – the soaring cost of living.
Frankly I find it extraordinary your government discussed the possibility of cutting taxes for the poor before reducing the obscenely high GST you promised not to raise, then did, to 15%.
How far removed are you that you actually think these people are living a good life? Is it a life they’re living at all? Or is it merely an undesirable existence? Is it little wonder those who are this desperately poor turn to a life of crime, or if not that suicide?
I’ve seen both cases happen before.
Ms. Tolley, a society in which billionaire overseas businessmen and their pop-up casinos are valued above our countrymen who are forced to live in disturbing levels of ‘good life’ poverty is no society it all. it is a society which values not the lives of the young, the old and the disabled.
I ask you to retract your comments and actually think.