I had such hopes for Paula Bennett.
I thought she’d bring a bit of left-wing balance to the National Government – but she’s displaying every sign of having used her solo Mum status to gain votes - “I understand you! I too was on the DPB! I owe my current circumstances to the benefit and the social policies of this country!” – only to stamp on the very people she wooed a few short months ago.
The basic story is that two women complained how hard it was to obtain training so that they were employable and no longer needed the benefit, now that the Training Incentive Allowance has been cut. Ms Bennett decided to show the world that life was actually not so tough for these women by publicising the amount they receive as their legal entitlement to State support. The points concerning the Privacy Act are very well made by Strong Light here.
My concern is that Ms Bennett didn’t seem to realise that in her position, she can’t whack someone with personal details of their own life just because they criticised a decision that she is responsible for. Or that it’s not a nice thing for anyone to do in any circumstances. It’s not how you make friends, it’s not how you get yourself up the ladder. Hasn’t she heard of subtlety?!
I would imagine she’ll be facing a complaint and investigation by the Privacy Commissioner. (Maybe when she finds herself once more out of a job she might consider taking some training in the art of debate.)
Based on her responses so far, her defence is likely to be that it was the fault of the women she has attacked, that they started it, they swung the handbag first.
Yep, she may well plead provocation.