Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Thirteen days

Further to my post on prisoners and benefits, according to the Dominion-Post this morning, the average time taken to stop a benefit payment after someone is jailed is thirteen days. Given that ten of those is the challenge period, it's hard to see the entire issue as anything but a storm in a teacup. The data matching system is working, and benefits to which people are not entitled are being cut expeditiously. So what's the problem?

Unfortunately, the government is responding to this beat-up by promising legislation to remove the ten-day challenge period and to allow "the prison telling us to be taken as evidence that the person is the [right] person". But the problem isn't on the prison's end - it's on WINZ's end, with making sure the person on Corrections' list maps to the right person in their database.

Removing the challenge period will result in misidentifications and innocent beneficiaries being punished for the crimes of others. Unfortunately, the vindictiveness towards prisoners seems to outweigh any such considerations.


In the eyes of our political class, beneficiaries and criminals are synonymous. Our politicians stoke up populist hate in order to evade scrutiny of their actions. I find it contemptible but give the Greens and Matt Robson an honours pass from my vitriol.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/09/2005 11:40:00 AM