Up Front by Emma Hart


Who's Dreaming Now?

In a move which has further horrified front-line welfare agencies, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced that, as of April 1st next year, National Superannuation payments will be work-tested.

In a document which was at first thought to be a leaked internal memo, Ms Bennett lays out her reasoning. “Any way you look at it, this only seems fair. Most Unemployment Benefit recipients only bludge off us for less than a year, maybe two at the outside. Most people on the DPB, it’s only a couple of years longer and let’s face it, what sane person is going to argue that raising kids on your own isn’t working?

“But old people? Jesus. They turn sixty-five and they expect a free ride for the rest of their freaking lives? Decades! Lying around in caravans out the back of their kids’ place drinking and spending all our money at the TAB. Hey, that’s another thing, you know what? Let’s ban old people from having phone accounts with the TAB. That’s our fucking money, you know. And the pub. It’s not like old people are hard to spot, and if they can walk down the pub and lift a handle, they can work in a bloody call centre.”

When it was pointed out to Ms Bennett that traditionally, retired people are considered to have made their contribution to society and earned their ‘free ride’, she exploded in a leopard-skin paroxysm of righteousness. “Nuh-uh! UB, DPB, those people still have contributions to make, so it makes sense to help them out. You get pay-back. But old people, fuck me, what are they going to do, come up with a more efficient possum-fur tea-cosy? Provide free child-care in the school holidays so their slutty daughters can be made to work for a dollar an hour? If they can do that, they can do forty hours driving a mining truck.

“Plus, plus! Working is good for you! It’ll keep ‘em sharp, stop ‘em getting all depressed and ill and shit. And moving around will help keep them warm, they’re always whining about being cold. Really, we’re helping the lazy little fuckers. It’s for their own good, but am I going to get any gratitude? Am I fuck.”

When questioned about this latest outburst, Prime Minister John Key said he was “relaxed about it”. “I mean, why wouldn’t I be? We’ll be retiring to the place in Maui anyway. It’s not my bum getting kicked up. And hey, let’s be positive, it’s already got people working. There was some old guy in Tauranga saying this would bring him out of retirement just this morning. Nice suit, too.”

“There’s nothing to worry about,” Bennett further condescended. “If they genuinely can’t work, and they can prove it to the satisfaction of a bunch of people with no medical expertise who’ve been given a quota to get off the Bludge, they’ll continue to receive their beer and horse money no problems. But if they’ve been planning to put their feet up and sponge off the state while they’ve still got the strength to use a trowel – and don’t think we won’t have private detectives parked outside their houses watching – then I’m afraid the dream is over.”

Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'.

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