The Alliance Party is concerned about amount of misinformation circulating about the long term unemployment. It is time for a bit of honesty both from the government and employers.
The long term unemployed are out of work because employers won’t hire them. In the current economic climate finding a job is a competitive sport – a very competitive sport, because there are many more workers than jobs. As in every competitive sport, there are winners and losers. In the job hunting stakes, unfortunately, the unemployed are the biggest losers.
Employers spend a great deal of money and time trying to attract the best people to work for them. And that is their prerogative. Many job vacancies are advertised not only in New Zealand but around the world. The long term unemployed have about as much chance of being chosen by employers as John Key has of making the All Blacks or Paula Bennett of being selected for the Silver Ferns.
The Alliance deplores efforts to depict those without paid jobs as lazy people who would rather bludge off the taxpayers than do a days work. The government must face up to the facts and stop treating people on benefits like naughty children.
We need to change our way of thinking. People should be valued for who they are not whether or not they are in paid employment. Government ministers, in particular, need to rethink their attitudes and look at the positive contribution many beneficiaries make to our society. For example, arguably some of the most exciting and original art work in the country is coming out of small community based art spaces for beneficiaries and other marginalized groups.
Let’s lose the “carrot and stick” talk with its negative connotations and punitive policies. Instead let’s start from the assumption that everyone, in paid work or not, is entitled to a liveable income. Then we need to look for innovative ways to create more work so that there are decent jobs for everyone, regardless of their abilities or work history. When it comes to dealing with unemployment, our government should lead by example, not name calling.
Kay Murray (co leader Alliance Party)