Paula Bennett and the National Government Need to Take Some Responsibilty for the Work and Income Shooting Incident

From Stuff.co.nz: Two people were shot dead by a man at a Work and Income office in Ashburton about 10am. One person was shot dead on site and another died at Ashburton Hospital. A third is in a serious but stable condition.

- The man being hunted by police is John Henry Tully, 48. Tully also used Russell as a first name. Tully recently became homeless and spoke to the Ashburton Guardian about his frustration at the lack of accommodation in the town. He reportedly moved back to Ashburton, the place where he was born and raised, following a career in the Australian mines.

The 48-year-old had said he had "come home to die" from an unidentified skin disease which caused boil-type lumps if left untreated and tightened the joints causing limited movement.

It had seen him placed him on a disability benefit and was likely to worsen, the Ashburton Guardian reported.
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The welfare reforms of the National government rolled out over the last 6 years under the helm of minister Paula Bennett have created a harsh bullying and threatening culture in Work and Income offices. The change in culture began not long after the current government took power. I have had personal experience with this in recent years after a life threatening illness and later redundancy forced me onto welfare support for a time. Others have gone so far as to publish their own stories of being bullied, threatened and deliberately made to feel like a piece of shit by staff at WINZ, regardless of what the circumstances were that caused them to become unemployed. (SEE Terror and humiliation – just another day with WINZ http://www.openureyes.org.nz/blog/?q=node/5100)

There is no doubt in my mind that this culture of bullying and threatening had some part to play in causing this man to crack and commit this terrible crime.

I DO NOT blame the staff of WINZ at all for this. The toxic culture in that organisation was directed from the very top, Social Development minister Paula Bennett. The minister and the government need to reflect on the hostile and degrading environment they have created in Work and Income offices. They need to acknowledge they put their staff in danger by forcing them to create such an environment in a department that is dealing with desperate people, many of whom are afflicted with mental illness and need the support through no fault of their own.

The screws have been put on these people very hard in the last 6 years with many of the grants for financial assistance being abolished and replaced by "advance payments" that must be payed back weekly. If you are on the dole and your shoes wear out, tough, there is no grant for that, same goes for your clothes. Power bill gone through the roof and beyond your ability to pay it out of the pittance the benefit pays? That is too bad, no grant to assist with that. These changes have been implimented at a time when the cost of living has sky-rocketed. The governments best plan for the poor and desperate has been to make them poorer and more desperate. WINZ has been actively forcing unemployed and sick people into debt to the government. The bonus on top of that is you get bullied and threatened with cuts to your benefit constantly and made to feel terrible.

Something truly awful was going to happen eventually and it just did.

Those on the far right and staunch National supporters will froth violently at mouth as they read this I know, fuck them. The government has to accept their share of the blame for this.


Minister of Social Development and Tough Bitch - Paula Bennet