Its been a bitterly cold day in Christchurch with none of the glamour of being wrapped in a snow blanket. But the cockles of our heart have been warmed by Nationals announcement around welfare reforms that target that tough group of youngsters - the 16 -18 yrd olds. There are nearly 15,000 of them.
The are the Do Nothings. No work, no training. No education. and sadly this group are also responsible for bringing far too many children into a world where the only income comes from intergenerational state welfare dependence.
This cohort find the lure of easy living on the benefit a demotivator to getting of their arses and getting into the workforce. Once they get on the benefit it is terrifyingly difficult to get them off. They are the nations lost boys. Destined to live life in the shadows of our bright society.
Matthew Hooton put it succinctly on Q andA this morning when he said that increasing welfare spending over the last decade has not improved the the outcomes for those who get state handouts. Its the welfare handouts to these young adults over the last decade and beyond which has led to this national tragedy.
So National, has decided to get tough. What they are doing by putting the responsibility for these kids back on the families, should be a game changer for our society. Maori will be able to give wrap around whanau ora support to these boys and in many cases girls who are currently eking out an existence in the shadows.
Its a very interventionist approach and that is what is need for this incredibly vulnerable group.
Their families will get the message that its not acceptable to let their kids slip into welfares tight embrace and its their responsibility to see that they dont. And the kids will get the message that this lifestyle is no longer acceptable. And the community will have a chance to get involved and help steer them to a better life and make good choices about their futures. Agencies will be able to share information to ensure they are not slipping though the net and monitor their progress.
So congratulations to National for tackling the tough and arguably the most important welfare reforms first. It sends a strong message to the electorate - that National cares enough about the future of everyone in New Zealand to make some unpalatable decisions that the left have never had the balls to make.
Its a well worn Chinese proverb that says it takes a whole village to bring up a child. This policy will see our village supported to give every child the best guidance to get them to a place where they can make the right choices that will give them a real stake in our country's future.
And Cactus reckons that Labour still cant see the wood for the trees..