National loses a hard worker in Paula Bennett

National loses a hard worker in Paula Bennett

Venkat Raman
Auckland, June 29, 2020

Paula Bennett

The National Party has lost one of its most dedicated Parliamentarians and a woman of steadfast beliefs in its polices and programmes.

Former Minister and Deputy Leader of National Party Paula Bennett announced her decision not to contest in the General Election due on September 19.

The move may not come as a surprise to many, because she could have felt let down when Todd Muller dumped her to choose Nikki Kaye as his Deputy on May 22, 2020.

Ms Bennett has been a friend of Indian Newslink since she entered Parliament on National List in 2005 and has shared her vision of New Zealand on many occasions.

As a Minister in the Cabinets of John Key and Bill English, Ms Bennett brought significant changes to the Ministries that she led- notably Social Development, Police, Tourism and Youth. She served as Deputy Prime Minister when Bill English became the Prime Minister on December 12, 2016 and following the defeat of the National Party in the September 2017 General Election, she retained her post as the Deputy Leader.

Paula Bennett shares a joke with Indian Newslink Managing Director Jacob Mannothra and National MP Kanwaljeet Singh Bakshi (facing her) at the Indian Newslink Business Awards Sponsors Dinner held on September 4, 2017 in Auckland (INL Photo by Narendra Bedekar)

Passion for politics

In a press release, she described her passion for politics.

“In 2005 I entered politics on the National Party list. I was absolutely thrilled in 2008 when the people of the then seat of Waitakere chose me as their electorate MP. I served them for six years until that seat no longer existed. I then went on to win the seat of Upper Harbour where I have served for the past six years. Being an electorate MP and working on behalf of constituents has been a privilege and it is work I have really enjoyed. I believe Jake Bezzant, the current candidate for Upper Harbour, will do an outstanding job and I wish him all the best in the upcoming election,” she said.

She handled no less than 14 different portfolios, each, as she said, coming with its own challenges and achievements. She was proud of her work as Minister for Social Development and Child Youth and Family for more than six years. 

Challenges and achievements

Ms Bennett said that she became a Minister (in November 2008) at a time when the Global Financial Crisis began to hit hard economies of the world.

“Vulnerable families and communities needed our immediate help and I ensured they had it. But they also needed hope of a better future for them and their families. I set about reforming the welfare system. With more emphasis on what people could do, increasing our expectation on people to get work ready and look for a job and changing the system so that more help was available for them. The number of sole parents on benefit dropped by more than 30,000 and the number of teen parents effectively halved. This meant tens of thousands of people no longer dependent on the state and living independent lives,” she said.

Muller pays tribute

National Party Leader Todd Muller paid tributes to Ms Bennett saying that as Climate Change Minister, she signed the 2016 Paris Climate Change Agreement in New York, which committed to delivering New Zealand’s 2030 emissions reductions target.

“She significantly reformed the welfare system to make sure it focused on supporting people as they got off welfare and into work, helping thousands in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis.  She will always be remembered as a staunch advocate for women and victims during her years in Parliament with a results-based approach to policy, holding herself accountable for how her work made a difference in the lives of New Zealanders,” he said.

Tough Lady

Ms Bennett is a brave woman. In January 2009, just a few weeks after she became a Minister, she broke up a fight between 30 teenagers at a shopping mall in the West Auckland main centre of Henderson before the Police arrived.

The incident led her to be called, ‘The Tough Lady.’

A year later (March 2010), she accepted an Eisenhower Fellowship, a prestigious six-week fellowship programme in the USA awarded only to 20 women worldwide.

Indian Newslink wishes Paula Bennett the best in her future career.

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