Instead, they've decided to weigh in to the debate, and in the most cack-handed manner possible:
Welfare spokeswoman Annette King said Bennett had created a new standard and should abide by it.There are two problems here.
"She was on the DBP on and off for five years. She took the training incentive allowance. Perhaps she would like to release those details publicly, if that is the new standard," King said. (1)
First of all, it immediately wins a degree of sympathy for Paula Bennett. Before, she was the nasty one, picking on Jennifer Johnston and Natasha Fuller for complaining about cuts. Now, Labour are picking on Paula Bennett, and people will see her as a game girl trying to do a tough job in the face of relentless attacks from the dishonest, bitter losers. Nor is reminding people how Bennett managed to transform herself from a beneficiary into a cabinet minister a good tactic.
Second, everytime someone like King, or Goff, or Mallard opens his or her mouth, people immediately remember why they voted for National, and their wavering faith in Key is restored. The Labour old guard don't understand how disliked they are. They need to shut up and keep a low profile while this works itself out.
This doesn't mean doing nothing, but keeping it as impersonal as possible. Because as soon as personalities like Annette King and Phil Goff get involved, Labour lose.
1 - "Reveal income, Bennett told," by Colin Espiner, published in The Press, reproduced on Stuff.co.nz, 29th of July, 2009. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/2683905/Reveal-income-Bennett-told)