I have some sympathy for the plight of people like this gentleman who have to devote a considerable portion of their lives to looking after sick and disabled relatives at considerable personal time and cost to themselves. But I think the decision of the New Zealand Court of Appeal that says the Government is discriminating when they don't pay such people for such care is a step too far in the constant expansion of the welfare state.
It is yet another example of the activist judiciary in this country going outside their constitutional role and making social policy law. The judiciary should not make such law because they are not accountable to the public, as the legislative and executive branches are meant to be, for the funding and outcomes of such policies. Unfortunately it is the poor taxpayer that once again will have to pick up the tab for the judiciary's largesse, as they have had to do with the flood of Treaty of Waitangi claims following Justice Cooke's infamous determination of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (where no such principles previously existed).
This decision sets a dangerous precedent. It seems there is now no limit on what is a reasonable claim on the welfare system. Should adult children now be paid for the care of their elders? Should teenage children be paid by the state for the babysitting of their younger siblings?
New Zealand, like most other Western nations, is already living well beyond its means. Last year the Government spent a third more than it took in taxes and all this profligacy has to be paid for by current or future taxpayers. The taxes that are required to fund the welfare state are already crippling personal and business enterprise and eliminating our ability to save and invest for the future. Demographic factors (i.e. the aging population and proportionately ever-smaller number of taxpayers) mean that by any measure the current situation is unsustainable. The Court of Appeal decision just adds to the unsustainable burden.
The appropriate response of the Government to the Court of Appeal's decision is to stop all payments to carers of sick and disabled people. This would be tough on the current recipients of paid care and their families, but the Government must demonstrate to the judiciary the implications of such activist decisions. If it is now discrimatory to expect families to look after their own, then we must non-discriminatorily abolish all such benefits.