Welfare policy changes encourage beneficiaries to seek work or the lost city of Atlantis

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett believes scenes like these exist, and that there would be no one better to rediscover them than the nation’s unemployed.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett believes scenes like these exist, and that there would be no one better to rediscover them than the nation’s unemployed.

Newly-implemented changes to the beneficiary system will require all sickness beneficiaries, sole parents and widows with no children under 14 to actively seek employment or else the lost city of Atlantis.

“I’ve always said two things,” said Social Development Minister Paula Bennett in announcing the policy. “One is that the Government was determined to help more people off welfare into work with better support, and we’re doing it.

“The other is that the legendary lost city of Atlantis is out there, with a magical crystal at its heart that, when captured, will allow ordinary New Zealanders to live for centuries. We’re not there yet, but with thousands of otherwise useless people at our disposal, we know we can find it.”

Bennett said she learnt about Atlantis and the crystal in the 2001 Disney animated documentary Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The film depicted the expedition of Smithsonian cartographer Milo Thatch, who encountered the island in 1914.

Labour’s social development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern was critical of the policy.

“The Minister claims to have seen the film,” she said, “but she has clearly ignored its message, which demonstrates the folly of trying to remove the crystal from Atlantis.

“She also obviously hasn’t seen the direct-to-video sequel, Atlantis: Milo’s Return, in which the crystal was shown to be a gift for all mankind, not just one country. This policy is going to create enormous inequality between the have-crystals and the have-not-crystals, as well as between those who find work and those who swim across the ocean and drown trying to locate the city.”

Green Party leader Russel Norman expressed concern that the government was focused on finding another island when the country’s own Stewart Island remained missing.

“Isn’t it about time that this government supported our own islands, instead of looking over or under seas?” he said.

Bennett rebuffed these criticisms, saying that the opposition was trying to make the law seem more complicated than it actually was.

“Look, this isn’t about the lost city of Atlantis,” she said. “This is about kiwis on benefits and giving them a choice. They can either front up, be honest with themselves and say ‘I need to find a job.’ Or, if they can’t do that, they can seek out an ancient island of myth and treasures that will grant untold power to those who acquire them.”

When emailed for comment, Atlantis expert Professor Kingsley Westphal of Greenwich Community College responded “I am out of the office on annual leave in Sardinia until 11 July. If you are inquiring about the vacuum cleaner for sale, please note that it is not waterproof.”

Further inquiries have confirmed that the vacuum cleaner is blue and comes with a packet of five extra bags.