Saturday, January 27, 2007

Maori Party say DPB part of their culture


Saturday, January 27, 2007

"It is astonishing to hear the Maori Party calling for work-for-the-dole to be made compulsory but refusing to confront what is, in fact, a much bigger problem for Maori. The DPB."

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell said today, "Co-leaders told the New Zealand Herald that action is needed to attack entrenched attitudes to state dependency but supporting sole parenting is part of their culture."

Mitchell responded,"Yet of the 90,000 Maori working-age beneficiaries only 17 percent are on the dole. The largest proportion, 45 percent, are on the DPB. "

"While being on a benefit is described as an 'unhealthy' experience by the Maori Party, being on the dole only directly affects the recipient. Being on the DPB affects the children, the next generation, and Maori tend to stay on it longest. Add to that, children raised on the DPB are more likely to be abused or neglected, suffer health problems and struggle educationally."

"In particular, overseas research has shown that mothers aged 17 and younger are twice as likely to have a child placed in fostercare, to be reported for child abuse or neglect, and to have a son sent to prison. The largest ethnic group of 16 and 17 year-olds on the DPB (EMA) are Maori."

"Paying babies to have babies, Maori and non-Maori, is the most pernicious aspect of our benefit system and must change. As the practice disproportionately involves their people, it isn't good enough for the Maori Party to say, it's OK because it's part of our culture."

"It also appears some traditional Maori sexism is being expressed. It is alright for Maori females to be dependent on the state but not Maori males. That attitude will only further encourage sole parenting and fatherless families."

"Maori, like non-Maori, should be aiming to be self-supporting and contributing New Zealanders."

Friday, January 26, 2007


Most of the friends I grew up with have grown up kids. The advantage is their kids have usually learnt some tact. Mine haven't. "I don't like it when the hairdresser puts that cap thing on you. It makes you look old."

"Did you know your elbows are wrinkled?"

Yesterday I booked a horse trek for them. And me. Hoping wildly I can mount the horse. Last time I tried I encountered serious difficulty. But then that was Bob, the enormous Clydesdale at Staglands. Here's hoping they give me a skinny one. Seriously, my husband was intrigued when I asked him if he knew of any studies that showed ageing sexually active women have more hip replacements.

Last week I dropped my 8 year-old off at a cartoon drawing course run by Aussies. The girl on reception urged my daughter to "say bye bye to mummy...or Grandma". I know the Aussies are not PC but hell's bells. If in doubt wouldn't you stick with mummy?

Then we went fishing. Much admonishment from me about hanging on tightly to the rod and makeshift sticks and twine. Especially since I'd bought new sinkers. You guessed . The one with the arthritic hand dropped her hook, link and sinker off the wharf into non-retrievable seas.

Early afternoon often means a swim down at the beach. NOT ME SILLY. The kids. I keep an eagle eye on them...until I nod off in the sun that is.

So I am trying to think of some advantages to being an 'older' parent. I'm not neurotic about their diet and health? My youngest had to be weaned at a disgraceful age by the only means possible. Coca cola. What an admission. What a robust, never-a-day-off-school kid she is.

I don't "stress-out" over what they watch. Yesterday I had the 8 year-old doing Vicky Pollard imitations at the library. Last night I actually sat and watched Little Britain with them. Good God. It's rough. What the heck will the librarians think of me?

I'm not obsessed with finding alternative methods of discipline. An infrequent slap works.

You might think being of an older generation I would be blessed with great domestic skills but my daughter will tell you, as she did me, "You're not much of a home-maker are you?"

So would I swap myself for a younger version? Absolutely.

Still, my own mother insists I look much younger than I am. Yet another way in which she is quite unique. Thanks Mum.

Healthy eating hogwash

A new study shows that it isn't much more costly to eat healthy food than unhealthy. We needed a study to tell us that? The guinea pig shoppers were confined to certain products and one outlet. What about markets, discount stores and growing or picking your own produce? Or are low income people too stupid to shop around? Of course they aren't.

But this is what caught my eye.

The study appears in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal. An accompanying editorial by public health researchers at Otago University urges for action to reduce the price of healthy foods.

It suggests the Government consider schemes such as providing vouchers for fruits and vegetable discounts for low-income families and a mandatory traffic light system for foods as a simple way of indicating a food's health benefit or detriment.

Next month, Dr Ni Mhurchu will start recruiting 1200 supermarket shoppers for a Wellington trial looking to see if a discount of 12.5 per cent (the rate of GST) on healthier foods will spur people to buy more healthy foods.

First, voucher schemes can and will get ripped off. The voucher has a value to A but not to B. This alone shows it is B who really needs to use it. But B sells it to A for a smaller amount of cash than the voucher's redeemable value. Both parties are happy. And the desired result has not been achieved.

Second, GST off healthy food? What a bun fight that would be. For instance only last year Food Standards Australia New Zealand questioned whether fruit with over a certain amount of sugar was in fact healthy.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has released draft guidelines governing nutrition and health claims made about food.

Under the draft, foods with more than 16 grams of sugar per serve can not be advertised as healthy, ruling out fruits like mangoes, grapes and apples.

Again I shake my head at what we get served up from (some) academics. The 'solutions' are generally to be driven by government action, involve costly redistribution and administration and inevitably cannot be demonstrated to improve matters.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Dead people given benefits"

That's the headline in a DomPost story today.

The DomPost got figures under the OIA showing 600 people had continued to receive social security payments four weeks after their death.

National Welfare spokesperson, Judith Collins picks up on it and puts out a release saying, New figures show that 600 deceased beneficiaries wrongly received $380,000 from the taxpayer in the first 10 months of last year.

What Collins doesn't mention is that 90 percent of them were superannuitants, who, to my mind, are not beneficiaries - they receive Super, not a benefit. Others included veterans who are also not beneficiaries but pensioners.

That aside, data matching has improved the problem and as welfare problems go, it doesn't keep me awake at night.

Some meaningful welfare criticism (and policy) from National wouldn't go amiss. Problem is, with their current centrist approach there is nothing to offer beyond management quibbles.

Come to think of it, with their be-nice-to-everybody philosophy, this could be the best policy we get. No more Super for dead guys. Would you vote for that?

Privatising health the wrong way

Health funding is a huge yawn. But it's one of the biggest political problems the world over. Now Germany has come up with a novel way for the state to get out of the difficult dilemma of facing greater health needs than available funds. Pass it on to the private sector and legislate their mandatory acceptance. That's what the latest plan entails. The insurance company cannot refuse people and cannot control the premiums they charge. Result - the insurer will have to subsidise policies for some by charging others more and some insurers will simply bite the dust (very good for competition).

And when you think about what our government did to Telecom, well it's not inconceivable they might find this idea very attractive.

Paternity testing

I have never blogged about the Jayden Headley case because it saddens me to see the child dragged through the court and splashed all over the media. This morning's revelation about a false DNA sample did trigger some thoughts however.

DNA testing for paternity is a bit of a minefield. I know at least one father's group want mandatory testing at birth. Given so many partnerships do not last and child support can cost men thousands of dollars, sometimes with no corresponding 'rights' to father, I would support voluntary DNA testing. It could be offered as routine at birth (as part of the heel prick sample?) if the mother and father request it. If the mother refuses then so be it. BUT that will certainly leave a large question mark over his paternity, at which point he may want to do what others have done and send a sample to an overseas lab. It sounds awful. I know. But a male has the right to know he is the father of a child.

Think of it like a pre-nuptial agreement. Nobody has to have, or agree to sign one, but it protects one or possibly both parties. At the same time however, asking a partner to sign a pre-nup could have the same negative effect as asking for a DNA test to be run on a newborn. What about trust? A lack of trust is not a sound basis for a relationship.

In the end it is up to the individuals involved. DNA testing for paternity should be more accessible.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Key tells Maori they have "special status"

According to Radio Live, John Key is at Ratana telling Maori they have "special status" in this country.

When government accords one group special status they are by necessity taking from another. There can be no privilege without some corresponding disadvantage. If one individual or group is "special" then others are not. Unless of course we are all special (the sort of gobbledy gook you hear these days) in which case there is no point in pointing it out.

This is not the way forward. Integration and intermarriage are good. Assimilation or separatism are not. Certainly people should be able to preserve their culture and beliefs but that is not for the government to control.

Brash was hugely misunderstood by many Maori and many non-Maori. He simply espoused equal and individual rights. No more and no less. Until we understand and embrace this concept we will continue to have strife and division.

Aussie men not at work

Australia's Productivity Commission has found that half of the 900,000 men outside the workforce and not trying to get in, are on disability benefits. It claims, however, that most are not severely disabled and could find work if they had the motivation and the opportunity.

The Commission, in the first government inquiry into the huge increase in male joblessness, found that 9 percent of men aged 25 to 44 are not even looking for work - up from 2 percent in the seventies.

How does New Zealand compare?

Comparative figures at June 2005;

NZ Sickness and Invalid benefits 118,362
Male 55%
Female 45%

Australia Disability pension 706,800
Male 59%
Female 41%

NZ Unemployment benefit 50,714
Male 65%
Female 35%

Australia Newstart 453,700
Male 66%
Female 34%

New Zealand has a slightly lower percentage of people aged 15-64 at 66.1 percent compared to Australia's 67.3 percent but, for the purpose of comparison, roughly speaking the Australian caseloads should be 5 times more than NZ's. In fact their incapacity benefits are 6 times greater and unemployment, 9 times greater.

I suppose we should be celebrating our better performance. Does it make up for the cricket?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ministry will shut down critical website

Apparently Ministry Of Social Development CEO Peter Hughes has instructed lawyers to work 24/7 doing whatever they have to, to shut down the CYFS Watch blogsite. This should be interesting.

Update; Police called in over CYF blog (damn e-link function broken again. The report is at

Update 2; Just listened to Larry Williams talking to MSD CEO Peter Hughes about the CYFS Watch blog and the threat it apparently poses to the safety of his staff.

The people most likely to pose any threat to a social worker would be those immediately involved and who could get the information , eg car registration number, directly - not from a blog site.

I have some sympathy for My Hughes' view that CYFS are "damned if they do and damned if they don't", but I think pushing the angle that this site poses a threat to the safety of his staff is a red herring. His actions are about containing a potential (and very public) avalanche of angry and bitter disgruntlement with his agency.

Secret to longevity?

You could joke about people feeling like they live longer in prison ...... but surprisingly, in the US, they actually do, at least blacks do and they skew the average.

State prison inmates, particularly blacks, are living longer on average than people on the outside, the government said Sunday.

* Inmates in state prisons are dying at an average yearly rate of 250 per 100,000, according to the latest figures reported to the Justice Department by state prison officials.
* By comparison, the overall population of people between age 15 and 64 is dying at a yearly rate of 308 per 100,000.
* For black inmates, the rate was 57 percent lower than among the overall black population -- 206 versus 484.
* But white and Hispanic prisoners both had death rates slightly above their counterparts in the overall population.

"You must help yourself"

Recalcitrant drink-driving is now the fault of the courts because of a lack of addiction treatment resources. That's pretty much the message inherent in the lead story in today's DomPost. This will come as great news to the 'it's not my fault, I'm a victim too' brigade.

The e-link doesn't show you the character below the main story, a 46 year-old recovering alcoholic who says, "you must help yourself", which appears as a sub-heading. Now I am not clear whether this is a complaint or sage advice but as headlines go it makes a welcome change.

What does National mean?

Reading an interview with Jackie Blue, newly appointed National spokesperson for Women's Affairs, this caught my eye;

Does the party need to be more centrist and if so why?

I think it does need to be more centrist. I think John has already taken away all ambiguity that there was with the previous leadership and I think that's a good thing. I know we will be staying true to our National values and core beliefs.

So what are they?

• Loyalty to our country, its democratic principles and our Sovereign
as Head of State
• National and personal security
• Equal citizenship and equal opportunity
• Individual freedom and choice
• Personal responsibility
• Competitive enterprise and rewards for achievement
• Limited government
• Strong families and caring communities
• Sustainable development of our environment

Reinstating a spokesperson role pushing for more resources for a particular group is the antithesis of limiting government. That is exactly how governments get so big. So already National is not "staying true" to their values, unless of course they mean limited to the status quo, in which case I am being uncharitable.

What exactly does National mean by 'limited government'?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Anti-CYF internet action

A group has set up an anti-CYF website which is the subject of this news report.

The report obviously doesn't advertise the name of the website and the only one I am aware of is PANIC

Does anybody know of a new website? Again we see the synergistic power of the internet at work. To what end I am unsure.

They can't be swept under the carpet

One of the reasons youth offenders are not detained in custody is there is nowhere to detain them. As recently as 2003 (and I am sure the rate will not have dropped) there were 215 apprehensions per 10,000 14-16 year-olds for violent offences. There are roughly 180,000 14-16 year-olds so almost 4,000 apprehensions in total.

Add to this violent offending of 10-13 year-olds (40 per 10,000 so roughly 1,000 in total).

5,000 violent offences.

CYF has a grand total of 102 beds available in its three Youth Justice residences. Hence young people spent 1,766 nights in police cells during 2006. Locked up with god knows who else. The approach to youth justice seems underpinned by a philosophy of denial. And it has been for at least 30 years. Or since the passage of the Children and Young Persons Act 1974, the broad objective of which was to deal with young people out of Court.

Giving the offender the benefit of the doubt appears to take precedence over any concerns for public safety. It also sits comfortably alongside the practical constraints.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The massive growth of income tax

In 1900 the government had a revenue of £6.195 million

Income tax provided only 2 percent of the revenue, slightly more than beer duty at 1.3 percent. The big ticket items were;

Customs duties 34%
Railways 26%
Stamps 14%

In 2005 Government revenue was $50.858 billion

Income tax provided 63 percent.

In 1900 the government played a constructive and very limited role. Today ...(add your own conclusion).