I was working yesterday and when eventually got free to call, couldn't get through. Danny Watson, NewstalkZB, was putting two and two together and calling for an end to the "free money" that has created the dysfunction culminating in what was then another child assault.
Yesterday you called for an end to "free money". People rang in and said "enough is enough". Now the assaulted baby is another infant death statistic. The outpouring yesterday was a replay of the outrage we heard after the death of Lillybing and too many others. After that particular case I got mobilised and started up a petition calling for a parliamentary review into the DPB. I wrote to every newspaper , advertised, called talkback, knocked on doors, as did many others. What happened? We collected 1400 signatures. A hugely disappointing result. Time and time again people wrote to me that they were having difficulty getting others to sign because everybody knew somebody - a friend or family member - on the benefit. Or that they supported the DPB system. Personally it was a very difficult time with a good deal of the opposition to my petition getting nasty via threats and public ridicule. I have continued to do what I can through articles, submissions to select committee, standing for parliament twice and working in the community with needy families. My point is this Dan;
There is not enough political support to stop the "free money" and all of the devastation it visits on children. You will find no support for ending or substantially reforming the DPB from the Maori Party , Labour, the Greens or even National. In fact, the formation of the unofficial Welfare Working Group comprising Sue Bradford, the Child Poverty Action Group, academics and the mainstream churches is gearing up to fight for the status quo, or even higher benefit levels. Your listeners seem to want the sort of change you were advocating yesterday yet at election time they vote for parties that refuse to form policies that would see an end to the cash for babies programme.
It doesn't have to be the way it is in NZ. The only other countries that have DPB-like benefits are England, Ireland and Australia. Elsewhere support is temporary and conditional. In the US teenage mothers must stay at school to be eligible for financial assistance and they must live at home or in an adult supervised setting. Their teenage birthrate, which is high like New Zealand's, has been falling steadily along with the abortion rate and dare I say it, their child abuse and general crime rates. They have a long way to go but at least they are going in the right direction.
Meantime our politicians are too afraid to grab the bit between their teeth and do something decisive despite many knowing that the level of child abuse and neglect New Zealand is experiencing has everything to do with incentivised and casualised child-bearing. Because the state will provide on an indefinite and no-questions- asked basis, mothers are abandoned by or get rid of the fathers of their babies, and are then latched onto by new males who want sex and a roof over their head with no obligation to be a breadwinner. They do not make wonderful step-fathers. It's just dreadful what we have let develop under the guise of a 'caring, compassionate' welfare state.
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