Saturday, March 24, 2012

Welfare to work

Over on the Standard the UK is being used to cast doubt over the wisdom of contracting private service providers to get beneficiaries into work.

As I have pointed out to them, there are already over 150 private providers contracted to MSD for this very purpose. They often work with the hardest to place and, from what I have been told,  get good results. Of course, the best result would be if individuals got themselves to these agencies before they even needed a benefit. Then it would be the prospective employer and employee footing the bill.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rodney Hide and Winston Peters together on Radio Live

Rodney Hide is co-hosting with Willie Jackson again today on Radio Live. From 2pm Winston Peters will join  them. Will be interesting. Rodney has no constraints on him now, apart of course, from  those imposed by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Update:  That was very hard to listen to. Winston is the worst and most wicked weasel ever. Rodney took him to task on his parliamentary insinuations about Nick Smith, and Peters barefacedly denied them, maintaining that his reference to 'sex' in the quote, "a shabby little case that involved blackmail, sex and a minister with a conflict of interest" was a reference to the sexual abuse victims whose details were wrongly sent to Bronwyn Puller. He is a revolting person.

Green MP - naive or smart?

New Green MP Holly Walker is either naive or smart. I can't figure out which. Yesterday, in response to the latest poverty inquiry, she was calling for a "co-ordinated child poverty strategy". (My immediate irreverent thought was, there is one. It's called the DPB. It creates plenty of child poverty.)

A lack of ability to find agreed solutions lies at the very heart of politics - what she signed up for.  The Greens prescription for solving child poverty is not acceptable to a majority. Until they are in government (or a compelling position of power) what they bring to the table will be rejected. They can talk and they can try to influence but they don't hold the aces. Calling for a co-ordinated approach is typical moral high-ground baloney to force their policies into the mix.

Welfare is the major factor driving child poverty but the Greens are pro-welfare. They would have more of it. Most people have either realised or are beginning to suspect that this would only increase child poverty.

And it's ironic that at the end of her post she gives Business New Zealand's Phil O'Reilly a serve. What's he doing on the panel? So she doesn't really want inclusiveness after all.

(I criticised the line up as well  but in the context of criticising the entire pointless project.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The archetypal gang family

The fraud is less interesting than the profile of this couple. Gang family, 12 children, on-again off-again relationship, Maori, between them living on  benefits for 53 years, drug and alcohol abuse. And are you willing to bet against some of these 12 children already having their own beneficiary broods? This scourge isn't going away any time soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Smith sidehow

The Nick Smith sideshow is the epitome of everything that is wrong with contemporary politics.

It further degrades politics and politicians in the public mind.

It detracts from vastly more important work in both abstract and practical senses.

It turns politics into scandal and proves that too many Kiwis have attention spans that can only support that which can be salivated over.

It turns politics into sport and proves that too many Kiwis have attention spans that can only support that which turns tribal.

Attitude to welfare changing

"The margins of difference between the main parties is shrinking all the time and their attitude to welfare is one of them."
After Labour leader David Shearer's intimations that the party he leads will take a tougher line on welfare than his predecessors, this quote could easily be about New Zealand.

It is actually from the general secretary of Public and Commercial Services union in the Britain.

At last, support for the sanctity of social security is abating, and the proof of this in political parties sniffing the change.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another pointless probe into poverty

Another pointless exercise to find out what we already know and squabble over the 'solutions'. Waste of time and money. Just announced by the Children's Commissioner:

Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills has today announced the formation of an experts group to find solutions to child poverty. 

“In New Zealand one in five children are growing up in poverty. The evidence overwhelmingly shows these children are doing badly and will continue to do badly
throughout their lives.

“Which is why I’ve pulled together 13 of the best minds in the country - experts in fields such as health, social policy, business, law and education - to find solutions.

“It’s not going to be easy. The answers to child poverty are likely to be complex, plus we’re constrained by the current economic climate. But I’m confident this group will
come up with recommendations that will make a difference. 

“I’ve asked to them to find realistic, pragmatic and effective ways to combat child poverty – both short-term answers and longer-term solutions. The group will examine the best available local and international evidence and experience, and make recommendations that will make a tangible difference in New Zealand. 

“I’m looking for advice that is broader than income because the issues of poverty are more complex than that. The group is likely to explore improving opportunities and outcomes for disadvantaged children through evidence-based interventions in health, social services, education and community development. 

“And with Maori and Pacific children over-represented in the poverty statistics, I want to see the specific interests of these children addressed. 

“The group will provide a final report to me by the end of this year. A draft report will
be made publicly available prior to this – and we will be consulting with the community at this stage,” he said. 

Children and young people will also be included in this process.   The Commissioner will use the recommendations from the experts group to provide advice to the Government in time to inform the Ministerial Committee on Poverty. 

“The Ministerial Committee has the same goals – to find tangible gains in both the near future and longer-term. And they’re focussed on getting value for money in a tight economic climate. 

“The solutions I will be presenting will come from an independent and child-focussed perspective but also take into account the need to spend the tax dollar wisely,” he said. 

The Expert Advisory Group will be co-chaired by Professor Jonathan Boston from the
School of Government at Victoria University and Dr Tracey McIntosh from Auckland University. Their bios and those of the other members of the group are listed below. 

“We’ve selected each of these people because of their skill, knowledge and passion for what they do. I’m excited about what they will achieve as a group and confident their recommendations will contribute to better outcomes for children,” said the Commissioner. 


For more information or to request an interview with Dr Russell Wills, please contact
Anna Santos on 027 696 5101 or 

The "best" minds include overt leftists like,

Major Campbell Roberts who says the National government has "no moral authority" for its welfare reforms.

Phillipa Howden-Chapman, a public health campaigner who believes, "The most important issue yet to be accomplished in public health is showing that the ideas and policies we suggest can make a difference to reducing inequalities in the access to some of the good things of life – warm housing, adequate income, opportunities for on-going education and interesting, secure jobs."

Bob Stephens - "For a country that has a long history of legitimate pride in its welfare state, the position of New Zealand is disappointing and helps explain the paucity of recent child outcomes," he says. "Until there are  increases in the level of generosity to families with dependent children, adverse outcomes for children are like to bedevil the country for years to come."

Nikki Turner of the Child Poverty Action Group - say no more.

Salesman for the state

Although privacy is a right in a democratic society, it is certainly not an absolute right. Some might consider DNA profiling of the whole country as the first step towards a totalitarian state, but just perhaps, this concept, along with the Search and Surveillance Bill passing the final hurdle, could be the first steps towards a state that will not tolerate crime -a state that will do everything possible to protect the innocent.

So says Steve Baron writing in today's NZ Herald.

A "state that will not tolerate crime."

The same state that defines the crime.

Some people are just so ready to relinquish freedom.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The bastardisation of Nanny State

'Nanny State' describes the intervention of the state in people's private lives and property. But there is a growing tendency for Labour and the Greens to accuse National of  Nanny Statism. They did it over welfare reform, and here is another example from Annette King today complaining about central government attempting to rein in local government:

“This is Nanny state. It is central Government stepping very heavily on the toes of local communities..."

Balderdash. Local government increasingly embodies Nanny State with its suffocating property  rules and regulations, and now,  tasked with the power of general competence under Labour, sticking its nose into areas previously the domain of central government.

But we shouldn't be surprised that Labour conveniently misunderstands what Nanny State means. Sloppy definitions are vital to politicians and the pursuit or retention of power.

"Babysitting networks"?

Disparagingly, a Labour spokesperson says:

Just last week the Government suggested babysitting networks might be the solution to childcare for job-seeking solo parents.

I'd like to know who floated that idea and send them a bouquet.

I have long said that if people being paid by the state to look after just one child (the case with about half of those on the DPB) provided care for two more, then a whole lot more people who want to work could. In fact there would be no need for welfare as earned income was redistributed between working parents and carers.

This is how communities should operate through voluntary, constructive cooperation. When Labour pooh-poohs these sorts of common sense ideas they look like the usual state-is-best bunch of socialists they have always been.

 (The spokesperson was mixing two issues by the way. Care for babies and free ECE which kicks in at 3).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More privacy invasion on the way

Privacy concerns have been topical is the past week. There is another area where government are about to change legislation to allow more information sharing between departments. Purposeful sharing as opposed to inadvertent.

To implement their proposed Youth Pipeline (contract service providers to manage school leavers most likely to go on welfare) the Ministry of Social Development requires information about these youngsters from the Ministry of Education. You would think that schools are best positioned to identify those students fitting the profile. And it would be a simple exercise to ask for authorisation of the release of their personal details from their guardian or the student themselves. There may be some reluctance or outright refusal but if that is the case expecting compliance with a service provider is probably pie in the sky anyway. Explaining to a parent or guardian that in order for their child to get further help from the state - including a benefit - they need to register contact details, should provide the carrot.

 So it is dismaying to read what the Minister is recommending:

Again this propensity to treat everyone the same because of a minority problem rears its ugly head. I don't want the name and address and other personal details of my child to be given to MSD. Simple as that.

This is going along the same lines as other privacy invasions by the state relating to children that are completely unwarranted.

Also it means spending sorely needed revenue on unnecessary long-winded bureaucratic processes. 

FFS deal with the actual problem and leave the rest of us alone.