New Zealand’s Hidden Megathrust Fault
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No matter how civilised a divorce is, it always makes children unhappy, says Penelope Leach, hurling a grenade into the cosy liberal consensus on the matter. The veteran child psychologist has infuriated fathers with her new book, Family Breakdown, in which she suggests that very small children whose parents separate should not stay overnight with the absent father (or mother). “You get situations,” Leach says, “where children are spending a week in Mum’s house and a week in Dad’s house and all kinds of horrible arrangements. I call them horrible because we do know that they are desperately wrong for children, who need the security of a place called home and who, when very little, shouldn’t be taken away overnight from what is usually the mother – the person they are attached to.”Leach’s view flies in the face of evidence which shows, consistently, that it is better for the child to have regular contact with both parents, though she is right and brave to point out that divorce, which now affects nearly half of all marriages, is too often about the selfish interests of the parents, with children seen as property to be haggled over.
Cutting Down on Welfare Abuse in IndianaJune 26, 2014
What has kept welfare recipients from spending taxpayer dollars on alcohol, slot machines and strip clubs? Very little, writes Jillian Kay Melchior for National Review, until Congress passed a bill in 2012 outlawing the use of benefits at such places and encouraging state governments to institute similar controls.
Indiana has been especially successful in its crackdown on unlawful use of welfare funds:
The state began a major media mail campaign to inform residents of the new rules affecting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. The new rules have been effective:
- The state passed a law requiring ATM vendors to block withdrawals of cash benefits at certain restricted locations.
- The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration spent $45,000 to develop technology that can match electronic-benefits-transfer (or EBT) transactions and track EBT users who have received warnings from the state's Alcohol and Tobacco Commission about unlawful withdrawals. Now, the technology costs less than $400 per month in monitoring, including staff time.
- Welfare recipients who withdraw cash at an unlawful location receive a strongly worded letter, followed by a letter and investigation after their second offense and action by the local prosecutor after their third offense. Beneficiaries found guilty of unlawful withdrawals face a $500 fine and up to 60 days in prison.
Of the $250 million in the state's TANF program, officials have identified less than $6,000 in unlawful fund use.
- In 2012, Indiana TANF users withdrew more than $120,000 from ATMs with their EBT cards in liquor stores, strip clubs, tobacco shops, casinos, resorts, golf clubs and amusement parks.
- In 2014, fewer than 15 first-time EBT violations have taken place each month, according to Indiana officials. Additionally, there have been less than 5 second-time offenses each month and only two third-time violations in all of 2014.
Source: Jillian Kay Melchior, "Welfare Abuse Almost Quelled," National Review, June 24, 2014.
About 90% of new 16-17 year old beneficiaries have been supported by main benefits at some time in their childhoodA lot of focus has rightly gone on young entrants because they have the greatest forward liability. Not just because of their age but the factors that contribute to their early reliance. When I delve into the actual report I may find data about just how long these newcomers had spent on their parent's benefit.
- While the number of people on Jobseeker and Sole Parent benefits has also been declining at a faster rate than the 2012 valuation projected, there has been a higher than expected rate of transition from Jobseeker – Work Ready to both the Jobseeker – HCID state and to Supported Living Payment.
- A higher than expected rate of transfer to Supported Living Payment is also occurring from both Jobseeker – HCID and Sole Parents.
The Future Focus changes were introduced from September 2010. They require reapplication for unemployment benefit every 52 weeks and place part-time work obligations on sole parents whose youngest child is aged five or more and full-time obligations if youngest child is aged 14 or more.
Both of these initiatives have led to a shorter average time spent on benefit for Jobseeker and Sole Parent clients of approximately one and a half weeks. There is no indication to date of an increase in the time spent off benefit for either group, which suggests greater focus is required to ensure off benefit outcomes are sustained.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, welfare researcher Lindsay Mitchell, has carefully read the book and shares her analysis with us. She refutes the claim that child poverty is the result of the benefit cuts in the nineties, demonstrating that supplementary assistance has risen at a faster rate than wages since that time. In particular she points out that increasing benefit levels would reduce the incentive to work.
“In my view, this is the crux of the matter. To maintain a margin between incomes from work and incomes from welfare, benefit payments should stay at their current level. However, greater efforts to get beneficiary parents into employment are paramount.
“It is particularly disappointing that the authors went back only to policies of the early 1990s to explain why child poverty increased so rapidly. I would take them back to 1973. After the domestic purposes benefit was introduced, the annual number of ‘unmarried births with no resident father’ grew from around 3,000 to reach around 12,000 by 1991. The numbers reliant on the DPB had rapidly grown to 97,000. With a relatively generous benefit payment available the employment rate for sole mothers plummeted over the same period. When the state could no longer afford the same level of generosity and cut benefits, child poverty soared. Nevertheless, it was, and remains, the change in family structure that drove up child poverty.”
The People’s Report is the first tranche of Sir Owen Glenn’s $2 million inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence. Set up in 2012, the final report of the inquiry is expected to be published before the end of the year as a policy Blueprint.
While there will undoubtedly be some worthwhile policy suggestions from the inquiry, this first report (which summarises the experiences of around 500 victims, offenders, and frontline workers) appears to have been largely captured by ideological interests.
Three examples will suffice.
Firstly, the study seems to suggest that colonisation is a cause of domestic violence. It states: “Māori were once a people who held in high esteem their tamariki (children) and wāhine (women) because of the treasured roles they had in their whānau, hapū (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe). Nevertheless, colonisation brought with it new ways, including privileging the place of men, which rendered women and children as their possessions. As Aotearoa was settled, new ways of treating children and women were introduced to Māori whānau and hapū, which included beating them. Some, but not all, Māori chose to adopt these new ways in their whānau as they were pressured to become assimilated with colonialists.”
It goes on to say, the experience of colonisation is responsible for domestic violence, in that “these experiences broke down their wairua (spirit, soul) and their mana (status, control), making people feel whakamā (ashamed, embarrassed) and whakaiti (belittled) – some of which has survived in successive generations”.
Mallard, the Hutt South MP, said he made the decision not go on on the list before the moderating committee met "in order to give people like Kelvin [Davis] a chance to be higher".Never stopped him using the list insurance in the past.
He said he did not pull his name based on where he expected to be put, saying his caucus ranking of 17 out of 34 MPs gave an indication of where he would fit on the list.
The decision was made in light of this year's changes to electorate boundaries which he says caused him to lose "more than half" of his 4825 majority in Hutt South.
"I've never ever taken an electorate for granted but I also really like being a constituency MP and only being a list one has no appeal at all."
The headline policies of this campaign will be:
1. That referendum become binding on government,
2. That we stop dividing the country on the basis of race. All New Zealanders should have equal rights and privileges under the law
3. That we stop discounting justice. Those who commit crimes do the time they are sentenced to, with longer sentences for violent crimes, and a requirement that prisoner’s do some hard work to repay victims and society.
4. Simplify the tax system, closing loop holes, and the introduction of a tax free threshold that provides a tax break for all New Zealanders, not just the wealthy.