Sunday, July 15, 2018

A child's logic

A little girl asks her mum, 'Mum, can I take the dog for a walk around the block?'
Her mum replies 'No, because she is on heat.'

'What does that mean?' asked the child.

'Go and ask your father. I think he's in the garage.'

The little girl goes out to the garage and says, 'Dad, can I take Lulu for a walk around the block? I asked Mum, but she said the dog was on the heat, and to come ask you.'

He took a rag, soaked it in petrol, and scrubbed the dog's backside with it to disguise the scent, and said 'Ok, you can go now, but keep Lulu on the leash and only go one time around the block.'

The little girl left and returned a few minutes later with no dog on the leash..

Surprised, Dad asked, 'Where's Lulu?'

The little girl said, 'She ran out of petrol about halfway round the block, so another dog is pushing her home.'

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Cartoon provokes outrage

The cartoon below was published in the DomPost, Monday, and has provoked letters of outrage.

So I'm adding my two cents worth.

Dear Editor

So Al Nisbet's cartoon touched a nerve amongst some readers. Why? While somewhat blunt it nevertheless describes a very real problem with welfare - that benefit incomes for families with children are too close to incomes from work. The last Labour government attempted to fix this by introducing the In Work Tax Credit making employment financially advantageous. This Labour government has effectively undone that with substantially increased payments for babies born into workless homes.

As for the depiction of neglected children one reader found so offensive, it is a fact that, "Of all children having a finding of maltreatment by age 5, 83% are seen on a benefit before age 2." (Auckland University, 2012)

Lindsay Mitchell

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Part of why National lost the 2017 election

It struck me today why National couldn't pull enough vote to stay in government because they can't articulate a clear position.

What highlighted this problem was Amy Adams response to today's commencement of Labour's Family Package. RNZ reports:

To pay for the package, the government scrapped the National government's promised tax cuts, but National's finance spokesperson Amy Adams said that would have helped more people than the families package.
"National's philosophy is people who work hard should get to keep more of their money.
"It shouldn't be taken off of them by government, filtered out to a few and pay a whole lot of extra tax that the economy doesn't need imposed on it," she said.
No problem with the first part.

But then she says the money Labour takes will be "filtered out to a few".

My understanding was that is exactly National's position. They were targeting their spending - call it social investment if you like - whereas Labour sprays money universally so as to avoid any stigmatisation of the 'beneficiary' and to buy votes.

The controversial heating payment to all pensioners regardless of income could hardly be described as "filtered out to the few". Neither can the $3,120 a year for babies born as of today in families with incomes below $79,000.

If National had been clearer about what they were doing to help needy and dysfunctional families, more on the centre-left could have been persuaded. It makes no sense to churn vast amounts of tax. It makes no sense to take money off someone only to give it back. All that does is keep an army of IRD workers employed (who are currently agitating for higher wages which will add even more to the dead-weight of taxation).

What a mess.

UPDATE: The $3.120 payment is universal for the first year.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another nail in the coffin of compassion

This is a man who likes to hurt people. Severely physically hurt people.

He has irrevocably alienated himself from normal society by disfiguring his face. He knows that.

I looked for some hardship this man had faced. He is now 29. No spring chicken in criminal circles.

Here's a report about the crime and sentencing that resulted in his initial ten year imprisonment:

A killer was embraced by the family of his victim before he was sentenced to life in prison.

Adam Robert Gempton, 21, was sentenced to life, with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years, by Justice Chisholm in the High Court in Christchurch yesterday for the murder of Timothy John Constable....

Constable's parents hugged Gempton as he stood in the dock.

Pauline Constable said in her victim-impact statement that she forgave Gempton despite going through a "living nightmare" after her son's death.

She hugged Gempton, who twice whispered, "I'm sorry."

...Gempton said: "It was never my intention to kill Tim. I was just trying to defend my partner and I feared for my daughter's safety. I feared for everyone's safety, and I'm sorry."

After the sentencing, Pauline Constable said she was happy with the outcome.

"There was true remorse shown by Adam and he was very sorry this happened," she said. "It's a shame he'll have to spend 10 years in prison."

My experience of prison and prisoners is limited. But greater than most people's. Volunteers tend to work with the most motivated prisoners and it's natural that our views are coloured by this experience. There are plenty of deserving and salvageable souls to be encountered.

Which is why this individual angers me beyond what is reasonable. Because he makes the public turn feral on inmates.

Prison houses the worst humans. The most damaged and the most dangerous. I recently visited a property where two chained dogs were writhing, straining, snarling and desperate to attack. They have to be taught to be that way. And so do humans.

But humans have mental faculties dogs do not. They have the opportunity dogs are not blessed with;  to think about what they have done and where will they go from there.

This man certainly did. And added the deepest insult to injury possible. He became more violent.

State housing capture

State house tenants are on a good wicket. MSD explains: (note: benefit = advantage)

The benefit tenants receive from subsidised rents (IRR/IRRS) [Income related rent subsidy] is (on the whole) significantly greater than the benefit received by people who get the Accommodation Supplement (AS) - creating pressure on public housing places.

Exits from social housing are decreasing rapidly.

MSD explains some of this effect:

"The cost of public housing to government is very sensitive to growth in rental prices
Rental growth has three key impacts:
• IRRS [Income related rent subsidy] increases directly as market prices increase
• growth in rents above incomes means proportion of rent paid by tenants
falls (IRRS grows faster than rental growth)
• higher level of IRRS means tenants are further from the market > decreased
exits and increased durations.
If rental growth per year is 1% higher than what is already built into Budget
forecasting, costs to government grow by 20% and the number of exits falls by
6% over 20 years."

So part of the housing 'crisis' - the shortage specifically - is the result of the normal flow in and out of state houses becoming disrupted as market rents rise.

State housing is about provision of homes for the neediest, hopefully as a temporary state of affairs, because the housing stock hasn't grown for decades. That can't happen if  current occupants batten down.

Every move the government makes that impinges on the private housing market eg land restriction and bureaucratic interference on many more levels, comes back to bite them at the social housing end.

Now instead of reversing restrictions and bureaucracy they plan to increase the supply of state houses and have increased the accommodation supplement. It's just not a viable solution.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What could be kinder than offering a jobseeker a job?

Apparently the treatment of beneficiaries has become harsh and they are subject to unreasonable obligations. An 'expert' panel has been appointed to review the welfare system.

But what could be kinder to a jobseeker than the offer of a job?

MSD freely admits however that it can't get people off benefits despite a demand for workers. In a just-released publication relating to trends as at 2017 they say:
 "Exit rates for jobseekers are lower than expected. Demand for low skilled labour in the regions is not being readily absorbed by jobseekers in those regions."
This indicates a choice on behalf of  jobseekers despite the eligibility condition, "To receive Jobseeker Support a client must be willing and able to undertake employment."

So the rule is ignored. Nothing new there. Let's face it NZ is a place where most people follow rules in order that a few can ignore them without consequences. (And then those following the rules get accused of undue privilege and power.)

As the unemployment rate is dropping, the likelihood people will leave a benefit is also dropping.

Maori make-up 15% of the population but 35% of beneficiaries. Unsurprisingly, their exit rate from the system is also declining and lower than non-Maori.

There are just under 119,000 people currently on a jobseeker benefit. The number has been fairly static over the past six years, but is at risk of rising, especially with the messages being sent by the current government. The Minister, Carmel Sepuloni,  announced today that benefit suspensions - one of the tools staff can use to persuade people into jobs - have fallen by more than a fifth since she changed the policy to allow only senior staff to apply them.

The last Labour government made a song and dance about not wanting 'dead-end' jobs for beneficiaries (Steve Maharey) - an insult to anyone who works. So getting people into education and training became the holy grail. The current Labour government has perpetuated this ideology with their spectacularly unsuccessful tertiary first-year-free policy.

Yet when MSD tracked those who left a benefit in 2013/14 to study or train they found only, "28% were in employment after 18 months" and "35% were back on a main benefit at 18 months."  Were they still studying? Apparently not, "Only 8% had study or training as their primary activity after 18 months."

On the bright side, 60 percent of people who exited to go to employment were still employed after 18 months.

Which brings me back to the opening question, what could be kinder than offering a jobseeker a job?

There is an answer: making him or her accept it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Baby Bumf

Arrived in my letterbox today, this Labour pamphlet:



Talk abut 'milking it'.

She really is all this government has going for it.

Monday, June 25, 2018

'Relaxing bail laws won't increase public risk'

Ex Alliance MP Dr Liz Gordon has apparently "...crunched the numbers on bail" and says the bail laws could be relaxed. RNZ reports:

Dr Liz Gordon a social researcher, who is also president of PILLARS, a group helping prisoners' families, said the average number of murders in New Zealand each year was about 80.
She said when you put that figure alongside the extra 1000 people remanded in custody, it was an emotional over-reaction to suggest Andrew Little would have blood on his hands if he loosened the bail laws.
"The mathematics simply doesn't add up. They're not going to all get out of the prisons and start murdering like mad and if you find good alternatives for them, perhaps you can actually stop them ever having to go to prison again."

Let's give that some context. Police stats for the year to December 2017:

Some portion of the 'serious assaults resulting in injury' could have become murders. In fact there is a school of thought among criminologists that the murder rate today would be higher if not for new life-saving technology. The same applies to the road toll.

If she wants to measure risk, it's not the outcome Ms Gordon should be counting, but the intent.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Maori and Pacific getting more dependent on state housing

Thanks to a publicized  OIA response , I happened across statistics not seen before. The data is from December 2017 and graphed below (n= 65,188):

Always interested in trends I did a quick dig about for earlier comparative data. Here's an answer to a PQ in 2003 graphed (n=61,947):

That's a reasonably substantial change in 14 years.

In 2003 the Maori and Pakeha share were identical at 29%.

Now the Maori share is 50 percent greater than Pakeha.

What I'd like to see is an age breakdown of those pie pieces.

How much is the growing dependence a facet of the ageing population?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Imprisonment and Family Structure

My third report in a series, written for Family First, Imprisonment and Family Structure was released last Friday. I was very grateful to criminologist, Greg Newbold, writer, David Cohen and  ex-detective, Dave Pizzini for reviewing the paper and providing feedback. But apart from Leighton Smith interviewing me last Friday the media seems to have ignored it.

Below an op-ed I produced on the back of it. It is intentionally hard-hitting - more so than the report.

Anyone who would like a hard copy of the report which traces imprisonment rates and family structure statistics over the past 100 years (in order to encompass the period when Maori went from being virtually absent among the prison population to today when they make up half), let me know.

Govt fails public and prisoners alike

Last week the government announced it will add a net total of 174 extra beds at Waikeria prison by 2022. This will fall woefully short of what is needed to fairly serve both the public and prisoners alike because the incarcerated population will continue to increase. How do I know?

Because the population group most prisoners arise from continues to behave as they have for decades.

Corrections has identified that the mothers of those children on the pathway to prison are young, uneducated, suffered abuse or neglect as a child, are, or have been substance dependent, are without family connections and have serial male partners. Treasury says abused or neglected children who spend most of their lifetimes on welfare, with a parent who is or has been a prisoner, and a poorly educated mother are ten times more likely to be prisoners before reaching 21.

Te Puni Kokiri has identified intergenerational imprisonment, particularly among Maori. They report, "...anecdotally we were often told by prisoners that they had children by more than one mother." The renowned Dunedin longitudinal study produced the following observation: "Men who spend time in prison are likely to father a disproportionately high number of who engage in highly anti-social behaviour make up 10 percent of the birth cohort, yet account for 27 percent of babies fathered by the time the men are aged 26 years."

Overseas research finds a causal link between male imprisonment and female multi partner fertility. Father A goes to prison; mother takes a new partner, from a similar background, to whom she has another child. Replaced Father A comes out of prison on a short break (he's a violent serial reoffender, quite possibly a gang member) and in the available time quickly forms a new relationship leaving yet another child set on the trajectory to prison described above.

The enabler of these loveless baby factories is welfare, the ideology behind which is once more on the ascendency. On 1 July the taxpayers will foot a further hefty increase in benefits to these very families.

Last year 17 percent of all registered babies had neither married nor de facto parents listed. For Maori babies, the proportion more than doubled to 35 percent. This fact alone is a reasonable pointer to Maori over-representation in prison. The Department of Internal Affairs estimates 2,600 babies born last year haven't even been registered yet.

Many of these children, from chaotic beginnings, will soon come to the attention of CYF. Some will spend part or all of their lives in state care and will ultimately revisit the terrible hurt they have experienced on innocent parties. Eighty three percent of teenage prisoners have a CYF record.

These are all pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that when assembled reveal an ugly picture of the future.

While this state of affairs continues, there is no hope of lowering the prison population by 30 percent in fifteen years’ time - unless of course these angry young victims-turned-offenders are allowed to avoid custodial prison sentences in the future.

In reality a properly functioning prison system with not just enough cells, but enough rooms and resources for necessary rehabilitative programmes to take place, is vital.

And at the other end, the beginning? If nothing else, to policy-makers, please, reconsider making meal tickets out of innocent babies.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Doggies needing good homes

I've just become 'mum' to one of these pups. The real mum is a smooth coat smallish Huntaway and the father mostly Sharpei. Working/ farm dogs.

Six remain and the owner is very keen for them to go to good homes.

Mine, now named 'Limmy', has been a joy for the half day we have had her. Very calm - sat/slept on my knee for the journey home. Has done some exploring since arriving, said a shy howdy to the first inhabitants (existing Huntaway seems rather intrigued if cautious) but at 8 weeks, still wanting to be cuddled back to sleep - missing her litter.

Anyone interested in giving a good home to one of these pups please email me at

(Hat-tip Gecko)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Benefits - the staple diet of gangs

If ever you want a damning example of why unconditional welfare benefits are a bad idea:

This fictional Gang Family Example reflects the Gang Intelligence Centre's research into real gang-related families.

• Ruby is in her early 70s. She has had nine children from two relationships. She has been a long-term beneficiary, and is currently the caregiver of several young children who are her family members.
• She is currently partnered to a gang member.
• All of Ruby's 9 children have been beneficiaries. Eight are currently on a benefit, and one is now in employment.
• All five of Ruby's daughters have been victims of family violence. One is also a family violence offender. Two of Ruby's sons are family violence offenders.
• Five of Ruby's adult children have been in prison and/or on probation.
• Two of her daughters are partnered to gang members and one son is a gang member.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Missing the point about 'male, pale and stale' label

Many of you will have seen Karl du Fresne's excellent column either in the DomPost or at his site. The response is still ongoing with another letter appearing today. So belatedly I've thrown my two cent's worth in:

Dear Editor

Most of Karl du Fresne's critics (Male, pale and stale, May 31) have missed his main point - the great irony of  'liberals' using intentionally insulting language about the sex, skin colour and age of an entire group who have no control over these characteristics.

But as so many want to talk about the privilege of the white male baby-boomers, lets do it. As young men they grew up in a society with strict expectations about how they would conduct their lives. Corralled into shot-gun marriages, made the compulsory breadwinner of the family, pursued by the courts if they rejected this task; channelled into menial, repetitive jobs in car manufacturing, the meat works or railways; only a select few went to university and became professionals. Stuck in their economic class because the country was yet to become innovative and export- diverse (beyond agriculture). No cheap cars or cheap air travel.  No internet shopping, decent bars and cafes, or mobile phones. No credit cards. Earning, scrimping  and saving was the restrictive routine for most.

I very much doubt today's generation would exchange their freedom and choice for young adulthood in the 1960s where homogeneity and conformity ruled. Privilege? Not a lot.

Friday, June 08, 2018

More Maori and Pacific medical students

The University of Otago has never seen so many Māori students studying to be doctors, new research from the New Zealand Medical Journal shows.

There are any number of ways this good news story can be negatively interpreted.


Why do Maori patients need Maori doctors?

How 'Maori' are they anyway?

Frankly my interest in the race and reverse discrimination debate is minimal.

However it happens, whatever it means,  I'm happy to  note and broadcast this development.

Pro Vice Chancellor Peter Crampton said the increase in Māori and Pacific students was a positive step in ensuring health workers in the future better reflect the people of New Zealand.
"This is the vision: that when you and I engage with the healthcare system, wherever we may engage, it might be with our own doctor, or with the nurse or with the hospital or with the physiotherapist, or the pharmacist, that there is every likelihood we would be engaging with a Māori health professional.
"We want that to be normal, and in the past that has not been normal."

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Lots of 'ifs' and 'maybes'

In 2009 KickStart breakfast programmes were introduced into schools. Fonterra provided milk and Sanitarium cereals. Government provided subsidy. MSD published an evaluation study today.

It appears there is robust modelling to show some improvement in dental outcomes (though modest). But I smile over other findings.

Attempts to find better bone health for instance:

"We see no evidence of a significant association between KickStart intensity and the two administrative indicators of fracture. One possible explanation is that KickStart intensity had no association with bone health. Another is that students who received more KickStart were more active as a result of increased energy intake. Falls may have increased at the same time as the likelihood of fracture upon falling was reduced as a result of improvements in bone health."
Then there is more speculation:

 -KickStart may have improved the nutritional quality of the breakfasts consumed by students. This mechanism is suggested by a study by Bhattacharya et al. (2006) which examined the United States School Breakfast Program. 

-The effect of the breakfasts may have been to displace consumption of unhealthy snack foods, including sugary food and drinks, as suggested by the cross-sectional study conducted by Utter and colleagues (2007).

-Reduced pressure on home budgets as a result of KickStart may have allowed families and whānau to purchase higher quality foods to eat at other times of the day and week. Such spillover effects are suggested by the Bhattacharya et al. (2006) study, which found that both adults and preschool children had healthier diets and lower percentages of calories from fat when the School Breakfast Program was available to school-aged children in the household.(My emphasis)
From this it is then inferred:

 If Kickstart caused improvements in diet and caused sugary food and drinks to be displaced, this would suggest that benefits might also include reduced obesity and improvements in learning, health and development (Thornley et al., 2017a), including
reductions in rheumatic fever (Thornley et al., 2017b). (my emphasis)

I hope all of these improvements come to pass and feel somewhat sorry that the researchers were unable to conclude very much at all.

Monday, June 04, 2018


If you have posted a comment recently and not seen it appear, that's because unbeknownst to me it has been sitting in 'awaiting moderation'. Mr Wahlberg kindly drew the 'disappearing' comments to my attention and discussions with a fellow blogger led me to where they were.

I will continue with moderation but ensure that your VALUED comments are published in future.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The 'P' testing hoax

Having dealt with real estate and renting recently, the issue of 'P' testing caught my attention, as matters do when they start to personally effect you. I wrote the following but had sat on it unfinished. Now the Government's chief scientist agrees. So for what it's worth:

Despite concerted efforts to reduce availability of key ingredient pseudo-ephedrine, the manufacture of methamphetamine continues along with a new hysteria - P contaminated houses. This ‘crisis’ suits and serves a new industry of testers and contaminant cleaner-uppers.  Landlords and resident owners however bear the brunt of costs associated with this fledgling ticket-clipping industry.  In late 2017, Ross Bell, New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director, told journalist, Maria Slade,

“As a country we’ve gone down this rabbit hole. I’ve described [meth testing] as the biggest scam that’s ever been run in New Zealand, and I still hold that to be true.” 

There is now a clause in real estate contracts whereby a seller must agree to methamphetamine-testing of their property. Of course most properties will be free from contamination but the clause is there to ‘test’ for willingness to comply. A resistance would indicate a possible problem. But the very presence of the clause draws the attention of the potential buyer who then feels pressured to take up the option. He is unaware that the official level of P contamination considered dangerous is very low and highly contentious. In a risk-averse climate, governments in particular are bound to err on the side of safety.

The current level is set at 1.5 microgram per 100 square centimetres. Above this level a property is legally ‘contaminated’. But Nick Kim of Massey University says the level is “risibly low”. According to Slade:

“In a 2016 paper Kim advised that the lowest level of daily exposure to meth that could have a remotely plausible health effect on infants, the most vulnerable members of society, was 12 micrograms – about 8 times the new standard.” 

Other academics are more cautious but agree that the level is set low to provide a substantial safety buffer. The Drug Foundation succinctly captures how this manufactured crisis is based on falsehood:

“The debate about the health risks of living in a house where methamphetamine has previously been smoked (‘non-labs’) has not arisen from concerns raised by the medical or scientific establishment. Instead, it has been driven by Housing New Zealand’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to tenants taking drugs in their properties, by the media response to that and by the methamphetamine testing and remediation industry.”

New Zealand Drug Foundation, 2017:

"New Zealand spent $52 million last year remediating state houses that contained residues of methamphetamine. In fact, there is no scientific evidence that living in a house where methamphetamine has previously been smoked causes harm. The cost is mind-boggling, but so are the social justice implications – many Housing New Zealand clients were forced to leave their homes and are now homeless and facing huge debts, along with their children and dependants."
Thanks government. Just another fiasco associated with the war on drugs.

More fact checking on Cindy Kiro

Yesterday Cindy Kiro was interviewed by Chris Lynch, NewstalkZB, Christchurch. I blogged about two statements which were false. Here's another:

"...New Zealand was the first country in the world in the 1930s to have the Social Security Act."

Not true. The US 1935 Social Security Act preceded NZ by 3 years.

And of course the Germans were well ahead of very other country. It was Germany that introduced the first old age pension - not NZ.

Back to Kiro.

"We need to go back to some of the roots was called 'security' because it gave people, families in particular, some security in times of massive uncertainty."

Not all families, and certainly not without conditions and obligations.

For instance:
While the 1938 act did not explicitly discriminate against Māori, the provision for the payment of benefits at a lower rate ‘if the maximum benefit is not necessary for the maintenance of the beneficiary’ allowed officials to pay Māori less than Pākehā. While communal living was often cited as a reason for reduction of Māori benefits, MP Eruera Tirikātene told the minister of social security in 1940 that Europeans living at the Rātana pā got the full benefit, while Māori residents had a reduced benefit.
Additionally, and this would be antithetical to the current panelists, in respect of the 1938 act:
"Moral qualifications have been retained in the  liberalized provisions taken over from earlier legislation." 
Moral qualifications? With respect to eligibility to the invalid benefit:
"...the disability must have been acquired during residence in New Zealand and must not be self-induced."
The only benefit available for mothers without partners was contingent on them being legally 'married' and unable to obtain maintenance through the courts. Family allowances were also only payable in respect of married parents.

With regard to the unemployment benefit:
"...the Commission may postpone the commencement of an unemployment benefit
for as long as 6 weeks or even terminate it altogether if the applicant lost his job through misconduct, left voluntarily without good reason, or failed to accept an offer of suitable employment."
I don't think these are the roots that Kiro wants to return to. In fact I doubt she has any idea about the act or she'd stop idealizing it.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Kiro kicks off badly

Among a lot of disjointed verbiage Cindy Kiro, appointed to lead the welfare review Labour promised the Greens, says to Chris Lynch on NewstalkZB:

"...sole parents constitute something less than 2 percent of benefit dependants..."

She is completely out of touch.

Sole parents who are benefit dependants constitute 2% of the working population.

Lynch, to his credit, tackled her on the issue of mothers not being obliged to name the fathers of their children, by talking about the importance of fathers to families. She then contradicts herself by saying we can't hark back to the 1950s because families have changed so much. But earlier she was pushing the line that we need to go back to the beginning of welfare, when it was called social 'security' and reflect those values. She can't have it both ways

Then she clearly tells him that child poverty has worsened since 2003. From the official government source:

There is no evidence of any increasing depth of relative income poverty over the last two decades.

Kiro has a track record of telling porkies.

The best I can offer is maybe she genuinely believes her own statements and is merely misguided.

The alternative is unpalatable.

About as Left as it could be

Labour has announced the make-up of the welfare review panel:

The members:

Professor Cindy Kiro (chairwoman) - responsible for Māori/indigenous education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland

Professor Innes Asher – paediatrician and health spokeswoman for the Child Poverty Action Group

Kay Brereton – Welfare advocate and co-convenor of the National Beneficiary Advocates Consultative Group

Dr Huhana Hickey - Member of the NZ Human Rights Review Tribunal and chairwoman of the Auckland Council Disability Strategic Advisory Panel

Professor Tracey McIntosh - head of department for Sociology at the University of Auckland

Dr Ganesh Nana - Chief economist at BERL

Phil O'Reilly – Former chief executive of BusinessNZ and current managing director at Iron Duke Partners

Robert Reid – President of First Union

Trevor McGlinchey - Executive officer of New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services

Latayvia Tualasea Tautai - Young Pacific leader from Auckland and university student

Charles Waldegrave - Founder of the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit 1991 and co-lead of the New Zealand Poverty Measurement Project

I've been around the welfare 'industry' a long time and can tell you that, with the exception of Phil O'Reilly, and possibly Latayvia Tualasea Tautai, whose name is new to me, this is a strongly politically left group. Each will believe that greater wealth redistribution is the answer to 'inclusivity'; that the haves must be forced to support the have-nots regardless of what that does to the motivation and spirit of the have-nots and their children. That the main problem with benefits is lack of generosity, too many conditions and too many obligations. I am certain each of these panelists would proudly describe themselves as socialists. It is also assured that this group will tell the Minister exactly what she wants to hear.

The best outcome for NZ, including beneficiaries, would be Labour losing the next election and this group's brief to backwards-pedal going absolutely nowhere.

(What to expect.)

Update: Over at Kiwiblog this regarding Latayvia Tualasea Tautai

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ireland's abortion vote

The result of Ireland's abortion vote is the right one. I'd have voted with the majority.

But I feel very sad too. Ideally, any smidgen of life should be able to fight its way to fruition. A pregnant mum should want to safeguard her unborn baby, to give it life, even against odds. As an older mum I knew the three month test could show I was carrying a child that was 'imperfect'. I had already resolved to continue should that be the case.

But that's just my situation. My values (not to mention fortunate circumstances and lack of privation) produce a personal decision that cannot be imposed by law on every other female.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Watch out for a spike in prem babies

I wrote in my last column for NZCPR that the baby bonus came in on April 1, 2018. It did not. It kicks in on July 1, 2018. Apologies.

Too late for the PM but every other family will receive an extra $60 a week regardless of their family income.

What is a Best Start tax credit?
Best Start tax credit is a weekly payment of $60 (up to $3,120 per year) per child for a baby born on or after 1 July 2018.
For the first year of the baby's life the family's income is not taken into account. For families earning less than $79,000, Best Start will continue at $60 per week until the child turns 3. If the family income is above $79,000, payments will reduce or stop depending on your income.
This is going to get very messy though.

My baby is due after 1 July 2018, what happens if it comes early?
If your baby's expected due date is on or after 1 July 2018 and is born before this date you're still eligible for Best Start. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for the parental tax credit and you may choose to receive this instead of Best Start.
Parental tax credit is a weekly payment of up to $220 (total of $2,200) paid for the first 10 weeks after your baby was born. It is only available for babies born before 1 July 2018 whose due date was on or after 1 July 2018.

 There are going to be a lot of calculators out.

The difference between $9,360 (3 years of $60 a week) and $2,200 is large.

Who decides what the official expected date is anyway? Many women can't remember the details required to calculate a specific date. Some do not discover they are pregnant until well into the gestation period. Or has some sort of science emerged since I was a expectant mum whereby an exact official date is declared and written in stone? Neither of mine was born on the predicted date. The first was very early and the second quite late.

Prediction: the number of 'premature' babies is going to rise significantly next month.

Monday, May 14, 2018

'Poverty' improperly blamed again

NewstalkZB is reporting on new Australian longitudinal research that links childhood background to the risk of being placed on anti-psychotic medications:

The study will be presented today during the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Annual Congress in Auckland in front of a national and international gathering of experts.
The study was led by social policy researcher Amy Kaim from the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), cross matched with information from Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
"The preliminary findings indicate that a larger proportion of children and teens from disadvantaged families are being placed on antipsychotic medication than others in the general population," she said.
"A larger proportion of children and teens taking the medication were boys, in lower-income families, with an unemployed primary caregiver, who were living in single-parent households.

My contention is always that the family type is more important than the level of income. But the headline for this article reads:

Poverty link with children's mental health 'unarguable'

Noting that error isn't just a frustration on my behalf. It has ramifications.

Because the solution to alleviating the plight of these children automatically becomes putting more public money into their homes.

When told about the research Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft (who I used to rate as the Principal Youth Court Judge but has been disappointing in his present role) responded:

"There is an absolute desperate and long term need to right the wrongs of the last 30 years. It's all in our power to reduce the rates of income-related child poverty and material deprivation in New Zealand."

He's with those advocates who date 'poverty' back to the benefit cuts - "30 years".

I go back 50 years. 1968. Or thereabouts. The first DPB (the emergency benefit introduced by National). There has been a 50 year experimentation with funding one parent families and the results have been dreadful.

Here's a scenario for you. A young female, from an abusive family, herself now a single mother with three kids from different fathers all of whom have a smorgasbord of convictions, debt, periods of unemployment or imprisonment, drug habits and/or violent tendencies. Do you honestly think putting more money into her weekly benefit is going to change anything for those kids and their prospects?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Why are employers bearing responsibility for family violence?

It's refreshing to see National MP Mark Mitchell talking about unintended consequences.

Jan Logie's family violence bill makes employers provide leave for employees to take time off work if they need to leave a relationship. RNZ reports:

When the bill first came up at Parliament it had a strong National Party backing, but following a select committee process in which amendments were made to reduce an employer's say in the matter, the party got cold feet.

Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell said that was mostly because of the impact it could have on small-to-medium sized businesses which, he said, could end up in arbitration or strained for time or finance.
National now plans to introduce a SOP and the Employers and Manufacturers Union supports them. Small enterprises account for 29% of all employees.

But beyond these concerns I am somewhat befuddled by the need for this legislation.

We know that extricating oneself from a violent relationship can be extremely difficult and dangerous. Assuming the violence is on the male side, just after leaving him is when she is most vulnerable. He is insanely jealous at the idea he can't have her and control her any more and this is when he is most likely to harm her. The RNZ article alludes briefly to a particular typical case of this.

He will try to hunt her down. And her workplace is a target. If she is not there, having been granted leave, all well and good (though her colleagues may be exposed to danger when he turns up and is thwarted).

But why would she ever feel safely able to return there? Or how long before she can feel safely able to return? Weeks, months?

Surely it is better to deal with the threatening ex? Isn't that why the nature of protection orders was changed, to allow police greater powers of arrest?

And I'm no fan of an over-empowered police force but find myself arguing for it when faced with unpalatable alternatives.(I could go into a complete rant here about the expanding welfare state; the undermining of stable two parent families and the advent of young males being raised in single mother, serial 'fathers', abusive environments that render them thugs in turn, but will refrain).

It seems manifestly unjust that employers are having to bear this level of responsibility for family violence. Left to me I would oppose the bill.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Why more mothers and babies die in the US

Political left-wing commentator Gordon Campbell writes a column in my local paper, the Hutt News. Last week's (I can't find it on-line)  was essentially about the Royal and Jacinda babies; the price of maternity care in the United States and despite the cost, the "dire"quality of care resulting in extraordinarily high infant and mother deaths. A typical anti-capitalist making the numbers tell his story.

My response:

Gordon Campbell, Hutt News, May 8, blames "dire" quality of care for the relatively high US infant mortality and maternal death rates. It is my experience that whenever statistics diverge strongly from the 'norm' there are sound reasons why, often based on how they are derived.

In 2016 Science Daily pointed out that some countries treat babies born after a very low gestation period and with very low odds of surviving as 'stillbirths'. In the United States these babies would be considered 'born' despite their high chances of death. Accordingly, "These premature births are the biggest factor in explaining the United States' high infant mortality rate."

Similarly, maternal deaths are also measured differently. According to the Economist, 2017, standard definitions used to make international comparisons are not used in the US. The World Health Organisation mandates a measurement based on a maternal death from pregnancy complications  from when the mother becomes pregnant to six weeks after the birth (or termination of pregnancy). New Zealand adheres to this. The US, however, measures deaths up to one year after the birth. As suicide is a leading cause of death among pregnant and new mothers in NZ and the US, extending the period of measurement to one year would make a significant difference to the recorded death rate.

Additionally, The Economist explains:"In rich countries, [maternal] deaths are tallied from vital-registration systems which in turn compile data from death certificates. These, however, are known to undercount maternal deaths, partly because doctors must select a cause of death from thousands of codes. They are more likely to consider the subset reserved for medical problems caused by pregnancy when the form has a checkbox asking whether the woman had been pregnant.
America added this checkbox to its standard death certificate in 2003, though it took more than a decade for all states to adopt it. It has been a mixed blessing, says Andreea Creanga of Johns Hopkins University. A recent study found that its growing use accounted for 80% of the steep rise in maternal mortality recorded in 2000-14."

The United States generally outperforms other countries in the collection and dissemination of rigorous data. Its information systems produce exhaustive, accurate and accessible statistics through which a proper understanding of matters can be achieved. They cannot though control a critic's lack of comprehension about comparability across countries.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Paying the Pipers

Just published at NZCPR:

According to the Dominion Post, April 25, ” … the Government is setting up a welfare overhaul ‘expert advisory group’ supported by a secretariat of officials from different departments.” 1

Labour has promised the Greens an overhaul. The ghost of Metiria Turei hovers. Lest we forget, the ex Green co-leader  pleaded poverty as a sole parent student to vindicate fraudulent claims to WINZ. Her eventual replacement, Marama Davidson played rear-guard soon after Turei’s resignation (at a South Auckland rally attended by both) saying, “… the party would raise benefits by 20 percent – including student allowances and all core living payments – if elected.”2

But back to 2018.

“The agreement between Labour and the Greens … commits the Government to overhaul the welfare system with the aim of lifting families out of poverty and ensuring that ‘everyone has a standard of living … that enables them to live in dignity and participate in their communities’.”3

No kudos for originality here. This is exactly the sentiment expressed by the 1972 Royal Commission on Social Security. That commission gave us the DPB, which was followed by an explosion in unmarried births (but wasn’t enough for Turei to live on.)

Now in government, albeit with a muddled mandate, Labour has a long list of Pipers to pay beyond just the Greens: they are beneficiary advocates, unionists, academics, and even government agencies like the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, all of whom have sought benefit reforms along the following lines:


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Suicide patterns vary dramatically

The following graph (P60) depicts the worst of statistics - suicide among young people. The ethnic/age information is new to me however and is exercising my brain. The peak for Maori suicide is much younger than for European. And the differences are inverse and large before and after age 16. I understand that some suicides are due to broken relationships. Does the variation reflect the tendency for Maori and Pacific youngsters to enter intimate relationships earlier? What else is behind these variances? (Bearing in mind they span 14 years so may mask differences between what was happening in 2002 compared to 2016).

Thursday, May 03, 2018

#MeTooNZ getting out of control

Just a few weeks ago I posted about the vigilantism of #MeToo arriving in NZ

Today's new-format trash-tabloid DomPost has its front page emblazoned with:

Doctor accused of sex with patients

Note that the on-line headline has been significantly modified to, "Wellington Doctor accused of having sexual relationships with women patients".

One of them even became his wife!!

This 'offending' has occurred over three decades and involves 3 women and the estranged wife.

The main complainant (not the wife) admits she entered into a consensual sexual albeit brief relationship with the apparently very popular doctor.

He pursues  patients he finds attractive. Buys them gifts, takes them on trips, buys them dinner. Not once is there any mention that he forced himself on one of them.

The Medical Council are investigating because it is unethical for doctors to enter into sexual relationships with patients.

Main complainant says she is not vindictive but doesn't think he is fit to practice. Well hello? He isn't practicing.

He is 64 as is the main complainant.

Clearly this is a publicity piece to draw out any other 'victims'.

Because it serves no other purpose.

The doctor with poor judgment sounds like a hopeless romantic looking for love in all the wrong places.

How far is this witch hunt going to go?

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

What is actually happening with crime rates

We are told that the rising imprisonment rate and population is mostly about sentencing policy because crime rates are falling.

That is only partially true.

For instance, as of  March 2017:

-violent crime in public places had decreased 17% since June 2011


-violent crime in dwellings had increased 9% since June 2011

Overall the violent crime rate hit a low point in June 2014 and has climbed since.

The general crime rate bottomed in September 2015 and reverted to growth. Youth crime hit its lowest rate in June 2015 and then started to increase.

Is there any update on March 2017, now over a year ago?

Published by the Police in February 2018, some data up to December 2017 shows overall 'victimisations' were down 1% from the previous 12 months:

- Theft victimisations reduced by 0.5% compared with the previous 12 months

- Burglary victimisations decreased by 2.9% compared with the previous 12 months

- Assault victimisations decreased by 0.4% compared with the previous 12 months


- Serious assaults resulting in injury increased by 12.4% compared with the previous 12 months

Overall this results in a rather flat trend line hiding the fact that violence is worsening (the two spikes are Jan 2017 and Jan 2018 - undoubtedly holiday family violence):

But the police say, "New Zealand is a safe place to live", because "...three quarters of New Zealanders reported no victimisation in the previous 12 months."

I am relieved to be among the 75 percent.

But kudos to the police for improving their statistical tools and making them publicly available.

Have a play. There are numerous categories which once clicked on and loaded can then be examined further by district, trend, demographics etc.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Theodore Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels)

I am a huge fan. This week I have re-read Life at the Bottom which gave me cause to check my link to Dalrymple at this blog. It was obsolete, but is now operational.

Here is a sample of his recent writing for the Spectator:

"The furore over the parole granted to John Worboys, the rapist taxi driver, misses the point entirely — that the system of parole is disgraceful in theory and irredeemably unworkable in practice. The only thing that it is good for is the employment of large numbers of officials engaged in pointless or fatuous tasks who might other-wise be unemployed.
The system is predicated on the ability of experts to predict the future conduct of convicted prisoners. Will they or will they not repeat their crimes if let out early?"

There is nobody I read who makes me think more, and sometimes, laugh more.

Having spent over two years working with a prisoner towards parole I utterly understand the sense in Dalrymple's view. The arbitrariness of whether or not a prisoner will walk free is unacceptable.

A man is to be punished for what he has done beyond reasonable doubt, not for what some questionnaire or bogus calculation says he has a 70 per cent chance of doing at some time in the future.

But there is also a seductive humanity to monitoring how prisoners progress through the system and allowing earlier release. Some actually improve in their self-awareness and mature, though I doubt it's a majority. At the same time Dalrymple (having been a prison psychiatrist) fully comprehends some prisoner's surprising and skillful capacity to 'play the game'.

Labour can't fulfil its promises

What it sounds like when Labour realizes it can't afford its promises:

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has defended the Government's slowly-but-surely approach to welfare reform, saying it is like to trying to turn a jumbo jet in mid-air.
"[The Ministry of Social Development] is a huge machine. It's like this massive jumbo jet that's been set on a certain direction for the last nine years," she told Newshub Nation.
"To expect me to able to put the brake on mid-air and turn that jumbo jet around immediately is a little bit unreasonable."
How lame. I've been aboard a jumbo jet on the way to Japan when the pilot's window began to develop a bubble. I can tell you it is very easy to immediately turn a jumbo jet around mid-air and head back to its departure point if need be.

I see she also mucked her numbers up - quite significantly. A sign of not being on top of her portfolio.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How many benefit fraud accusations are false?

MSD in the gun again, this time for cutting a benefit after an apparently false dob-in was made. MSD spokeswoman (yes, RNZ actually used the gender-specific term) ....

Ms Read said the ministry gets up to 15,000 claims of benefit fraud a year through its dedicated tip-off line, and each one has to be investigated.
The ministry was not able to immediately provide figures about how many claims turn out to be false.

RNZ could have made an attempt to get a ball park number itself.

Thousands it would seem.

According to the 2016/17 Annual Report just under 6,000 cases of suspected fraud were investigated.

"Cases are investigated only when allegations have been made and there is sound information indicating that fraud may be present."

$48,054,000 was spent investigating fraud and over-payments. $48 million.

It's hardly surprising that a majority of accusations are false. There is a sizable group in society who manipulate the benefit and justice systems to their own ends. Sometimes successfully when it comes down to 'he said, she said' scenarios.

The wonderful beneficence of social security turned malignant.

My best advice to anyone concerned about becoming an 'victim' of the benefit or justice system is to avoid them at all costs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Replacement for commonsense

The government has developed what it calls a Child Impact Assessment Tool. Essentially it's a template for testing any policy for its effect on children and seems to have been developed at the behest of the United Nations.

Having waded through it, including the separate section on possible 'differential' impacts on Maori children, I'm left with the one overwhelming response - it's a replacement for commonsense.

Sorry, no, I have another.

It is no wonder governments become so sprawling when you consider the hours and man power it took to devise this, and the hours and man power it will take to administer it.

Monday, April 16, 2018

MSD throws in the towel

An announcement appeared at the MSD website that a Declaration of Seasonal Tasman Labour Shortage was being made on April 5.

A declaration of a labour shortage from the very agency charged with getting the unemployed into jobs? That must mean the local unemployment rate is close to zero.

Actually it's 3.5%

But there are no beneficiaries left in the region?

Actually there were 924 "work-ready jobseekers" in February. Not to mention a few hundred more in nearby Blenheim, Westport and Greymouth.

The natural question question to ask is, why, then, is there a shortage? But the answer to that lies in the incapacity of beneficiaries to provide the required quality and consistency of work required.

The real question is why the announcement?

The answer appears at the very end of the statement, by which time most will have ceased reading.

"By declaring a labour shortage in Tasman, people from overseas with visitor visas can apply for a Variation of Conditions, which allows them to work through the declaration period."
MSD giving up and admitting that local growers want overseas pickers in preference to beneficiaries.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Updating artist blog

Still playing catch up after the year spent renovating full-time.

Have just updated my artist blog with a few newer works.

Here's one, a still-life in oil with palette knife:

And this gorgeous Rottie pup:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Turning the tide on compulsory over-parenting

More in from yesterday's contributor, to whom I am most grateful.


Utah governor signs law legalizing ‘free-range parenting’
Lindsay Whitehurst

SALT LAKE CITY — So-called free-range parenting will soon be the law of the land in Utah after the governor signed what appears to be the country’s first measure to formally legalize allowing kids to do things on their own to foster self-sufficiency.

The bill, which Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday that he’d signed, specifies that it isn’t neglectful to let kids do things alone like travel to school, explore a playground or stay in the car. The law takes effect May 8.

Utah’s law is the first in the country, said Lenore Skenazy, who coined the term free-range parent. A records search by the National Conference of State Legislatures didn’t turn up any similar legislation in other states.

Utah lawmakers said they were prompted to pass the law after seeing other states where parents had been investigated and in some cases had their children temporarily removed when people reported seeing kids playing basketball in their yards or walking to school alone.

Headline-grabbing cases have included a Maryland couple investigated after allowing their 10- and-6-year-old children to walk home alone from a park in 2015.

Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore of South Jordan has said allowing kids to try things alone helps prepare them for the future, though some have raised concerns the law could be used as defenses in child-abuse cases if not carefully deployed.

The law states the child must be mature enough to handle those things but leaves the age purposely open-ended so police and prosecutors can work on a case-by-case basis, Fillmore has said.

Skenazy, who wrote the book “Free Range Kids” after writing about letting her 9-year-old ride the New York City subway alone, has said the law is a good way to reassure parents who might be nervous about their parenting decisions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Graph of the Day

A reader sent me the following graph:

As he comments, "No surprise".

Yet the media witter on and on about the gender earnings gap.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Why more prisons are needed

Two things are happening:

1/ Some inmates released on parole commit serious, even fatal, crimes
2/ Some inmates who have the potential to rehabilitate are kept in prison longer than necessary

But if Labour doesn't want to build more prisons they will have to address the legislation that's driving up numbers. After all, it was passed under a Labour government.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Rainbow Tick

Ever heard of The Rainbow Tick? I came across it at the Human Rights Commission website:

The Rainbow Tick programme allows businesses and organisations to understand what they are doing well in regard to their Rainbow personnel, what they need to improve, and how to do this. Through the help of the Rainbow Tick a manager can derive the best from an employee by being a good employer.
Getting the Rainbow Tick also allows us to show our employees and all New Zealand that we are a progressive, inclusive and dynamic organisation that reflects the community that we serve.
We are really proud and excited to be recognised for our efforts as a welcoming and inclusive work place and urge other organisations to consider doing the same. 
Nothing of particular interest here then. Just PC back-patting. But wait:

 Other organisations and businesses who have already achieved the Tick include: Westpac, ASB, Fletcher Building, Coco-Cola Amatil, KPMG, Microsoft, PWC, Simpson Grierson, AUT, Sovereign, Publicis Loyalty, Sky City, Repromed and Russel McVeagh.

That last one rings a bell. They certainly have been inclusive.

On a serious note, is it any wonder that the Human Rights Commission cannot hear cases and complaints because they simply don't have the resources? Apparently they are only investigating 'urgent' complaints currently. Perhaps some prioritization is in order.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Michael Cullen can't be trusted

A report in today's DomPost  details Michael Cullen's thinking as he embarks on his chairmanship of the Tax Working Group. The title alone, Cullen: Taxes could change bad behaviours is enough to send a shiver down your spine. But so should this:
Cullen said taxes were normally higher in richer countries than in poorer ones and said New Zealand's tax system did less, compared to most in the OECD, to redistribute money from the rich to the poor.

According to latest OECD data (published 2017) NZ has the highest percentage cash transfer to the lowest quintile:

And NZ rates above the OECD average in how much of its GDP is turned into public social spending to the working-age population:

New Zealand doesn't do so much universalism but it certainly rates right up there when it comes to redistributing money "from the rich to the poor".

A very dodgy start from Cullen.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Vigilantism reaches NZ

A US writer adequately states the problem:

"What counts as sexual harassment? Good question. Men accused of boorish gestures or vulgar remarks face the same disgrace as outright rapists. And never mind if the accusations lack proof and the accusers remain anonymous."

Now we have our own #metoo campaign headed by journalist Ali Mau who yesterday told Mark Sainsbury that her "investigation" would be naming and shaming. "I'm coming for you," said the fearless Mau.

I have one word. Vigilantism.

Who will define the deed(s) and the perpetrator? What legislative framework will they work under? Who decides whether hurt to the families of perpetrators is justified? Who calculates an acceptable degree of collateral damage? Who sets the standard of proof to be met by accusers?

The potential for this exercise to snowball wildly out of control is significant.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

One year on

A year on. Who'd have thought it'd take so long. But how much we have learned. Probably the most educative year of my entire life. Would I recommend it? Not if making money is the goal.

Some before and after shots:


Friday, February 23, 2018

Bravo Bryce

Bryce Wilkinson from the New Zealand Initiative writes:

When I was a lad, Treasury was a home for bean counters. Many a fine public servant did an accounting degree part-time at evening classes at Vic. Full-time study was unaffordable; they needed a day job for income.

They knew their day job. It was to run a surgical eye over departmental spending proposals. Noes were more satisfying than Ayes. Noes could help a minister of finance keep the budget healthy. Noes saved ‘the country’ money.

The proportion of Noes that won the day in Cabinet was a measure of one’s batting average.

They wrote short, incisive reports with recommendations based on a few well-chosen facts, knowledge, and experience. Cabinet deadlines were tight. A succinct one-page report was good. It would be read. A longer one might not be.

Looking back, one has to feel sorry for these investigating officers. The poor chaps never had a chance in these short reports to muse about such lofty matters as intergenerational wellbeing.

Happily, today’s Treasury is not so constrained by cold-hearted value-for-money considerations. Your and my wellbeing and that of our children and their future children are ever closer to its throbbing heart.

This week it added to the warming embrace by releasing four discussion documents on its wellbeing framework. Treasury wants “government agencies to be more cohesive so public policy on wellbeing, spending and other government interventions is aligned with improving intergenerational wellbeing”.

At long last the public service will overcome its silo tendencies. We look forward to seeing agencies graciously deferring to each other: “No, please cut our budget to help you expand yours, what you are doing is more important for intergenerational wellbeing”.

The Treasury old-timers probably never conceived that this might be possible.  One can almost imagine them applauding in unison from their graves.

It is comforting to know that the public service will be focusing on how much you want to cut back on your spending to bequeath more to the next generation. You won’t need to think about that for yourself as much.

Perhaps the day will come when the sign outside Treasury, coined from a Christchurch art exhibit, reads: The House of Wellbeing, Resilience and Sustainability: All Welcome, bar Bean Counters.