Friday, October 12, 2007

"Family violence risk for those on benefits"

The Nelson Mail has covered the high incidence of violence disclosures in their region. My view wasn't included but, as they say, 'thems the breaks'. At least the link between welfare and domestic violence gets more exposure.

Are disclosures of violence genuine?

Having reflected on yesterday's release about the high number of family violence disclosures in Nelson I have another thought.

Briefly, in 1996 the Court of Appeal ruled that women in a relationship where violence was present were not in a relationship that met the criteria of being "in the nature of a marriage" and could therefore continue to receive a benefit as a sole parent.

It is possible that women may disclose violence to avoid losing her benefit or being prosecuted for fraud.

After the court made this ruling 2,865 women had their debts disestablished and thousands of dollars were refunded.

I believed that the judge who made the ruling was opening a can of worms. Essentially we went from paying women to escape violence to paying them to live with it, or say they are living with it.

So we might be looking at a two-pronged problem. Yes there is rising violence but there may also be women who are falsely disclosing violence. (With our very broad definition of domestic violence it would be difficult to establish any disclosure was 'false' however.) Nelson may have a particularly active benefit control unit. It is a well known destination for welfare/alternative life-stylers.

If this effect from the ruling is happening I would expect it to show in an area where there is strong advocacy for beneficiaries. I don't know about Nelson but the Bay of Plenty, second highest for violence disclosures, has one such Rotorua-based group which forced Work and Income to recognise split-custody DPB through court action.

In my experience there are genuine cases and there are people who routinely 'lie' to Work and Income. That's just the way it is.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nelson top region for violence disclosure

Media Release
Thursday, October 11, 2007

In the financial year to June 2007 3,817 Work and Income clients disclosed family violence to their case managers.

"The average number of family violence disclosures was 1.5 per 100 beneficiaries," according to welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

"Surprisingly this number almost triples to 4.4 in the Nelson region. The number is also significantly larger than the next highest region, Bay of Plenty, at 2.9 disclosures."

"Put another way while the Nelson region is home to less than 4 percent of working age beneficiaries it accounts for over 11 percent of family violence disclosures. "

"Earlier this week the Christchurch Press reported that the Nelson Women's Refuge was turning people away. Their manager, Cindy Kawana claimed the violence is getting worse and said, 'There would currently be six women who we wonder if they will die next time.' "

"There is every likelihood these women are also known to Work and Income who have admitted that there is a significant overlap between their clientèle and that of CYFs. "

"The DPB was historically about enabling women to escape violence yet we appear to have more family violence then ever before. The reality is a steady and secure benefit often makes a single mother attractive to potentially dangerous males; those who would rather spend their own income on drugs and alcohol."

ACC to benefit

A reader expressed an interest in how many people moved from ACC to a benefit. Here is a breakdown. In the year to August 2005 956 people moved from ACC to a benefit. Although the figures below only go to 2005 I have seen figures for the invalid's benefit up to 2007 which confirm the overall downward trend.

National MP - a foolish woman

Jacqui Dean's bid to have party pills banned looks more and more ridiculous. You know something has to be off the scale when Sue Kedgeley can recognise 'inconsistency'.

Now we have the danger of toddlers taking party pills introduced into the argument. Anybody with an ounce of nous knows some toddlers will put anything resembling a sweet or a sweet drink in their mouths. And they do. What is particularly unique about party pills?

There have been no deaths of children (or adults for that matter) due to ingestion of BZP.

There have been deaths of children who have taken their parent's take-home methadone - not here but in Scotland. Ban methadone. That's the answer.

Oh look. Better ban vitamin tablets while we are at it; The amount of iron contained in children's and adult vitamins can be enough to kill a child when taken in excessive amounts. In 1997, the FDA implemented rules that require unit-dose packaging for iron-containing products with 30 milligrams or more of iron per dosage unit. For a small child, as little as 600 milligrams of iron can be fatal.

Then we should move on to anti-depressants and anti-hypertensive medications; Tofranil [imipramine], an antidepressant drug also used for childhood bedwetting, and Catapres [clonidine], a high blood pressure medicine, can be very hazardous because it takes very little to produce life-threatening problems in children. One tablet may do it.

Next ban turps, lighter fluid, bleach....Children have died after swallowing such everyday substances as charcoal, lighter fluid, paint thinner and remover, antifreeze, turpentine and pesticides.

I need not go on.

The only ban that would really make a difference is a ban on stupidity.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sticking it to the poor

Classically Liberal blogs on which party is sticking it to the poor.

The surplus

...released today $8,663,000,000

or $3,079 per working-age New Zealander.

(Left click on image to enlarge)

Out of interest does anybody know exactly what Core Government Services covers? Huge increase there.

Welfare spending - up again

The cost of transfer payments according to the just released Government Financial Statements. The first column is 2007 actual and the second column is 2006. The numbers speak for themselves. All up another 8.6 percent increase in spending.

New Milestone Reached

Media Release

Wednesday, 10 October, 2007

According to figures released by National MP, Judith Collins, August 2007 has seen the number of people on Invalid and Sickness benefits reach a new milestone.

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell says that the total number of Invalid and Sickness beneficiaries has grown 56 percent in the last ten years. "To put this into perspective the working-age population (15-64) has grown by only 14 percent over the same period."

"Despite programmes to address the problems that are preventing beneficiaries from returning to work the government seems incapable of curbing the growth, much of which is coming from increases in psychological and psychiatric conditions, migration from other benefits, longer stays and easy eligibility."

"While the public is happy to support genuine cases it is far less clear whether they are happy to support people whose incapacity to work is self-induced or who are simply refusing to face up to their problems due to the availability of welfare."

"Instead of applying some rigorous gate-keeping the government has now changed the rules to allow family GPs to certify or re-certify people eligible for these benefits. Nothing they are currently doing would indicate we can expect a drop in the numbers. In fact Treasury predicts a 21 percent increase in expenditure on these benefits over the next 4 years. "

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Larry Williams is talking to me about the press release below at 4.10 pm at NewstalkZB.

Dubious claims do cause no favours

A woman has established an outfit she calls Candor Trust and is running a campaign against drugged driving and in particular, driving by methadone patients. Obviously I have no problem with this. But I wish she would substantiate her claims. A press release from yesterday is quite typical;

A woman has appeared in Court on drug driving charges today in relation to incidents of dangerous driving in the Bay of Plenty. The methadone patient drove dangerously after sleeping in the car at a service station, with children aboard and other motorists had to evade.

Candor Trust says this scenario is quite common as shown by the ESR drug driving study results which show about a dozen dead methadone drivers over the last 2 years.

Using the formula applied to alcohol harm it can be safely assumed methadone drivers were also implicated in a similar number of innocents deaths (on the road).

This is a grossly disproportionate level of road trauma in relation to the actual numbers of methadone patients. It constitutes involvement in 10% of the road toll by under 1% of the population, and double the involvement of untreated heroin addicts.

OK. That's 6 dead methadone drivers a year and an assumption of 6 associated deaths of 'innocent' people. The yearly road toll to October 9, 2007 is 399. How do 12 deaths become 10 percent?

Go the website and read such claims as;

About 1 in 50 Kiwis now die due to a crash - and over 1/2 the deaths are due to intoxicated drivers.

According to the LTSA, in 2005 29 percent of fatal crashes had driver alcohol as a factor. Again a significant difference between 29 percent and over 50 percent.

I reiterate I have no problem with people campaigning against problems but this sort of dubious information does her cause, and in a broader sense the internet, no favours.

Mike Moore's prediction

Undeterred, and why should he be, Mike Moore is off again making predictions and handing out advice. In the Features page of today's Dominion Post he calls next year's election result. It will be a, "red, green, brown and grey coalition, grey being UnitedFuture's decisive colour. Labour's secret weapon as always is the National Party's arrogance and sense of entitlement."

(Which prompted me to speculate that National want to give close consideration to what happened to the All Blacks on Sunday.)

Then he goes off on a tangent about last week's Te Puni Kokiri report, Maori in Australia, (over 100,000 of them) which I briefly blogged about. After a tirade against Willie Jackson, that Marxist media magnate from Mangere he concludes;

"A serious opposition party preparing for government would get this report to a select committee and do the hard policy yards."

Actually a serious incumbent government would be having a decent look at the report's findings and asking themselves what they are doing wrong. Most of the 'desertion' has happened under Labour. When asked, which year did you arrive in Australia to live, 2000 was the highest year ever, followed by 2004 and then 1999.

If Moore is right about his fourth Labour government we can expect to continue to lose what he calls the ambitious people.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Thousands exempted from penalties for not naming fathers

Media Release

Monday, October 8, 2007

The government has been claiming a substantial drop in the number of single parents incurring a section 70A deduction from their benefit for refusing to name the father of their child and/or failing to apply for child support.

"In fact, over 3,000 single parents have now been exempted from any penalty but have still failed to name the father or other parent," Lindsay Mitchell, welfare commentator, said today.

"In 2005 I argued at select committee that raising the section 70A penalty from $22 to $28 per week was a waste of time. In truth, having any penalty is a mere token gesture to satisfy the moral sensitivities of taxpayers."

"That over 3,000 beneficiaries have been excused from penalty demonstrates the Ministry's lack of commitment to its own policy."

"Think about," says Mitchell. "You can be sure that if the DPB wasn't available many more women would be naming the fathers of their children as they sought his financial support through the courts. Then again, if the DPB wasn't available, far fewer women would choose to have a child unsupported by a partner."

"As it stands we have a system that acts to both replace fathers and pursue them. That results in many mothers being quite happy to survive on just the DPB. And tens of thousands of fathers paying the bare minimum of $14 per week in child support."

"The system is a travesty. It produces thousands more fatherless children, on paper or otherwise, than would have been the case without well-meaning interference."

A few words before moving on

Worse than losing the World Cup is reading and listening to all the drivel about it.

For instance, if you are utterly wrapped up in sport it's pretty dumb to go using rock lyrics to make a point;

This was the year, the optimists decreed, that New Zealand would win four major titles - the cricket World Cup, America's Cup, Rugby World Cup and netball world championship.

Well the first three went west, with only the yachties making the final.

The pressure is now on the Silver Ferns' shoulders.

To paraphrase the hamburger-hoovering Meatloaf: "one out o' four, ain't bad".

And psychologists?? Like where is the psychologist who will save me from psychologists;

Psychologist Marc Wilson said shattered fans could ease their anguish by sticking to the World Cup till the bitter end. (I thought we'd already reached that?)

"If I was giving a prescription I would say, convince yourself we would have won if it wasn't for the referee cheating, and at least a southern hemisphere team is going to win," the Victoria University school deputy head said.

An academic. No wonder. Irrational advice.

We should want the French to win as they are the team that beat us. At least then we will be second best...

But this is not a time for rationality it would seem.

In, thanks for reminding us, Mental Health Week this twit from Victoria is telling people to do what is the very thing that gets us deep in the shite every time - blame someone or something else. Disgusting

And on a serious note. If you thought you had a bad day yesterday spare a thought for Trevor Mallard whose father passed away. I never say anything good about Trevor but that's politics. It saddens me deeply when I read about the loss of a parent. My sincere sympathies to Trevor and his family.

The rest of you. Get over it.