Saturday, July 09, 2011

Answers at the Family First Forum

I attended the Family First Forum as a speaker yesterday.

Bob McCoskrie conducted a sit down interview with John Key for an hour, and later in the morning repeated the exercise with Phil Goff.

The contrasting answers to a common question stuck in my memory are:

Who are the wisest, most influential people in your political lives?

Goff answered Mandela (and explained why), Ghandi (ditto) and Michael Joseph Savage.

Earlier John Key, with little hesitation answered his mother (and elaborated). And Wayne Eagleson, his chief-of-staff and a "clever" lawyer.

Make of it what you will.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Questions re NZ Herald-DigiPoll


Most New Zealanders are against sending solo parents back to work before their children start primary school, according to a new poll.

The Government is looking into the Welfare Working Group's recommendations on reforming the welfare system into a work-focused programme, with an eye towards campaigning on welfare reforms at the election.

Among the group's more radical suggestions were having solo parents work 20 hours a week when their youngest child reached three years old, and if they had a subsequent child while on welfare, they would have to look for paid work when the child turned 14 weeks.

A New Zealand Herald-DigiPoll released today found just 9.8 per cent of New Zealanders were in favour of solo parents on the DPB having to look for work when their child turned three.

That compared with 31.6 per cent support for sending solo parents back to work when their child turned five, and 54.2 per cent when they turned six - the current age. Some 4.4 per cent said they did not know.

The poll had a margin of error of 3.6 per cent and an unstated sample size.

Why unstated?

And where is the group that doesn't believe in work-testing at all? The policy setting up until last September.

Where are the people who want an even shorter term of assistance or would get rid of the DPB completely?

Lumped in the tiny 4.4 percent of 'don't knows'?

I was wrong

I said it wasn't a hanging offence but I was wrong.

Note to self: be very cautious about alluding to overseas research that NZ women in particular do not want to hear about. Be very careful not to make attempts to 'explain' something come across as, or be interpreted as, attempts to 'justify' it.

Second thoughts, just keep your damn trap shut.

Then again, no-one can sack me.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Average DPB payment versus 40 hours at minimum wage

Some members of the public are mislead into believing that someone on the DPB only receives $288.47 per week.


The alternative group, chaired by Massey University social policy expert Mike O'Brien and including former Green MP Sue Bradford, says current benefits of $194 a week for a single adult or $366 for a sole parent with one child are "simply too low to live on".

In fact they receive considerably more because all parents or caregivers receive Family Tax credits for dependent children and the majority receive an Accommodation Supplement (or live in a subsidised state house).

Under the Official Information Act I asked what are the average accommodation supplement and family tax credit payments made to DPB recipients.

Calculated at the end of March 2011 the respective payments provided to me were $89 and $135.76

That totals $513.23 net

The minimum wage for a 40 hour week is $520 before tax

The new entrants or training wage for a 40 hour week is $416 before tax

You do the maths.

(Even this calculation is inadequate because it does not include other available allowances.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tau Henare is right

Tau Henare is right that yet another inquiry into child abuse is a waste of time.

But committee chairman Tau Henare said the committee did not have time to do a proper inquiry before the election due in November.

"We'll take part in it, that's democracy. I'm the chairman and I'll chair the meetings to the best of my abilities," he said.

"But in the last 15 years there have been umpteen dozen reports. I don't think we are going to get anywhere if we continue to sit on our arses and do reports.

But the so-called child advocates insist on pressing ahead wasting time and money;

Maori Party MP Rahui Katene, who co-chairs the group with Green MP Metiria Turei, said she hoped the inquiry would open people's eyes to the fact that many Kiwi children lived in poverty.

And that is why they are primarily wasting their time. Because they persist in coming at it from the wrong angle. Always they pin the essential problem on poverty.

Yes. Many Kiwi children live in (relative) poverty but many, most, do not suffer neglect or abuse.

Look at the figures that Simon Collins provides at the close of his article:

Children in poverty

22 per cent of all children

One in six European children

One in four Maori children

One in three Pacific children

By material measures Pacific children are the poorest.

Let's look at some reliable indicators of child neglect or abuse.

The ethnicity of children in Care and Protection Foster Care Placements in 2006.

7 percent were Pacific (412) whereas 48.7 percent (2,869) were Maori.

At 7 percent, because the Pacific population is very young, that proportion is probably an under-representation.

The number of Pacific children in CYF family homes was 22 compared to 166 Maori - again 7 percent versus 51 percent.

Of those children with Care and Protection notifications requiring further action, 12 percent were Pacific and 44 percent were Maori.

So what now? Poverty is the cause of Maori child abuse and neglect but not the cause of Pacific child abuse and neglect? And let's not even go looking for some Asian statistics.

If the problem is misdiagnosed, a remedy will never be found.

Monday, July 04, 2011

People who lay false rape complaints should be exposed

Some people are very vindictive. Unhealthily so. And it seems the incidence of this form of mental instability is on the rise.

When reading about false rape accusations one can't help but wonder if the accuser, even in the knowledge that she will not succeed in bringing a conviction, is motivated by knowing a trial will make the accused's life miserable. His name will be dragged through the mud whereas she will remain unknown to the larger public.

It really is time that false accusations were punished. If not at least by removing name supression.

Two cases appear in headlines this morning. One in NZ:

In summing up the case yesterday, Murrell's defence lawyer, Fergus Steedman, said his client and the complainant had been friends. Murrell's testimony showed he cared about the complainant and knew her well.

Mr Steedman said the woman was yet to become an adult who took responsibility for her own mistakes. The false accusation had been made to prevent her from having to face her mistakes, Mr Steedman said.

The complainant was a compulsive liar, he said, and throughout the trial her testimony had been contradicted by other witnesses and evidence.

"She lies as a matter of routine. She lies when she doesn't need to. She is a liar, full stop," he said.

And the other in Australia:

A MOTHER has described as a ''gross injustice'' a legal process which she says led her son's life to the edge of destruction over a rape charge found to be baseless.

It was of small comfort to her that a judge has now ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to pay defence costs of almost $20,000 after the case collapsed.

''We have been traumatised beyond belief by the system,'' she told The Age. ''We've been watching our son's life potentially get destroyed in front of our eyes.'' She had ''lived in abject fear of an injustice'' while her son, now 20, a third-year university student, had had his reputation ruined.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

'Life' imprisonment sentences leap

Statistics NZ has just released conviction and sentencing data for 2010. A couple of stand-outs are the increasing use of home detention over its short history, and a leap in life sentences handed down.

In 2010 50 such sentences were imposed.

The closest year to that previously was 1997 when 37 sentences occurred. In the last ten years the average was 27 life sentences.

Is it just an aberration? Brains more familiar with the legal system might have an explanation.