Thursday, May 23, 2013

Benefit expenditure forecasts

Below are welfare benefit expenses projected to 2017. Note that the table accommodates the benefit changes from Unemployment, Domestic Purposes, Sickness and Invalid benefits to Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support and Supported Living payment. Interesting though that the forecasts are for pretty much unchanged expenditure from actual total of $4.794 billion in 2012 to forecast $4.697 in 2017.

Long list of likeable policies - not for Labour

Labour MP Clare Curran has posted a list of "right-wing" policies from Australia's Institute of Public Affairs (must add to my blog roll). Curran highlights the only one she thinks has merit.I like most of them. Brightened my morning to see these ideas being promoted:
  • Means-test Medicare
  • Eliminate family tax benefits
  • Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
  • Abolish the Baby Bonus
  • Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  • Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
  • Repeal the alcopops tax
  • Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
  • Repeal the Fair Work Act
  • Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  • Introduce a single rate of income tax
  • Return income taxing powers to the states
  • Cut company tax to 25 per cent
  • Cease subsidising the car industry
  • Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
  • Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
  • End local content requirements for Australian television stations
  • Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  • Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
  • End mandatory disclosures on political donations
  • End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
  • Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and  privatise any sections that have already been built
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  • Slash top public servant salaries
  • Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  • Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it (if it is replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone).
  • Abolish the Department of Climate Change
  • Abolish the Clean Energy Fund and repeal the renewable energy target
  • Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
  • Repeal the mining tax
  • Privatise the CSIRO and the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  • Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  • Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  • Means test tertiary student loans
  • Repeal the National Curriculum
  • Introduce competing private secondary school curricula
  • Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  • Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  • Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • Eliminate ‘balance’ laws for radio and television broadcasters
  • Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
  • Eliminate media ownership restrictions
  • Cease funding the Australia Network
  • Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  • End public funding to political parties
  • Introduce voluntary voting
  • End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
  • Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
  • Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a % of GDP
  • Legislate a balanced budget amendment which limits the size of budget deficits and the period the government can be in deficit
  • Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  • Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
  • End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
  • Remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  • Remove anti-dumping laws
  • Deregulate the parallel importation of books
  • End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace laws
  • Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  • Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
  • Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
  • End all government funded ‘Nanny State’ advertising
  • De-fund Harmony Day and close the Office for Youth
  • Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
  • Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  • Introduce a special economic zone for northern Australia including:
    a) Lower personal income tax for residents
    b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
    c) Encourage the construction of dams.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Truth column May 16-22

 My Truth column for May 16-22
Criminologist Greg Newbold’s recent remarks on Maori’s over-representation in violent crime statistics reminded me of another.  A 2007 Corrections report found, “… over 16,000 Maori males currently between the ages of 20 and 29 years [over 30% of that age-band] have a record of serving one or more sentences …” Also noted was the over-representation of Maori victims because “… much crime occurs within families, social networks or immediate neighbourhoods.” This was called a “catastrophe” for Maori.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beagles go to parliament

Lexie and I are off to parliament to join other Beagle owners as a petition asking the government to rule out testing recreational drugs on animals is presented. I'm not heavily involved in  this campaign but can't see any case for using Beagles (chosen for their gentle easy- to- handle nature) to keep recreational drug users safe. Couldn't those who like to experiment with drugs, inherently risk-takers, test them personally?


No Minister. No Peter Dunne. Green MP Mojo Mathers accepted the petition and she sent apologies on behalf of John Banks who also strongly opposes but couldn't attend. Some coverage here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

1 in 5 new entrants still on DPB after ten years

Here's an interesting table which reveals quite a lot about who and how long people stay on the DPB:

1 in 5 of those single parents who went on the DPB in the year to June 1998 was still on it (or back on it) ten years later. Almost one in three of those who'd had their first child under 18 were still dependent.

(If you look back from a point-in-time, the proportion that are long-term is much greater as they accumulate.)

Earlier 1998 research looking at entry (to any main benefit) in 1993 found,

35% of the 1993 entrants overall and 57% of the DPB entrants were in receipt of benefit on the five-year anniversary of their 1993 grant.......

If we could identify the long duration group early in their benefit history and turn that history around, the benefit savings would be great, possibly sufficient to support a greater up-front investment in assisting people to secure sufficient incomes to become and remain independent of the benefit system than has been contemplated in the past.

That's what the later research does and why National's reforms have targeted very young entrants.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Voter turnout

Came across this snippet from 1938 which showed a voter turnout in Wellington of 89 percent.

"...a surprising number of people on the rolls for the six Wellington seats and Hutt did not record their votes in the General Election October 15."

Did the writer express surprise because the turnout was lower than previous?

Today's Wellington and Hutt electorates voter turnout is 81 percent.

He'd be flabbergasted at the national 74 percent turnout - less than three quarters (with 58 percent in the Maori electorates.)

Roger Douglas versus Peter Conway on the budget

Rodney Hide hosted Sean Plunket's Radio Live show on friday and from 11am Roger Douglas and Peter Conway (Council of Trade Unions) discussed the budget. But it developed into a more far-reaching debate about the real problems facing NZ, especially education and welfare. Does poverty cause dysfunction or vice versa? Roger kept returning to education and the need to get it right for Maori. Conway insisted that the public schools were fine but the homes that the failing kids came out of were the problem due to poverty and unemployment. Roger used an example of a Ruatoria school run by Maori, with children mainly from beneficiary homes, that is apparently getting great results whereas the next door public school is not. The kids from the private school go on to tertiary education, the kids from the public school don't.

On welfare, Conway was adamant that when jobs were available people took them. He specifically talked about the reduction in the numbers on unemployment benefit dropping from 162,000 to 17,000 which showed that "When the jobs were there people took them and so only a very tiny number didn't...human characteristics didn't change....what changed was the opportunity and availability of work." And that all happened under Labour's investment approach.

Sounds great except the total number of people on benefits  dropped from 1 in 7 to 1 in 10. Not a very tiny number. As Roger pointed out quite a lot of people moved onto incapacity benefits which continued to rise throughout. If that is the best that can be achieved under a Labour government it leaves a lot to be desired.

You can pick up the interview here. It's covered over the four quarters from 11am to 12am, Friday May 17.

Rodney does a great job on radio. This is the kind of discussion I want to hear. And judging from caller's comments to him, so do others.