Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe - two astonishing statements

On Radio Live today Sean Plunket had each Labour leadership candidate available for questions.

First Grant Robertson (9:09)

Caller asks "Should you be successful in securing the leadership ... what would you do to address the shameful child abuse and child killing statistics?"

Robertson answers  that we need to address the poverty that drives crime and we should be, "...making sure men are actually getting the help they need to stop this kind of abuse, and it is largely driven by men..."

The claim that most child abuse is perpetrated by men is wrong. I blogged some dissenting voices here, among them Professor David Fergusson who heads the Christchurch Health and Development Study.

Then David Cuncliffe (13:06)

Caller with two special needs children queries what Labour will do about their employment prospects.

Cunliffe answers, "National has cancelled a lot of those sheltered employment schemes that provided a stepping stone into full-time employment..."

As I recall, in Labour's last two terms, parents of special needs young adults were up in arms about Ruth Dyson, Disabilities Minister, forcing the minimum wage onto sheltered workshops predicting closures. The IHC, the major sheltered workshop provider, has closed enterprises since.

"120 Years of Women's Suffrage"

Statistics NZ has just produced the following graphic representation of 120 years of women's suffrage:

Even at full-size the small print is hard to read but the statistics pertain to the years 1893, 1953 and 2013 and show parliamentary representation, percentage of working-age women employed, the percentage women make up of higher education students, average age of at first birth and average number of children. As the first four numbers have increased, the last has decreased.

Might have been useful to add in how working-age women were on social security benefits.

My estimates:
1893 - Strictly speaking, 0 ('outdoor relief' was provided by locally-funded hospitals but no figures were kept)
1953 - 2.5 percent
 2013 - 13 percent

(Interesting to note that the percentage of higher education students that were female in 1893 surpassed the 1953 figure. However there were only 680 university students in 1893. 81 percent were at Christchurch or Otago.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Labour Leader Contest

This factionalism was always going to develop. Or, more accurately, accelerate.

Having Labour and their vote-buying policies in the headlines momentarily has been useful for the party, but the post-primary fall-out will obliterate that utility.

(Unless the outsider, the only contender I fear, Shane Jones wins ... )

Strong support for cannabis decriminalisation amongst younger voters

Family First has just released the results of a poll they commissioned through Curia.

Kiwis Say Nope To Dope - Poll
Only one in three NZ’s believe that marijuana should be decriminalised, according to an independent poll of NZ’ers.

In the poll of 1,000 NZ’ers by Curia Market Research, respondents were asked whether they agreed with the statement “If an adult wishes to use a drug such as marijuana, they should be able to do so legally.” Only 33% of respondents agreed, with 60% disagreeing and 7% being unsure or refusing to say. Females were more likely to oppose marijuana being legal, but there was greater support from the 18-40 age group compared to other age groups. National supporters were most opposed to legalising marijuana (68%) compared to other parties.
To Bob's credit he has also released the details.

As an anti-prohibitionist (not pro-cannabis) I'm encouraged to see the younger the voter, the more likely they will be to support the statement. While only 23 percent of 61+ voters were in support, the number jumped to 42% amongst 18-40 year-olds. It'd be fair to say that some will change their views as they age but many will not. Some may even change in the other direction, in favour of decriminalisation.

It's not clear to me how the support breaks down over deciles because I don't know whether Curia has used the education or health ranking system. Decile 1 in health statistics represents the highest socio-economic area; decile 1 in education statistics represents the poorest. The support for decriminalisation is strongest in the decile 10 areas according to Curia. Do you think that would be the richest or poorest? 36 percent in deciles 8-10 versus 28 percent in deciles 1-3.

Men were more likely to support at 38 percent of all male respondents. The percentage for women was 28 percent.

Support was fairly evenly spread amongst the areas described as metro, provincial and rural, although slightly weaker in provincial.

Support was weakest amongst National voters at only 25 percent. Still, even then, one in four National voters think people should be able to use marijuana legally. Progress.

Monday, September 09, 2013

On the increasing risks to children on benefit long-term

In the Herald on Sunday Rodney Hide writes about the increasing likelihood of child abuse and neglect with long term benefit dependency:

A total of 76,000 New Zealanders were born in 1993. About 6000 were subsequently abused or neglected; 3000 became known to the Youth Justice system by the age of 17; and 41,000 - more than half - spent time in a household dependent on a main benefit such as the dole or DPB.
The benefit-supported children were six times more likely to be abused than those who were not benefit-supported. And they were 14 times more likely to be known to Youth Justice.
Those in households benefit-dependent for nine or more years were 13 times more likely to be abused and 29 times more likely to be known to Youth Justice.
Spending less than a year in a benefit-dependent household didn't increase the likelihood of abuse but doubled the chance of trouble with the law.
So the increasing risk for children isn't conjecture, it's factual.

But what about the risk of long-term dependence occurring?

10339 (2013). Jacinda Ardern to the Minister for Social Development (06 Aug 2013): What percentage, if any. of sole parents are estimated to be at medium risk of long term benefit dependency? 
Hon Paula Bennett (Minister for Social Development) replied: I am advised that the Ministry uses a range of ways to determine whether clients are considered medium or high risk of long term benefit dependency. Assessments take into account such factors as clients’ length of time in receipt of benefit, the level of their skills or qualifications, their communication skills (including whether English is a second language), any criminal history, and a range of other factors. Due to their caring responsibilities, sole parents are likely to spend longer periods on benefit than other jobseekers. At the end of June 2013, around 10% of sole parent clients were considered medium risk of staying on benefit long term, and around 90% were considered high risk. 

Sunday, September 08, 2013

In defence of cats...

... of which we have too many,  a neighbour videoed 45 tuis (by his count) in a bordering kowhai tree.

And as of today we have also joined ranks with the rats.

In solidarity