Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Labour's soft-on-welfare policies hurting South Auckland

According to RNZ gang problems are exacerbating in South Auckland leading to their question, What's behind south Auckland's recent crime spike?

Apparently deportees from Australia are now setting up new gangs resulting in turf wars.

But alongside Australia's relatively new hard-line deportee policy is New Zealand's soft-line welfare policy which includes a huge reduction in the application of sanctions, a suspension of the requirement to name fathers and a generally open slather philosophy.

So what effect is this having in South Auckland?

I chose three service centres (including Otara as it was mentioned in the article) and looked at Jobseeker numbers between June 2017 and June 2019.

In total the number of Jobseekers has increased from 3,749 to 5,054 - or 35 percent. The national increase is 15 percent.

Is the unemployment rate increasing?

Not nationally. I don't have data for South Auckland but I do have ethnic data and South Auckland has a very high Maori/Pacific population.

Down for every group.

Benefits are the staple of gangs. Sure the money isn't particularly lucrative but is it predictable and secure.

Here's Corrections official advice for deportees from Australia:

What if I have no money?
Work and Income in New Zealand is like Centrelink in Australia. They will talk to you about finding employment and can provide income support. They’ll sort out some immediate things to support you in the first few days and they’ll continue to work with you to support your relocation to New Zealand.
Of course all the extra beneficiaries in South Auckland aren't just gang members.

This area is a mere microcosm of what's happening nationally. On steroids.

Unemployment down from 4.7% in June 2017 to 3.9% in June 2019

Jobseeker numbers up from 118,776 to 136,233 over the same period.

Labour's soft-on-welfare policies are hurting South Auckland. It's par for the course. Labour always hurts those it pretends to care for the most.

Friday, September 13, 2019


My most hated word is 'survivors'.

A survivor used to be someone who lived through the Titanic sinking or Auschwitz.

Now it's anyone who has experienced bullying or harassment.

And what about 'sexual assault'?  So broadened and bastardized as to now include any kind of unwanted touching disconnected from intent?

I have no idea what has been going on with Labour volunteers and staffers.

But it just goes to show that he who controls the language does not control the argument.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Australia to move on substance abuse and benefit dependence

Only one more voted is needed to pass the legislation that will see random drug-testing of people receiving unemployment benefits roll-out in trials across Australia.

If the beneficiary refuses to be tested their benefit will be suspended. If they test positive they will be moved onto income management which means only 20% of their benefit is paid in cash. A second positive test will see a referral for medical assessment (at which stage many will probably shift onto some sort of disability benefit I expect.)

But it's hard to argue with the sentiment behind this move.

...substance abuse is "not consistent with community expectations about receiving taxpayer-funded welfare payments"

And let's not forget that many of these people who effectively render themselves unemployable are also parents.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

NZ mothers and relationship transitions

A new MSD/Victoria University study, The influences of social connectedness on behaviour in young children: A longitudinal investigation using GUiNZ data December 2018, was released last month. A large part of the investigation was about relationship transitions, their effect on children and interconnection with vulnerability.

Broadly extracting from the paper,

Children raised in families that had experienced relationship transition(s) also reported higher externalising (aggression, fighting) and internalising behaviour (worry, depression) and lower pro-social (kindness, empathy) behaviour.
Children in the first year of life typically develop strong emotional bonds to their parents and caretakers, and disturbances of these attachments may not only cause emotional difficulties, significant stress may also actually harm the all-important foundation of the infant’s brain.
…numerous family transitions, especially early in life, put children at cognitive, emotional, and neurological risk for later adverse outcomes. Family transitions are usually accompanied by financial hardship, a reduction in parenting ability, changes of schools and consequent instability of peer relationships, and changes in neighbourhoods that can all adversely affect both child and adult relationships. However, strong emotional bonds within the family, termed family connectedness, and strong relationships with neighbours, termed community connectedness, may buffer these stressful events and states...
… higher family connectedness predicted significantly reduced externalising behaviour for those children whose mothers were consistently in a stable relationship but did not have an effect for those children whose mothers experienced relationship transitions or were consistently unpartnered 
That's just a small sample of findings.

Now, the analysed Growing Up in New Zealand data showed, "1095 (17.3%) of mothers were categorised as having experienced 1-4 relationship transitions from pregnancy to the 4.5-year interview."

I've done some further analysis to allow for the drop-out rate.

There were originally 6,938 conceptions. By age 4.5 there were only 6,392 children. That’s 7.9% attrition. If, conservatively, half of the lost mothers had experienced a relationship transition then 17.3% would rise to 21.25%

It's not inconceivable that most of the mothers who dropped out of the study experienced instability of relationships.

It would be wholly reasonable to suggest that between one in four and one in five NZ mothers experience 1-4 relationship transitions between pregnancy and their child being 4.5 years of age.

Speaks volumes about our social problems.

Monday, September 09, 2019

New Zealand's Falling Fertility Rate

Late last month Family First published my paper Families: Ever fewer, or no children - How worried should we be? It contains data that NZ's public service doesn't seem to be on to.

For the last three years the total fertility rate has dropped. In 2015 it was a smidgen under 2 births per woman  - last year it was 1.7

Treasury has been somewhat sanguine about the birth rate and has not yet considered the recent decline.

Treasury’s Long-Term Fiscal Modelling from 2016 assumes fertility, “Falls to 1.9 babies per woman from 2032.”  It fell progressively below that optimistic projection in years 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Additionally, in a ‘high level’ initial briefing to the 2019 Welfare Expert Advisory Group the Ministry of Social Development described fertility as “…low and relatively stable.”

It doesn't look particularly "stable" to me.

The fastest falling rate is Pacific and the only rate climbing (slightly) is Asian. Demographer Ian Pool suggests this is due to Filipina contribution.

Each country similar to NZ - The UK, Australia, and the US - is experiencing the same scenario. We appear to be heading toward the low fertility rates that many European and Asian countries have fought against for some time.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Shocking revelations about Dunedin Women's Refuge

The title of this post may look like a mere attention-grabber but I was genuinely shocked as I read through this RNZ report about Te Whare Pounamu in Dunedin.

1/When children had told staff about sexual abuse it was not reported to Oranga Tamariki. There are some legitimate reasons why I can imagine this happening concerning the child's well-being. Some operatives have very little regard for Oranga Tamariki and might consider they could better handle a situation without involving the state. Still it appears to be a breach of procedure when it comes to accreditation and funding. MSD and Deloitte are both investigating.

2/ A very strong culture of staff using the organisation to feather their own nests; helping themselves to goods donated before they get to clients eg $1,000 of new toys donated by the Warehouse.

3/ The attitude of a manager who described the clients as  '... a pack of skanks and slags'.

4/ Inventing client names to attain or retain funding.

If it was just one complainant there might be a temptation to suspect someone with a grudge and good imagination, but the reports are corroborated. And I've only touched on some of the problems.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

David Seymour: The speech Jacinda Ardern should have given on Ihumātao

"E ngā mana, en ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha. Tēnā kotou.

Greetings. It’s my special privilege to address this nation today about Ihumātao because it’s an issue that goes to the heart of who we are as a country. This Government believes in shared prosperity, and I want to tell you what that means in relation to Ihumātao.

I’ve heard some barracking that I should provide leadership on this situation, but curiously that’s where the alternative ‘leadership’ stops. So, as Prime Minister, please allow me to lay out how our nation will find its way through this impasse.

First, let me acknowledge something. It’s wrong that the land at Ihumātao was taken against the wishes of its owners in 1863. But lest we forget, that land was taken by conquest before then. That was wrong, too."

More at Magic Talk

Fewer Men Celebrate Father's Day

Saturday, 31 August, 2019 - 19:58
'Families: Ever Fewer, or No Children: How Worried Should We Be?' - a new report just released by Family First NZ - drew attention to New Zealand's all-time low fertility rate of 1.7 births per woman in 2018.

Fewer women are becoming mothers. 16 percent of 45-49 year-old women were childless at the 2013 Census - almost double the 9% in 1981. But international data shows even fewer men are becoming fathers.

Report author Lindsay Mitchell says, "Childlessness affects more men than women. In the absence of New Zealand data, two countries with total fertility rates not dissimilar to New Zealand - Norway at 1.56 in 2018 and the US at 1.728 in 2018 - have collected data relating to childless males."

According to Science Norway: "Fertility figures from Statistics Norway show that fewer and fewer men in Norway are fathering children. The share of men who are childless at age 45 rose from 14 percent in 1985 to 23 percent in 2013. The share of women who had not become mothers by age 45 increased from 10 percent in 1985 to 13 percent in 2013."

In the United States, 2014, the US Census Bureau reported, "Just under a quarter of U.S. men between ages 40 and 50 were childless."

These percentages are unsurprisingly similar and quite likely to mirror male childlessness in New Zealand.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Ever Fewer or No Children, How Worried Should We Be?



30 August 2019

Pros and Cons Of “All-Time Low” Fertility Rate - Report

New Zealand's total fertility rate has reached an all-time low, with an average of 1.71 children per woman in New Zealand, well below population replacement level.

“Families: Ever Fewer or No Children, How Worried Should We Be?“ - a new report from Family First NZ -  looks at the reasons behind falling fertility, and discusses what might influence future trends.

Report author Lindsay Mitchell says, "In the past, government policy could positively affect the size of families. The Universal Family Benefit strongly influenced peak fertility in 1961 when women had an average of 4.3 children. But as females have become better educated and increased their work force participation, more have chosen to have fewer or no children. Economic pressures like student debt and insecure employment play a role. And now they face additional pressure from environmentalists. Meanwhile, policy interventions appear less and less effective."

The report examines the historical context of family size; identifies some of the underlying factors affecting fertility rates, including derivation, marital status, ethnicity and ageing mothers; discusses the implications of smaller families; and analyses some of the policies which could reverse the shrinking family. It also reviews other countries’ efforts to incentivise fertility.

“To date, New Zealand has been complacent about its total fertility rate because firstly, it fluctuated around replacement rate for a long period, and secondly, it was higher than most other OECD countries. Now we are trending down to resemble many other European and Asian nations struggling to boost fertility. As New Zealand’s fertility rate falls progressively further below population replacement level, the need to address the issue becomes more urgent."

“Without population replacement or growth, economies decline. A nation's strength lies in its young: their energy, innovation, risk-taking and entrepreneurship. The new blood drives the exchange of ideas and experimentation. If these attributes aren't home-grown, they have to be imported. At an individual level, single person households are the fastest growing household type in New Zealand. Increasingly people face old-age with few or no family supports.”

“These are just some of the big picture considerations New Zealanders need to be thinking and talking about.”

“The matter of fertility is critical to New Zealand’s future. If not actively worrying about the shrinking family, at the very least the topic should feature regularly in our private and public conversations.”

"Ultimately, whether or not people choose to have a child or children is a highly personal matter, but they shouldn't be denied balanced information to help them decide."


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

More Clinton than Trump

Here is the latest $74,000 rate-payer funded 'artwork' to grace the rooftops of Wellington.

People don't like it. I do. And after discussing it with my year 3 art student daughter get some of the rather dubious connotations.

Yesterday Stuff asked passersby for their reaction:

Ruhe said his peers had compared the sculpture to Donald Trump's face. 

The Trump paranoia, obsession, mania, call it what you will, results in people seeing him everywhere. In fact the face has more similarities to Bill Clinton than Donald Trump.

Whoever - if anyone - it is styled on, the work has done exactly what the artist wants: caused a stink.
And from the council's point of view it will fulfill its stated purpose of attracting more people to Civic Square.

Image result for young bill clinton

Friday, August 16, 2019

Oranga Tamariki "Euro-centric"

The Minister for Children, Tracey Martin, yesterday attended a hui to talk about the changes at and failings of Oranga Tamariki.

Also attending the hui was Annette Sykes, activist lawyer, who said,

"Yes Oranga Tamariki has transformed, but the culture of practices hasn't, it's essentially Euro-centric."

The Maori child mortality has improved vastly under whatever practices were and are being advanced in the field of child health and safety.

The infant mortality rate was down to 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018, compared with 5.0 per 1,000 in 2008, Stats NZ said today.
Infant mortality for Māori dropped from 6.7 in 2008 to 4.9 in 2018.
When it comes to child safety there are basic practices that transcend culture. The minister should have the gumption to say so.

Her response was, "Nothing will change unless Māoridom gets the chance to design it [new systems of state care]."

Well hell I thought that's what whanau ora was all about.

While all this political bickering goes on, all 'transformation' really takes is for one individual to assume dedicated care of a child.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Unemployment rate down - benefit numbers up

According to Statistics NZ:

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in the June 2019 quarter, down from 4.2 percent in the March 2019 quarter, Stats NZ said today.
This is the lowest unemployment rate since the June 2008 quarter, when it was 3.8 percent.
That's a drop over the year to June 2019 from 4.4  to 3.9 percent.

Many have expressed puzzlement over this  given Jobseeker benefit numbers are rising. As a percentage of the working age population the number rose from 4.2 to 4.5 percent over the year to June 2019.

How can this be explained.

First we need to look at the denominator.

In the case of the Jobseeker benefit the denominator is the working age population defined as 18- 64 year-olds.

The unemployment rate uses a denominator also called the working-age population but is defined as "the non-institutionalised population 15 years and over, who usually live in New Zealand."

So apples are not being compared with apples. 15,16 and 17 year-olds are counted when calculating the unemployment rate.

Of course this has long been the case and it's the trend that matters.

But it may be that demographic changes are more influential in the low unemployment rate than the health of the economy.

If the cohort size of the 15-17 year-olds is larger than previously, that will lower the resulting unemployment rate. As these cohorts mature they will start affecting the older working age population used by MSD.

Immigration is also effecting the denominators constantly.

What we do know for sure is that those on Jobseeker benefits; 136,233 at June 2019, are actual numbers.

All other percentages are estimates.

Note also that last time the unemployment rate was so low, according to Stats NZ, 3.8% in June 2008 the numbers on the unemployment benefit were also very very low:

At that time there were many more on DPB and the Sickness benefit.

For all the jiggery pokery here's the bottomline:

258,317 people were on any type of benefit at June 2008  - or 9.9% of the working age population
291, 969  people were on any type of benefit at June 2019  - or 9.7% of the working age population

Absolute numbers up - percentage down.

Not much in it though and sad to say, this might be as good as it gets.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ethnicity matching

"The state thinks it's ok to place children outside their genealogical links."

This from Dame Tariana Turia speaking at the 'Hands off our Tamariki' rally at parliament yesterday.

Clearly the state tries very hard to keep children within their whakapapa links. That may actually be part of the problem of re-abuse in 'state care' - that children have been left  or placed with unsafe family members.

But the state certainly tries very hard to place children within their own ethnicity. (Again not something I necessarily agree with if the child's best interests are not being served.)

That's why they measure their achievement in this endeavour:

 Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, who attended the protest with a host of other MPs, said the "torture and abuse" at the hand of the state must stop.

That is one seriously misguided, dangerously inflammatory individual.

If  abuse at the 'hand of family' were to stop Oranga Tamariki, the focus of all this venom, wouldn't need to exist.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Active engagement with beneficiaries declines - numbers increase

Another of the 'key facts' advanced by the WEAG was:

In June 2014, employment-focused case managers engaged proactively with 50% of their clients every month to support them into employment. This has fallen to an all-time low of 19%, and, over the past year, has continued to drop by an average of one percentage point per month.

Again I OIAed the statement:

Under the OIA  please supply the data source and current percentage relating to the following claim:

"In June 2014, employment-focused case managers engaged proactively with 50% of their clients every month to support them into employment. This has fallen to an all-time low of
19%, and, over the past year, has continued to drop by an average of one percentage point per month."



A table of data has been provided along with this statement:

I have charted the data:

I took the liberty of adding in jobseeker numbers though 'active engagement' could I assume be happening with other beneficiaries, those on sole parent support for instance.
What the picture appears to be telling us is that as active engagement with beneficiaries has declined, their numbers have increased.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

"Key fact" is not

We live in a time when so many 'facts' turn out to be lies. They are not facts and the untruthfulness degrades the level of understanding and debate.

According to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group:


Curious and dubious I sent an OIA to MSD:

Under the OIA  please supply the statistical evidence for the following claim:
"Over 50% of Māori children are growing up in households receiving a main benefit."

Here is their response:

 "...we have not been able to locate any data that was provided that might support the statement."

Neither can I.

This is a big deal.

If MSD didn't provide the data, where did it come from?

Who wrote the 'key fact'?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

'Harm in state care' does not mean harm inflicted by the state

Not my first post on this subject but there now seems to be an official response from Oranga Tamariki clarifying the true situation.

While Maori organisations plan to protest the uplift of Maori children many people are under the misapprehension that the state is actively harming children under its care.

That only happens in a handful of circumstances and usually as part of attempts to manage the child or young person.

Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive Hoani Lambert said the majority of the harm to Māori children happened in placements where they had been left with their family.

OT has to front-foot this issue due to biased media reporting. For instance, a letter I wrote (published) to the DomPost back in March:

Michelle Duff (DomPost, March 28) writes about the 220 children abused "in state care", they were "...taken from their families, from their homes, to a place that's meant to be safer". Most children who are 'in state care' are placed with an approved family member or returned to their original caregivers. They are under the legal custody of the state (Oranga Tamariki Chief Executive) but not living in foster care or residential homes. Most of the abuse occurred in placements that were family-related or having been returned to parents. Most of the abusers were family members or parents. No abuse or re-abuse of children is acceptable. But the facts show that family members and parents posed the greatest danger to these victims. This suggests that where the state primarily fails is in poor decision-making and monitoring of risk. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Does Duff exaggerate?

Maori organisations have just announced a rally to Parliament a week tomorrow, July 30,  to protest the state removing Maori children from their whanau caregivers. It'll be called the Hands Off Our Tamariki rally.

I felt weary reading about it.

Then by chance I read an excerpt from Alan Duff's new book, A Conversation with My Country.

Poor Shahlaya wasn't 11 when I first saw her — she was 111. She was discreetly pointed out to me at a low socio-economic primary school many years ago. She came from a place like Pine Block, my fictional suburb in Once Were Warriors.
The school principal whispered, "See that girl . . . the sad-looking one? The one not smiling? We know she's on a house-to-house circuit, suffering sexual abuse. A tragedy, and too many like her."
The sub-society she was born into stole and violated her right to childhood. Men took turns at possessing her body, subjecting it — not her, the innocent child — to indecencies. Too weak to resist, she was an "it", a body solely to give pleasure to sick-minded adult males. And you can bet they figured out that should she go to the police or to the school authorities, her allegations would not be believed. It probably did occur to her abusers that what they did was wrong, but wrong only if they were held to
account. As to evil, it has to be assumed that abusers like this lack
a self-reflective, moral mechanism.
They may as well have put her brain into an electric mixer. 
I've read most of what Alan Duff has written over the years. In my estimation he falls into the 'been there, done that' category (though I hasten to say not as a child abuser.)

If his description of the abuse of Maori children by Maori is not an exaggeration - indeed if it holds any weight - doesn't Hands Off Our Tamariki suggest an entirely different visual image?

Friday, July 19, 2019

"Most of us don't come close to paying our way in the tax system"

In a flippant attack on Superannuation the writer states:

"Most of us don't come close to paying our way in the tax system."


12 percent of individuals are paying 48% of income tax.

But that doesn't mean that a young person with no dependents isn't "paying their way" ie putting in more than they take out in either transfers or services.

Most people tend to "pay their way" at different times during their lives.

I'm not "paying my way" as an individual but I am as part of a couple. 

So it's a fraught statement. As is much of the opinion piece bursting with generalizations.  Interestingly, the comments (closed almost immediately) aren't very favourable.

(Update: Comments have gone from 8 when I first read the article to 285. My observation was based on the 8 I read.)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Justifying beneficiary increase

According to TV Three News:

"...the number of people on benefits has increased by 15,000 since the Government took office - but it's insisting that's down to population growth..."

And "...the number of people on a benefit has increased by 15,000 - though the numbers remain in line with population growth."

Labour is backtracking to "since the Government took office" because it can't defend its more recent record.

Another big jump in benefit numbers

"The number of working-age people receiving main benefits as at the end of June 2019 was 5.2 percent higher than at the end of June 2018."
Here's ACT's press release on the matter:

Beneficiary numbers spike by almost 15,000
Thu, 18 Jul, 2019

“A massive spike in the number beneficiaries shows Labour’s anti-growth policies are slowing the economy and making it easier for people to stay on welfare”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“There was an increase of 14,559 people on a benefit in the last 12 months.

“That is a shocking indictment of Labour’s economic record and a reflection its approach of failing to sanction beneficiaries who don’t comply with their obligations.

The number of New Zealanders on a main benefit has grown to 291,969, or 9.7 per cent of the working-age population.

“Even more damning is an 11.2 per cent increase in the number of people on Jobseeker Support – that’s 13,720 more than this time last year.

“Uncertainty over a capital gains tax, industry-wide collective bargaining and foreign investment and a higher minimum wage are starting to take their toll on the economy.

“Labour needs to take responsibility for the harm it is doing to the economy.

“It is completely unacceptable that nearly 300,000 New Zealanders are on a benefit when some industries are desperate for workers. If people can work, they should.

“The Government should alleviate genuine hardship, but Labour’s anti-growth policies will see many more New Zealanders dependent on handouts, rather than living productive, independent lives.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Why children are uplifted

(Left click to enlarge)

Above is a graphic from a short article by Ian Lambie, Chief Science Advisor for the Justice Sector, which appears in the latest edition of the New Zealand Corrections Journal.

It shows that 292 children aged 0-5 had been exposed to 5 or more known family violence incidents within a year.

Lambie writes:
"Talking about the wellbeing of babies seems a long way from arguments about the prison muster, but that is where the evidence says we must begin."
This should be to the forefront of thinking while the controversy about uplifting Maori children plays out. There are certainly cases where Oranga Tamariki have been heavy-handed or overly rules-bound, and while social workers continue to be human beings, variation in the way they approach cases will exist. But there is also a great deal known about the circumstances some babies are being born into and it would be reprehensible not to act.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Steep decline in fraud prosecutions

Having scanned through the OIA responses mentioned below I found a couple of interesting tables. The first shows that fraud prosecutions are well down:

The reduction began before Labour became government. The decrease was 27% from 2016 to 2017; and 35% from 2017 to 2018. Have people suddenly become far more law-abiding?

The accommodation supplement is topical given high rents are always in the news.

At September 2018 there were 292,006 payments in place.
Two thirds were to beneficiaries; the rest to veterans, super-annuitants or non-beneficiaries.
66% were renting, 22% boarding and 11% owned their own home.
24% were receiving the maximum amount available.
8% were couples with children; 26% were sole parents with children; 57% were single.

And finally this caught my eye. Another accommodation problem that's been in the news but here's some stats:

Perhaps it isn't a 'problem' for the owners of ageing motels being displaced by better quality establishments.

Well done MSD

On June 27 I posted about MSD lagging behind in its publication of OIA responses at its website.

They have now got up responses from January and March 2019.

(Which does kind of beg the question, were there none in February?)

Saturday, July 06, 2019

RNZ witch hunt finds ... reasonable numbers

RNZ is constantly on Oranga Tamariki's back trying to show them as a failing agency.

Oranga Tamariki published data not long ago detailing the number and nature of abuse/neglect cases happening to children in state care. I pointed out then that many children who are 'in state care' officially are nevertheless in the day-to-day of their parents or family members.

Today RNZ reports:

Oranga Tamariki released data showing its own staff have harmed children in care eight times in the space of six months: six cases of physical harm, and one each of sexual and emotional harm.
My immediate response is surprise at how low the number is.

'Children' can include individuals up to 18 years of age. Some will be incredibly difficult to handle. Doubtless they will require firmness; may provoke and may attack. Some will be pre-prison characters.

I would dearly love to know more about these cases but privacy dictates details can never be released.

But I don't see 8 cases in 6 months as a rod to use on the back of people doing extremely difficult work.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

OIA response publishing - MSD lagging behind

Government departments have to make OIA responses public.

MSD has fallen off not posting anything since September 2018

Treasury is keeping up their latest posted is June 24 2019.

Corrections latest is also September 2018.

Now I have to go looking in places I don't normally lurk.

The Ministry of Health is doing well, particularly well, with an up-to-date concise display of information.

So is Education.

So what's with MSD in particular?

It has the largest expenditure of any government department and as such, impacts on thousands of lives.

Seems in keeping with their general philosophy of loafing off. Not really trying to get people into work. Not really trying to get fathers to take responsibility for their children. Not really trying to get clients to turn up for appointments.

Hoped the Minister would be pensioned off today but no such luck.

Monday, June 24, 2019

There will be war

Between them, the risk averse and the environmentalists are quite determined to severely reduce the quality of our lives to preserve the quantity.

The closure of amenities such as the Wellington Public library has a huge negative impact on thousands of regular users. Some of those people virtually lived there through the winter months. The church my husband infrequently attends in Eastbourne has been closed down due to earthquake risk. The Naenae pool which is quite iconic to those of us who grew up anywhere in the Hutt Valley and the backbone of Naenae's economy is closed until further notice. We've lost cinemas. Rising insurances due to earthquake risk (which are more real than rising seas at this stage) rob us of money we might spend on other pleasures - then again they might not if there is bugger all left to spend the disposable dollar on.

The environmentalists - AKA the climate-crisis calamitists - are steadily restricting dog exercise areas and ostracizing cats. At the same time SAFE - animal rights activists - would have horses become extinct as they try to shut down racing and rodeo. Perhaps that meshes in nicely with the other environmentalist - the vegan, who wants us all to desist with our love of meat and dairy. One even tried to explain to me why cheese is addictive and I should wean myself off it.

Need I mention cars, cabin cruisers in the sky, cheap clothes, cows, coal....and children?

Going childless is now the new demand from the environmentalists. The very, very best way to save the planet (with nobody left to inhabit it anyway). I expect no grandchildren.

But this morning I flew into an apoplexy. There will be war. I am now under notice that "companion pets are looking more and more like a selfish and unnecessary extension of a carbon footprint we should be going all out to reduce."

What is the vision of these guilt-tripping oppressive obsessives? A world where ageing childless pet-less people  can only go where their legs carry them (with no four-legged friend in tow)? Can only eat what they can grow from soil and barely heat their tiny houses?

No thank you. You can keep your horrid hands off my beloved dog. She is saner, more tolerant and infinitely better company than any grim and glum greenie. She stays.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Leaving a benefit lifts income but not life satisfaction

Which is probably a key finding for explaining long-term benefit dependency.

From a sample of 423 people, incomes and the life satisfaction ratings are plotted in the 150 days before and after leaving a benefit:

What the heck is going on at WINZ?

What the heck is going on with WINZ?

According to advice given to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group in February 2019:


Obviously here will be a time lag between writing the statement and publication but we can only assume that the percentage may now be as low as 10%??


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Hood Aerodrome not

Have been following the horrible news today of  two light aircraft colliding just south of Hood Aerodrome in Masterton. I was flying there at the club a couple of years back and thinking one of the planes is the one I flew. It's not looking good. Tragic for the families.

But whoever put up the following photo is clueless. Someone who has never been south of Auckland perhaps:

Update: Corrected now

Friday, June 14, 2019

Outrageous lie from Tariana Turia

Dame Tariana Turia was interviewed by Ryan Bridge on Magic TalK yesterday evening regarding the removal of Maori children by Oranga Tamariki. Her words:

Dame Tariana calls this "overkill", and disputes Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry of Māori Development)'s statistics that Māori children are six times more likely to die from abuse and neglect than non-Māori."The stats aren't telling us that," she says. "In the last few years since 1993, we have had 83 non-Māori children killed, we have had 17 Māori children die, so the fact of it is this is an overkill when it comes to Māori families. Now if you don't want to call it racism, you can call it what you like."


Slightly muddied by the fact that the first set represent children under 15 and the second set, children under 19, combined they show that a total of 105 children (or youth) lost their lives in CAN (Child Abuse or Neglect) deaths over the 14 year period and 51 percent were Maori.

I take no pleasure in these stats but Turia needs pulling up.

Monday, June 10, 2019

How do lies like this happen?

Last week it was reported locally that a Dutch teenager was assisted to end her life. This was grasped by the end of life bill opponents in this country. I heard a little of the discussion on Magic Talk and turned it off tired of hearing people who want to run my life when I am quite happy to leave them be.

As it happens the report was incorrect. The girl died because she refused to eat and drink. Not uncommon for anorexics. She had been rejected from an end of life medical centre.

A little more searching answers my own question (and I've updated my original link). It appears a suspect source promulgated the original news story.

"According to multiple sources at British national newspapers, news outlets were alerted to the story by the newswire Central European News, which specialises in supplying unusual and quirky foreign stories to English-language news outlets.

CEN, which has previously been accused of providing unreliable information, did not immediately return a request for comment."

"Strong economies create wellbeing, not government"

From a plethora of commentary on the well-being budget this is my pick. The author, Bruce Cotterill, is unknown to me but that doesn't matter.

"The Wellbeing Budget left me uninspired and disappointed.

Don't get me wrong. There have been big allowances made for improving mental health services, which are long overdue. A substantial investment into the hospitals of our growing population is a good thing too.

It's just that when it comes to government services, and health in particular, I'm not convinced that much of the new money will get to the patients, and the others that need it.

To me, critical to well-being is a society where people are able to have aspirations and the education to support those goals.

It also means economic growth powered by business and industry that's supported by global demand for the goods and services we produce.

When business is growing and people are capable, we get a society that looks after itself.

Against that background, the trouble with the budget announcements is that we just parked another raft of expensive ambulances at the bottom of the cliff.

In other words, while I don't want to diminish the real needs in terms of mental health for example, the budget focus seeks to help those who have developed mental health problems, rather than stopping those problems from occurring.

Firstly, governments throwing a lot of money around is a inefficient way to get things done.

The trouble with most of this spending is that a lot of it will be chewed up with establishment costs and bureaucracy.

By the time they set up a couple of new departments within various ministries, design a new logo and letterhead, lease some offices and refit them, and establish the ministerial reporting lines, there could be little left for those who need the help.

What if we put some funding into ambulances at the top of the cliff?

We can fix a lot what's wrong, or even stop some mental health issues from occurring in the first place, by building an economy that is aspirational and growth-minded.

The foundation of doing so is education.

But education is a mess. It's been under-invested for a long time and it's starting to show. Principals are protesting at Government induced curriculum changes. Teachers are striking aggressively for higher pay.

Uninformed students who have been brainwashed by the liberal left are striking too for causes that many don't understand.

Imagine a society where all our kids – not just the privileged few – left our schools informed, educated and aspirational. And then imagine if those aspirations were met by a business community with equally passionate ambitions, and with a need to take on the educated talent on offer.

I spoke to someone who works close to the mental health sector.

She said that "too many kids leave school, or one of the myriad of underperforming tertiary skills development programmes, without the prospect of work".

Many can't get a job. Those that can, often only get something part-time, usually in retail or fast food, with no real prospects.

The trouble with those employers is they only call you when they need you. So, these kids sit around not knowing whether they will be required or not.

Often, they're not, and a feeling of unworthiness can quickly creep in.

Idle minds turn their attention to other pursuits, booze and drugs included. You can see where mental health difficulties can start.

If those kids have somewhere to go, a place that needs the skills and ideas they have developed, they will feel worthy indeed.

Our economy suffers from having a plethora of businesses doing low value stuff at a low level of productivity.

We continue to export logs with the bark on while we import kitset timber furniture or modular houses.

If you have the luxury of owning a house, and you need new window frames, just ask why they will take 12 weeks to be delivered.

It's because they're made overseas. And this is a country that exports timber. Lots of it. How stupid is this?

This need to build a productive economy is where governments, and the Budgets they so willingly trumpet, should start, but often fail.

Let's get education working. Build kids up. Make them believe in goals and aspiration. Feed them accurate information on the state of the world and give them the skills to participate in that world. Enable them to chase and achieve their dreams.

And then let's support and build a business community that can take on those youngsters, give them a career, encourage their greatness and celebrate what they can achieve.

Wellbeing doesn't happen because governments throw money at underprivileged minorities. Wellbeing happens when you create a society and an economy that enables people to help themselves."


Bruce Cotterill is a company director and advisor to business leaders. He is the author of the book, "The Best Leaders Don't Shout". www.brucecotterill.com

Friday, May 31, 2019

"Sign of hopelessness"

This was in yesterday's DomPost. Most columns these days I scan or lose interest in rapidly. I'm not sure if that's a fault with me or the writers. Maybe a bit of both. But this one gripped me; made me profoundly sad. It's written by court reporter Marty Sharpe whose writing has touched a chord with me before.

No more Super for non-qualifying spouses

Below is a post I wrote in 2015:

Most people think you have to be 65 to qualify for NZ Super. But there is a group of individuals who receive Super as 'non-qualified' recipients. A minority are over 65 and don't meet necessary residency qualifications but almost 12,000 are under sixty-five; 3,689 are under 60.

Generally the male turns 65 and can reject the single rate ($345.72 net weekly) for two married rates (2 x $273.82 net weekly or $547.64 combined). The decision to include or exclude  lies with the Superannuitant. The effect is the government has to pay 58% more.

An OIA supplied the numbers at December 2014:

88 percent of non-qualifying spouses are female.

Here's the ethnicity breakdown:

It appears only partners in marriage or civil unions can receive the 'non-qualified' payment. That's borne out by the ethnicity breakdown. Maori have a  low marriage rate.

At the same date there were 650,636 Superannuitants aged 65 and over.  So just under 2 percent have a non-qualified spouse.

Annual payments to non-qualified spouses amount to $133 million.

Now that mightn't be a big deal against the total Super bill, but significant anomalies are occurring.

1/ For the purposes of an unemployment or sickness benefit, the law similarly recognises marriages and civil unions. However it also recognises de facto relationships. How long before under 65 year-old de facto partners of Superannuitants start pushing for Super payments?

 2/ In the case of unemployment or disability, the rate for two partners is exactly half of the single rate. For non-qualifying partners of Superannuitants the payment is 79 percent of the single rate. How long before partners of unemployed or disabled beneficiaries under 65 start challenging on the basis of discrimination? 

Beneficiary advocates are notoriously active so it surprises me that this hasn't already become an issue.

Perhaps most people aren't aware that under 65s can collect Super via their 65 or older husband (or more unusually, wife)?

Would appreciate hearing from readers whether they were aware of this. A simple 'yes' or 'no' would be fine.

Yesterday the government announced:

From 1 July 2020, the Government is closing the non-qualified partner provision, and removing the direct deduction of a government-administered overseas pension received by a superannuitant’s partner from that superannuitant’s NZ Super or the Veteran’s Pension...
The changes reflect society today. In most households both partners work. There is no longer a ‘principal breadwinner’ whose retirement marks the retirement of both partners.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Paying for three Labour bribes

(Left click to enlarge)


Labour's universal bribes - Winter Energy and Best Start - account for almost $1 billion by 2023

Family Tax Credit ballooned by 39% in 2019 due to Families Package

Paid Parental Leave  reaches $500m in 2023 extending from 14 to 18 weeks initially and shooting up to 26 weeks in 2020

(All dependent on Labour winning next election of course though who would put money on National abolishing the bribes?)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The vilification of landlords

Yet another story in stuff about the woeful circumstances of a tenant because of the implied greed of landlords. As one person comments these "endless articles blaming landlords"  don't help anyone. Landlords are not raking it in.

 "As shown in Figure 1.3 and Appendix Table 3 rental investment yields have fallen gradually from 6% to 7% in 1997 to 3.5% to 5% in 2017. Such rates of return are now below mortgage interest rates and are close to low-risk deposit rates."

The 2018/19 yields will fall even lower as the current government imposes greater regulation and significant increased costs. Insurance and rates only go up.Yields at this level suggest that rents are not unfairly or unreasonably high. In fact they are too low. I would suggest that at least some landlords are holding rents down to keep good tenants.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Marilyn Waring was bullied and became one

Marilyn Waring keeps popping up on the back of her new book.

I was speaking at a conference, my topic being the US Welfare Reforms and what NZ could learn from them. Just a couple of minutes into my presentation Marilyn Waring put her hand up. I had to stop. She said, "This isn't working for me." I can't remember how I responded. Probably just barreled on. Later she had another go and I remember now what it was about.

Here's a post I wrote in 2013.


After years of trying to tell people that sole parents spend many, many years on benefit I see MSD has just released a statement containing this:

"...sole parents spend an average 15.8 years on benefit with a lifetime cost of $234,000."

I have repeatedly talked about Professor Bob Gregory's Australian research which found sole parents spend an average of 12 years on welfare not including benefits they may move to when they no longer had dependent children.

People have derided me for it in public forums. For instance Marilyn Waring sneeringly telling an audience I had included time spent on Super. Time and again politicians, welfare advocates, bloggers etc have sought to convince the population that the average time spent on the DPB is, most commonly, only about 3 years. They look at the available data but don't understand it.

Waring was a Professor of Public Policy at the time. Essentially it was her way or the highway and she plenty of fellow travellers. Their strategy then was to shut down by discrediting what they didn't like. And it continues today. My opposition to the DPB would possibly be classified as hate speech by some.

But I shake my head when I hear Marilyn Waring talking about the bullying she took. She knew how to dish it out.

David Seymour's response to Newshub...

...which they refused to publish. If you haven't already seen it at Kiwiblog here it is:

David Seymour on free speech

“Let it be known, the public beating has not gone out of fashion.” So goes the quote from the movie Thank You for Smoking, as politicians attack the wildly unpopular protagonist, a tobacco lobbyist.

I’ve found those words to be true over the past week and it has strengthened my belief in the importance of freedom of expression.

To recap, I was asked about Green MP Golriz Ghahraman’s stance on free speech. In her own words “it is vital that the public is involved in a conversation about what speech meets the threshold for being regulated, and what mix of enforcement tools should be used.”

I believe that such an idea, and by extension politicians who promote it, is a danger to our free society. When asked about Ghahraman’s position, in the middle of a 15-minute radio interview, I responded that I thought she was a ‘menace to freedom.’

What has followed has been extraordinary. It has been a lesson in how beat-ups and witch-hunts occur, and why it’s so important that we retain laws that allow us to express ourselves freely. By Tuesday afternoon, I was being asked by media if I was responsible for Ghahraman requiring a security detail. It was clearly a rhetorical question.

Politicians, journalists and other establishment figures have lined up to denounce my comment.

National’s position is that being nice to people who threaten free speech is more important than defending freedom itself. The Greens have said it’s my fault that a few nutcases are threatening an MP. The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians wrote, asking me to apologise for my comment. I should have known it was not a sincere gesture because the letter was duly released to the media who happily published it with barely a response from me. Other women MPs told me they’d known nothing about it. Surprisingly, Trevor Mallard went on TV and said I was a bully. The Speaker is supposed to be Parliament’s neutral referee.

A number of journalists have attacked me. The media should be the loudest cheerleaders for freedom of expression. Their job relies on freedom of expression, and freedom and democracy rely on the media doing their job.

Were it not for ACT, Parliament would be sleepwalking towards tighter speech laws. The media wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Only a few brave academics might raise their heads above the parapet.

There is something not right about this situation. If my comment endangered Ghahraman, then the response of media and politicians has multiplied its airplay exponentially. That response has been driven by the very people accusing me of endangering Ghahraman.

Because I do not think anyone should be endangered for engaging in political debate, I am reluctant to respond any further, but it’s difficult when the very people who say they’re concerned are using the situation to attack me politically. After all, the media cited a ‘source,’ then Ghahraman herself, when reporting the new security arrangements and attributing them to me.

My detractors believe that expressing a genuinely held view on an important issue makes me responsible for threats of violence. They are wrong. My comments do not come close to giving me such responsibility. And the current law is easily on my side.

This belief absolves the real perpetrators – those making the threats – of responsibility. It also introduces the worrying implication that some MPs are unable to fully participate or be criticised because there are violent threats. It’s a belief that allows violent thugs to set the agenda.

The response to my comment proves we cannot trust government to enforce hate speech laws. Imagine if the state had even greater powers to punish speech at its disposal. Some state agency would now be using that power to investigate and punish a sitting MP’s genuinely-held views.

Hate speech laws turn debate into a popularity contest where the winners get to silence views they don’t like by using the power of the state. Tighter restrictions on speech can only mean giving some agency the power to punish people for saying things that do not incite harm but are merely offensive or distasteful. In other words, what you can think is determined by what is popular.

ACT will continue to defend the critical principle that nobody should ever be punished by the power of the state on the basis of opinion.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

State house waiting list more than doubles in three years

When people apply for social housing or to move to another social housing property they go on the Social Housing Register. June quarter 2018 statistics have just been released. Official reasons for the increase are listed below.

The waiting list has more than doubled in 3 years.

The increase in demand can be contributed to a number of factors:
• Public awareness of support available through increased media and stakeholder engagement activities,
• Increasing financial barrier and the impact of aging have meant that exit rates from public housing have been falling steadily,
• Tenancy Reviews have not yet resumed and the number of tenancies ending influences the number of available public houses

Translated as, renting a state house is much cheaper than renting a private sector property so more people are staying put and nobody is compelling them to move on.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Big jump in working-age welfare spending

"The grey columns show historical spending, and the dark blue columns show forecast spending. Since 2002 working-age welfare spending (including main benefits, Working for Families tax credits, and supplementary and hardship assistance) has increased in dollar terms. Part of the increases after 2005 can be attributed to the introduction of Working for Families, and from 2008 to 2010 the impact of the Global Financial Crisis (and domestic economic downturn) can be seen to have increased pending (as unemployment rose).
Between 2010 and 2016 overall welfare spending fell slightly, reflecting the economic recovery and potentially the impacts of welfare reforms, and changes to Working for Families that kept spending and recipient numbers relatively flat. The increased welfare spending forecast from 2018 onwards is largely the result of the Families Package changes (increases to the FTC, AS, OB/UCB and FCA and the introduction of WEP and BSTC)."

The above is from one of the background papers provided to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.

(WEP = Winter Energy Payment and BSTC = Best Start Tax Credit. Yes, you can receive a tax credit without actually ever paying any tax).

NB Hats off to whoever wrote that background paper. Simple, concise and thorough.

One in 12 doctors publicly say no to assisted suicide

A full page ad in today's DomPost (so possibly in other major dailies) features the names of 1,000 doctors who say no to assisted suicide. To be fair, here is their message.

For context there are 12,000 practising registered doctors in New Zealand.

Monday, May 20, 2019

50 years of fighting family violence

1970s Feminists started to pressure govt to recognise domestic violence as a public concern - not private. The first Women's refuges were established. Their collective body started to seek legislation, research and greater funding for the protection of women which the Social Welfare dept partially provided.
1981 Committee on Gangs - subsidies for rehab for a range of 'difficulties'
1982 Domestic Protection Act introduced non molestation orders. Emphasis still on private resolution and counselling. Low police priority
1983 subsidized emergency housing for street kids.
1985 new funding for those working with violent men on anger management and alcohol treatment; and to victims
1987 Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into Violence recommends domestic violence be treated as a crime. Police adopted a pro-arrest  Domestic Dispute Policy
1991 Hamilton Abuse Intervention Pilot Programme places family violence in the 'power and control' context rather than isolated incidents of anger and frustration. Suspected abusers arrested without complaint and compulsory re-education to address abusive behaviours
1994 Prevention of family violence identified by MSD senior staff as highest priority
1995 Domestic Violence Act definition broadened to include psychological and sexual abuse
1996 Statement of Policy on Family Violence introduced safety and protection needs of young child. Growing awareness of inter-generational violence. Breaking cycles of violence needed early intervention. Welfare to Well-being to promote the strengthening of families
1999-2002 CYF funding increase by 50%
2002 'Te Rito' a five year action plan to address family violence
2003 Care and protection Blueprint
2005 Family and Community Services FACS saw 600 separate contracts funded including family violence education, early intervention and prevention providers
2005 Budget funded 45 full-time child advocates
2006 Taskforce for Action on Family Violence allocates $11 million for nationwide 'its not ok' campaign
2007 Pathway to Partnership injection of $20.4 million to child and family service providers
2008 $446 million (for 4 years) for essential services with an initial focus on family violence and early intervention
2017 Budget extra $37.2 million for family violence and  $434.1 funding the development of the Orangi Tamariki
2019 $320 million on a package of initiatives aimed preventing family and sexual violence and breaking the cycle of violence.

So is this latest initiative aimed at a "violence-free Aotearoa New Zealand" finally going to do it?

(Summary complied largely from Tim Garlicks history of Social Developments.)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Does Winston believe the PM?

RNZ reports:

Ms Ardern said 1,000,000 people - including 300,000 children - were victims of family and sexual violence each year in New Zealand.

I expect these eye-watering statistics come from the Victims of Crime Survey which estimates the level of reports NOT made to police. Otherwise, the usual stat we hear about is the 120,000 plus call-outs to family violence incidents police make annually.

Funnily enough just last week Winston Peters was rubbishing this survey. I wonder if Winston believes the PM?

"Political Correctness is Destroying Philadelphia"

Sometimes it feels as if I am living in a world where up is down and black is white...though I don't think I can say that last bit any more.

A brief but shocking reminder of the ideology infecting the developed world, not just America. For the record I believe in 'traditional values'. That doesn't mean that I didn't also spend much of my younger life questioning and rejecting them.I still don't 'respect' authority and see nationalism as just another form of collectivism. But in time it became apparent to me why family values and acquiring a work ethic are vital. In any case, if people disagree, and they are free to, I don't expect to be persecuted for saying what I think.

Equally nihilistic is a story out of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. On Aug. 9, 2017, tenured Penn Law professor Amy Wax and University of San Diego School of Law professor Larry Alexander co-authored an opinion piece titled “Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.”
Its thesis was that the rejection of American bourgeois middle-class culture is the primary reason for most social ills in America today:
[American] culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.
Within a few weeks, a petition was signed by 4,000 people calling for Wax’s dismissal, and the dean of Penn Law, Ted Ruger, wrote an op-ed in The Daily Pennsylvanian, ostensibly about Charlottesville but really about Wax, in which he implied her views were “divisive, even noxious.”
Most significantly, he wrote, “It is important that I state my own personal view that as a scholar and educator I reject emphatically any claim that a single cultural tradition is better than all others” (referring to Wax’s position that those bourgeois values are superior values).

Friday, May 17, 2019

Further on the Privacy Commissioner's inquiry into MSD practice

Further to yesterday's post I've done some more reading. The following (you will have to enlarge it to read or refer to p11 here) is the model that MSD uses to investigate reports of fraud.

The ministry investigates between 2300 and 5100 reports a year. When a report is categorised as 'high risk' (which is calculated from the amount of information the person alleging fraud can supply) it is referred to the investigation team.They assess whether informing the beneficiary of the investigation would prejudice the case eg parties start colluding. If the answer is 'yes' they issue  requests for information from third parties.

MSD began to do this more frequently in 2012. Historically in 95 percent of cases beneficiaries did not directly provide the information requested within a specified time-frame.

The Privacy Commissioner is unhappy with the frequency of the bypass of seeking information from the beneficiary first. He wants it stopped, or to be precise has recommended, "MSD immediately cease its blanket application of the ‘prejudice to the maintenance of the law’ exception when issuing section 11/schedule 6 notices."

I would question the use of the term 'blanket application'. His inquiry reads:

The Ministry categorises fraud allegations as low, medium or high risk using the DST. The Ministry has said that after the practice change in 2012, only high-risk cases were deemed to come within the prejudice to the maintenance of the law exception, even though policy documents from 2012 suggest that the exception could be applied to all fraud investigations. In either case, this meant that the Ministry authorised and encouraged investigators to go straight to third parties for information using their compulsion powers, rather than approach the beneficiary first.

In a nutshell the commissioner wants beneficiaries suspected of fraud accorded more privacy.

His note to editors reads:

The Privacy Act 1993 enables agencies to collect, use and disclose information that is necessary and proportionate to their lawful requirements. The Act provides that, in general, information should be collected from an individual directly.
Section 11 of the Social Security Act 1964 provides a mechanism by which the MSD can compel information from persons other than the individual. Before exercising this power, however, MSD is required in the first instance to seek the information required from the individual directly, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that this would ‘prejudice the maintenance of the law’.
In my view discouraging  investigators from going directly to third parties (in high risk cases) will make benefit fraud easier. And that development will be consistent with the general approach this government wants to take. For example no longer requiring mothers to name the fathers of their children for the purposes of seeking child support (starting next year) and non-application of other sanctions (already happening).

This is a simplified reading and description of the situation. I stand to be corrected.