Friday, August 07, 2020

Another graphic illustration of Labour's achievements

Another graphic illustration of Labour's achievements, the Housing Register, previously known as the state house waiting list:

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Have a baby every three years and you'll never have to get a job

National's 'subsequent child' policy said a woman who has another baby on welfare would still have work obligations when that child turns one. It wasn't discouraging the habit though because seven years after implementation (in 2019) 6,000 babies were still  being born onto an existing benefit.

But a war isn't abandoned just because a battle is lost.  You mount another battle, a different strategy.

Not this government. They simply surrendered, held up a white flag saying, "Have a baby every three years and you'll never have to get a job."

Labour says this is 'kind' to mothers who should not be expected to work in the first 1,000 days of their babies life. A luxury denied to mothers who return to work to pay mortgages and taxes. Stuff reported:

ACT employment spokeswoman Nicole McKee, who is a candidate for the party outside Parliament, said Labour was “promoting welfare as a lifestyle option and will harm kids in benefit-dependent households”.

“Many couples wait to start families in order to ensure they can afford to feed, clothe, house and support their children. Those couples who wait and plan are being forced to subsidise those whose lifestyle is dependent on welfare,” she said.

But consider this also. 

Children born in 2010, whose caregiver spent more than 80% of their next five years on a benefit, would be 38 times more likely to experience maltreatment by age two than those with no benefit history. 

This 'kick-start' sends children off on a downward spiral. 

Most of the mothers having babies on welfare are 'single' and disproportionately Maori.

Thanks to  Sensible Sentencing Trust research into the sentencing notes of 100 male offenders over 18 who have committed serious crimes- Murder, Manslaughter, Rape, Sexual Assault - we now know that most were brought up by a single mother or had migrated into the care of grandparents or OT.

The Labour/Green ideology does not value stable two-parent families despite eons of evidence proving they are good for children.

It appals me that not only do they blindfold themselves to the facts but barge off pigheadedly in the opposite direction. And the Children's Commissioner support for this latest move utterly dismays.


Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The unrepresentative unemployment rate

According to Statistics NZ the June quarter unemployment rate dropped to 4%

These figures are derived from a 15,000 household survey and extrapolated.

ACTUAL numbers on the combined Jobseeker benefit and Covid Income Relief Payment at July 24, 2020 are 212,397.

A couple of reasons the numbers are so different are:

1/ Someone working just a few hours is not defined as 'unemployed' in the survey but can qualify for the Jobseeker benefit

2/ Someone who has been made redundant and receiving the Covid Income Relief Payment temporarily might not be looking for work right so is also not defined as 'unemployed' in the survey.

Then there is the not inconsequential matter of the 452,425 currently employed on a wage subsidy...

Exceptional turn out for ACT's Wellington launch

I've been around ACT for a long time. If anything convinces me the momentum building in the polls is real, the turn-out at the Wellington launch last night did. It was also an unusually young crowd for ACT. I talked to a young women who'd driven down from Wanganui with her partner who hadn't even been born when I first took an interest in the party. 

The highlight for me was 27 year-old Brooke van Velden. I'd never met her or heard her speak and she impressed me immensely. Quietly spoken, just the right measure of emotion, compelling content and an easy presence, she strikes me as a safe pair of hands. And David Seymour has come a long way from the youth wing of ACT. He's an accomplished, quick and entertaining speaker handling audience questions with candour and good humour.

Just a brief report as I can find no other in the media although I believe some journalists were in attendance.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

ACT supporters "sceptical about the state generally"

Apparently, a Stuff-Massey University survey of voters showed:

ACT voters, for instance, while saying that they felt safe in their own neighbourhood, were more likely to say the police were not doing a good job at protecting communities.

“If you’re an ACT Party supporter, you’re very sort of sceptical about government generally and about the state generally. And so you're more likely, I think, to give any agency of the state a negative rating.”

 Back in June I wrote a post about how the police failed to resolve 87% of property crimes within the year. That fact is from their own annual report. Does that represent a police force "doing a good job of protecting communities"?

In May I wrote a post about how the number of prisoners on remand has doubled. The justice system is not functioning properly.

Those are just two recent instances of my skepticism about state agencies. 


Saturday, August 01, 2020

Jobseeker numbers were on the rise well before Covid

Since Labour took office the number of people on the Jobseeker benefit has risen steadily in spite of the reported low unemployment rate. I've blogged numerous times about the divergence. The following just-released MSD graph displays it starkly. The blue line provides the source of NZ's official unemployment rate. It continued a broadly downward trend after 2017 whereas the red line starts increasing.

The point is that Labour will blame high Jobseeker numbers on Covid but that's only partly true. 

The upward trend pre-existed the economic response to the virus.

A changing picture

JS-WR = Job Seeker Work Ready

Thursday, July 30, 2020

On the 'subsequent child' policy in parliament today

Dialogue in Parliament today with my italicised comments interspersed:

Question No. 5—Social Development
5. WILLOW-JEAN PRIME (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made about putting children first as part of the Government's welfare overhaul?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Yesterday, I announced that this Government is putting children first and making our welfare system fairer by removing the punitive subsequent child policy. The subsequent child policy was introduced in 2012. The policy has meant that parents who have a subsequent child whilst on a benefit have work obligations imposed on them earlier, from when their youngest child is just one year old, and, depending on the age of their next oldest child, this can also affect their eligibility for the sole parent support benefit. This is a policy that has furthered inequities in the welfare system for parents and their children, undermined the value of parenting, and exacerbated stigma and stress for many families.

Willow-Jean Prime: What difference will this make for parents and children?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: The subsequent child policy has a disproportionate effect on Māori women. 

Most children being added to an existing benefit are Maori. That has long been the case.

By removing the policy, we can further our commitment to improving outcomes for Māori and valuing the role of carers, who are predominantly women. 

The research resoundingly shows children born onto a benefit have poorer outcomes. Condoning - even encouraging this occurrence - will not improve "outcomes for Māori".

The first 1,000 days of a child's life are critical for their long-term development. It is not fair that these children might not be given the same time and support simply because they were born while their parents were on a benefit. 

Most children today do not have the luxury of 1,000 days with their mothers. To buy a home requires two incomes.  Prospective mothers and fathers plan around this reality and wait to have their children hence the ever-increasing average age of first time mothers. They wait and save while people on benefits keep having kids.

Removing the subsequent child policy will give the estimated 9,000 parents affected the flexibility to be carers. However, the removal of this policy does not preclude parents who are able to work from getting access to the employment and upskilling support from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) that this Government has significantly bolstered investment in.

The "flexibility to be carers" comes at the expense of those taxpayers denying themselves the same luxury. And "this government" did not significantly bolster investment in access to employment support. Quite the opposite. It reduced case manager engagement at that level.

Last year the Expert Advisory Welfare Group pointed out, "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."

Willow-Jean Prime: Why is the subsequent child policy being removed?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: MSD has found no evidence that the subsequent child policy has positively impacted financial or social outcomes for those affected. This highlights, for me, how punitive policies, underpinned by judgment of those in our welfare system, are ineffective and only serve to stigmatise people who, in this case, have been disproportionately Māori women. 

The 'subsequent child policy' has not worked. Reckless or exploitative fertility continues. All that means is a different policy is required - not a surrender.

Under our confidence and supply agreement, this Government has committed to creating a fairer and better welfare system and removing excessive sanctions, and this—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think the member has answered the question, thank you.

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I'd like to finish my answer—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: I'm sorry, but I think the member has already answered the question—

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Point of order, Madam Speaker.


Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Actually, my word count is—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: I'm sorry, sit down. Sit down. It was a very long answer. It was a very simple question, much of which in the member's answer had already been stated. I think the answer has been completed.

I was left with an uncomfortable feeling that the Minister is framing the issue around Maori women to deliberately ward off criticisms of the policy repeal. It sets up the government to paint detractors as racist.

If the kids really come first their life chances should not be thwarted by the politics of race.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

More reversal of welfare reforms

What a lot of dangerous codswallop. Sepuloni says she is putting children first by removing National's 'subsequent child' policy.

I remember back in 2012, with the Nat's welfare reforms, there was a drive to get sole mothers in particular back into work because it was good for them and good for their children. Work gives adults a community, an independent income, self-esteem and discipline. And all of these are important for their children to experience firsthand.

So they increased work obligations in terms of how much and when (in relation to age of youngest child). 

But there was always the legitimate concern that some mothers would simply keep having children to avoid work. 

To that end they devised a policy whereby when a child was added, the existing work obligation kicked back in when that child turned one.

Now Sepuloni, no doubt 'encouraged' by the Greens, is doing away with it as part of the not-naming-fathers and indexing benefits to wages package.

There is a wealth of data analysis showing children added to benefits stay there the longest and have the worst outcomes. But she doesn't seem to have given the research a second thought.

Last year one in ten babies was added to an existing benefit at birth. For many of them it's a life sentence to neglect, abuse, transience, involvement with OT and eventually their own criminal offending and custodial sentences.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Aspiring SOAP candidate campaigning for a brighter future

Aspiring SOAP candidate campaigning for a brighter future:

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Friday, July 24, 2020

The generational voting divide

Ten days ago I wrote a post entitled "The Young Don't Vote"

Here are the latest enrollment stats:

And here are the actual voting percentages in 2017:

In raw numbers there are an estimated 450,500 18-24 year-olds with 277,151 or 61.5% enrolled at June 9. The figure will  increase but in 2017 the final enrollment number was 333,164 and 69.3% of them voted.

It is safe to say only between 4 and 5 out of all 18-24 year-olds vote.

For comparison 96% of voters aged 55 or older enroll and they turnout in the mid to high 80% range.

Chris Trotter is worried about this. He writes:

If voters aged between 18 and 25 registered and voted in anything like the same numbers as the centre-left’s core vote, Labour would long ago have become New Zealand’s “natural party of government”.
Pie in the sky. It is the young's prerogative to not vote if that's their inclination. I took no particular interest until I became a mother. People become increasingly involved as they age and are more invested, stable and life-experienced.

He is worried this divide opens the door for Collins. As my post suggested, I agree, but happily. And for those voting youth who are averse to National's new leadership team but not left-inclined, ACT fills the void. Collins v Ardern contrasted neatly by Seymour v Peters.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Two a penny scandals

My God I get sick of the 'scandals'. I put the word in inverted commas because who knows whether an action merits the word or not? Their occurrence is a plague across parties.

All I want is someone to tell their version of the truth directly and publicly. Politicians exist at our expense and our patronage.

But no. We get political management, employment law, the circling of self-interested wagons, despicable mental health excuses, all resulting in a vacuum fostering fertile imaginations and gossip.

While titillation and gratification consume and divert, we are being sucked down a debt vortex the likes of which we have never seen.


Isn't it intriguing that National AND Labour have suddenly become so solicitous of taxpayer's money:

“National’s policy is about fairness. Many Kiwis have only one or two overseas holidays in their lives. National won’t expect taxpayers to pay for other Kiwis returning from high-paying careers or expensive holidays in Europe,” deputy leader Gerry Brownlee said".
Fairness! That's opening a can of worms. Now what about taxpayer's funding universal winter heating payments, Super goldcards for the wealthy aged, Super for people who work, private schools where the wealthy send their children, etc. What else can we now expect?

It seems to me there are two quite different scenarios. New Zealanders returning home for the first time since Covid, often young and without means. And those who have chosen to leave NZ because the two week quarantine on re-entry is tolerable. There is a case for charging the second.

But I am opposed to people having to pay for their state-imposed isolation when they are returning because they have no choice. This could eventually apply to thousands of people currently supported by wage subsidies in Australia. 

If the collective demands protection from first-time returners they must fund their quarantine as part of the public health system.


Friday, July 17, 2020

Tale of two tenets

As the election looms, two minor parties, both likely to feature in the next parliament – ACT and the Greens – couldn’t be further apart in their tenets regarding welfare and child well-being.

Perhaps the single-most underrated and under-reported issue in New Zealand is the practice of adding children to existing benefits. Oodles is spoken and written about child poverty, particularly by the Prime Minister who appointed herself Minister of Child Poverty Reduction in 2017. But the fact that 6,000 children are added to an existing benefit and a further 3-4,000 are reliant on welfare by their first birthday never rates a mention. The numbers have varied only slightly over the past 30 years and persist at very high levels. One in ten babies goes home from hospital to a benefit- dependent family.

The links between welfare dependence from birth and poor, if not disastrous outcomes, have now been well-explored by institutions like AUT and Treasury. The latter identified 4 indicators:

1)    a finding of abuse or neglect;
2)    spending most of their lifetime supported by benefits;
3)    having a parent who’d received a community or custodial sentence; and
4)    a mother with no formal qualifications

Using retrospective data they were able to predict outcomes:

“Compared to children with none of the four indicators, children aged 0-5 years with two or more of the four indicators are:

– eight times more likely to have contact with Youth Justice services before age 18 (14% compared to 2%)
– three times more likely to leave school with no qualifications (36% compared to 13%)
– six times more likely to receive benefits for more than two years before the age of 21 (20% compared to 3%)
 – ten times more likely to spend time in jail before the age of 21 (6% compared to 0.6%)
– four times more likely to receive benefits for more than five years when they are aged 25-34 years (21% compared to 5%).”

72% of the children with all four indicators were Maori. These heightened risks lie at the heart of the country’s ongoing inter-generational failure.

It is a logical conclusion to draw that reducing the incidence of child benefit dependence is a desirable goal. But the PM doesn’t agree. And neither do the Greens. For them, increasing the income provided by benefits is the most important aim.

Labour has already headed down this road by substantially increasing child tax credits and introducing a whole new payment, Best Start, for children aged 0-2. The Greens want to develop on this by universalising and increasing Best Start to $100 weekly,  a $110 top-up for sole parents, and “no stand-down periods, no deduction of child support and no sanctions” (i.e. no individual  responsibility).

ACT, on the other hand, has firmly focused their policy on the phenomenon of children being born onto welfare and not infrequently spending their entire lives there. They point out that it isn’t acceptable for these families to keep having children when other families wait and sacrifice, and sometimes never have their own or additional children. More to the point, it is entirely unacceptable for children to be carelessly thrown into environments that harm them and rob them of their potential.

ACT’s policy says that if someone already on a benefit adds another child their benefit income will thereafter be managed. Rent and utilities will be paid direct, with the large part of the remainder of their benefit loaded onto an electronic card to be used in specified retail outlets. Work and Income already has the technology to do this. They operate income management for Youth and Young Parent beneficiaries in this fashion.

Under this regime children should be guaranteed a secure roof over their heads instead of the insecure transience resulting from unpaid rents, evictions and homelessness. Their schooling would be less interrupted with increased geographical stability. They should have adequate food in their tummies in and out of term time (not assured under school lunch programmes).  Their  mother may be encouraged to take advantage of the fully- subsidised, highly effective,  long-acting contraceptives now available, ameliorating the overcrowding which is a significant factor in New Zealand’s horribly high rate of rheumatic fever. Perhaps most importantly their parent(s) will actually decide working is a better option if they want agency over their income. There is a risk caregivers will try to supplement their incomes in other undesirable, illegal  ways but no policy is risk free, and this almost certainly already happens to some degree.

Increasingly throwing money at dysfunctional families provides no assurance parents will suddenly become better budgeters, or not simply spend more on harmful behaviours. Gambling and substance abuse don’t just hurt the parent. They hurt the child directly (damage in the womb, physical abuse or neglect under the influence) not to mention indirectly through parental role-modelling that normalizes bad behaviours, especially violence, to their children.

The two approaches to child benefit dependence are a world apart. One continues the ‘freedom’ of the adult to use taxpayer’s money as they wish; the other prioritizes the best interests of the child -their right to security, stability and safety – or, as ACT puts it, what the taxpayer thinks they are paying for.

The country cannot go on merely paying lip-service to the idea of ‘breaking the cycle’. Now is not the time for more of the same. More than ever New Zealand cannot afford the social cost and lost potential that occurs monotonously in an easily identifiable portion of every generation.

ACT and the Greens present very clear alternatives in their beliefs and policy, and while neither will form the next government on their own, either could be an influential part of it. One promotes the best interests of the child, while the other promotes the best interests of the so-called ‘grown-ups’ euphemistically called ‘caregivers’ – I know which one I will be supporting.

(First published at NZCPR)

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Broken benefit system?

Obviously the sharp increase in benefit numbers to 353,440 or 11.8% of the working-age population at the end of June is a result of the economic response to Covid.

However there are other factors contributing to increased numbers.

Firstly benefit cancellations for medical reasons have dropped right away. That means people are not getting fixed in the health system. The issue hasn't been getting a lot of coverage yet but the growth in waiting lists must be significant. Firsthand experience and plenty of anecdotal evidence tells me this is the case.

Secondly sanctions have been all but suspended due to resources going into processing new applications. With the Greens actively campaigning for sanctions to go permanently one wonders if they will ever be re-instated. Without sanctions there is no point in obligations. Without obligations the system is open slather.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The young don't vote

Not an excitable person by nature, I still managed to say out loud, walking on the beach with my dogs today, earphone in and listening to Magic Talk, "Bullshit."

Some panelist or commentator was saying that because Jacinda appeals to the young, National had to select a leader who could do the same.

Idiocy.  National should represent the values it traditionally has and appeal to the older voters that reliably go to the ballot boxes. Demographics are on their side. Proportionately the young vote less,  and their share of the electorate is shrinking proportionately.

Certainly, parties need to renew their voter base over time but right now, in these extraordinary times, that consideration is not a priority.

Pleased Judith Collins is new leader and I like Gerry as deputy.

Now we'll see how much real support there is for the political status quo.

(Written as an ACT voter).

A poverty of plain speaking never affected Judith Collins

Judith Collins has been in parliament for a long time and I have blogged about her for the duration. Not extensively but when I agreed or disagreed with her comments. She was, after all, National's spokesperson on Social Development from 2005-08. She once made a deliberately audible comment when I approached her at a welfare forum, "Here comes Lindsay Mitchell to tell me I am too soft on welfare." Didn't bother me bar I never saw myself as 'hard' on welfare. I just believed welfare was hard on kids.

But here's a relatively recent contribution (2016) that contains more than a kernel of truth. It's also a good example of why I wrote this morning, "...she says what she means and means what she says." The link is still live:

Reported on Radio New Zealand:

Ms Collins was challenged at the Police Association's annual conference in Wellington today by a delegate, who said poverty was making law enforcement harder.

The delegate said his officers had been very busy with gangs, which he said were often filled with people who had experienced poverty as children.

The government's approach to child poverty was criticised in a recent United Nations report, as well as by opposition politicians.

Ms Collins responded by saying the government was doing a lot more for child poverty in New Zealand than the UN had ever done.

In New Zealand, there was money available to everyone who needed it, she said.

"It's not that, it's people who don't look after their children, that's the problem.

"And they can't look after their children in many cases because they don't know how to look after their children or even think they should look after their children."

Monetary poverty was not the only problem, she said.

"I see a poverty of ideas, a poverty of parental responsibility, a poverty of love, a poverty of caring."

As the MP for Papakura, she saw a lot of those problems in south Auckland, she said.

"And I can tell you it is not just a lack of money, it is primarily a lack of responsibility.

"I know that is not PC, but, you know, that's me."

I see a poverty of plain speaking holding NZ back, badly, if the practice is not re-established. Collins could trigger its return.

Two minute Todd

Who knows what goes on in the National Party? Like most of the public I can do no more than speculate on the veracity of the reasons Todd Muller has given for resigning this morning. But I can limit my response to that perspective.

Todd tried too hard. I responded to his Te Aroha speech here concluding he was trying to play Jacinda at her own game. Too risky.

Consequently he never appeared to be 'his own man' and that is absolutely vital for a leader and someone trying to sell himself as such in extremely uncertain times.

If my sense of the mood is accurate, at least half the country wants a very different alternative to Labour. They are turned off by identity politics -  accusations of racism, sexism and ageism that know no bounds or definition. Witch-hunting Me Tooism. Ever increasing wealth redistribution to address 'inequality' when equality of opportunity has never been greater. The soaking of the public service in Maori spiritualism in a secular society. The obsession with diversity (which preempted Muller's second hiccough.) And the religion of climate change which wrongly insists unsettled science is settled.

Todd was either trying to tiptoe through this cultural minefield or is genuinely conflicted. Anyone who is a parent right now, especially of teenagers and young adults, faces the chasm in thinking between generations on multiple issues. And forget the media and your colleagues: your offspring can be the toughest critics to handle because you have to listen to them.

But who now?  Judith "Is there something wrong with being white?" Collins?

She's tough enough. Listening to her promoting her new book there is no sense of her wanting it but there is a strong sense of her not leaving politics any time soon. And there also appear to be a few scores she would like to settle, even if she can't directly.

She'd be my pick if for no other reason than she says what she means and means what she says.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Govt attacking 'traditional masculinity'

Extension of the government's 'It's Not OK' anti-violence strategy was released yesterday. The campaign has run since 2007 but it is now turning it focus wholly on 'gendered intimate partner violence.' Men as perpetrators.

Some extracts:
The campaign has re-set its strategic intent, with the next phase strengthening its focus on preventing violence by men, who generally cause most harm, with evidence suggesting gender inequities are a fundamental driving factor. 
Did they miss a word out? I would have prefaced 'harm' with 'physical' myself.
Factors associated with practice of violence
Women’s lack of autonomy and male dominance of decision-making in public life,
families and relationships.
Question: How many women do you know that 'call the shots' or 'wear the trousers' in their families? In my experience it's almost the norm. And that is not a slur on women.
The traditional societal construct of masculinity, and social norms around adhering to that construct, are identified as key factors in the prevalence of violence and a primary focus of this strategy...  Social norms that promote male domination, aggressive and stoic male relationships and acceptance and minimisation of violence against women have a strong influence on behaviours. These norms create an environment within which violence is condoned, enabled and promoted...There is a clear link between the more strongly held ideas of traditional masculinity and a greater likelihood of an individual man using domestic violence against women.
An end to traditional masculinity? An end to a man supporting and protecting his family?

The left has already gone a long way in this aim by robbing many men of the role of fatherhood. They are now actively encouraging mothers to not even name the fathers of their children. But maybe my idea of traditional masculinity is awry.

I grew up with three brothers and a Dad who was always there for me. They all embody my idea of traditional masculinity. Steady, stoic (is there something wrong with being stoic?), sensitive but not given to over-emotionalism, dutiful, good-humoured and loyal.

For balance the writers do add:
 Not all men are violent, and women can be violent too, but there is overwhelming evidence that family and sexual violence is largely gendered in terms of victimisation, perpetration and impacts.
There had to be a BUT.

Perhaps I shouldn't let this stuff bother me. Maybe it's about a community and culture I don't understand. But a gut feeling persists that government intervention only drives a wedge between men and women. For instance, with benefit-dependence dressed up as female financial independence, many boys have grown up in homes without fathers, exposed to disinterested non-fathers or their mother's anti-male attitudes. The wedge between male and female is driven yet deeper leading to a greater gulf in the next generation.

Here we are today. Feminists still waving the gender inequality banner as a reason for male violence when it's feasible that decades-long policy changes made in the name of feminism have actually fueled the problem.

And you know why we get all this tosh from the public service - yes, you are paying for it - Because of traditional masculinity. Thinking men just switch off, stolidly take it on the chin, and peacefully retreat a little more into their self-imposed quietude...

Monday, July 06, 2020

Politicising personal tragedy

My personalized latest e-mail from Jacinda says:
Over the last 15 months, we have been through a lot together - a terrorist attack, a volcanic eruption, a global pandemic and now its ensuing financial crisis - and I am truly thankful to each and every one of you for all you’ve done to support each other through difficult these times.
If I had personally experienced the terrorist attack or volcanic eruption - directly or through family - I'd be thoroughly pissed off with the universalizing of these events.

It diminishes the pain, the very private intense pain that was endured.

Jacinda is quite crude and cruel in her disregard for this.

She co-opts events for her gain.

I'd be ashamed to stand behind such a statement.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Highest dole number ever

There are now over 200,000 people on the Jobseeker/Covid relief payment. In absolute terms, a historical high.

In June 2010 there were 62,085 - the peak after the GFC

In June 1992 there were 170,367 - the peak after early 1990s recession

The last number represented 6.6% of the working-age population compared to 6.3% currently

(There may have been a higher quarterly number during 1992/93 but I've used June as the reference month.)

Now, there is another caveat. During the welfare reforms the Sickness Benefit was folded into the Jobseeker Benefit. Adjusting for that:

In June 2010 the combined total would be 120,550
In June 1992 the combined total would be 190,514

Lastly, today's Jobseeker also includes some sole parents with children older than 14 but I do not have sufficient information to make that adjustment.

As David Seymour pointed out today, it is a bleak milestone to pass.

"Babies lives matter"

How often is this 'lives matter' phrase going to be conveniently co-opted?

The latest version is from a group called Wahine Maori, a collection of high profile Maori women who continue to call for the resignation of the head of Oranga Tamariki and the Children's minister.

Seems Newshub is doing a hatchet job on Grainne Moss with lengthy investigations into her background and suitability to head up OT; complaints from current and former CYF/OT workers about the workplace culture, "bullying"  and fudging of stats. That is not an exhaustive list.

I am in no position to know the truth. Indeed individuals have their own 'truth'.

I don't implicitly trust journalists. Neither do I automatically trust  civil servants.

Perhaps the ongoing conflict is best summed up by these two views.

Head of OT responding to the Children's Commissioner investigation into the uplift of Maori babies:

“...although the role of the Children’s Commissioner is to support and advocate for the welfare of children, the report has focused on the experience of their mothers, and remains silent on the interest of their babies”.

And then, Mere Mangu, the CEO of the largest Iwi in Aotearoa, in an affidavit filed in the Waitangi Tribunal stated: “To me this statement demonstrates a very profound misunderstanding of our Tikanga and of the role of wāhine as mothers. It is of great offence to us that pēpi can be taken from their mothers in such callous, brutal and inhumane ways, let alone taken at all. In our tikanga, one cannot separate the interests of pēpi from the interests of their mothers. They share a sacred bond, which should not be so readily interfered with. They are intertwined biologically, spiritually, and by whakapapa.”

I wonder how long this standoff can continue?

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Support for Greens wealth grab contorted

From this morning's DomPost, here's the manager of the Auckland's Women's Centre supporting the Greens 'wealth reduction to increase welfare' policy:

If the Government is trying to break up relationships and keep us single, isolated and lonely, it could hardly have designed a more effective social security system than the current one.
If you lose your job and have a partner in paid full-time work, your Jobseeker entitlement is kore, zero, zilch, zip. Nothing. You and your partner are both supposed to be able to live on one wage, even if it’s the minimum wage.
The income support available for people in relationships is even worse than the dire levels the Government imposes on single people. If you have kids, you may get family tax credits, and if you’re “lucky” (i.e. without savings but still paying high rent), you may get some help with housing costs, but only if you meet strict criteria.
At the end of May there were 344,000 accommodation supplements being paid. Traditionally about 80% go to beneficiaries. Contrary to the writer's implication, most people on benefits get help with housing costs.

Here at Auckland Women’s Centre, we know of couples who can’t afford to keep living together so separate. Thus in one fell swoop, the Government causes heartbreak and worsens the housing crisis.Meanwhile, many sole parents (mostly women) are forced to forego the potential loving support of a partner, or risk not meeting their children’s basic needs...
 It is time to scrap this unfair policy that was designed over 80 years ago. The Greens' new income support policy would do that, and I hope we’ll see other parties also addressing this important issue in their announcements to come.
The Greens new policy will increase support for a sole parent by $110 a week and substantially increase child tax credits. That will incentivise couples to split up and single parents to stay single.
The right to individual entitlement is about women’s right to be financially independent. 
Reliance on the taxpayer is not financial independence.

There's a lot more bollocks about the "patriarchal society where economic scales are already tipped in favour of men", "the law doesn’t know anything about feminism", and "systems beyond the control of individuals: colonisation, structural racism and migrant worker exploitation."

Still it's not really her fault. You can't get through a degree in social work or social policy without being brain-numbed by this bullshit.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Stepfamily report gets a solid hearing

Peter Williams on Magic Talk picked up on my report and read it. Invited onto his programme at 9.30  this morning, I listened from the top of the hour  wondering what there would be left for me to say! He quoted from it extensively and I am eternally grateful to him. The calls started immediately and never let up through to noon.

Many people had a story and they didn't whitewash it. The family complexity outlined in the report was mirrored in the myriad of circumstances related. The caller just before me "personified the research findings" (as I pointed out) having traveled through step relationships from childhood to parenthood. Now on his own second go at parenthood, but with animosities with the ex (and ex's new useless partner) ongoing and various children suffering from these.

From being children of failed relationships to being being parents in failed relationships; the inter-generational link was very evident.

A single parent who had consciously decided to not repartner due to the difficulties she foresaw.

A grandparent raising grandchildren due to her own child's two failed  relationships.

A Maori kuia explaining whananga, trying to teach the young people ("we don't have a word 'step'") while giving unconditional love regardless of their mistakes.

A brief debate between callers about degenerating morality which gave pause for thought. Procreative morality has certainly slipped in respect of some fathers feeling no sense of responsibility for their offspring, especially on the back of Labour welfare reforms whereby mothers on a benefit no longer have to name them. Whereas other moral spheres have probably improved eg intolerance to domestic violence.

A wicked stepmother story featuring an ageing high profile father remarrying a much younger women who was determinedly keeping the father away from his sons and grandchildren, and succeeding for years.

A stepfather who had taken on two children who was being sued by the biological father because the stepfather wasn't giving him access - surprisingly, quite justifiably. Just so many convoluted scenarios.

But a general sense emerged that  greater commitment to their relationship was needed between couples. For their children's sake if not for their own. One woman said, "Fight it out, talk it out or cry it out." But make the relationship bigger and more important than the problem at hand.

Another said occasionally she loathed the sight of her husband but she understood that happiness comes in waves. It isn't there constantly. He held on to her when she was about to let go and vice versa.

My own oral contribution wasn't the catalyst. I'm a better writer than verbal communicator.

But it was massively rewarding just to get people talking publicly, sharing their experiences and most importantly, what they learned from them.

Someone will have connected with someone this morning and maybe somewhere a penny dropped.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

New report says NZ needs better data on stepfamilies

Many children’s lives today are marked by family turmoil. They live with parents who experience multiple relationship transitions leading to fractured family and friend networks, changes of neighbourhoods and schools. These children live with loss and torn loyalties which may affect them into adulthood. Yet, surprisingly little is known about the nature and parameters of the problem in New Zealand.

The Challenges Facing Children in Stepfamilies: What we know, don't know, and how to fill the gaps - a new report from Family First - gathers together local and international research into the experiences and outcomes for children in stepfamilies. The greater the number of transitions experienced, the worse the child outcomes tend to be. These include greater risks of poor educational achievement, poverty, behavioural problems, anxiety, early exit from home, poor adult relationships and incarceration.

Whereas early last century stepfamilies generally formed through remarriage after the death of a spouse, today de facto or marriage dissolution, or an early unintended birth to a single mother and later partnering, are more likely pathways. Rates of multi partner fertility (MPF) – men and women having children with more than one partner - are increasing internationally.

Report author Lindsay Mitchell was however frustrated at the lack of New Zealand data. "Unlike other English-speaking nations New Zealand does not collect information about stepfamilies in the national Census. Surveys and longitudinal studies provide some data but that is comparatively sketchy and dated.  Growing Up in New Zealand data shows that 17 percent of mothers experience 1-4 relationship transitions between pregnancy and when their child is 4.5 years. But this is an under-count due to sample attrition and methodology shortcomings."

To this end the paper makes four recommendations about how to collect better data using existing surveys and longitudinal studies in order to substantially improve our knowledge.

"We hope that a Prime Minister and government that have prioritised making New Zealand the 'best place in the world to raise children' will adopt these recommendations. Understanding what is driving children’s well-being (or otherwise) is fundamental to any country’s future. If there are shortfalls that can be made up, or circumstances that can be avoided, we can only go forward from a position of knowledge."

Monday, June 29, 2020

End of Life book cover example of the 'misinformation and emotion' it seeks to counter

A new book which discusses the End of Life Choice bill has been published. From the author:

"I did some research and the further I got into the issue the more I realised how intricate it is and how many levels there are to it. I came away with questions ... and there's so much misinformation and so much emotion out there, I think it's hard to find good information to make sure you can make a good choice - it's really to equip people to make good choices."

And there's a shining example of "misinformation and so much emotion" right there in the cover image, a seemingly healthy young women standing on a cliff-side contemplating jumping:

 Just google 'terminally ill cancer patient' to find hundreds of highly suitable, relevant images.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Greens: Increasing welfare with a wealth tax

The Green Party has released its welfare policy which substantially raises benefits, WFF, Best Start, and Student Allowances by introducing a 'wealth' tax set at 1% on net wealth over $1,000,000 and 2% at wealth over $2,000,000.

Earners will also pay more income tax at higher levels.

This is to fund "no stand down, no deduction of child support and no sanctions." The usual Green's no-holds-barred welfare policy. Metiria Turei will be cheering.

If you have a rental property on top of your freehold $1,000,000 home you are going to be taxed 1% on the value of that. So that'll take your yield down from maybe 4% to 3% - on top of all the extra costs imposed under the present government. If you've got a boat or a bach you'll be taxed on that.

Other assets included would be shares, bonds, business assets, and valuable artwork.

Elderly with high wealth but low income can defer the payment until death (like death duties).

They reckon the wealth tax will only affect the "top 6% of wealthiest New Zealanders."

They don't reference that figure and it sounds too low to me.

My numbers?

One out of ten for aspiration.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Student demographics

Just a post of general interest.

I was unaware of the large discrepancy between male and female students, with the female portion trending up.

Interesting too that the ethnic percentages are reasonably in line with population percentages - perhaps slightly under for Maori and Pacific given their young populations.

Overall you'd have to conclude that the student population is dominated by young white women.

Say no more.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Jobseeker numbers down?

When you hear that Jobseeker numbers are decreasing, be aware that many recipients are transferring to the new higher Covid-19 Income Relief Payment granted to nearly 7,000 between the 8th and 19th of June.

If CIRP was classed as a benefit - albeit temporary - there was a net gain of 4,743 in the period 8-19 June 2020

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Meaningless stats

A lot of statistics appearing in current news items paint an optimistic picture. Whatever the indicator (eg house sales, houses to rent, jobs advertised) the good news story is, that compared to April 2020 the increases are like 100% up. Wow! Well of course increases are impressive when compared to the month of lock-down. What I want to hear is how June 2020 compares to June 2019.

The following preface and graph doesn't provide year-on-year data but it does highlight my point:

Janet Faulding, General Manager SEEK NZ comments: “With the lifting of restrictions we have seen an increase in job advertising of 133.9% in the fortnight ended 14 June, compared to the average of the month of April.

Lawyer speaks against sexual violence bill

Andrew Little's Sexual Violence (Legislation) Bill, main sponsor Jan Logie from the Greens, has sort of snuck under the radar. But it jumped right back into my consciousness this morning when I read the following opinion piece in the DomPost:

As a young woman, I came to New Zealand eleven years ago from the Middle East to undertake my Master of Laws degree.
Early on I was struck by how rights and freedoms are so frequently taken for granted by those born in this country. Because I come from a part of the world with so few protections, fair trial rights that protect people accused of crimes - of any type - are particularly important to me.
Now as a defence lawyer, I feel compelled to explain the very damaging effects to those rights that the Sexual Violence (Legislation) Bill would inflict if enacted.
So what are fair trial rights? There are several, all protected in our Bill of Rights Act, and they include the right to be presumed innocent, the right to run an effective defence and the right to remain silent instead of having to help the prosecution prove your guilt. This bill would seriously violate each.

Unfortunately I cannot direct you to the Bills Digest because for some reason there is no parliamentary link.

But here is the final report of the justice committee.

Based on the first reading  it looks like National is largely supportive.

In my view the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of complainant's rights. I need add little more when Samira Taghavi covered these concerns so adequately suffice to say, I have written on a number of occasions about false rape complaints which have been well-documented over the years. It would appear that Judges will in future be required to instruct juries against "misconceptions about  the prevalence or features of false complaints."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Update on Loheni's clarion call

(This post updates yesterday's which you might need to read first)

Today Fellow National MP Alfred Ngaro says, 

“Yesterday after discussing the story of the murder of Crystal Lee Selwyn with my colleague Agnes Loheni, she turned to me and asked ‘what are you going to do about it?’”

“This is a truly confronting issue we face in our country and sadly this is not the first time one of our mothers has been lost to domestic violence.

“I’m calling on all men to rise up and march against the continuing violence we perpetuate against our wāhine.

“Men need to own this issue. We need to take the burden of addressing male violence off women who are currently shouldering this unfair load.

“Over the next few days I will be organising a day where we men can come out in our thousands to stand in solidarity with our women, our daughters, sisters, and mothers.

“It is time to take back the space for women to live safely and free from the fear of us.”

Goes from bad to worse. What ridiculous rhetoric.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Clarion call is emotional coercion

According to Agnes Loheni, National List MP, after another domestic murder of a female by a male,

"If you are a man stand up for the mums, the wives, the daughters, the grand-daughters in your lives and demand accountability of yourselves," she said.
"I challenge the men to organise the protest march against this death and all these deaths. I challenge our men to flood the streets of Auckland, Hamilton, and Wellington with as many people as have stood for George Floyd.
"I challenge the men to take over the organisations that work with intimate partner violence and take this burden off women who should not have to address your violence. It is your problem. 
Silence is assent tane ma."
Most of the people who read this blog are men. How do you feel about that?

I reject it. As an individualist I reject it on principle. This is yet another manifestation of a collective 'ism'  - sexism. How can racism be so wrong but sexism OK?

The vast majority of men are not violent.

So why by virtue of your gender must you own the problem? Worse, this clarion call that 'Silence is Assent' is a form of bullying, guilt-tripping and emotional coercion.

Shame on Agnes Loheni.

I understand how utterly devastating it is to imagine that child trying to defend his mother but her response is way off the mark.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Simpson Report overwhelmingly biased

Simpson's Health and Disability Review has just been released. I've only considered the executive summary. Because it immediately reeks of racial preoccupation  I searched the following descriptors.

The word 'European' appears once; 'Asian' appears 2 times, 'Pacific' 9 times and 'Maori' 145 times.

And here are just two quotes to give you a flavour of the recommendations:

"A new crown entity, Health NZ, should be established to lead delivery of health and disability services across the country. A Charter for Health NZ would be developed that sets out shared values and aims to guide the health workforce culture and behaviours.
Health NZ should be governed by a board of eight members and a Chair, with 50:50 Crown-Māori representation, with board membership drawn from DHB board members in each of the regions."

"Each locality should have an indicative budget based on the age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic deprivation of its population, which is transparent to the public. This would ensure services address local needs."

Apprenticeship reality

MSD surveyed business about the wage subsidies and got a 25% response. The results were released yesterday. This caught my eye:

The Wage Subsidy Scheme has enabled businesses to manage cashflow, retain staff & continue operating. They were less likely to use the subsidy to continue workplace training/apprenticeships.
Son two years into an apprenticeship was made redundant.  He's turning that into a positive but it does call into question Labour's much heralded investment into ... more apprenticeships. The $1.6b Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package .That was announced the day after he was let go. We just looked at each other and shook our heads.

Having seen the confirmation of the non-use of the wage subsidy to keep apprentices I suspect there are likely thousands of young people who've been let go from existing apprenticeships because of the Covid response. They are also most likely first in line to resume employment if/when the economy picks up.

Or the government pays an employer to hire a new apprentice and keeps paying the old apprentice the dole.

State interference in the economy to keep it artificially afloat never fails to produce distorted outcomes.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Muller's speech

The following passages are those that stood out for me from Todd Muller's speech in Te Puna today:

I joined the National Party, rather than the Labour Party, when I became active in politics in 1988.... because I did not agree with the speed and indifference with which Labour had gone about the economic reforms.
I was in for a bit of a shock when my own party took over in 1990 and moved even faster, allowing unemployment to reach 11 per cent in 1992 – the worst since the Great Depression, but a record that will probably be broken over the next year...I believe the speed and sequencing of the economic reforms did terrible harm to the institutions of our communities, and to far too many of our families...

I do not believe that previous governments, or the current Government, moved fast enough or boldly enough to address the social deficit, or help the underclass, or however you describe the deep-seated social problems we continue to see all around us.
[Social investment, whanau ora and the Living Standards Framework] were historic steps by the last National Government – but we did not put them in place as fast as we should have.
So too, I believe successive governments should have acted faster, and more boldly, to achieve stable policy on issues such as:
· Climate change [and water management]
It's an odd juxtaposition.

He leans very heavily on National's track record of economic management yet criticises past National governments for moving too fast and then too slow.

On the whole it seems a speech designed to 'not frighten the horses' but I found it overly long, and somewhat muddled in its attempts to be all things to all people. Especially on the subject of families. It was like listening to one of those symphonies which signals the crescendo, the finale and you feel slightly relieved but then ... it continues on.

It isn't a speech for me though. I'm a committed ACT voter. I'm also a 'policy voter' whereas Muller seems keen to sell himself to the 'personality voter' as a People's  Prime Minister who will be "kind, competent and bold."

In fact, "I don’t think that kindness is a deep enough value. I was born in a town called Love."

He uses the word 'love' no less than 17 times.

You can't help but conclude he is determined to out-Jacinda Jacinda. That is a very risky and frankly, timid strategy. Dear Leader fans have got their woman. It's the ones she turns off who are looking for their man. And I doubt he will be the male embodiment of her.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The failure to police

 From the 2018/19 Annual Police Report:
Addressing cultural unconscious bias 
Police understands the potential for unconscious bias when it comes to the use of discretion and decisionmaking. For this reason, we have made the identification and management of unconscious bias a priority. The first step in managing bias is having all staff identify that they have them. People can then challenge their biases to understand how they influence their decisions and behaviours. To achieve this, we have started to roll out targeted unconscious bias training to key staff across the organisation.

Um. Training in unconscious bias. That sounds lucrative.

Here's a Wellington course at Vic. $595 for a day.

Nice work if you can get it.

Personally I'd like the taxes we pay for policing to be spent on .... policing. That would be novel.

It's a while since I've needed the services of the police but there is a constant theme on talk-back that calls about car theft or home burglary are logged and not much more. Looks like it's not just jungle drums either. From the report

Property crime - Percentage of victimisations where investigation is finalised within the year because Police determine ‘no crime has occurred’ or the ‘offender is proceeded against’: 13%

Friday, June 12, 2020

Sickly self-congratulations symptom of a society in trouble

Man am I over all this self-congratulatory stuff about beating Covid. Latest example yesterday from my local council:
Kia ora
We'd like to start this email with a thank you.
We should all be proud of our collective efforts to successfully stamp out COVID-19.
No need to nauseate you further.  You've all heard variations of it time and time again, especially from Dear Leader.

I don't buy it. Most of us just did what we were told to do (some less willingly than others). We do not deserve a medal, let alone constant meritorious mention.

I recently watched a 1968 news clip about the Wahine Disaster and was struck by how different the national psyche was fifty years ago. The stoicism, the pragmatism and practical response.Within hours the public were being advised of timetable changes to the Maori, Aranui and Aramoana sailings to accommodate bookings the ill-fated Wahine could no longer honour. No candlelit vigils, no maudlin social media preoccupation, no rahui on the harbour and no premature finger-pointing either. People just carried on.

Twenty years ago I sat in the end-of-year prize-giving audience at primary school. The list of recipients seemed endless. Each mounted the stage until there were more children upon it than left on the hall floor. It was ridiculous. Everyone's a winner. My son tells a story. He played soccer - or rather plodded after the last person in a group chasing the ball. Totally unsuited and he knew it. At the end of one game, after "Player of the Day" have evaded him yet again, the coach turned to him and said, "You can have a turn next week".

The accolade had become meaningless. Just as the current Covid congrats are.

The outcome of this foolish philosophy of embracing mediocrity is now rife. It's there in those dreadful Covid mental health ads that basically urge you to do nothing and feel good about it. Hang out in your PJs all day and pat yourself on the back for it.

It doesn't fly in my house. It isn't a preparation for real life. Nobody is well-served by this nonsense. And it needs to stop.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

99 reasons to vote Labour

"100 reasons to vote Labour" just arrived in my email inbox.

Here's number 30:

Here's number 99:

It really should be titled, "100  99 reasons you are going to be paying a shitload of tax in the coming decades."

When race isn't a divisive issue

The following data is extracted from Ethnic Intermarriage in New Zealand using 2013 Census, the latest available:

With regard to the trend between 2001 and 2013, "Over the period, the number of Maori who have a Maori partner dropped from 53 to 48 per cent for Maori men, and from 52 to 47 per cent for Maori women."

When I reflect on friends and acquaintances over my lifetime these graphs are highly representative.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

A pathway but not a panacea

Regarding the ongoing battle between some Maori and Oranga Tamariki:
Hands Off Our Tamariki spokesperson and researcher Alison Green has been comparing the state care systems in Canada and New Zealand.
The Oranga Tamariki legislation restricted mana motuhake, and Māori needed a system of their own like tribes in Canada, Dr Green said.
"We are ready for tribal governments," she said.
"For tribes to be able to enact legislation and for tribes to take over the jurisdiction and authority of their young Māori people and their families and take it right away from the state."
Regarding the Canadian experience:

 When I became a judge in 1976 they were just starting to talk about turning the control of child welfare agencies over to Indigenous groups. This changeover took place during the 1980s, and 90s. The theory advanced by Indigenous advocates was that there were far too many Indigenous children in care because white child care workers did not understand Indigenous culture and the Indigenous way of life. If only Indigenous workers and supervisors could take over, the numbers would go down. That didn’t happen. As the Indigenous agencies took over, the numbers went up instead of down. That remains the case today...
...the state of Indigenous child welfare is no better than it was when Indigenous child welfare agencies took over – by some measures it is a whole lot worse. Those neglected children have become pawns in the political games that are now playing out federally. Parents who have clearly failed their children are let off the hook by advocates claiming that it is not their fault that they drank and made a mess of their children’s lives – it is society’s fault, or it is because of colonialism or residential schools – or almost anything going back five hundred years that might have affected their long dead ancestors’ lives. The irresponsible parents are told that they are victims. Never mind acting like a grownup, getting off welfare and starting to support your family. To the contrary, accepting personal responsibility and changing one’s behaviour is considered an old fashioned and discardable notion. Forget the best interests of the child – permanent victimhood and racial politics are where it’s at. But I will stop.
As I said earlier, I know little about the New Zealand situation. I simply don’t know if there are similarities between Canada’s Indigenous situation and the Maori situation in New Zealand. But if I am allowed to give just one word of advice on the subject of child welfare, it is this: “A child is a child. Keep racial politics out of it, and just see to that child’s best interests.” 

Brian Giesbrecht was a Provincial Court Judge in Manitoba, Canada, from 1976 to 2007. During that time he served as Acting Chief Judge, and Associate Chief Judge. 

It was heartening yesterday to hear OT defending itself on two fronts. 1/  The latest report from the Children's Commissioner represents only 12 mothers - a tiny number of the cases dealt with annually and 2/ it focuses on the mothers and not the best interests of their children.

Monday, June 08, 2020

Spot the problem

Spot the problem with the following passage in an RNZ article essentially condemning the removal of Maori babies:

Judge Becroft said there were clear examples of the whānau experiencing racism and discrimination.
Māori babies aged 0-3 months were taken into state custody at five times the rate of non-Maori babies in 2019.
Findings of abuse have decreased overall, yet, more and more Māori babies are being assessed and removed earlier.
Update. No takers.

Here's the problem. That "findings of abuse have decreased" is the desired policy outcome. It is not a reason to rail against the policy.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

A racist policy?

According to Work and Income:

If you or your partner have an uncleared warrant for criminal matters, you'll be told that unless it’s cleared, or you've taken reasonable steps to try and clear it, your benefit will either:
-stop, if you don't have dependent children, or
-reduce by up to half, if you have dependent children.
If it hasn’t been cleared within 28 days after its issued, you'll get a letter advising you to clear it within 10 working days. If you have an arrest warrant and the New Zealand Police considers you to be a risk to public safety, your benefit can be stopped or reduced immediately, without telling you first.
To clear your warrant to arrest you need to:
-go to the criminal counter at a courthouse. It’s best to go to the court where the warrant was issued, but it can be done at any courthouse. You can’t clear a warrant over the phone
-tell them you want to make a “voluntary appearance” to clear your warrant
-try to arrive early in the day. If you leave it too late you may not be able to clear the warrant that day.
-You can go to a police station to start the process of clearing your warrant if you can’t get to a court.
So the action to prevent a sanction lies wholly in the hands of the person receiving the benefit. Nobody else. And the actions required are laid out very clearly.

Here is an ethnic breakdown of sanctions on those with children. The 2019 stats are only up to June 2019.

Is this an illustration of a racist policy?

In the current climate many will say 'yes' because it disproportionately disadvantages Maori and their children regardless of the fact that the agency lies with the individual. The sanction is avoidable and you would think that with children involved, the motivation to do so would be strengthened. In fact the policy treats everybody the same.

Monday, June 01, 2020

The Left loathe the concept of the 'deserving' and 'undeserving'

A commentor on Kiwiblog drew attention to a Newsroom article by an Auckland University sociology professor:

Dr Louise Humpage was hoping Covid would help Kiwis better understand how tough it is to live off the benefit, but the newly unemployed are not being treated like main beneficiaries at all...
I became more suspicious of the Government’s intentions when it announced that 35 new unemployment centres would be established across the country, along with an employment service specific to those directly impacted by Covid-19, who are not on a main benefit.
Why? Work and Income already has offices in most towns and cities across New Zealand which focus on finding employment.
Could it be that they are either a) not very good at their job; or b) that the ‘toxic culture’ endemic in these offices is so awful that we couldn’t bear the shame of letting ‘ordinary’ (i.e., working) New Zealanders experience it?

I doubt the 35 new employment centres referred to will be places people walk into. Applications and grants all take place on-line. The new processing centres will be about boosting staff capacity to approve applications and attempt to redeploy workers.

The usual eligibility requirements she refers to as a “toxic culture” have been suspended because of the increased workload in processing new applications. Not because they were unfair.

She writes, “the base rate for the existing Job Seeker Support is $250 a week (before tax – yes, it is taxed) for a single person over 25.” Wrong. It is $250 after tax.

Essentially she wants all benefits paid at the same rate as the temporary Income Relief Payment saying, “a truly brave government would look voters in the eye and say ‘we want to treat all unemployed people, no matter when or how they came to be jobless, with the same dignity and respect that all New Zealanders deserve’.”

There are thousands of beneficiaries who have 1/ never worked 2/ made themselves unemployable through crime and/or drug and alcohol abuse and 3/ have no incentive to work because it pushes up their child support liability and income-related rent. This is the unfortunate reality of the benefit system.

In fact it would be preferable if the system could take more account of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ – not less, leading to greater fairness for anyone who is genuinely (temporarily or permanently) unemployed through no fault of their own.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Treasury predicts 1 in 6 on a benefit by June 2021

Treasury is forecasting 487,500 working age people will be on some form of benefit by June 2021 (16.2 percent).

At the moment it is nearer to 1 in 10 (11.7 percent).

Here are the numbers to May 22:

I haven't posted much about the data to date because the numbers are being kept artificially low by the wage subsidy AND now the new Income Relief Payment (IRP) which cannot be applied for until after June 8. 

Obviously Jobseeker numbers will stabilise as people apply for the better paying benefit but one has to assume that Treasury's forecast includes IRP recipients despite Labour insisting that the IRP is NOT a benefit.

Friday, May 29, 2020

ACT: "Minimum Wage Hikes And Handouts -Sounds Like Labour"

Todd Muller made a speech today. Seymour responds:

Minimum Wage Hikes And Handouts -Sounds Like Labour

Friday, 29 May 2020, 2:49 pm

Press Release: ACT New Zealand

“It sounds like Labour, is what I’m already hearing about National’s promise to raise the minimum wage regularly while handing out money to businesses,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour

“ACT won’t sign up to supporting a Labour Government, or vote for Labour Party policies in any Government.


I would add that as Labour made the historical move of linking benefit rates to average wages, National is also promising regular benefit increases.

No matter what you think about the policy, it's proof that under Todd Muller, National is even more deserving of the label 'Labour-lite'.

Trying to please everyone results in pleasing no-one.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Forget the forecasts - free up the restrictions

One: Unemployment could rise to 18 per cent, house prices could halve, and the viability of the banks could be "called into question" if the coronavirus prompted a further period of economic lockdowns, the Reserve Bank has warned.

Two: Unemployment is likely to peak at only 8.1 per cent and not until March 2022, according to a relatively upbeat forecast by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

The first is more than double the second. I'm in the middle. But apart from Treasury trying to guess the size of the expenditure it's pretty futile. Trying to make people feel 'upbeat' isn't going to save their job.

We need action and activity immediately.

The Prime Minister is now clearly the one with the foot on the brake. ACT and Winston First are both calling for a move to level one. National appears neutral. Useless as usual.