Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Seymour responds to Tamihere

Yesterday I linked to a column John Tamihere wrote about David Seymour not before reflecting on whether I should give it any further exposure. Seymour did the same. Here is his response, unpublished by Stuff, who were however happy to run Tamihere's piece:

There’s a dilemma we all face when personally attacked. Just ignore them, (like most people probably have already), or set the record straight. Ignoring them is easier, but maybe they think throwing enough mud will see some stick. Setting the record straight takes more time, and risks giving them and their argument more attention than deserved.

The dilemma is harder when the attack is dishonest, but from someone who’s done little to earn your respect. We’ve all been there, and John Tamihere’s article about me, The subtle dig at Māori in race-based politics and how it's swinging voters' judgement, is so filled with outright mistruths, that the record needs to be set straight.

Tamihere’s argument is summarised in his words: ‘Act Leader David Seymour plays a far more insidious, sophisticated and covert form of race-based politics.’ He goes on to say that my criticism of the Reserve Bank spending $400,000 on a monstrous piece of artwork is really an attack on Māori because the artwork was supposed to represent Tane Mahuta, the god of the forest.

He goes on to say that I wouldn’t criticise the America’s Cup losing hundreds of millions of dollars because it’s a white man’s sport. Here’s the problem. I am on the record criticising the America’s Cup getting taxpayer money. Just Google ‘David Seymour America’s Cup circus.’

Tamihere goes on to ask ‘Can you imagine a Waka Festival losing thousands of dollars being swept under the carpet by Seymour?’ Well, actually, something similar did happen when I was responsible for charter schools in the previous Government.

Te Kāpehu Whetū, a charter school in Whangarei was attacked for using its flexibility of funding to buy a waka. I believed, and still do, that charter schools were a power of good, and defended that school for that action among many others connected with the policy. They were a policy supported by ACT and the Iwi Chairs Forum because they were good for Māori.

That’s where the wheels really fall off Tamihere’s argument. On the basic facts, he’s not only a little bit wrong, but shilling the exact opposite of the truth. But on the wider issue of who really cares about Māori kids’ opportunity, it is Tamihere who’s played politics.

He forgot to mention his Waipareira Trust applied to operate a charter school, apparently believing in the power of the policy. He went through most of the application process then tried to renegotiate the terms he’d signed up to at the last minute.

He thought he could steamroll the young first term MP in charge of charter schools. Big mistake. When he didn’t get his way, he publicly trashed the policy that was working for disadvantaged kids, including those at his old friend Willie Jackson’s charter school, Te Kura Māori o Waatea.

It would be easy to dismiss Tamihere. He had a short parliamentary career, that ended with losing his seat, before losing his radio show for gross misogynistic comments, then running a disastrous campaign for the Auckland Mayoralty, then failing to win a seat in a short-lived revival as co-leader of the Māori Party. Why give him time?

The problem is that he’s doing such a terrible disservice to the very people he claims to represent. Just like his disgraceful conduct over the charter school affair, he is prepared to play politics without truth on the very important cause of solving poverty and improving education for Māori.

In his mind, to attack egregious waste at the Reserve Bank, gangs, and welfare abuse, is to attack Māori. Really? Do Māori speak with one voice? If we listen to John Tamihere, being Māori means you can’t want responsible Government spending, gangs to be treated with the contempt they deserve, and welfare dependency to be reduced.

ACT says all New Zealanders benefit from better policy. All New Zealanders want less crime, less tax, and greater independence. The idea we can’t have honest conversations about the challenges our country faces because we might offend Māori doesn’t just stop us making progress. Ironically enough, it is patronising and belittling of Māori who, unlike John, overwhelmingly want a better world through better policy.

John was once billed as a future Prime Minister. Now the best lesson he shows young New Zealanders of all backgrounds is not to waste their talent on hubris.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Claim lodged for Maori to receive half of benefit system resources

Lady Tureiti Moxon, on behalf of the National Māori Urban Authority (NUMA), has lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal.

According to the Child Poverty Action Group, who provded evidence for the claim, Moxon maintains, “The only way we can change the whole [welfare] system is by allowing Māori to take care of themselves and by sharing resources by splitting it 50-50.”(P59)

It's difficult to know how to respond to such on outlandish proposal. Is this the realisation of what 'Treaty Partnership' actually means? 

Maori presently receive rather more from the benefit system than matches their share of the population. 36 percent of working age beneficiaries are Maori.

But some are not satisfied with that. 

From Te Ao Maori News:

The claim addresses the Crown's failure to acknowledge the historic issues of loss of land and culture and the overarching effects of colonisation.

She [Moxon]says the benefits system and processes have been harmful to Māori over generations.

“For a lot of people going on the benefit is actually quite a traumatic experience. It's quite traumatic. And yet they're made to feel even worse about that, that they're undeserving of a benefit, undeserving of being able to participate,” she said.

“It's how we're viewed, how Māori are viewed, that we're just takers, we never give anything. Cripes, we gave this whole country over,” she says.

This riles me no end. Non-Maori being told what they think of Maori.

Any rational person is presented with evidence of employed Maori working all around them every day. Yes, I think there are some poorly motivated Maori just as there are some poorly motivated non-Maori. Yes, some Maori on benefits are deserving and some aren't; and the same goes for non-Maori. It shouldn't need to be spelled out.

But the likes of the 'Dames' and NUMA CEO John Tamihere (who yesterday launched this childish rant at David Seymour)  constantly seek to stir up racial division and animosity.

The original concept of the Waitangi Tribunal was worthy but it's now being abused. And in the current climate members may just capitulate.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The stunning drop in women having children

No, it's not news but I thought I would update the chart to latest available. June's not up but here's to the end of March. Trends that happen so rapidly are quite fascinating. I wrote a paper about it here.

Total fertility rate is defined as "the average number of live births that a woman would have during her life if she experienced the age-specific rates of a given period (usually a year)."

The rate is 1.6 births at March end. I wonder how low it will go?

What prompted me to look for an update was Peter Willliams interviewing a woman  on Magic Talk today who advocates against loneliness, wants a Minister for Loneliness appointed even.

Shrinking families won't contribute to a reduction in loneliness. That's for sure.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Closing the gap - Maori on benefits

Here's a closing gap. Not sure it's quite the type envisaged by left-wing politicians.

According to population estimates there were 489,620 Maori aged 18-64 at June 2021.

128,877 on a benefit equates to 26.3 percent or over one in four.

36.3% of all beneficiaries are Maori. A percentage as high as it has ever been.

In the Maori electorates Labour enjoy strong support.

I don't know why.  Maori never fare very well under Labour governments. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

More people on benefits than a year ago

 At the end of June 2021 there were more people on benefits than there were a year ago.

Yet MSD Minister Sepuloni is calling this good news.

In fact her release is headlined: 

Government Initiatives Contribute To Fall In Benefit Numbers

Including those on a Jobseeker benefit who are temporarily sick, the total number reliant has barely budged.

And numbers on a Sole Parent or Supported Living Payment (ex Invalid's) benefit have both risen.

This is a very poor result in a country that can't import labour - or in only a very limited capacity.

Update: It is surprising how media outlets accept the spin and turn out similar headlines to the Minister's. The important point being missed is that because of considerable seasonal variation in benefit numbers quarterly change has less significance than annual change. That is why MSD presents the numbers as year-to-year data.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Number of Maori children entering state care plummets

Oversight of Maori children at risk is being transferred to local and community efforts.

Regardless of our individual political and philosophical views I am sure we all hope it works for the children concerned.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Seymour's support building

 Seymour couldn't want for better publicity. According to NewstalkZB host, Jack Tame:

The pollsters say it’s unprecedented.

Act leader David Seymour is doing better in the latest Preferred Prime Minister rankings than the leader of our second biggest party. 

But I’m not surprised at all, because I think David Seymour is one of the best politicians in Parliament.

But not everyone is a fan. Here we have Lee Williams shouting at Seymour that he is a fraud. Why?

Because he isn't telling people about He Puapua apparently.

Go back to Jack Tame's piece momentarily which contains this statement:
" was his [Seymour's] probing in the house that opened up the He Puapua Pandora’s box.
I guess you can never please everyone.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

OT beat-up continues

The RNZ beat-up of Oranga Tamariki continues.

The article opens with:

There have been 40 instances where Oranga Tamariki staff have physically harmed children in their care in the last two-and-a-half years....

Then further in: 

In the latest biannual report, for the six months to December 2020, there were 13 findings of physical harm against children where staff were responsible.

So how do these numbers stack up?

Only at the very end of the coverage do we learn:

The Safety of Children in Care reports showed that Oranga Tamariki staff were not the only people abusing children in care.All up, in the six months to December 2020, there were almost 300 instances of neglect, or emotional, sexual or physical abuse, affecting more than 200 children.

Here is the OT report referenced.

There were 13 findings of physical harm by staff alleged to have caused the harm. 8 children had 8 findings of physical harm within a residential placement. Some allegations against staff happened outside of residential placement and "for a small number of incidents, it was not possible to determine where the incident took place or who caused it." (Hence the variability of numbers)

But lets move on to the bigger picture. The first graph is PHYSICAL harm:

The second is ALL harm (which includes neglect, sexual and emotional) versus proportion of children/youth in each kind of placement:

The children at highest risk of being harmed are those in the return/remain home placement. Least likely are those in a family placement.

Children with findings of harm living in residential placements (4%) was representative of the overall numbers of children in this placement type (4%).

Given the nature of these troubled children and youth, the instances of harm caused by staff do not seem remarkable.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Professor Elizabeth Rata asks, Ethno-Nationalism or Democratic-Nationalism?

 Highly recommended:

With the sudden emergence into our political life of the revolutionary report He Puapua, it is clear New Zealanders are at a crossroads. We will have to decide whether we want our future to be that of an ethno-nationalist state or a democratic-nationalist one.

Ethno-nationalism has political categories based on racial classification - the belief that our fundamental identity (personal, social and political) is fixed in our ancestry. Here the past determines the future. Identity, too, is fixed in that past. In contrast, democratic-nationalism has one political category - that of citizenship - justified by the shared belief in a universal human identity.

These two opposing approaches to how the nation is imagined, constituted and governed are currently in contention. We will have to choose which form of nationalism will characterise New Zealand by 2040.

More at Newshub 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Fees-free GP visits and children still miss out

 New research from the Growing Up in New Zealand study finds Maori and Pacific children are disproportionately missing out on healthcare despite GP visits being free. 


• Despite the zero-fees policy, some young children do not see a GP when in need due to cost. Primary health organisations should ensure that all children who present for care are enrolled with a practice to ensure eligibility for free GP visits.

National brought in a policy that required young mothers to enrol their child with a GP as a condition of receiving a benefit but the policy was never enforced. Now it's the PHO's fault.

• Policy action is needed to address the barriers to accessing GP care for Māori and Pacific children, beyond focusing on cost. For example, the location of primary health care services and possibilities of outreach and/or mobile services could be considered, so that lack of transport is not a barrier to families.

So it is not enough to subsidise doctor visits 100 percent. Parents need transporting to the medical centre door. One would think when a child is sick a friend or family member would be available to help with transport, or heaven forbid, they got on a bus.

• Changes to the health system, and future health policy, must align with contemporary interpretations of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, to ensure that health equity becomes a reality for Māori. 

You could be excused for thinking that a recommendation of Treaty compliance is now compulsory when government funding is provided.

It must be there for a reason because it sure as hell doesn't offer anything useful.



Tuesday, June 29, 2021

GUEST POST: Sexual Violence Bill - What does it change?

The Sexual Violence Bill trundles ever closer to becoming law. The sentiments behind it appear noble: to ease the trauma of the trial process for complainants and to correct perceived low conviction rates. However, it is really responding to pressure to jail more perpetrators. A 2019 Ministry of Justice report claimed only eleven percent of sexual crimes reported to police lead to conviction, and just six percent to a jail sentence.

Yet most criminal lawyers are opposed, and not only on the defence side. In the bill's second reading in Parliament, former prosecutor Simon Bridges spoke passionately against its two sinister clauses. He assured the House that he supports the broad intention of the bill in limiting courtroom “retraumatisation” but warned that those lethal clauses would put even more innocent men in jail.

Clause eight treats evidence outlining a previous relationship between complainant and defendant as presumptively inadmissable, even when it is – as Bridges put it – “relevant and probitive”. Clause fourteen is probably more dangerous. Complainants can already video-record their testimony in advance of trial. However, the new law would require the defence to cross-examine any complainant soon after that early testimony, which would be months – or even years – before the main issues of the case have emerged. It would compel the defence to play its hand immediately, giving the prosecution time to refine its case, coach the complainant and assure conviction. In effect, these clauses brand acquittals as a system failure and nudge sexual prosecutions ever closer to show trials.

And why not, when so many perpetrators apparently escape justice? Some do, as with all crimes, and that makes the rage understandable. Yet no system of justice can be based on a blanket assumption that one side has a monopoly on truth. Any suggestion that some complaints are false tends to provoke straw man responses from women's support groups. If only eleven percent of complaints lead to conviction, am I suggesting that eighty-nine percent of accusers are lying? Not at all. The private nature of most sexual crime makes it hard to prosecute, and there is no doubt that some sexual perpetrators get away with it. There are cases when “not guilty” is the appropriate verdict, but the defendant is not innocent. In any case, 'lie' is a loaded word that implies malice. Some wrongful accusers are certainly malicious or vengeful, but others are mentally ill, deluded or simply mistaken. Many tell fibs that extract them from a sticky situation but then get out of hand.

If I suggest some accusers are untruthful, does that make me a superannuated misogynist who considers women inherently flighty and untrustworthy? Not at all. It just means I deny that untruthfulness is a trait produced solely by the y chromosome. People don't always tell the truth, especially in matters as complex as sex. The #metoo movement implores that women be believed. But which women? Police tend to charge immediately after a sexual accusation is made, without any investigation. Sometimes the women we should automatically believe are the desperate mothers, wives, daughters and sisters who plead with the police just to look at the accused man's cellphone or pay records, which may prove consent - or he wasn't even there – and allow the poor family to put sleep back into their lives.

The great imponderable behind this legislation, then, is the frequency of false sexual allegations. No one can know the figure, but all evidence points to it being far higher than is assumed by those who insist that they're rare. This is because – if they consider numbers at all – they count only known and exposed false accusers, which is a disreputable way of uncovering data in a legal field notorious for its uncertainty. In fact, baseless sexual allegations remain on file as valid complaints which so far lack sufficient evidence to proceed to prosecution. This means that, with impressive statistical sleight of hand, the denialists can count these in their numbers of accusations which are reported to police but don't proceed to court.  

Even worse, the bill's advocates may count only the minuscule number of false accusers who have been convicted. There's really no such thing as perjury any more, and it's no secret that even known false accusers are almost never prosecuted, out of “public interest”. In fact, they're given two discrete public interest escape doors. The primary one is personal: each false accuser has “issues” or is “vulnerable”, as decided after a moment's consideration by those experts in mental health – the police. The secondary one is the broader social consequence: prosecuting false accusers will supposedly dissuade genuine victims from reporting. This official leniency is given too little thought to be considered policy; it's simply the way it is.

Police used to openly acknowledge the false allegation problem. In 2004 The Manawatu Evening Standard quoted detective sergeant Dave Clifford as saying that false sexual assault claims had become so frequent that “police will start prosecuting people who try to use a fictitious assault as a reason for coming home late.” This looks like a quaint relic now, not because false allegations have magically become rarer but because the official narrative has been so transformed that any such statement would provoke an outraged demand for the dinosaur's demotion. Retired detectives have less to lose and may tell the truth.

As far as I am aware, no reputable research has been done into false allegation numbers in New Zealand. However, two thorough but very different studies overseas produced astonishingly similar results. Both Eugene Kanin in the USA and Erich Elsner/Wiebke Steffen in Germany estimated false rape accusations at around a third of the total. The German study analysed all 1754 rape accusations made in Bavaria in 2000. Surprisingly, female detectives were marginally more skeptical about complainants' stories than their male colleagues, so there was no evidence of a gender bias. Of course, New Zealand is different from the USA and Germany, so figures here may be lower – or higher.

It isn't only the guilty who have reason to tremble at a sexual accusation, because innocence doesn't guarantee acquittal. Changes to the Evidence Act in the 1980s allowed that judges no longer warn juries not to convict on the uncorroborated evidence of the complainant, emboldening police to prosecute in “she said/he said” cases. There is pressure for judges to steer juries away from alleged misconceptions about sexual crime, such as the expectation that genuine victims should physically resist and should report the crime promptly. Simon Bridges accepts that it's reasonable for juries to be reminded of other misconceptions. The standard notion of “stranger rape” is now considered less common than rape by an acquaintance, for example.

However, having judges in effect tell juries what to think is a slippery slope, because the very point of the jury system is to place faith in ordinary citizens to be independent in the face of overwhelming state power. In any case, Bridges may underestimate the public's present understanding of these so-called rape myths. A recent survey by UK professor Cheryl Thomas QC questioned 771 actual jurors just after they had delivered verdicts. Thomas reported that “The overwhelming majority of jurors do not believe that rape must leave bruises or marks, that a person will always fight back when being raped, that dressing or acting provocatively or going out alone at night is inviting rape...or that rapes will always be reported immediately.”

We can't know how specific jurors will think. Perhaps they are in fact more susceptible to myths that produce not false acquittals but false convictions in sexual cases. For example, it may be that many jurors have such naive faith in our justice system that they assume a case is unlikely to come to court unless the allegation is true. If judges need to interfere, perhaps we should require them in every sexual case to point out to juries the common myth that complainants have no reason to make it up. In fact, there are many reasons, including expediency, guilt, jealousy, shame, malice, an urge to control and a craving for attention or sympathy. A common explanation for complaints here in New Zealand is that she is mentally unstable and has visited a counsellor, who unsurprisingly diagnosed repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse and was entitled to offer the client ACC-funded therapy sessions. Any chance of this becoming a standard pre-trial warning?

I know that “Jane”, the daughter of a friend – the woman who accused me and others of raping her when she was young – was counselled in this way. However, I can't claim to know for sure which of these reasons prompted her allegation. Thankfully, after a stressful seven-month wait I wasn't charged. What I do know is that if clause fourteen of the proposed legislation had been in place at the time, it would have given the police the confidence to prosecute me and my co-accused, because there would have been a fair chance that a finely-honed and teary court performance by my false accuser would win over a compliant jury. I'd now have about nine years left to run of a likely thirteen-year sentence, with no chance of parole because I'd be too pigheaded to admit guilt.

This is disturbing enough, but the fact that Jane and I had never met makes it a terrifying precedent. The presumption of innocence would have been flipped neatly on its head and I'd have been in the logically and legally absurd position of having to prove a negative. If this topsy-turvy vision of justice is what our parliamentarians seek, they should support the Sexual Violence Bill in its current form.

Peter Joyce is a retired teacher. He campaigns for the victims of false sexual accusations through his website, Blackstone's Drum. He also wrote a book, Dry Ice, about the false accusation against him. He may be contacted at

Friday, June 25, 2021

Some big and some little numbers

Perusing recent OIA responses, a handful caught my interest:

 405 people registered for public housing were living in their car at December 31, 2020

 20 minutes and 44 seconds was the average speed of answer for Studylink calls in March 2021

2 of 28 sexual harrassment claims at MSD between 2016 and 2020 were substantiated

378,132 MSD clients recieve an Accommodation Supplement at end December 2020. A third receive the maximum amount payable (eg $305 in Auckland with two children).

$1,905,659,255 is owed to MSD by way of recoverable assistance loaned to clients

$301,404 spent with My Food Bag Ltd since August 2019

909 people opted out of the Winter Energy Payment in the winter of  2020

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

"Sexual violence bill could see more innocent Māori face jail"

The persistent Samira Taghavi writes yet another column in opposition to the unjust Sexual Violence Bill proceeding through parliament.

"The bill will presumptively prohibit evidence pointing to innocence and destroy a defendant’s right to silence, thus increasing conviction numbers. The legislation is built upon the faulty statistical spin that the conviction rate for rape is “appallingly low” when, in an ‘oranges with oranges’ comparison, sexual violation convictions are actually in line with those for some other violent crimes."

She's really sticking it to the Maori Party, and Labour's Maori MPs for refusing to engage with those against the legislation:

The Māori Party’s lack of objection to the bill appears more ideologically driven, with being a compliant cog in the wider left-wing cause seeming the grand objective. But it would be disappointing if the party’s two MPs don’t now realise that keeping innocent tangata whenua out of jail must deserve as much energy as keeping neckties out of Parliament.

Samira is doubtless using the Maori angle to get more publicity, but why not? That's the modus operandi of the politicians she is exposing.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Jobseekers not responding to labour shortages in significant numbers

This is a bit of a worry. The Jobseeker benefit cancellations have dropped below last year's weekly equivalent. This despite all of the workers currently required. For the first time since around February the orange line has crossed the blue line.

And lest you think the picture is OK so long as the cancellations keep happening take a look at grants of Jobseeker benefit in the same period:

2,616 cancellations
2,211 grants

That's pretty static.

And of the cancellations, only 65% found work.

228 transferred to another benefit.

696 cancelled for other reasons which are typically went overseas, excess income, went to prison, became a student.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Housing wait list continues to grow

April 23, 2021, Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods says:

Government delivers on housing

Released today, the public housing wait list numbers:

I wonder what not delivering looks like?

Friday, June 18, 2021

Benefit fraud prosecutions heading for zero


Graphed data from a published  OIA response.

The sharp reduction is apparently due to "an increased focus on prevention and early detection."

"...the Ministry is conscious that prosecution can negatively impact clients and families who are already in a vulnerable and difficult situation."

By way of contrast, in the 2011/12 MSD Annual Report, under a different government, this statement was emphasised:

Where we find evidence of fraud, we prosecute.

Going back even further, just to emphasise yet again how different this Labour government is to that of Helen Clark's, here's a statement from the house:

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : This Government wants to make sure that everyone who is entitled to support gets it. Benefit abuse and fraud are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. All cases of deliberate fraud are prosecuted. It is a disappointing fact that some people attempt to defraud our system. Where debts are incurred they will be recovered. Currently, 96 percent of debtors on a benefit are repaying their debt. Prosecution rates in October, as I mentioned earlier, were 97 percent successful, with 12 sentences of imprisonment.

During the financial year 2007/08 there were 1,028 fraud prosecutions.

I'm a skeptic. Policy and practice may change but human nature doesn't.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

No better time to be a beneficiary

There are now so many Work and Income rules that have either been repealed, ignored or broken since 2017 that it's worth making a list:

1/ The penalty for not naming the father of a child dependent on a sole parent benefit was abolished. Taxpayer now picks up the liable parent contribution.

2/ The requirement to ensure a child on a benefit is attending early childhood education/ school and enroled with a GP is ignored.

3/ Sanctions for not meeting appointment and work obligations have declined significantly:

4/ The requirement to present a medical certificate is suspended till at least 2022.

5/  Beneficiaries can use payment cards to buy cigarettes, lotto tickets and giftcards at BP.

6/  Fraud is not being prosecuted. Fraud staff have been moved to chasing up wage subsidy repayments, and changes to privacy settings have prevented investigations without disclosure to parties being investigated.

7/ No stand-downs imposed till July 2021.

And to be repealed by law passing through parliament currently:

8/ Early work-testing of a sole parent who adds a subsequent child to their benefit. Green light to continue having children on welfare with no consequence except extra cash.

What with the increases to basic benefit rates,  increased abatement thresholds, indexing benefits to wages as well as CPI, the winter energy payment, Best Start and the loosening of so many obligations, there's never been a better time to be a beneficiary in New Zealand.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The state of the public service

The Commissioner for Children's term must be up.

Invitations for applications have appeared.

The requirements are indicative of how the public service now operates:

We are looking for someone who is an expert in child-related matters. The Children’s Commissioner is a champion for all tamariki and rangatahi in New Zealand.

There will be a specific focus on knowledge of te ao Māori, and Māori thought leadership and strategy.

The second sentence contradicts the first. But it'd be too much to expect logic from a Ministry these days.

Maori 'thought' - or Maori worldview - is paramount across the public sector. The Reserve Bank is now imbued with Maori spirituality; the Police are preoccuppied with ridding themselves of 'unconscious bias' and the Ministry of Education aims to indoctrinate guilt and expunge white privilege from students.

The role of the Children's Commissioner is supposed to be independent - the department is an independent crown entity - but that appears to be changing:

The Government is currently strengthening oversight of the Oranga Tamariki system. As part of this, a decision has been made to transfer the functions associated with the independent monitoring of the Oranga Tamariki system to a departmental agency hosted by the Education Review Office.

It is also proposed that the Children’s Commissioner will cease to be a corporation sole and that governance responsibilities will rest with Commissioner and a board of three to six members.

Read what you will into that.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Gutless National

National MP Paul Goldsmith says that on balance colonisation has been good for Maori. 

But his colleagues and leader equivocate.

Chris Luxon says the opposite. "Colonisation was not good for Māori as we saw with breaches of the Treaty and we saw with Land Wars as well."

But wait.

Goldsmith has found at least one ally in the house in ACT Party leader David Seymour.

"I think there was always going to be an impact when New Zealand reconnected with the world," Seymour said. "That's not saying that it's justified, it's about balancing everything that's happened.

"The question is on balance, has colonisation been a good thing, and the answer is yes, because New Zealand is one of the most successful societies in human history to grow up in today," he said.

When asked how Māori dying seven years younger than non-Māori was good for them, he said it did need to be improved, but framing everything in light of colonisation was not going to solve it.

On that last point  colonisation is apparently an ongoing process. If it is so bad for Maori how come their life expectancy has risen dramatically and faster than non-Maori?

What has come over National?

Put aside the pressure to be woke and falsely empathetic (and craven), the facts are against them.

Yes Maori feature overly among the worst social statistics but that's at the extremes of the population.

On balance, life has improved for Maori in the same way as it has improved for all New Zealanders.

For a National Party MP to be effectively ostracised for saying as much is just un-bloody-believable.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Dyson deserves diddly squat

Ruth Dyson recieves a gong for her services to disabled people.

Good Lord.

The minister who forced the minimum wage on sheltered workshops in 2005.

She was warned about the effect but bullocked on. 

Here's a report from my local paper (when it was still worth reading):

Packworx Limited, a Hutt company that provided paid employment to 23 people with intellectual disabilities, closed its doors on Monday last week.

Packworx has been run as a limited liability company since September 2005, and prior to this was part of the Hutt Valley Disabled Resources Trust, which operated as a sheltered workshop for about 20 years.

The split off into commercial and social support entitIes was forced by the then Labour Government's repeal of the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Act (1960). It required workshop operations to pay workers the minimum wage and holiday entitlements for reasons of fairness, but also so that they did not undercut other commercial operations pursuing packaging and other small, labour-intensive contracts on price.

Parents and others warned at the time that while the philosophy behind repeal of the Act might be all very fine, the requirement to pay minimum wages to people with intellectual disabilities would place even more of a burden on an operation already on a revenue/cost knife edge.

Packworx chairperson of directors Carolyn Crutch said last week that the downturn in the economy, plus "non-realisation of contracts that were anticipated" meant it was no longer financially prudent for the company to continue to trade.

Fellow director Marlene Wilkinson said it was a step taken with "a great deal of reluctance".

There was "huge emotional attachment" bound up in running of the business and keeping the 23 employees, plus long-time manager Jan Geursen and two other supervisors, in work. But as Packworx was being run as a commercial entity "we have to abide by the Companies Act and its rules". Revenue wasn't going to cover overheads.


David Vance and Barry Jordan of Deloitte have been appointed liquidators.

Mrs Crutch said it was a "major blow" that this happened now, right at a time when the former staff will be up against many others laid off work in a depressed job market.

The Hutt News reported in 2006, that the then Packworx staff of 60 tackled a variety of packing, mailing and shrink wrapping contracts - everything from cutlery for Air NZ to lining bulk laundry powder cartons. The mainstay of the work was the making of 60,000 bird seed balls a month for Masterpet, as well as packing millet sticks and for the dog food market, pigs' ears. Right up until last week, Packworx still had work from Masterpet. "We needed more contracts like that," Mrs Wilkinson said.

The Hutt Valley Disabled Resources Trust, a separate entity, is not affected. However, it's likely that a good number of the former Packworx employees will be eligible to come onto the trust's arts, sports, gardening, life skills and social programmes. Mrs Wilkinson said "down the track", training opportunities for some of the former workers could be explored.

Trust general manager Susan Gray said WINZ has already met with the Packworx staff to discuss benefit and future training options. The HVDRT will be making available its premises in Woburn Rd so that those staff can continue to meet with WINZ, Housing NZ and representatives of other help agencies.

At the time that Labour announced it was repealing legislation covering sheltered workshops, around 3,000 people around New Zealand were employed in the sector. Mrs Gray said some workshops closed immediately and a good number of others shut up shop when the legislation came into full effect on 1 December last year.

There are some entities that continue to run semi-commercial operations employing people with intellectual disabilities, including in Invercargill and the Waikato. 

However, most are "not entirely commercial" like Packworx, with many of the survivors benefiting from contracts dealing with recycling from local authorities.

The Hutt News could not contact Mr Geursen, whose personal drive is credited with much of the success of the sheltered workshop/Packworx over many years.  We understand he is currently overseas.


HUTT NEWS, Simon Edwards.


Friday, June 04, 2021

Benefit income versus income from work

 Another graph from Perry's latest report:

This is a depiction of core benefits compared to before tax minimum wage and after tax average wage. Note Accommodation Supplement, Winter Energy Payment and Best Start are not included.

The AS pays a maximum rate of $305 for a sole parent with two children. If one child was receiving Best Start that's another $60 and the Winter Energy Payment is $32.

If someone on the blue line (DPB/SPS +2ch) was receiving these extra payments it would push the line up to almost the 'after tax average wage' line.

I accept that rents are very high and the sole parent is still struggling.

But I come back to the reality that being a sole parent is a viable option if that's the environment in which you were raised. And it's only going to become more viable.

From April 1, 2021 beneficiaries can earn up to $160 before their benefit is reduced. This is a large rise from the previous $90 on Jobseeker and $115 on Sole Parent Support. 

Add that to the blue line and it'll push it above the 'after tax average wage' line.

It is an unavoidable conclusion that dependency on the state is set to grow.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Child hardship: controlling for education almost removes ethnic differences

Bryan Perry writes reports about incomes for MSD and has done so for years. I admire and respect his work.

Child Poverty in New Zealand, released today, contains the following child material-wellbeing graphs. Wellbeing is measured not by household income but by asking parents about what they can or can't afford in respect of lifestyle eg heat house or run a car and specifically for their children eg two pairs of shoes or a waterproof coat.

"The six groupings range from material hardship (red) through to very well off (dark green on the right). 

The next breaks the groupings into households where the highest educational qualification is a tertiary degree:

Perry comments re the second graph:
"There is a greater similarity for the material wellbeing profiles for these children across the ethnic groupings than there is when all children are looked at,though some differences are still evident."
The profile for Maori children almost inverts if the household features a parent or caregiver with a tertiary degree, and looks a lot more like NZ European or Asian.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Stuart Nash on unemployability

The following exchange took place between Mike Hosking and Stuart Nash on NewstalkZB (8:15) this morning:

MH: TV One last night, so you pay people $5,000 to move to a job ... claim is 1/ they quit when they arrive and scarper 2/ you guys at the Ministry no longer follow up. Why?

SN: Yeah, I heard that Mike and I'm not aware of that. I will follow that up because if it is happening it's completely against the spirit of the policy and programme. I'll see if it is happening and if MSD aren't following up or people are abusing the system in that way then that's wrong.

MH: And the Ministry has also given up on social checks. So the social responsibility that was brought in  by National in 2013 - you enrol your kid wuth a doctor, you get your kid into school, and that's part of being on welfare - you've given up chasing that as well because you claim it's too administratively difficult. How is that possible?

SN: I'm not aware of that Mike. But one thing we are doing and one thing we do do is ensure that people are work ready. So if you are on a Jobseeker benefit we work really hard to make sure you can get into a job and we've got one of the lowest unemployment numbers in the OECD...

MH/ Why do we have 115,000 people on unemployment longer than 12 months if there are so many jobs and they are all work ready?

SN/ What economists will tell you - and this is under any government - well, it varies between 3 and 4 percent of the workforce is unemployable. This is where the marginal cost of getting that person into work is just huge. What we do do is work incredibly hard with those people who want to get into work which is to be honest the vast majority of New Zealanders. There's always been, Mike, that rump at the bottom who don't want to work or it's very impossible to get them to work or there is some reason why they can't work.

 This is the first time I have heard a government MP talk about accepting unemployability. 'Shrug - it's just a fact of life.'

Neither am I aware of economists agreeing on some inherent level of unemployability occurrence. Economists do talk about a minimum unemployment rate of around 3-4 percent which will always exist as people move between jobs and are not working.

People couldn't become unemployable if there wasn't an alternative to working for money. The benefit system creates a vicious cycle. Paying indefinite benefits makes some people unemployable therefore requiring more benefits.

Just last week Nash said gangs aren't a problem ("You have nothing to fear")  and now he says unemployability should be tolerated. 

What a no-hoper - literally.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Seymour twice as popular as Prebble

David Farrar has gone back through poll archives to see if any other ACT leader ever surpassed David Seymour's current rating at 6% as preferred Prime Minister. Here's what he found:

* Richard Prebble (96-04): 3%

* Rodney Hide  (04-11): 1%

* Don Brash (11): 0.8%

* John Banks (12-14): 0.2%

You have to hand it to Seymour after so many years as a solitary MP. He never wavered. Exactly the kind of attitude and perserverance NZ needs. 

1930-40s housing problem and political propaganda

 A poster at the BFD put up this comment and 1930s pictorial:

"I wonder if in election 2023 we will see back to the future advertising?"

Come 1943 and National was counteracting with this:

I wonder if in another 70 to 80 years - a lifetime - NZ will still be yo-yoing between the two?

Sunday, May 30, 2021

'Cousins' the movie

I went to see the movie version of Patricia Grace's story 'Cousins' today.

Witi Ihimaera's 'Mahana' was a hit with me - 'White Lies' to a lesser degree -  so I thought I'd give this one a go.

Three female cousins of a similar age (born post WW11) form the core of the story.

One is estranged from an early age due to her mixed parentage. She is in the legal guardianship of a nasty, drunken, Pakeha matriarch who doesn't want the child to have anything to do with her Maori side. That plays out through the film.

It moves about chronologically alot. Between childhood; young adulthood and the present.

The child who is 'stolen' (words used in the film) suffers mentally and eventually becomes a homeless lady living on the streets of Wellington.

The cousin who balks against living in the homeland and being one half of an arranged marriage to cement tribal ties but more importantly land ownership, flees to Wellington and becomes a lawyer.

The remaining cousin fills her place in taking on the arranged marriage.

She ends up being the winner.

The lawyer will only come back to the heartland if she can find the stolen cousin.

The lawyer develops terminal cancer and coincidentally finds her long lost cousin who has just stepped out in front of a Wellington bus causing it to screech to a halt.

They return to their turangawaewae together  - one dead.

I was very moved. I shed a few tears. 

But I am not sure if my tears were for the death of the lawyer cousin, the trauma of the dislocated cousin or because I felt like the movie was holding me responsible.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Oranga Tamariki wards don't fare so badly afterall

Children are stolen; children are abused in state care; Oranga Tamariki is a racist institution, and so on.

They aren't my claims but they abound from various sources. You'll be familiar with them.

Yet when children and young people in state care are surveyed about how they are feeling currently their responses are fairly positive. Probably - dare I say it - on a par with most young people their age.

You can enlarge the graph here. P30. Research released today.

The first statement: 'Have people in my life who love me no matter what'

77% say 'Yes definitely' 20%, say 'Yes I think so'.

The lowest agreeable score was, 'Know my ancestry (whakapapa)' where just 25% said 'Yes definitely ' and 28% said 'Yes I think so'.

For me the first aspect of a young person's life is more important. The importance of feeling unconditionally loved is hard to overstate.

Not all young people in the care of the state have participated so that's a shortcoming. 84% participation rate is nevertheless good.

The survey results seem strangely out of sync with the failure of  OT opponents put about.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

"You have nothing to fear"

 Here's Stuart Nash, MP for Napier:

Nash acknowledged that Hawke's Bay had a gang problem, but said arresting people was not the solution to the problem.

In terms of public safety, Nash said any form of gang violence “tends to be perpetrated against other gangs”.

“In terms of feeling unsafe, unless you’re a gang member, you have no reason to feel unsafe. The public are not everyday target. I understand gangs can be intimidating, but unless you’re a rival member or tied up in the drug trade, you have nothing to fear.”

Tell that to the toddler shot dead by a gang in Wanganui; tell that to a young nurse who was relieved of $2,000 he'd just withdrawn from an ATM by gang members and offered no assistance by the police; tell that to rape victims who serve as unwitting initiation objects.

What a terrible stance for an MP to take.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Cindy Kiro

Cindy Kiro's appointment to the role of Governor General is political. Judging by comments on Kiwiblog people have forgotten her time as Children's Commissioner. She advocated that every child should be interviewed or assessed before age two and again at ages five, 13, and 17 - a heavy-handed unnecessary state intervention to avoid stigmatising particular groups. 

She helped Sue Bradford push through the anti-smacking legislation saying, "...we know more about parenting and child health and development now than we did in our parents’, grandparents’ and great grandparents’ times."

Warding off an interviewer asking about Maori child abuse she said, "I think people need to get a little careful when they start this business," and propagated false child death statistics in defence. She never owned or corrected them after their inaccuracy was identified. 

She overspent her Ministry's budget and was criticised for spending too much time overseas and staff turnover. 

Kiro is not a smart appointment.

Labour happy for babies to be born onto benefits

When Paula Bennett was Minister for Social Development she wanted to stop people adding children to an existing benefit to avoid work. So the subsequent child rule was created. If a beneficiary adds a child to a benefit, when that child turns one, the parent will still have the same work-obligations based on age of the previous child - part-time between ages 3 and 14; full-time thereafter - hardly onerous.

Now Sepuloni wants the rule removed. This is an extract from support material that accompanies the bill to achieve this:

I take issue with the adjective "small" to describe the number of people who have added a child to a benefit and are currently affected by Bennett's rule. Almost 9,000 in total.

2,533 have added a child to their benefit when the next oldest was 14 or older (which is why they are currently on the Jobseeker benefit).

Let's call it careless procreation at best. It is not good for the babies to be born onto benefits. To say otherwise defies commonsense.

But note that the government analyst who wrote the support material says "lighter" work obligations are beneficial and:

Apparently lighter work obligations will allow mothers to take up education for "long-term careers".

These are females who don't know how to stop having kids when they are already in a bad situation!

A shining example of the naive and foolish ideology of the left.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Another one bites the dust

The only op-ed writer left worth reading at Stuff, Martin van Beynen signed off today:

As an opinion writer, it's easier to identify what you oppose rather than what you support. I don't like being told I'm to blame. I don't like zealots and young know-nothings telling me what to do. I don't like wokeness or virtue signalling or cancelling people for some trivial perceived infringement of current sensibilities. I don't like being told I'm privileged or that I had it too good because of being pale and male. I don't like tailoring my views to suit a new zeitgeist. I don't like the implication that everything done to improve people’s lives prior to the latest orthodoxy has been a disastrous failure and that some new system will bring in a utopia.

So there's another voice looking for a new home.

They are piling up.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Chris Trotter foolishly invokes Micky Savage

I think Chris Trotter was in his cups writing about the Budget yesterday, including this line: "To hear Robertson invoke the memory of Ruth Richardson’s “Mother of All Budgets” ... delivered 30 years ago as the final crushing blow against Mickey Savage’s welfare state..."

Is that a joke? The welfare state Savage designed was stringently policed. There was no benefit for any individual who caused their own incapacity to work. Criminals and drunks had no eligibility. Single women who became mothers had no eligibility. Even deserted married women struggled to access assistance. 

By 1991 Savage's welfare state had metamorphosised into a massive mess with sixteen percent of the working age population on a benefit. Until 1970 there was never more than two percent. Savage would have approved of Richardson's reforms (numerically exaggerated in the re-telling) intended to undo the intergenerational dependence and dysfunction that had developed.

Now the country is running headlong into free-for-all, no-questions-asked reliance on the state. As Trotter points out, Clark and Cullen resisted this. And they were right to do so. They consistently maintained work was the best way out of poverty (which includes child poverty).

The kind of values needed to raise children with their wellbeing absolutely utmost cannot be learned from a government. They cannot be replaced by unearned income.

Savage understood human hardship but he also understood human motivation.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

MSD priorities

Recently we learned that MSD was moving its fraud investigators away from beneficiaries and onto businesses.

"...between 40 and 50 MSD staff who usually worked on benefit fraud would be working on subsidy investigations for another 12 to 18 months."

In other words, leave the non-productive alone and go after the productive - those keeping the economy afloat by working and paying taxes.

This seems par for the course now.

I note today in the Budget detail this advice from MSD:

Right now, people getting Jobseeker Support – Health and Disability don’t need to renew their medical certificates. This will continue to be deferred until the new process starts.

This applies to over 78,000 individuals.

The "new process" begins next year and entails a new medical certificate process for Jobseeker clients with a health condition, injury or a disability that affects their ability to work. It’ll be more flexible and based on their health practitioner’s advice.

It's almost certain that for some this will be a fairer process based on their genuine incapacity. But there's an equal argument that these rules need to be stringent to deter malingerers. (Most doctors will welcome the easing. They do not want to play the role of benefit gatekeepers.)

Let's quickly recap on other rules that have been eased since 2017.

Single mothers no longer have to name the father/s of their child/ren. The father pays no child support.

Single mothers who continue to add children to their benefit are no longer subject to a subsequent child policy which kept their original work obligations intact.

Annual jobseeker reapplications and stand-downs are still deferred.

And despite what Mike Hosking said on NewstalkZB this morning about sanctions increasing under Labour, he was only referring to sanctions for having an outstanding arrest warrant. I expect the Covid disruptions to courts has provoked that.

Overall sanctions are decreasing. The following are quarterly:

Timeless evidence the Budget ignores

 "... there is an unavoidable trade-off between providing generous assistance to the poor and improving incentives for people to work and provide for themselves. On average across OECD countries, there is a fairly strong correlation between the effectiveness of tax and benefit systems in reducing poverty and the level of family joblessness. The correlation coefficient is 0.63 – implying that every 1 percentage point increase in the level of poverty reduction achieved by the welfare state is associated with an increase in the number of jobless families by 0.63 percentage points. Among the English-speaking countries, the correlation is even stronger (about 0.92), so that Australia and the United Kingdom reduce child poverty very significantly and have very high levels of joblessness among families; while Canada and the United States reduce poverty much less, but have much lower levels of joblessness (although they have much higher poverty among working families with children). That is, in the English-speaking countries the argument made by Adam, Brewer and Shepherd (2006) appears to apply – more generous support to poor families is associated with higher levels of family joblessness."


As I have said repeatedly that  Jacinda Ardern's fixation with reducing child poverty will be realised only at the cost of more children growing up in benefit-dependent families. 

"...findings show that poor children reliant on government transfers, when compared with poor children reliant on market incomes, have lower living standards and a number of compounding shortfalls that can be expected to place them at greater risk of negative outcomes."


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

No coherence in Labour's thinking or approach

 According to Bryce Edwards on RNZ

"...pressure to deliver to those most in need is now just too great for the government to ignore, and rumours are building that a benefit increase will be announced."

A benefit increase would be consistent with Labour's general approach to welfare.

But how does it tie in with the new immigration policy?

"...the country must move away from its reliance on a low-skilled migrant labour force."

The PM stressed on RNZ this morning, " Those on temporary work visas make up 5 percent of the labour force - the highest share in the OECD" with a definite implication that 'highest' was a bad thing.

But if benefits are made more attractive (along with already increasing ease of access) then New Zealanders are not going to fill the roles that migrants willingly do.

Here's an example:

Jade is on sole parent support, but she does not want to be on a benefit.

She wants to study, but she has decided to wait another couple of years, so she can spend more time with her nine-year-old daughter.

I initially received this as audio and thought I must have misheard, and she said 9 month-old daughter.

I was wrong. 

A benefit is not provided so a parent can spend more time with their 9 year-old who is presumeably at school for most of the day. Jade could support herself - or very nearly - doing any number of jobs that low-skilled migrants do.

Sorry but I have a problem with people with this sort of attitude.

And I am very grateful and inspired by people who come to New Zealand and uncomplainingly fill crucial roles. We need more of their work ethic and self-reliance here.


Monday, May 17, 2021

Why stats matter

You want to know what the average household income by ethnicity is. Seems straight forward. You take a survey of about 20,000 households, ask about how much income they receive (from various sources), assign an ethnicity and average it out for all households that fall into each ethnicity. Here is the result:

From the raw data:

European   50,562
Māori 40,760
Pacific peoples 38,204
Asian 44,198
MELAA 43,385
Other ethnic group 43,155

Total 47,775

Um. Don't these averages seem a little on the low side given so many households have two (or more) workers?

They are. That's because of the process called 'equivalisation'. The 'gross' incomes are equivalised according to the number of household occupants. The greater the number of people reliant on the income, the lower the equivalised income will be.

What would be more revealing is the unadjusted or 'gross' household incomes. Unfortunately these do not appear in the published tables. But I can tell you that the average total gross income is $107,196 which is a darn sight higher than the average $47,775 after equivalisation.

Remember the poverty stats are derived from equivalised income - not gross.

So a family with four children may be reported as poorer than the family with two children living next door even though their gross income is higher.

You may say, so what? 

Why they matter is because these stats drive taxation/redistribution policies. They influence how much is taken from Paul to give to Peter. Doesn't matter how hard Paul worked, what sacrifices he made, how careful he was not to have more children than he could personally afford to raise. If he is defined as 'rich' and Peter is 'poor' you know the outcome.

It's interesting that StatsNZ motto is now:

About Aotearoa, for Aotearoa
Data that improves lives today and for generations to come

Depends on whose lives really.

Men are lazy, delusional and selfish

 Men are not pulling their weight around the house. Apparently if they did the economy would be $1.5 billion better off.  Deloitte's who are making the claim says “You have to put a number on it to get people’s attention.” Surprisingly frank about how manipulative axe-grinders are.

Ex National MP Marilyn Waring wades in, “Men underestimate how much unpaid work their partners do, which means all the rest of their answers are highly questionable because they are working from a fiction, not facts.” 

Not just lazy then but delusional to boot.

"Men were also fiercely defensive of their leisure time". Selfish too.

That's backed up by men picking the best jobs. "Men also tended to favour work that involved fun things like power tools."

Of course all of this male failing can be corrected if the government steps in and makes some "good policy decisions."

Except... just a minute... along comes a bright young woman who doesn't think men are lazy, delusional and selfish. 

“It’s quite fluid for my generation. There’s no expectation to conform, which I quite like,” she said.

Stick that in your pipe Marilyn.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Asian parents give lie to the NZ narrative

The non-challenged New Zealand narrative is that housing costs are a major driver of child poverty. 

Rents are unaffordable, houses are damp and mouldy, and children go hungry and ill as a consequence.

Consider these newly released graphs from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC):

Asian children live in homes with the highest ratio of housing- to- income costs.

Asian children have the lowest experience of damp, mouldy homes.

Asian children are the least likely to go hungry.

Looks a lot to me like Asians prioritise renting or buying at the limit of their capability; that they seek better properties and better neighbourhoods and take responsibility for any damp or mould; and that even on tight budgets they know how to feed their kids.

Asian parents give lie to the New Zealand narrative.

Defining ethnicity for the purposes of measuring child poverty

The Child Poverty Related Indicators report on housing, food security, school attendance and potentionally avoidable hospital admissions. The problem - or absurdity - is that each indicator uses a different method of defining child ethnicity.

• Housing affordability and housing quality indicators: ethnic groups are reported using the total response method. People were able to identify with more than one ethnic group; therefore, figures will not sum to the total population. People who responded ‘New Zealander’ were classified as ‘other ethnic group’.

• Food security: respondents can identify with multiple ethnicities, including specifying an ethnic group not listed.

• School attendance: students were able to identify with up to three ethnicities. Students are counted under each ethnic group they identify with and once in "Total".

• Potentially avoidable admissions: The ethnicity reported is based on prioritised ethnicity for a patient within the hospital inpatient system. This prioritises people to Māori, then Pacific, and then Other ethnicities. A person identified as having more than one ethnicity will be prioritised accordingly and will only be counted once under each ethnicity category for each PAH event.

Take the first, housing. If a child falls in the housing hardship group, and has two or more ethnicities, he is counted twice or more. So there is a bias towards overstating a housing hardship problem for children of mixed ethnicity. 

Conversely, with hospitalisations, even though each child is counted just once, because Maori ethnicity is prioritised, there is a bias towards overstating the Maori aspect of hospitalisation. 

Just two more reasons why the Child Poverty Related Indicators need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Massaging child poverty indicators


This is a graph with which I am familiar. If anything there is an upward trend in 'all cause' child hospitalisations.

So I was somewhat surprised yesterday to hear the good news from the PM's department Child Poverty Related Indicators Report that 'potentially avoidable hospitalisations' (PAH) are trending down.

"Over the five years to 2019/20, rates of potentially avoidable hospitalisations have been decreasing."


So I went looking for the detail that might explain the seeming contradiction (beyond the fact that from March 2020 Covid meant people didn't go to hospital.) Here's the blurb on PAH:

 Potentially avoidable hospitalisations

The Ministry of Health does not routinely collect data on potentially avoidable hospitalisations. In order to present data for this indicator, the Ministry of Health used the National Minimum Dataset (Hospital Inpatient Events) and developed a specific methodology based on analysis from academic literature and discussions with experts. The methodology report has been published by the Ministry of Health (Ministry of Health. Indicator of potentially avoidable hospitalisations for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy: A brief report on methodology. Wellington: Ministry of Health. 2020).

A "specific methodology" designed solely for the purposes of creating a new indicator which...

... is required to help the government: 

-better understand the social determinants of child and youth health

-monitor the collective efforts of the health sector and other sectors on improving the health status of this population subgroup.

Forgive my cynicism but could one include in that list 'to help the government look good?'

What we have is actual hospitalisations rising while 'potentially avoidable hospitalisations' are falling.

Doesn't that mean 'potentially unavoidable hospitalisations' are increasing?

Is that good news? Here's the headline:

'More Children Being Unavoidably Hospitalised'

Talk about spin.