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.