This Government doesn’t care about vulnerable people

By   /   July 17, 2014  /   25 Comments

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This National Government has talked a lot about welfare reform. There is a lot of talk about statistics but not a lot of it makes any sense. There have been so many name changes to different benefits that it is hard to ignore the fact that numbers are shifted to project a certain picture – a bit like the crime statistics!

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This National Government has talked a lot about welfare reform. There is a lot of talk about statistics but not a lot of it makes any sense. There have been so many name changes to different benefits that it is hard to ignore the fact that numbers are shifted to project a certain picture – a bit like the crime statistics!

But what is becoming increasingly clear is that this Government doesn’t give a toss about our most vulnerable people. Their policies are aimed at adding burdens to beneficiary families. Their latest and one of their more blatant examples of ignoring our most vulnerable families has been excluding them from the newborn babies package. They received advice that to exclude beneficiaries was to ignore the most vulnerable but the Minister of Finance glibly responded that Cabinet rejected that advice because they were supporting those in paid employment.

Such blatant disregard for children is hard to imagine and impossible to justify. But it is consistent with National Party policies going back decades. Beneficiary families don’t contribute to National Party campaign funds. Beneficiary families don’t form a major voting bloc for National. As they have always been they are an easy target. And the Minister of Social Development is clear that she alone knows what’s best for beneficiary families, regardless of official advice or the reports of the Children’s Commissioner or her own Ministry’s Household Income Report that confirmed 230,000 children are living in poverty and 130,000 beneficiary children are living in extreme poverty. This is the cohort of New Zealand children that she has direct responsibility for as the Minister of Social Development. Her solution – sink or swim and let’s throw the baby out with the bath water. So parents, you get off the benefit or your children can starve, literally.

The Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills has said that it is scandalous that beneficiary children’s needs are not being met and Professor Jonathan Boston has asserted that eradicating poverty is a political choice. So, if there is political inertia a question to ask is who benefits from poverty?

This question has been answered by Professor Ananya Roy from the University of California, Berkeley. Topping Professor Roy’s list is organised crime. Maintaining a state of poverty creates the conditions in which the poor represents a market opportunity for those willing to take almost any risk to improve the circumstances of their existence. But the greatest beneficiary may not be human at all. As we observe the proliferation of children living on the streets and prostituting themselves, becoming dependent on drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of their existence and ending their lives because of their state of hopelessness, the greatest opportunist is arguably the growth of disease, from which we cannot be defended by legislation or national boundaries.

But for the majority, Professor Roy asserts that it is corporate capitalism which binds us to poverty. The focus on production and profit maximisation that drives down costs and wages. So, even if you gain employment you do not earn enough to put a roof over your head or food in your belly let alone that of your children.

And that is the focus of the Minister of Social Development – political capitalism that aims to drive down costs by restructuring benefit qualification and entitlements to drive down beneficiary numbers. Whether you are a long term beneficiary, including those with disabilities, or young or old and in need of support, you are seen as a liability and the overall government target is to reduce beneficiary numbers at whatever the cost. And that cost in today’s world is child poverty.

Professor Jonathan Boston is correct. Eradicating poverty is a political choice. And the choices that this government is making today, just like in the 1990s, to exclude and to marginalise and to categorize as undeserving, will have negative ramifications for years to come. Not just for the children living in poverty now, but their children and their children’s children. And therefore, for communities and regions and New Zealand society as a whole.



Authorized by Louisa Wall MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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25 Comments

  1. Dorothy Bulling says:

    In the last few months, politicians on the right have even called the retirement income known as National Superannuation, a benefit. So retired workers beware, watch how you vote, or even your so-called gurarnteed retirement income could be under threat, in spite ot Key’s insistence that he won’t touch it.

    • Mike the Lefty says:

      Yep, National already have their greedy eyes on your money because they need it to pay for their gross borrowing to pay for unnecessary roads, further tax cuts for the rich and subsidies for the polluters. When it is time to pay the piper it will be your money, not theirs, because theirs is safely tucked away in trusts or Cayman Islands bank accounts.

    • geoff lye says:

      Yeah remember what he said ” I wont put Gst up”

      But what happened we got tax cuts and a 2.5% Gst rise leaving us at the LOW income end worse off.

  2. Mike the Lefty says:

    What we are talking about here is National’s policy of making poverty institutionalised, in other words being a normal part of New Zealand society. I previously thought that National based most of their policies on Dickensian England. Now I have to revise that, they are even further back than that -the High Middle Ages – where poverty was considered an unavoidable part of the feudal economic and social system. The great modern dynamic National Party promoting feudal values from 700 years ago! The irony is startling!

    • Draco T Bastard says:

      The thing that really gets me about that is that so few people seem to realise it. Maybe it’s like the stages of grief or something where people just don’t accept that the government is purposefully setting up a feudal society.

  3. mistery says:

    Yes. NZ is currently being run by a bunch of psychopaths.

    They will be gone soon, so take heart.

    A normal human being would definitely not exclude the poorest families from the new babies relief package. Only a deprived and psychopathic mind would do this.

    The Nats are merely proving they surely do belong in this category of psychopaths. I also think that to deliberately, and blatantly, continually deny our poorest and most vulnerable people, is an act of Treason. Why isn’t John Key being issued his notice for Treason? Why? Is it because another of his mates is the Governor General?

    Our poor and starving children qualify for overseas aide.

    Opinion.

  4. Kay says:

    Agree with what you’ve written Louisa (SLP recipient here) but as a Labour Party political broadcast you’ll have to excuse my cynicism.

    Well meaning words, but where is your party’s welfare policy? Should a Labour lead Govt be in power what are you going to do to help change our situation for the better? What are you going to do to help the children of beneficiaries? Will it just be an election bribe or will you actually follow through?Your colleagues are going out of their way to ignore the subject, or change the topic when questioned. I’m still waiting for a reply to my email to your Leader about the lack of policy. Very slow in coming.

    I’ve been on a benefit long enough to know what Labour did to us during the 2000s and how quiet you’ve been the last 6 years. So you can understand why it’s common knowledge amongst us that you’re effectively in agreement with a lot of National’s policies and have no real intention of changing them? We’d like a reason to vote Labour (notice how the Green’s votes have increased- that’s us), but if you won’t even produce a welfare policy, well that speaks volumes.

    Do you wish to respond?

    • Homealone6 says:

      Why is it up to the govt to change things for you for the better? can’t you do it for yourself? I agree that child poverty is terrible but I did my bit by only having the kids I could afford to pay for. I work hard to support them. I’d love a big family but I can’t afford to feed 4+ kids on my wage – so I only had 2.
      Rather than blaming the govt for situation you find yourself in, why not proactively try and do something for yourself & your kids.
      Lifes not fair. Complaining isn’t going to change anything. Its a hard lesson to learn but life is tough.

      • Kay says:

        @Homealone6
        Dear oh dear, you”re obviously one of those who just doesn’t get it, do you? Not sure if it’s even worth trying to explain it to you, you obviously have your mind already made up.

        Guess what- the vast majority don’t have children they can’t afford, as you put it. And what about the families who were able to afford their children before redundancy and then unable to find another job thanks to there not being any more jobs to find, despite the deluded govt. insistence there’s plenty of jobs out there? Do their children deserve to suffer because of that? Or the parent that becomes chronically ill through no fault of their own? Can they change things for the better?

        Most of those people are doing everything possible to improve their lot, even the ill ones believe it or not. Having to survive- and survival is what it’s become- on welfare it NOT a lifestyle choice even if Paula thinks it is. And all you’re doing is aping the right-wing red neck line to convince yourself that everyone who needs a benefit for whatever reason is resonsible for their plight. Does that make you feel superior?

        Homealone- it could happen to you tomorrow, and in a way I hope it does. People like you need a lesson in our reality, financially and having to deal with WINZ, and being on the recieving end of people like you.
        BTW, I don’t have any children, my medical condition precludes it. How would you like to be in that situation??

        • Homealone6 says:

          I’ve been in the situation you are complaining. I’ve been a solo mum (hence the monicka) I’ve been made redundant. I’ve struggled to find a new job & I’ve lived what you are complaining about.
          Life isn’t fair but complaining about it or blaming someone else won’t improve your situation. Think positively & make the best of what you do have. Pick yourself up & do everything you can to improve the situation you find yourself. I studied while earning a tiny hourly rate so I’d be able to get a better paying job. It was tough & at times it got worse (especially when you have your transport stolen from ourside your house!) Learn a skill that people want & are willing to pay for. Surround yourself with like minded people. It makes a difference.

          • Marc says:

            Another one I would class as a “Kiwi battler”, always “proud” to be doing that extra bit “more” than the supposedly “less deserving” below.

            I HATE Kiwi battlers, rednecks of the lower ranks, frowning on decent humanity, as they put up with so much shit, they love it!

            Sad really, when smarter solutions can improve life for all, without endless division and hatred.

          • Kay says:

            @Homealone6
            Well good on you for what you were able to achieve, I’m genuinely pleased for you, and for all those who are able to improve their situation.

            But you still don’t get it, do you? That there are those who CANNOT- through no fault of their own do what you did. What if you lost your job through severe chronic illness and not redundency? Then what?

            I’m an ex-DPB kid from the 70’s when my mum had to leave my severely mentally ill father, an awful situation for all of us. Society wasn’t very nice to solo mums back then either, but the benefit rate, although still lower than wages, plus the universal family benefit meant we were homed, properly fed & clothed, and were able to do what all kids did. In case you’re not aware, all benefit rates were slashed in 1991 and haven’t been increased at all since then, so have effectively been decreasing every year since then. I know how hard it’s getting just paying my own way with high medical costs. I can only imagine how difficult having to keep one child would be.

            My point is, NZ as a society used to CARE about each other. Since 1984 and Rogernomics it became all about “me” and stuff everyone else. Community doesn’t matter, major political parties campaign on who can give the most tax cuts (not benefit increases). Look at what’s happened in the US. They never had much of a welfare system in the first place, now it’s been effectively destroyed and god knows how many people have died because of that. The UK is in the process of dismantaling theirs in the name of idealogical “reform” (that Paula’s very keen to copy) and there’s now proof that the sanctions on disablilty benefits there are directly responsible for suicides.

            Do you want to see that happen here?

            Were not “complaining” as you seem to think. Most people who have the misfortune to need to be on welfare are very grateful we live in a country that has (well, had) a safety net. But we need to be able to pay the bills, to feed our kids (and ourselves) and have some quality of life and not be on the verge of suicide from the constant stress of our situation.

            Do you have a problem with that?

        • SJ says:

          Dear oh dear, seems you have your mind made up also, you lot are as bad as each other

  5. jane says:

    Denying babies rights contravenes article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

    also from the preamble: “Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,” ibid.,
    the words ‘disregard’ and ‘contempt’ outstandingly describe the state of mind which would discriminate against a newborn infant.
    Often commentators on blogs declare the indigent to be lacking in common sense when producing offspring, however, they are silent when it comes to criticism of a religion which may proscribe abstinence as it’s main form of contraception, or of a booze and rape culture promulgated indiscriminately by the advertisers and therefore the producers of porn and liquor.
    There you go, I said promulgated, I meant promoted and provided and permeated and etc etc….

    • SJ says:

      Yeah and we all know what a huge success the United Nations has been over its short and pointless existance

  6. Michael says:

    I agree with Kay’s post, above: the silence from Labour on its welfare (and ACC) policies are deafening. Labour’s track record in government, on both, is bad: it was largely content to let the National party-imposed status quo remain. As a result bureaucratic oppression of vulnerable people flourished. Labour knew all this but chose to let it happen. It is no coincidence that people who historically voted Labour stopped voting at all, while their children won’t even enroll. Labour’s chickens are coming home to roost and will take more than Louisa Wall’s post, accurate though it is, to change the situation, assuming Labour’s hierarchs even want to. Today, there is no evidence whatsoever that Labour has the will, or the capacity, to make the executive branch of government serve the people rather than the other way around.

    • Draco T Bastard says:

      It was the 4th Labour government that put us on the path to becoming feudal state and nothing that they’ve done since has changed that trajectory.

    • geoff lye says:

      I sure would like to know what labour intends to do to make diabetics lives easier.

      Just the shear cost of daily living to buy meds just to stay alive is cruel and torturous.

      So what gives.

    • Marc says:

      Hence the only option is to vote Greens or Internet Mana, to have MPs in the House, that Labour would need, and who can put some conditions on welfare policy to Labour. That is about the only hope for the affected, apart from perhaps some capable, and determined person to challenge some of the nasty aspects before a court.

      I am certainly extremely disappointed with Labour, and I am starting to fear this election may prove a disaster for the party, which may actually have a “blood letting” split happen afterwards.

      So Louisa, same as Sue Moroney, have a duty to convince us that they really care and will reverse the worst of the reforms that National put in place, be this for sole parents, sick and disabled and for children.

  7. cleangreen says:

    National now stands for
    “no assistance to individuals only needing any life support.”
    They are a crass inhuman lot that probably idolised rogernomics and still do.
    Cant wait to get rid of them.

  8. Draco T Bastard says:

    But for the majority, Professor Roy asserts that it is corporate capitalism which binds us to poverty. The focus on production and profit maximisation that drives down costs and wages. So, even if you gain employment you do not earn enough to put a roof over your head or food in your belly let alone that of your children.

    Been saying it for awhile – we cannot afford the rich.

    And, no, it’s not the rich that pays for everything – it’s the poor and middle and it has always been thus. The rich just steal from the rest of us and then use their ill-gotten wealth to rule over us and putting in place policies that protect them.

  9. mistery says:

    Yes come on Labour – David Cunliffe.

    What exactly are you intending to do about our WINZ and ACC recipients – our countries most vulnerable people, who are being relentlessly persecuted?

    Its all good to speak, but actions speak much louder than words.

    The time is now to enlighten us all.

    What exactly are your plans?

    opinion.

  10. Marc says:

    Quote: “And that is the focus of the Minister of Social Development – political capitalism that aims to drive down costs by restructuring benefit qualification and entitlements to drive down beneficiary numbers. Whether you are a long term beneficiary, including those with disabilities, or young or old and in need of support, you are seen as a liability and the overall government target is to reduce beneficiary numbers at whatever the cost. And that cost in today’s world is child poverty.”

    YEP, and it has been correctly assessed by many critics that it is all about reducing benefit recipients and costs. All the talk about extra “investment” is mostly covering the additional staff they employ now, to provide “intensive case management”, which is politically correct talk for pressuring clients into making numerous agreements, to make efforts to get the bloody hell of the benefit, and take on any kinds of jobs, no matter whether working 15 or 20 hours a week will pay your bills.

    The truth about what is going on for sick and disabled is found here:
    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/16092-work-ability-assessments-done-for-work-and-income-%E2%80%93-partly-following-acc%E2%80%99s-approach-a-revealing-fact-study/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15463-designated-doctors-%e2%80%93-used-by-work-and-income-some-also-used-by-acc/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/

    And this blog posts on Public Address exposes how MSD and WINZ are doing all to HIDE what they are doing, and how they would “evaluate” it:
    http://publicaddress.net/speaker/how-is-government-evaluating-its-welfare/

    Bennett and this government are all about counting beans and do not really care much about the suffering of the weakest. It is all about their “investment approach”, numbers and “sink or swim”, in a neo liberal capitalist society they idealise. Contracting out services to fee earning “service providers” is another aspect to the PRIVATISATION of welfare, of which we will definitely see a lot more should National get a third term.

    So far WINZ are still “testing” the new regime, and have not gone full steam with it, and the government and Bennett are also mindful to ensure (likely by Ministerial Directives to the WINZ CEs) that nothing too extreme happens before the election, and that bad news are kept away from a largely disinterested media.

    People, do NOT give this horrible lot in government another term, please, it will likely cost some lives at the war-front of “welfare” policy, that has lost it’s true meaning.