Beneficiary ‘impact’ demonstrates reality of Nats’ war on the poor: but will Labour under Cunliffe do any better?

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Last week our group Auckland Action Against Poverty held our second beneficiary ‘impact’ following the first one in Onehunga last December.

This time we based ourselves at the New Lynn Work & Income office for three days, helping hundreds of people to get the assistance they need and deserve from our fractured and failing welfare system.

A short video of the New Lynn ‘impact’ can be viewed here:

Even though I’ve spent much of my life working with unemployed people and beneficiaries, I was still shocked by what I came across last week.

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Paula Bennett’s reforms are taking their toll.   The right wing mantra of ‘paid work at any cost’ is in full swing.

Almost the first situation I encountered was of a young person being required to attend worktesting seminars for ‘Jobseeker Support’ (the new Unemployment and Sickness benefit) while still an inpatient at a hospital mental health unit.

Then along came a fellow who was being obliged by MSD to look for paid work, despite the fact he was manifestly very physically ill and had the medical certificate to prove it.  His wife was up for worktesting too, even though she was caring full time for him and for their four young children.

Another chap from up north had had his meagre benefit cut by 50% because he couldn’t get to a CV-writing seminar.  Even in  districts without public transport, ‘job seekers’ are constantly vulnerable to benefit cuts of 50-100% if they can’t or won’t hitchhike to often pointless Work & Income seminars and make-work days.

I met a number of sole mums living in horrendous conditions – overcrowded, cold and hungry, washing clothes by hand in the middle of winter and bunking down with their babies and young children in cramped, pest-infested accommodation not fit for humans.  It is no wonder so many children – and their parents – suffer chronic major illness.

It is hard not to feel angry when you find Work and Income turning people down for desperately needed food, clothing or appliance grants; not informing people of their full entitlements; and leaving seriously ill or disabled people on worktested benefits.

Housing New Zealand is no better.  Even those in serious enough circumstances  to have got into the priority queue for housing face an indefinite wait, with no certainty that they’ll ever be allocated a place to live.

By the end of each day at New Lynn, I felt an almost overwhelming sense of grief and outrage at what is being so deliberately done to many of our fellow citizens.

On Thursday last week AAAP put out a media release about what we found.

Not a single outlet picked it up. No journalist visited the impact, despite an invitation to attend and the plenitude of interesting stories they would have gained from the opportunity.

The Labour leadership contest was running at the same time; far more interesting, of course, than any attempt to report on the lives of the poor, or on a major community initiative in the back streets of New Lynn.

I watched the Labour process closely to see if any of the three candidates would make any reference to welfare policies as part of their campaign for the leadership.  As far as I could identify, nothing was said, at least not in any public forum.

It is deeply disturbing that Labour may, once again, prove itself to be a party that cares not a fig for unemployed people and beneficiaries, and their children.

Putting up economic policies which promise jobs some time in the way off future doesn’t cut it.  After all, John Key and Bill English promised us 170,000 new jobs and look how that turned out.

Nor do pledges to lift public sector wages to the ‘living wage’ do anything for those who will still be dependent on welfare should Labour be part of the next Government.

It is bad enough that we face another year or more of a National Government hell bent on causing maximum harm to beneficiaries whose lives are seen as expendable in the name of catching the beneficiary-bashing vote.

Even worse is the prospect that Labour may try to fool us a third time, with happy generalisations about reducing inequality and long term economic recovery.

In 1984 Labour made a bunch of promises to our groups; these were broken almost immediately when hundreds of thousands of people were deliberately put out of work through the rest of the 80s.

As Government in the 2000s Labour once again betrayed beneficiaries, entrenching discrimination against their children with the In Work Tax Credit; abolishing the Special Benefit; reintroducing ‘no go zones’ in rural areas; and rewriting the basis of social security law so that paid work became its primary purpose, paving the way for Paula Bennett’s reforms.

What can we expect next time around? We would like to see Labour:

  • Immediately repeal National’s welfare reforms
  • Remove the discrimination inherent in the In Work Tax Credit
  • Implement widespread employment creation programmes in rural and urban districts
  • Lift benefits to levels people can live on with dignity
  • Massively accelerate state housing build and acquisition
  • Change the culture of Work & Income so that people are treated with respect and granted their full entitlements as of right

… but will they?

I look forward to seeing what Labour under David Cunliffe’s leadership will say – and more importantly do  – on welfare, job creation and housing.

I hope we’ll see an improvement, but if Labour repeats history and continues to operate as National-lite on these issues, there will be a goodly number of us out here who will view that party in the same way as we see National, as simply an enemy of the most vulnerable and defenceless in our society.

26 COMMENTS

  1. i would like to ask how lawful is it to remove someone from a sickness benefit simply by having another winz approved ‘doctor’ talk to them for 20 or so min – without every once examining them or ever once looking at their medical history – but having a folder of personal data from WINZ – how legal is that ?

    and is it that someone applying for a benefit looses their basic human rights by accepting winz support ?

    • How about the repayment of free legal aid that is happening. A good friend of mine got legal aid over 15 years ago. Last week she got a letter in the mail asking her to pay for the aid? Since then another friend of mine has received a ‘letter’ as well. I honestly thought free legal aid was that….. Free. This bill, like so many others of John Keys, was passed secretly.
      I hope labour will address this along with the benefit bills but quite honestly I have no faith in Labour. In fact I think cunliffe could become a Key clone 🙁 I hope he proves me wrong and fights for us lower and middle class people.
      In the mean time, John Keys has to go. The governer general needs to order a snap election.

      • Red Bear: Legal Aid has not been for “free” for many years now, but the Nats have in government just raised the barriers even further, to access it, and for not having to pay it back.

        Also for many minor offences legal aid is not offered anymore. I think at least a 3 or even 6 months potential prison sentence is now the minimum requirement for the Ministry of Justice to even consider a legal aid application.

        So for many charges that have no such minimum sentence, the chance to get legal aid is nil. And for the legal aid granted due to low income, lack of assets and the likes, it is repayable, if a person earns above a certain amount per year, or has assets that can be turned into cash. Hence for many it may just be an “advance” they have to repay.

        Lawyers are also no longer that keen on doing legal aid work, as the goverment set limits that most consider not worth working for, as it barely covers their expenses. There was a court decision not long ago, that meant the government has to go back to the drawing board to adjust the law, as part of it is not acceptable or “legal” what the government introduced.

        As a beneficiary it is an uphill battle to fight unjust decisions by WINZ, and the only remedy after a Medical Appeal Board turns down an appeal from a beneficiary on health grounds, there is only judicial review to the High Court left as a measure to consider. Now how many would dare to take it that far, also in view of legal aid for civil cases being very hard to get?

        Being a beneficiary means more or less, you are shafted left, right and centre!

      • Red Bear: Legal Aid has not been for “free” for many years now, but the Nats have in government just raised the barriers even further, to access it, and for not having to pay it back.

        Also for many minor offences legal aid is not offered anymore. I think at least a 3 or even 6 months potential prison sentence is now the minimum requirement for the Ministry of Justice to even consider a legal aid application.

        So for many charges that have no such minimum sentence, the chance to get legal aid is nil. And for the legal aid granted due to low income, lack of assets and the likes, it is repayable, if a person earns above a certain amount per year, or has assets that can be turned into cash. Hence for many it may just be an “advance” they have to repay.

        Lawyers are also no longer that keen on doing legal aid work, as the goverment set limits that most consider not worth working for, as it barely covers their expenses. There was a court decision not long ago, that meant the government has to go back to the drawing board to adjust the law, as part of it is not acceptable or “legal” what the government introduced.

        As a beneficiary it is an uphill battle to fight unjust decisions by WINZ, and the only remedy after a Medical Appeal Board turns down an appeal from a beneficiary on health grounds, there is only judicial review to the High Court left as a measure to consider. Now how many would dare to take it that far, also in view of legal aid for civil cases being very hard to get?

        Being a beneficiary means more or less, you get shafted left, right and centre!

    • You can have it appealed but it is not easy you have to stand up to a board of doctors selected by Winz and it takes time record everything you have in a book so you can counter their claims.

    • Here is some important information re what to do if you need to see a “designated doctor” (WINZ appointed or suggested doctor):

      http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/13301-what-to-do-if-you-are-required-to-see-a-winz-designated-doctor/

      There is also some information and advice re what to prepare for if you or anybody appeals a decision by a WINZ case manager, which is based on a “designated doctor” recommendation (which Regional Health or Disability Advisors usually accept and pass on to case managers).

      If a person is not happy with a designated doctor decision, which is not seldom the case, then a client of WINZ has the right of appeal. A Medical Appeal Board hears such an appeal, but be aware that the doctors or other health professionals on that M.A.B. are also appointed by the Ministry of Social Development. Usually 2 are GPs, from the same “designated doctor” list WINZ use for the “hand picked” doctors they use (as they often give them more “favourable” recommendations).

      So one has to be careful and prepare well. All important documentation and a support person should be brought along, to avoid unnecessary risks. A support person can take notes and be witness, re what was discussed and so, and having a person with you will make the panel members more cautious, and less inclined to make flawed or even biased decisions against the client. It pays to prepare well and get good advice before facing the appeal panel.

      Yet the M.A.B. will still apply the new staunch approach that WINZ expects of them, namely that they must look at “what a person can do”, and not at “what a person cannot do”. They are only supposed to focus on medical aspects, so avoid discussing too much, if anything, re work or anything else, I suggest. They can still evaluate your responses, and see, how much your illness or disability may impact on any ability to work. Usually they will ask questions re that, so it is important to be very careful with answering to these.

      If issues arise, see and talk to an advocate. There is no further appeal after a M.A.B. makes a decision, but judicial review is one remaining option to challenge a decision by WINZ based on a recommendation by the panel. To go that far it is best to consult a lawyer!

  2. It was an honour and privilege working with AAAP and you, Sue, for this issue. It is one that you know I am passionate about, and will always fight for.

    I just wanted to gently let you know that David Cunliffe’s Office knew about this Action, and indeed helped at least one person with their issue as overflow. Another person I referred to Mr Williams, the MP for Mangere for urgent support having chatted with the senior advocates.

    I asked if David should come through to say hi and to support, but was advised that AAAP rightly did not want to make this into a Party political issue as we have supporters from various Parties. David and the New Lynn Electoral Office Staff supported and respected this view for the sake of those we are helping, so did not turn up. My understanding is that he did not stay away due to not agreeing with the issues, but because he respected the work done and did not want to sully it with party politics. I think that was the correct approach and one that was important.

    I was there alongside my friends who were also working for AAAP from the other supportive left wing Parties. You know I am passionate about this, and I calculated that in just the cases I assisted with, we may have recovered as much as $100,000 from WINZ not paying when they should, or taking money off people when they should not. This is a huge sum, averaging out at a few thousand dollars per person that WINZ had refused to pay over the years due to lack of information, or even a conscious desire to do people out of such needed support. I was there. Labour were there. Mana were there. Greens were there.

    I am ready to help at the next one if at all possible. If I am given the honour by Labour of being an MP, I will do my best to support on at least one of those days, either as I did this time and last time as a Lawyer writing letters to WINZ, or as an MP addressing issues of injustice. You know that I will never lie down and allow injustice to go unaddressed, just like you. It is what I admire most about you. Your sense of justice translated into a passion and actual action.

    As you know, Labour policy is about supporting ALL New Zealanders. I have no doubt that Jacinda would have been happy to voice her support, though I cannot speak for anyone else. Indeed, her actions as MSD Spokesperson to date have been amazing. I am not saying that Labour has nothing to learn. What I am saying is that they are possibly a lot more supportive than you may have thought, and taken a back seat for good reason. However, when it comes to poverty, they are active and driving hard to resolve the issues.

    Just my thoughts on this, and I look forward to the next Action Day.

    Kia kaha!

    Simon

    • Interesting comments you have made to Sue’s blog, but as a long time cynic of the Labour party, my cynicism hasn’t dwindled given last evening’s no show by any Labour MP at Child Poverty Action’s event celebrating 75 years of the social security act. You may say that everyone had to be in Wellington but surely someone should have been at this. Of course Metiria Turei showed her solidarity for the Greens and Minto for Mana.

  3. Hi Sue,
    While I can understand your sadness and frustration at what you have seen during this event I have been a beneficiary under both a Labour and a National government and personally it has been like night and day. I found a Labour government treated me much more humanly. For me as a beneficiary Labour being the party that gets in after the next election is my greatest hope right now for a better future for myself my children and others like me.
    At the last election one of the biggest problems was actually how many voters did not turn out to vote. Recently I have seen articles indicating that many people bought into the media’s prediction before that election that there would be a return to a National government so many thought well how will my one vote change that if it is a forgone conclusion.
    Right now under our current political system one of the two major parties either National or Labour need to build a government with the help of other parties. If I have a choice of either of these two, Labour wins hands down every single time.
    So much of what you say in this article I 100 % support, where however I feel scared of the effect of what you are saying is if it were to have voters particularly beneficiaries thinking that their vote does not matter when it matters more than anything. For me convincing people that Labour is possibly no better than National if I were to believe it (and I don’t thank goodness because my experience shows me otherwise) I might feel actually quite hopeless in my situation and compound what the National government has begun.
    I realise that this is actually not what you are intending. I am sure you merely want David Cunliffe to do something productive around the horror that you have seen.For the welfare of myself , my children and others like me, I merely want you to think about what you want as an out come and think very carefully about what you can say in such articles to better get us there. This is my challenge to you. It is not just about what you are worried about any government doing, it is also about in what way your words might influence the voting public.

    • Karen –

      “I found a Labour government treated me much more humanly.”

      While I would not question that you may have been treated better at a time before late 2008, I am not so sure whether it was due to the then Labour government.

      Personally I had to go through some horrific experiences in 2006, when then needing to apply for the sickness benefit. It was not made easy for me, and only after seeing my doctor x amounts of times, also getting certificates and “assessments” from various health professionals, was my benefit finally granted.

      But after moving from a temporary accommodation to a new place, they then wanted to CUT my benefit, although I paid much more in rent and had other essential expenses. A case manager was totally unsympathetic, and basically did not appear to want to believe me. She even told me I had to get a boarder to “earn” extra money that way, and share my place with, although a spare room was much too tiny and unsuitable. Later I learned she was not even allowed to force me to take in a boarder.

      Only after complaints and requests for reviews, seeing a budget advisor and much else, did the manager of that WINZ office back down. Instead of a cut of benefit, that was planned before, they suddenly increased it.

      Still after that I had a hard ride. So that all happened under “Labour”, and then they also soon abolished the Special Benefit, and the TIA that replaced it has made it impossible for many to survive. Hence some resort to earning a bit here and there and not declare it. Once caught, they get accused of “fraud”.

      So beneficiaries were whipped then, and are even more so now. I also do not quite trust Labour re whatever they promise, and there was NOTHING commented on re welfare in the leadership contest, strange that! So do not be surprised that others share scepticism, as we had promises and double speak so often before. My vote will most likely still go to Greens or perhaps Mana next election, no matter who is Labour leader.

    • Totally agree, Karen.

      When National went in 1999 a huge weight of fear also departed. WINZ wasn’t much better, yet it felt so much safer. That the prying was less, and the one-eyed view of the world had expanded enough to see we aren’t all privileged and middle class. (I think Steve Maharey was the minister.)

      2008 – and back it all came. Any excuse, or none, to sanction and deprive.

  4. I judge a nation, its society and government on whether the poorest of the poor have a basic amount of food, reasonable shelter, enough clothing and sufficient amount of money for basic living.
    In New Zealand, a supposedly civilised, advance nation, the conditions of income, housing, employment and a fair go is fast diminishing for those at the bottom, while the wealthy are fast accelerating their own privileged positions in wealth and living conditions. The wage, income, wealth and societal gap is continually widening. This is so wrong, unethical, unfair, unjust and shameful. It needs to be addressed immediately.

  5. Thank you very much for this article, finally someone is drawing attention to what poverty means in our culture of entitlement.

    I think that ‘homeism’, as in the homeless being shunted into a whole new class of ‘undeserving’ etc, is the new ‘racism’.

    I also agree with your comment regarding Labour’s creation of ‘no go’ zones. It was totally at odds with any notion of egalitarianism and means many people are disassociated from their family land.

  6. It is shocking what is going on in the welfare area, but we have a mainstream media that is too preoccupied with how many snapper people can catch (although for some this is very important), or with the America’s Cup race by and for the rich and famous.

    Politics is all about personalities, and who can work with whom or not, we hear.

    We have a government that is busy hocking off the remaining state owned assets, offering casino operators special deals in return for a future convention centre, and which has no problem paying out large amounts for “corporate welfare”. Yet it has no idea about how the poor in this country struggle to survive. They even despise the poor, as they are in their views to be blamed for their misfortunes, as they make insufficient efforts to succeed in life.

    I read about the IMPACT by AAAP before on other social media, but have noticed that the mainstream media has no time to report on the commendable efforts by Sue and her voluntary workers. Is it because the average journalist and reporter out there comes from secure, reasonably well-off middle-class background, and is therefore more interested in her or his personal career, than bothered with how the less fortunate fare? Is it because the editors and leaders in the mainly private and corporate dominated media tell them what to write about, and not to bother with?

    Anyway, I am sick to death about what goes on, and having been affected by the appalling way Paula Bennett’s WINZ and MSD now increasingly treat more and more of us, sick or not, I am furious about all this what Sue writes about, and which can only be the tip of the iceberg. Most beneficiaries are indeed too scared to criticise WINZ and the Minister, as they fear retributions, like being given a hard time when they go to WINZ the next time. that is why Bennett and her staff get away with what they are doing. Most do not dare to bite the hand that feeds them, as the alternative maybe living rough in the street, or imposing on friends and relatives for a couch to sleep on.

    Most worrying is what they are now doing to pressure sick and disabled into work, relying on this extremist Principal Health Advisor David Bratt, who has been in his job since 2007, and who was hired under the last Labour led government, to oversee Regional Advisors, who are involved in culling sick and disabled off benefits. They are now even tying in doctors, to stop signing off medical certificates, and tell their benefit receiving patients, that ultimately work is “good for their health”, and “therapeutic” even. Healthy are struggling to find jobs, now the sick are forced to compete with them.

    The reality is not so much that “worklessness” is the problem, that keeps people in health related benefit dependence, it is POVERTY, as the following information should make clear without any doubt:

    ‚THINK PROGRESS’:

    “Poverty Has Same Effect On The Brain As Constantly Pulling All Nighters”, by Bryce Covert on August 30, 2013 at 8:54 am:

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/30/2555601/living-poverty-effect-brain-constantly-pulling-nighters/#13793150870871&action=collapse_widget&id=9230521

    “Kids Who Overcome Poverty Are Still In For A Lifetime Of Medical Problems”, by Sy Mukherjee on May 31, 2013 at 2:25 pm:

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/05/31/2079601/kids-poverty-medical-problems/#13793138158751&action=collapse_widget&id=3441677

    Further info:
    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/

  7. It is shocking what is going on in the welfare area, but we have a mainstream media that is too preoccupied with how many snapper people can catch (although for some this is very important), or with the America’s Cup race by and for the rich and famous.

    Politics is all about personalities, and who can work with whom or not, we hear. We have a government that is busy hocking off the remaining state owned assets, offering casino operators special deals in return for a future convention centre, and which has no problem paying out large amounts for “corporate welfare”. Yet it has no idea about how the poor in this country struggle to survive. They even despise the poor, as they are in their views to be blamed for their misfortunes, as they make insufficient efforts to succeed in life.

    I read about the IMPACT by AAAP before on other social media, but have noticed that the mainstream media has no time to report on the commendable efforts by Sue and her voluntary workers. Is it because the average journalist and reporter out there comes from secure, reasonably well-off middle-class background, and is therefore more interested in her or his personal career, than bothered with how the less fortunate fare? Is it because the editors and leaders in the mainly private and corporate dominated media tell them what to write about, and not to bother with?

    Anyway, I am sick to death about what goes on, and having been affected by the appalling way Paula Bennett’s WINZ and MSD now increasingly treat more and more of us, sick or not, I am furious about all this what Sue writes about, and which can only be the tip of the iceberg.

    Most beneficiaries are indeed too scared to criticise WINZ and the Minister, as they fear retributions, like being given a hard time when they go to WINZ the next time. that is why Bennett and her staff get away with what they are doing. Most do not dare to bite the hand that feeds them, as the alternative maybe living rough in the street, or imposing on friends and relatives for a couch to sleep on.

    Most worrying is what they are now doing to pressure sick and disabled into work, relying on this extremist Principal Health Advisor David Bratt, who has been in his job since 2007, and who was hired under the last Labour led government, to oversee Regional Advisors, who are involved in culling sick and disabled off benefits. They are now even tying in doctors, to stop signing off medical certificates, and tell their benefit receiving patients, that ultimately work is “good for their health”, and “therapeutic” even. Healthy are struggling to find jobs, now the sick are forced to compete with them.

    The reality is not so much that “worklessness” is the problem, that keeps people in health related benefit dependence, it is POVERTY, as the following information should make clear without any doubt:

    ‚THINK PROGRESS’:

    “Poverty Has Same Effect On The Brain As Constantly Pulling All Nighters”, by Bryce Covert on August 30, 2013 at 8:54 am:
    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/30/2555601/living-poverty-effect-brain-constantly-pulling-nighters/#13793150870871&action=collapse_widget&id=9230521

    “Kids Who Overcome Poverty Are Still In For A Lifetime Of Medical Problems”, by Sy Mukherjee on May 31, 2013 at 2:25 pm:
    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/05/31/2079601/kids-poverty-medical-problems/#13793138158751&action=collapse_widget&id=3441677

    Further info re welfare reforms and what is really behind it all:
    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/

    • Sorry for the double ups! I put in a slightly incorrect email address with the first comments above, and noticing that, and thinking my comments would not be published, I resent them with the correct email address that must be linked to my name.

      Perhaps the “extra” (doubled up) comments (being the FIRST ones I sent re this post) can be deleted, so that only one of each of the latter ones show?

  8. Excellent blog Sue, thanks for the work you and others are doing around this. It is a bloody disgrace that the media did not pick this up, shame you couldn’t get Campbell live there, my heart goes out to those who are having to run the gauntlet of WINZ, it is indeed truly depressing that a land of plenty such as we live in has got to this point.

  9. As our economy is reliant on maintaining a certain level of unemployment, it is wicked of those in government like Bennett to condemn beneficiaries for their situation rather than doing anything to make their lives more endurable.
    So all power to you, Sue, for the work that you have done all these years to speak for beneficiaries.

  10. Thanks Ms Bradford. I really, really doubt that Labour will remove the punitive policies Nat’s have inflicted on beneficiaries. I have NEVER seen a government remove these things once in place.Unfortunately, it seems the majority favour Bennett’s reforms, or there would be more outrage and something done for children at least, living with overcrowding and hunger.
    State housing is completely corrupt-too many people with decent paying jobs still in state houses, people who sub-let them, and even heard of a young couple (childless, employed)in a state house that had a bedroom for their dog!!
    I too, live in hope Labour will give us a living wage, and more food for beneficiaries. They don’t have to hand us more money, vouchers will do. I am so tired of missing meals so the kids can have more, being cold all the time because I can’t afford heating, and dreading Xmas because there is never enough just to celebrate one day of the year like a normal family.
    The misery and stress of work testing is taking it’s toll-not a morning that I don’t wake up and not feel suicidal. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    • “I have NEVER seen a government remove these things once in place.Unfortunately, it seems the majority favour Bennett’s reforms, or there would be more outrage and something done for children at least, living with overcrowding and hunger.”

      Yes, with dismay, I must agree with your assessment on the unlikely prospect that Labour will reverse the “welfare reforms” that have been introduced under the Nats and Bennett. They will likely only make the odd minor “adjustment” and amend the law accordingly, to just perhaps “moderate” the brutal approach a wee bit.

      Re the public, we must accept, that the wider public knows stuff all about the details of the “reforms”! All the media ever mentioned was drug testing, social obligations (for benefit receiving parents) and plans to stop benefits for people facing arrest warrants. Few would oppose those measures.

      I have noticed that Ardern does not even go near the medical and workability side of issues, as she must fear the response by the supposed “experts” MSD and the government now rely on. She is not up to such complex and high level, academic kinds of challenges, so I fear, hence she has chosen to focus on the “easier”, selected more “emotive” issues like child poverty and child abuse. I have seen and heard her talk to media on that, and it looks a bit well prepared, as if she got some “media training” as of recent. Such topics are stuff the media love and fall over for, to get comments on. Hence Labour let her do the talking on this.

      I agree that child abuse and poverty are top issues and must be raised and addressed, but that should not be done at the expense of other important issues.

      Last year Ardern was always trying to exploit the privacy leak and kiosk “hole” issues, rather than focus on the draft bill and what was in it. So all that tells me that Labour are very insincere to us beneficiaries. They will almost certainly not reverse the nasty reforms if they win the next election and make the next government!

      Hence my vote will go elsewhere, and it should for others on benefits.

    • I’m with Carmen, Labour had plenty of time to roll back insidious legislative attacks on the working and full time home mums and others in our society living on the edges, 9 years of economic growth. ZILCH! They need to be thoroughly grilled now to hold on to some of the things they have ‘suggested’ they will do.

  11. I have real trouble getting my head around;

    1) We’re living in the 21st Century. Supposedly “advanced”. Um don’t you agree that “everyone” ..ie even the general public…believe we are living in “advanced” age….!?
    2) BUT, “Blaming the poor” was supposed to be from Victorian Age, and- Aren’t we supposed to be more enlightened now????
    3) Our GOVT – (how can that be in this day and age??!))—Is launching/has launched ..a direct ASSAULT on people who are victims of a Bogus/false/dysfunctional Economic system?

    4)HOW? can , imposing further hardship/suffering on those already barely coping struggling depriving them of $$ as “penalty” , when they ALREADY not managing..be CONSTRUCTIVE???
    5) That’s surely “psychopath” , “nutcase” “twisted” “evil” mentality?
    6) HOW??? can it be considered “constructive”?
    7) Especially since it’s well understood that job market has shrunk, so there will NEVER be enough jobs!
    8) They( those in power made it like that)
    9) What kind of weird/dysfunctional leadership are we allowing? So ALIEN to the original Kiwi ethos.

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