Why Social Workers are being cut out of review – the privatisation of social welfare MSM will miss in the budget


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What no mainstream media pundit has yet picked up on in the lead up to the 2015 budget is what Chris Trotter has identified – that this budget, beneath the spin, will be National’s blitzkrieg to privatise social welfare

The “Better Public Services Programme” that Bill English launches on Thursday (almost certainly under a new and catchier name) won’t be about relinquishing all state responsibility for the poor, the sick and the young, it will be about funding private entities to provide services which, hitherto, had been provided by public servants.

In English’s own words to the Institute of Public Administration on 19 February 2015: “Testing for spending effectiveness will be core to this process. If we can’t measure effectiveness, it won’t be funded through social investment. We’ll be systematically reprioritising funding to providers that get results.”

To anyone who’s been following the commissioning of the new privately-run prison at Wiri, south of Auckland, all this talk of “social investment” and “providers” will sound very familiar. The taxpayers have spent millions on the construction of the Wiri facility, and the Government has just announced the laying-off of close to 200 prison officers from around the country in order to supply it with a core of highly-trained staff, but the actual running of the prison has been contracted-out to the multinational firm, Serco. For the next quarter-of-a-century a private entity will be permitted to extract a substantial profit for the provision of a “service” that the state (minus the profit) has, quite rightly, accepted responsibility for the past 200 years.

…and the truth of this is being seen now with news that Social Welfare workers are being cut out of the new review into CYFS

Lead by senior public servant Paula Rebstock, the panel is to oversee a new operating model to modernise CYF and enhance its governance.

It is expected to have a wide-ranging brief to consider all aspects of CYF operations.

The panel also includes Police Commissioner Mike Bush, chief science adviser to the Ministry of Social Development Richie Poulton, former Maori Party chief of staff Helen Leahy and Duncan Dunlop, chief executive of Who Cares? Scotland, an independent advocacy charity for young people.

Association chief executive Lucy Sandford-Reed said at face value the review was laudable, but in reality the terms were “frightening”.

Reference to things like outsourcing was “the language of privatising, of using business models, whereas working for change actually involves relationships.”

Having no social worker representation on the panel was “gobsmacking”.

…the reason Social Welfare workers are being denied a voice is because this is an ideological hit squad going in to identify ways to get corporations involved in social welfare provision.

Most corporate news pundits have no connection with poverty. It’s been one of Key’s secrets of his success, the spin that he is really moderate. That’s true if you are middle class, but working people and beneficiaries have seen first hand the brutality of Key’s economic darwinism.  That reality doesn’t impact pundits, so the line Key is moderate gets spun. The question is whether any media manage to pick this social welfare privatisation up in the budget this week.


  1. Paula Rebstock has been used by this regime to implement their privatisation schemes in the past. She is known to be corrupt so, no surprises there.

      • The government is setting up everything to privatise what NZs have always owned making it easier for TPP to work for them and against us.
        I wonder if this Rebstock yank is another Obama plant,she is on practically every board or committee to sell us out.
        Key deliberately chose a corrupt nasty individual to do this work.

        Nothing in NZ is sacred to Key he is determined to sell us to anyone on his list of cronies,why do we just blog about it nothing gets done ,Labour seems to be in on the corruption ,who can we trust,had hope of Winston but never hear anything from him now , have I missed something.

  2. CYF’s employ Clinical Psychologists from outside the Public service to assess children in care. Is this the sort of privatisation you so oppose?

    • No because the social service ie Cyfs is still in the control of the collective, us, as represented by the govt, not some private corporation

  3. Ann Johns don’t worry about the background noise of a Nat Troll.

    You are so right here regarding Paula Rebstock she is a hatchet woman that is sent to carry out others dirty work and when things get to hot she will be moved on.

    Her career spans many years of this type of activity.


    She as also is deputy Chair on the Kiwirail Board behind Chairman John Spencer.

    These anti rail hatchet wielding subjectivist’s are placed there purposefully as we believe they are preparing Kiwirail again to be among the next series of sales that will be put up for privatisation, that is Rebstock/Spencers jobs and they need to be investigated.

    Kiwirail has been proven it cant run a railway under this Truck transport gridlock loving tar seal administration.

    They are cutting up 200 wagons a week in Auckland as we speak we are told.

    While dumping all the Electric locomotives, this is while they are closing down regional rail services, and are deep in debt today also and broke.

    See the logic?


    NZ First calls for an inquiry after KiwiRail turned its back on the Napier – Gisborne line.

    Created: Monday, 18 May 2015 11:44

    Napier rail

    New Zealand First wants an inquiry into the performance of passenger rail, rail freight and sea freight and especially the effect of these upon regional economic development.

    “Something is seriously amiss with integrated rail and sea freight,” says New Zealand First Transport spokesperson, Denis O’Rourke.

    “The loss of sea container services from Port Taranaki is costing one exporter $400,000 to use road and rail instead. This lack of a container service may force exporters in the regions to consider relocating to where the scheduled services are.

    “What becomes a boon for Auckland’s mad port expansion is a bust for the regions.

    “Yes the Productivity Commission did look at international freight, but in the past three years, what action has this report generated aside from gathering dust?

    “An inquiry could establish where we need sea container services. We should not be scared to use the word subsidy because many things are subsidised from theatres to bus tickets. Why not something that will support regional exports and jobs instead of Auckland? “

    “This also becomes the ideal forum to look into the apparent mismanagement of KiwiRail – a company which has turned its back on the rail line between Napier and Gisborne while the North Auckland rail line has been run into the ground,” says Mr O’Rourke.

    Also we need to investigate PM Keys’ links to her during the time he was at Merrill lynch in NY.

    Paula Rebstock came to NZ after key made the killing of NZ currency in 1987 so is this just a co-incidence?

    “After graduation she initially worked in New York before moving to New Zealand in 1987!!!!!!!!

    John Key deliberately undermined the NZ new Labour Government, and the economy as he deliberately then conducted currency derivatives trading with Andy Krieger in 1987 as one of the best known and successful ruthless speculators around then, and perhaps Rebstock was in the mix then also as the timeline fits and now his choice of her since then?

    Are we joining the dots here?


    MARKETS: Shadow banking in the spotlight

    Giles Parkinson10 Nov 2008, 10:54 AM
    John Key is living proof that not all heads of derivatives operations for large US investment banks end up in the dog house. Some get to run their own country.

    Key was elected prime minister of New Zealand last weekend after his National Party achieved a crushing victory over the incumbent Labour government of Helen Clark.

    The timing of his elevation, in the midst of a financial crisis, may be quite prophetic. After all, Key’s rise to prominence in foreign exchange circles came after he struck a rewarding relationship at Bankers Trust with Andy Krieger, a daring New York-based trader who launched a legendary raid against the NZ dollar in 1987.

    Krieger reportedly bet more than the country’s entire money supply against the currency, forcing it down sharply and taking massive profits in what is still described as one of the finest forex plays ever completed.

    Key’s role in this raid is not entirely clear. The timing of his arrival at BT suggests he might not have had a great deal to do with it, but he benefited from Krieger’s continuing interest in the currency, which helped Key lift BT to top of the local currency tables and attract interest from international investment banks.

    New Zealand’s new leader also knows a lot about job losses, having by his own admission earned the reputation of being the “smiling assassin” during his short stint at the Sydney offices of Merrill Lynch in 2001 when he reportedly helped fire some 500 staff.

    He had been through this process before, after Merrills incurred massive losses as a result of the Asian crisis. Key, then head of the bank’s forex operations in London, is credited by former colleagues for his ability to hold a demoralised team together, even while sacking, in his own words “dozens fewer than 100”, a comment that reveals an early talent for political spin.

    Key began his career as an auditor in Christchurch before joining Elders Finance in the mid 1980s as a foreign exchange dealer. Within two years he was the head forex trader at Elders before moving to BT in 1988 and then to Merrill Lynch, where he headed the Asian forex operations from Singapore.

    From there, he quickly rose to become head of Merrills’ global forex operations in London, where he is said to have commanded a multi-million dollar salary, before deciding to turn to politics to pursue his childhood dream of becoming PM. Now that he is there, his take on what many people expect to be a heavy re-regulation of world financial markets should be interesting.

    In an interview for an article jointly authored by London’s Financial Times and New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times earlier this year, Key admitted a great admiration for Krieger.

    “He was a pioneer, in the sense he was one of the few people in the world who understood the options market before it was really established. He blazed a trail and that gave him a strategic advantage early on.”

    Key also said he did not believe there was a moral issue for the traders who made speculative attacks on currencies, or for the dealing rooms that carry out their orders.

    “I can’t remember whether Andy Krieger was buying or selling, it might have been selling with me, but at the time it would have reflected the economic fundamentals at play in New Zealand. The markets are ultimately too large for any one individual to manipulate.

    “There is much more good gained from having a fully functioning financial market than there ever is from not having that. We provided liquidity, we provided stability.

    “There would be plenty of exporters today who would be cheering from the sidelines if Andy Krieger came in to sell a whole lot of New Zealand dollars. And equally if he was buying it there would be plenty of importers who would be cheering from the rafters. So it’s not as clear-cut as some people might think.”

    Footnote; Notice FJK was using the same classic “I cant remember” excuse again!!!!

  4. Thanks for raising all this again, Martyn, it deserves more attention and very close inspection and much scrutiny, what has already been done and made public.

    Here is a list of submissions, by those concerned about, and also those (some very vested interest parties, like private providers as the Wise Group) supporting the “investment approach” taken by this government, in social services:


    Read a draft report by the ‘Productivity Commission’ that has tended to be following the neoliberal, pro privatisation and outsourcing approach in many policy areas:

    Also a very interesting read are the post and especially many comments made under this title ‘Disability as a wicked policy problem’ by Hilary Stace on ‘Public Address’:


    And make sure you read that speech by Bill English, Finance Minister and Deputy PM, that he held in front of the Institute of Public Administration on 19 February, which Chris Trotter also referred to:

    ‘Speech to the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand’

    When you study all that, and read between the lines, and draw the logical conclusions, we face much more privatisation, outsourcing, contracting of all kinds of small and not so small service providers, and a total breaking up of social service delivery into multiple players and levels, probably with a minimum of enforceable safety and other protective standards.

    It is definitely time to be very worried, to be afraid, if you are one of the many people that depend on the services they plan to contract out, mainly on “performance” based on cost efficiency and output measurable in numbers (bums on seats, heads counted in “throughput”)!

  5. “Most corporate news pundits have no connection with poverty. It’s been one of Key’s secrets of his success, the spin that he is really moderate. That’s true if you are middle class, but working people and beneficiaries have seen first hand the brutality of Key’s economic darwinism. That reality doesn’t impact pundits, so the line Key is moderate gets spun. The question is whether any media manage to pick this social welfare privatisation up in the budget this week.”

    Well, the news and reporting staff at TVNZ did certainly pick up on it, hence their report on this counselling service facing closure:

    Today we also learned, via Radio NZ at least, that the government actually cut that counseling service’s funding by about 4 million a year or two ago, as part of renegotiating a contract.

    That organisation got funding from MSD and the Ministry of Justice, and the latter cut funding.

    Hence there is now intense debate on how the government can go around and talk about inefficiencies and their service being run on an unsustainable basis, while it actually contributed to it getting into difficulties in the first place.

    Yes, most journalists do not understand or relate to poverty, and those at the bottom end of the social scale, as they come from rather secure middle class or even upper middle class backgrounds, and are more preoccupied with tweeting each other frivolous little messages than finding out life on the coal face of deprivation.

    Given the fact that some of them also read here, on The Standard and various other blogs, which many of them may not admit to, they know full well what the issues are.

    It is simply the internal media operational and editorial rules, policy and priorities that they face, that they cannot report on it, like in the case where they may be interested, as the sub- or chief editors draw lines in the sand, and say, this is ok, don’t bother with that, thanks.

    And the criteria is to bring emotive headline stories, or some simple, clear facts, that may interest the wider public, being the middle class before anyone else. As the constant brain conditioning of them has led to other “issues”, or infotainment, or news about weather, crime, sports, celebrity visits, the newest app or piece of music, film or interactive game on the market, being all that people look at, they get away with what they are doing.

    It seems that few bother these days, to sit through serious, informative programs, including news, where they have to face cold figures and facts, unpleasant pictures, and challenges, that are simply the “inconvenient truth”. Modern brains seem more geared to instant messaging, instant reactions, instant, short term thinking and pleasure seeking. Analysis, complex thinking and planning are no longer encouraged, and that is of course wanted by the forces that dominate society as it is, commercial interests that is.

    The few that care and bother, they visit certain online blogs, such as this one, or do other stuff of substance, the rest simply focus on “number one”, and little else. It is a sad state of affairs, but that is how it seems to be.

    Hence the “success” of Nats under Key getting 3 terms in government, something I would never have believed before, had it not happened by now.

  6. ““Testing for spending effectiveness will be core to this process. If we can’t measure effectiveness, it won’t be funded through social investment. Testing for spending effectiveness will be core to this process. If we can’t measure effectiveness, it won’t be funded through social investment. We’ll be systematically reprioritising funding to providers that get results.”

    What does this mean in practice?

    How will ‘spending effectiveness’ be ‘tested’? And by whom? And peer-reviewed by…?

    What is the stated end in mind? (Is there one?!) Or will it be made up to suit whatever results eventuate?

    Can people volunteer to be guinea pigs for this ‘test’? Are the testers allowed to proceed if people don’t consent? Or will they make offers people would be putting their survival at risk if they refuse?

    What is this ‘system’ he’s talking about – ‘systematically reprioritising funding’ – who will be? How? Over what time frame?

    This sounds like a bad case of Treasury-speak – baffle-words. Has anyone asked the Awesome Mr English what he was actually on about?

  7. ‘Testing for spending effectiveness’ is the market model in action.

    It most often results in cheating to attain ‘targets’.

    An example of this would be the police in Judith Collins electorate not recording burglary s and then Judith Collins using these false figures of low burglary rates to show how good she was as a police minister.

    Its about as honest as John Banks recording of electoral donations ….

    • And because there was a flaw in the proceeding, so Banks could get off the earlier conviction, that being thrown out now, he can run around pointing the finger at all others, and pretend he was “innocent” after all.

      We all know that Banks knew where the 25k a piece donations came from, and that he asked Dotcom to split 50k, but as Banks knew how to use legal loopholes, and argued accordingly, he nearly got off the first time also.

      All that saved his neck was that two American business men did not hear donations being discussed at the Dotcom Mansion when they were there, and that they signed an affidavit to state this. It did not match earlier accounts by Dotcom and his wife, and as Dotcom appears to have accepted, that he could after all not be so sure it was discussed during a dinner at his home, has Banks now got off.

      The MSM now reported as if he was found totally innocent, as he got a conviction overturned by the Appeals Court, and many in the public will have forgotten all that led to him being put before the court in the first place.

      Also Judith Collins is now working on getting her ministerial job back, and seems to be succeeding with getting more into the limelight again.

      People are so gullible, and that is why they get hood-winked again and again. And many will vote for Key and Nats yet again next election, I fear, as they simply prefer to wear blinkers 24/7 and ignore the poor, and the nasty “reforms” by National, which punish the beneficiaries. That though tends to leave more money in the pockets of the “hard working Kiwis”, after yet more tax cuts in 2017.

      English’s budget this year is so meager, because they are already planning a splash for the upper and upper middle class in a year or two. Shame on this government.

  8. I’m surprised from reading Jacinda Ardern’s latest comments on Facebook just a couple of days ago that she doesn’t seem to get what is going on. She seems very switched on but she still hasn’t realised that the whole thing is a set up and is hoping that the CYFS review might bring some good results

  9. We have to take a nuanced approach here. Of course I agree that the Nats intend this review to support corporatization and privatization of social services, and that this needs to be exposed and opposed. But at the same time, for a lot of working class families, CYF social workers come across as the velvet glove around an iron fist of state power imposed on their lives, and there is an urgent need for independent public oversight of CYF social workers and their practices. According to social worker Graeme Axford, from advocacy group Family Crisis Intervention Service (panic.org.nz), the only public oversight of CYF social workers are local panels which can be fired by the manager of the local CYF branch (and this has happened at least once in Tauranga).

    Is there any way we can use this review to advocate for publicly-funded public services operated by not-for-profits (whether governmental or non-governmental), and under public service management, while also using it to expose the intimidating behaviour and misuse of state power (or the threat of it) CYF are well known for?

  10. Key seriously needs to be pushed out of politics before the next election, as he has been over the years sorting out and setting up a lot of his mates in what he is doing lately. No wonder Key is so cocksure of himself, he’s got his little army of infiltrators, opening the way for a takeover of New Zealand, getting insiders into place for the TPPA.
    If this is the case, as I see to believe it is, then this is leading to insider trading. In such a case, Key can be held accountable for illegal activity of such a nature.
    This is fast becoming corporate control through political means.

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