Excuse me Minister


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On The Nation:

I listened in disbelief to Lisa Owen interviewing Bill English on The Nation. Perhaps they believe their own spin?

Asked why the Government wouldn’t give the extra funding targeted at the very poorest children to all those counted as “deprived”, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says, “They don’t all need it. And you don’t want the state interfering in families in a really intensive way if they don’t need it.”

Excuse me Minister, but aren’t you confusing the intensive help that some dysfunctional and low achieving students may desperately need, with the right of all children to not suffer deprivation? To say those 190,000 deprived children do not ‘need’ a warm dry home, good food, lunch, warm clothes in winter is monstrous.

The biggest success we’ve had, of course, has been with sole parents. We’ve reduced the numbers of parents reliant on a benefit by 25% over the last five years. That means those families are now living independently, and we know that’s good for them and we know it’s much better for their children.

Excuse me Minister. Aren’t you confusing success in pushing sole parents off the benefit, often via unjust sanctions, often to insecure poorly paid work, often to the vagaries of child support, with improved well-being of the children?  How are you so confident what you have done in creating the mother’s ‘ independence’ has been “good for them” and “much better for their children”?  Just listen to the social agencies who tell of unprecedented distress.

And just how does predictive modelling help?

We know, for instance, using those four predictive factors [a parent who’s been to prison, a sibling who’s suffered some form of abuse, family relying on a benefit for a prolonged period of time, a mother without qualification] that of a group of 10 kids, three will not fail. We’re really as interested in what’s the resilience around those three young people that we need to create more of in the environment.

Excuse me Minister, where did you get your social work training now? Does this small group (600 children) with a high risk profile actually produce more ‘failing children’ in absolute numbers than the larger group 190,000? I don’t think so. But you give it all away when you say that actually you’re not interested in the failing 420 children but in the 280 who apparently don’t ‘fail’ because they clearly have what it takes to tough it out.  Just how are you going to give their characteristics to the 420 who ‘fail’ and is this what you really think would solve child poverty?

You say we can ignore the 190,000 really poor children because:

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this government, in last year’s Budget, addressed that and raised the benefit levels for the first time in 42 years and also raised the Working for Families to very low-income families but to directly address those hardship factors that we knew some children were experiencing.

Excuse me Minister. That small increment in benefits for those with children has NOT solved any child poverty problem and you managed to ignore the OECD who said an across the board rise in ALL benefits was needed just to restore some semblance of relativity to average wages.

PLEASE do not trumpet your government’s appalling record with Working for Families. The small increase to the In Work Tax Credit was no more than inflation adjustment. It had not been changed for 10 years. The In  Work Tax Credit may help a few ‘working’ families but many will see their Working for Families eroded by the faster claw back and lower threshold and the lack of inflation adjustment that your government has sneakily set in train.  CPAG demands government  Fix Working for Families.  

Minister you don’t know what your policies are doing to families. At least Bill English has the grace not to mention Working for Families as he knows the true story of what he is doing.


  1. Apalling.

    All I can suggest is that if you see her strolling the streets? Make her run while screaming.

  2. It’s this governments level of intelligence to ignore the truth of their policies, by sidestepping, dancing around, spinning lies, and laying blame elsewhere. And this government has the audacity to call themselves National Party Ltd?
    When is someone going to stand up in the House of Representatives and shout out “Enough is enough! Stop!”

  3. Susan, I gave up after five minutes as I could see the predetermined minds of Bullengliish ec’t it was appalling for sure.

  4. Indeed, Susan, I was rather disappointed with that interview that Lisa Owen conducted with those three “heavy weights” from the cabinet.

    She did not bother asking the hard questions, and let them slip through with their propaganda talk and slogans.

    I am furious about the media now widely accepting that “beneficiaries” got an “increase” of 25 dollars a week, which is a total lie, same as much else they said were lies and half truths and manipulations.

    Hardly any, probably NO parent beneficiary, and it is only parents on benefit, will have got the full 25 dollars, if perhaps even half that amount, which will be of little help if you have more than one child, as it makes it a ridiculous increase when having to be shared on food costs for say two, three or even more kids in a beneficiary parent home.

    ALL OTHER beneficiaries got NO increase at all, except the shameful annual “inflation adjustment”, which does not adjust to the actual high housing costs, due to massive housing inflation we have in cities like Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton and now even Dunedin.

    What about those with permanent, severe disablement, with permanent sickness, on Supported Living Support? They got NO increase, what about single persons on the Jobseeker Support benefit, what about couples with no kids? NADA for them, get screwed the government told them.

    And I will not even address the rest, as we know it is all spin and lies, that was delivered on The Nation last weekend. Half of people leaving benefits end up with NO jobs.


    Thanks to CPAG for submitting to the Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill, another bill presented and before the Committee now, with a number of more changes, some hidden away in legalistic wordings. People should read some of the stuff found here:

    You will again see how the government Committee members will dominate the report that will be presented, and that this government will ignore most if not all submissions with criticism, and wave another nasty change to social security legislation through, which most out there have NO clue about.

  5. Mike
    Thanks for those comments and posting that link. It is deeply concerning to see the undermining of the welfare state with no debate it seems

    • The media does not even seem to be aware of this cunningly drafted “rewrite bill”, as I have not heard any comment on it at all. I is astonishing and shocking at the same time, as the Social Security Act is one of the most important and most comprehensive pieces of legislation we have.

      That is why there is no debate, most do not even know of it, as only a marginal number of people follow what goes on on Parliament TV or what is published on the Parliament website. The government will be very happy about this, up to the filing deadline only 123 submission documents were filed, most by the usual submitters who are insiders in the welfare business, plus a few individuals who have contacts and know what goes on.

      But we have at least Pokemon Go now, that will solve all our future problems I suppose.

  6. Excellent review, Susan. I agree that Lisa Owen’s interview with the three ministers left me feeling uneasy. The questions were not as probing as they could have been; hard data and facts were omitted; and few follow-up questions looked behind the minister’s responses.

    On top of which the format of one lone interviewer facing three seasoned politicians was doomed from the start. Ms Owen was outnumbered and had to focus of three politicians, well-versed in handling hard interviews.

    A better format would’ve been three interviewers facing the three politicians. That would evened the numbers and offered more diversity in questioning and follow-ups.

    • Yes Frank, National like the power in numbers type of interviews. More like arrogance in numbers.
      Image Hoskings doing the same thing to Labour members? I thought not.

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