Dear Green supporters – remember this Treason – Metiria’s real crime was to force NZ to confront its neoliberal welfare cruelty

By   /   August 6, 2017  /   11 Comments

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…the vast unseen beneficiary electorate who have been spat on, abused, hurt, violated and torn to shreds by the neoliberal welfare state we inflict upon them can see the hypocrisy in the character assassination of Metiria for her courageous admission up against the fake insincerity of Bill English.


Bill English buckles over housing allowance

Caving in to pressure, Bill English has paid back $32,000 and vowed to stop claiming a housing allowance.

The deputy prime minister admitted yesterday that the row over his housing allowance had taken his attention away from running the economy, while Prime Minister John Key said the row had become “an unfortunate distraction”.

Mr English has come under fire over allowances he claimed for living in his $1.2 million Karori house, but has failed to shut down the controversy since it was revealed by The Dominion Post in July.

He said yesterday he had paid back $32,000 and pledged not to claim any more taxpayer cash for housing.

…there is an enormous difference between stealing for need and stealing for greed, but that didn’t stop the media descending upon Metiria as if she had admitted torturing pets.

The right wing media hate Metiria because she has dared to point out the truth of the insane cruelty used by our neoliberal welfare agencies – WINZ, Ministry for making Vulnerable Children, Housing NZ, MSD, Corrections and Probations.

The way policy is purposely made confusing so that 60% of beneficiaries end up owing WINZ for overpayments. 

The way the application form for the benefit is a staggering 73 pages long!

The way the benefit was calculated by Ruth Richardson and National in the 90s to be set just below the adult nutritional minimum so that beneficiaries were purposely hungry as a ‘motivating’ factor.

As Mike Treen pointed out on The Daily Blog…

A culture of denying people their rights has infected management layers at WINZ. Targets have been imposed on management for benefit denial and prosecuting those who have allegedly been overpaid for some reason.

Form-filling and demands for documentation have grown exponentially. Grants have been replaced by loans which need to be repaid. 60% of those receiving a main benefit owe an average of $2500 each. Chasing down these “debts” has become a priority for management.

Stopping people without ID is just the latest twist to the story.

This week a 70-year old woman was told she had to make an appointment and go in to an office because she had changed banks. Putting the information in a letter was not acceptable.

A survey in the Auckland working class suburb of Otara by the Child Poverty Action Group found that 82% of families who have children with disabilities did not know they could be eligible for Work and Income support. Only 7.6% of families with a disabled child actually received any support!

These government-imposed polices have put at risk the health and safety of their own clients and directly employed staff and well as security guards and other contractors.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been denied benefits and other assistance over the last decade. This has resulted in a net loss of at least 100,000 families receiving a benefit. That is equivalent to removing a billion dollars a year from working class communites.

Poverty, homelessness, despair and suicide are the inevitable consequences.

…Poverty, homelessness, despair and suicide are the inevitable consequences. Read that again folks, the very social policy we are implementing;ementing doesn’t empower, heal or lift people out of poverty, it dooms them to it.

The draconian welfare crackdown conducted by National so they can afford tax cuts fro the rich has created the predictable backlash, in the last five years:

  • Verbal abuse or physical assault of Ministry of Social Development staff have doubled
  • Police notifications by staff at MSD saites have increased ten times
  • Trespass notices against WINZ cvlients have more than doubled

A Radio NZ report of a suicide inspired by WINZ highlights the horror of our neoliberal welfare state…

A mother believes her daughter would not have died if the Ministry of Social Development hadn’t threatened to prosecute her for welfare fraud.

Wendy Shoebridge was found dead in April 2011, the day after she had received a letter from the ministry telling her she owed them $22,400.

Not long after her death the ministry reduced the debt to about $5550.

Ms Shoebridge’s name was soon cleared and the ministry admitted she never should have been sent the letter in the first place.

The investigator who sent the letter is no longer at the ministry, which has made changes to the way it deals with prosecutions and vulnerable clients.

Ms Shoebridge’s mother, Barbara Cooke, said the family had not been able to move on in the five years since her daughter’s death.

“I haven’t been able to move forward.” Ms Cooke said. “I haven’t been able to progress in all that time. Life has been at a standstill with no progress since the moment of Wendy’s death … because of the fact we’ve had to wait so long for an inquest. We’re still waiting for the findings.”

Ms Cooke said her daughter struggled with depression and anxiety as well as being in a turbulent relationship at the time, something her mother believed was often the root of Wendy’s troubles.

At the end of 2010 her daughter had been working to improve her life and had found work at a service station, Ms Cooke said. She received an MSD letter telling her it would open a fraud investigation into payments she received from the ministry between December 2008 and October 2010.

“She got letters from WINZ saying that she’d been overpaid, she got contacted by MSD to say that there would be an investigator investigating,” Ms Cooke said.

After that, a letter warning of prosecution arrived.

“She came home from work on the second of April … at the end of her work shift and there was a letter waiting for her telling her she was to be referred for prosecution,” Ms Cooke said.

After a phone conversation with her daughter, Ms Cooke became immediately concerned.

“She sounded so dispirited and absolutely worn out, tired and really, really sad.

“I said Wendy I’ll come down, don’t worry, I’ll come down and help you.

“That was later in the day, I was too tired to drive down [to Wellington] at that time of day, she didn’t want me to … I said we’ll talk later then.”

She told her she loved her and wished she was with her. “I’m very grateful to have had the chance to say that.”

It was the last time Ms Cooke spoke with her daughter.

The next day police came to her home, near Palmerston North, and told her her daughter had been found dead.

She said her daughter would still be here today had the prosecution letter not been sent. The letter was frightening and had exacerbated Wendy’s already stressed life, she said.

After Ms Shoebridge’s death the ministry told Ms Cooke her daughter should not have received the prosecution letter, and apologised.


How do you feel NZ? How the fuck do you feel?

30 years of neoliberal mythology where we worship individual wealth and success and blame poverty on individual failure has seeped like a toxin into every facet of our economy, politics and culture.

The venom spat at Metiria in an orgy of shaming was a 21st century witch hunt.

The only way is to fight back as these cretins.

Brothers and Sisters – if you are a beneficiary, you must enrol and vote Green at the election.


Because what the Greens are offering isn’t just solidarity and symbolism, they intend to raise the benefit by $180 per week and dismantle the sticks with which WINZ staff beat you with.

Here is the link to enrol online right now.

I urge you to enrol, I urge you to enrol your beneficiary friends and family and vote Green.

You know and I know that $180 extra per week is the difference between life and death for many.

Do this to gain some real power, to feel counted, to feel heard.

Send those smug vicious male arsehole rich prick broadcasters an electoral punch in the face for their condescension and arrogance.

You know how hard it is to get through on WINZ overloaded and under staffed 0800 number to book an appointment.

You know how awful it is getting past the rude security guards who never seem to know what is happening and who change the rules on the day based on how they are feeling.

You know that you are dumped waiting while no one tells you anything and treats you with contempt.

You know how it feels to sit in an open planned office with zero privacy and unfriendly security staff looming over you trying to explain painful and difficult moments in your life to a staff member who doesn’t give a fuck and whose only job is to say no to you.

You know what that life feels like, those smug vicious male arsehole rich prick broadcasters don’t know, and in September when you are standing in that electoral booth they can’t stop you from voting for your dignity.

Your lives matter and the cruelty you are all forced to live under by WINZ is a horror that those same smug vicious male arsehole rich prick broadcasters will never understand.

Beneficiaries of NZ – this is your moment – seize it and enrol to vote now and Party vote Green as soon as the polls open.

Beneficiaries of Aotearoa, you have nothing to lose but your pains.

I hope my words inspire the weak and put the fear of living Christ into those who hate them.

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  1. Red Buzzard says:

    where was Jacinda on this…? ah um…very decisive !….actually I think Andrew Little would have been better

    • esoteric pineapples says:

      Andrew Little was given the push by the caucus because they decided that in the two months of every three cycle where they alone have the power, they were going to decide what they thought was best for Labour based on more votes rather than principles. Andrew Little was the rightful leader of the Labour Party based on the votes of the Labour Party as a whole, which is why his positions would inevitably have been about principles as much as pragmatism.

  2. mary_a says:

    Excellent piece Martyn. Thanks.

    Hard to believe this is happening in 2017 Aotearoa. But yep, Metiria is on the witches ducking stool right now, courtesy of Natz dominated msm.

    I have no doubt there are many more beneficiaries and lowly paid workers, suffering finger pointing and stigmatisation for being poor!

    I’m a state beneficiary, being on national superannuation and I will be voting for the Green Party next month. We must stand firm here and give the message we are all behind Metiria and VOTE GREEN.

    It pays also to keep in mind, Metiria’s past struggle could well so easily become ours tomorrow.


  3. Red Buzzard says:

    there is an urgent need for a universal basic income (UBI) to be implemented immediately…plus affordable housing for all New Zealanders

    TOP supports the UBI

    NZF supports an immediate reduction on overseas buyers of NZ houses

    ….with Labour we will get a watered down version of Nact policies…same old

  4. doc says:

    Come on people the poor have no one to blame but themselves, this according to Sir john “the poor have made poor choices” so you see no one to blame but themselves, so move along and leave the attack dogs alone, they’re doing a good job, “get her boy get her.” [tongue firmly in cheek]

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      “Metiria for her courageous admission up against the fake insincerity of Bill English.”

      So right this is, and Bill English is merely a gatekeeper for the corporate greed that J Key installed here before he left and put Bill English in as a stool Pigeon for the filthy rich!

  5. Sarah says:

    Classic quote from David Lange.
    “Our military forces are an arm of government, just like the Department of Social Welfare, although probably less able to inflict widespread harm.”

  6. Dspare says:

    During the 2015 Northland byelection, did Winston Peters vote for himself? I seem to recall that he used a family members place as enrollment residence at the time, with a promise to move to the region from Auckland if he won. Googling has given me too many results to sift through and the most relevant so far are ACT press releases (thus lacking credibility):

    Mr Peters, who is not able to vote for himself unless he changes his place of residence from St Mary’s Bay, Auckland, to Northland.

    However, I seem to recall something similar from a halfremembered 3News piece at the time. If this is a similar case of someone having an electoral address differing from their residence for purpose of voting for a preferred candidate, will Labour also be insisting that; Peters like Turei will be barred from any ministerial position?

    That is a bit tangential to the main point of Bradbury’s post, but does tie into the Turei/ English comparison that kicks it off. One particularly grim thing about the current benefit system is how difficult it is to get recognised by the system without a current address and landline. If you’re homeless, then your best hope is that someone will let you use their place as a contact address; which the DSW is likely to call fraud if they ever find out.

    • Red Buzzard says:

      re “One particularly grim thing about the current benefit system is how difficult it is to get recognised by the system without a current address and landline. If you’re homeless, then your best hope is that someone will let you use their place as a contact address; which the DSW is likely to call fraud if they ever find out.”

      …I suppose if you sleep in the bushes ( as I saw one guy crawl out of) …you would have to borrow a cell phone and give your address as ‘nomad in bushes’…but given the time and hassle it takes to get DSW to correct their bureaucratic obstructive hurdles for beneficiaries you would probably give up…no wonder we have such a high suicide rate!

      …again it is a psychological and economic case for a universal basic income…less hassle , less bureaucracy and way more humanitarian

  7. WILD KATIPO says:

    I said I would vote Labour to help shore that base up . But despite all , on principle, I am so tempted to vote Green. I understand the issues about Metiria standing down for a ministerial post and that it took the weapons the far right could have used against the MOU . But I am pissed right off now .

    Frankly , – and particularity in light of what Bill English was guilty off, and when comparing the circumstances between Metiria and English,- this is an outrage !

    This direct , biased far right wing media interference in the election is a bridge too far.

    It might have been different if the hypocrisy of Bill English’s case didn’t exist , – but it does. And then there is the matter of John Key and his electorate changes.

    I’m hoping for a mass turnout in the booths for the Green party this election , … as well as Labour. Not just as a protest vote for the shabby treatment dished out to Metiria but for the shabby treatment of fellow New Zealanders over the last 33 years.