If this is how WINZ treat Russell Brown – imagine how they treat the vulnerable?


Russell Brown is one of the most respected voices in NZ current affairs. He has an enormous social media footprint and is considered by many to be the best in his field.

Look at how WINZ treated him..


…that’s right folks, they cut the benefit for his son with zero warning.

This is the horror that the WINZ toxic neoliberal culture has become. When Paula Bennett gets up and boasts about moving beneficiaries off welfare, what she never mentions and what the compliant mainstream media never challenge is how those beneficiaries are moved off welfare. WINZ has a ‘no warning’ policy which means beneficiaries are simply dumped off welfare with no warning whatsoever so it makes the stats look good.

What AAAP has shown us, what Metiria showed us, what #wearebeneficiaries show us is a toxic culture within our social welfare agencies staffed by sadists who follow through with draconian social policy with the kind of glee reserved for the Marquis de Sade.

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Russell’s son has autism, why the fuck should Russell have to send in a fucking certificate confirming a disorder that doesn’t have a cure? Why should he lose that benefit with no warning? If this is how WINZ treats someone with the kind of power that Russell Brown has at his disposal, how the fuck do you think they are treating people who don’t have that kind of clout?

The very first thing a new Labour Government needs to embark upon is a vast purge of the public service staff who are as much part of the problem as the policy is.

I hope Russell and his family have their issues sorted today, but let’s remember all those WINZ bully and torture who have no voice.


  1. There is an elegiac passage in Henning Mankel’s Chronicler of the Winds which cuts to the heart of this issue: ‘On that day, beneath the unrelenting sun, I discovered the true face of the city. I saw how the poor were forced to eat their lives raw. There was never any time for them to prepare their days – not those who were constantly forced to fight on the outermost bastions of survival. I looked at this temple of the absurd, which was the city and maybe also the world, and it resembled what I saw all around me. I was standing in the centre of the dark cathedral of powerlessness.’
    The city in the story was Luanda but of course it could have been Auckland.

  2. re “…that’s right folks, they cut the benefit for his son with zero warning”.

    Yup they are doing this to New Zealand’s most vulnerable!….those who have disabilities!…those who are least able to stick up for themselves

    …they cut their benefits WITHOUT WARNING ( these are New Zealanders who are only just surviving, financially and otherwise)

    …they do it without precedent

    …they ignore ALL EVIDENCE that the benefit should not have been cut in the first place !

    …they demand bank statements from bank managers…and when they get them they ignore them !…they demand more bank statements from the same bank managers…they ignore these…they ask more questions for which they have already been given the answers!

    …imagine doing this to people with schizophrenia or depression or bipolar or people struggling to bring up children or their elderly

    …without support from family and friends it is enough to flip vulnerable people

    …most are confused and just give up!

    ….it is enough to drive them from their homes on to the streets ( these people count every dollar and need it to survive)

    …it is enough to drive them to suicide

    …no wonder New Zealand has such a high suicide rate!

    (…New Zealanders should organise and compile a list of names of these persecuting high ranking bureaucrats who earn brownie points by being obstructive and cutting those with disabilities ..!

    when the new government gets in there needs to be a review of these bureaucrats and they should be thrown out)

    We should hold Bill English and John Key and the Nact government accountable…

  3. I hate WINZ.
    For me Im married to someone who works, I also have a disability.
    Employers see me coming and its an automatic no.
    WINZ have services to help people find work but because my wife works and I cant get a benefit all I can get from them is being on their books for any possible jobs on their job board. Fending for yourself is bloody hard work when you have to compete with normal able bodied people.
    So zero help and zero income makes me feel really worthwhile and wanted in this country.

    • This is why I have to unfortunately remain single, and financially self-reliant or WINZ won’t pay me the pittance they do as a disabled member of society. It is very difficult only having $60 to cover costs with a week after just my rent has been covered. It really is crazy how difficult things have gotten for people with disabilities. I know exactly what you mean about employers that bolt the moment you’ve crossed ‘yes’ in their applications asking whether or not you’re affected by any disability. It’s easier for them to not have to cater to extra needs than for them to, it’s very unfortunate for those in our situation.

  4. One of the first things that the incoming Labour government needs to do to WINZ management is to get rid of all the National Party hack appointees so we can get an attitude change.

    • Actually Mike, it’s time for complete public service reform. An although MSD might rank as the worst of the worst, other munstries/departments/agencies aren’t far behind.
      30 years of neo-liberalism does that though.
      And generally it’s not the lowly public servant at the coal face (though in the case of WINZ I could be persuaded otherwise in many cases), rather its Senior and Muddle Management.
      I’m not sure how old you are, but perhaps you remember the promises made during the 80s during those so called ‘reforms’.
      Greater Efficiency and effectiveness, greater accountability, ensuring independence and less political interference, etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah.
      Exactly the opposite has occurred of course.
      Oh – and Labour did it too, so it must be OK eh?

      MBIE (or the Munstry for everything including INZ, Labour Inspectorate, Mediation Services, Housing and Building standards, etc etc etc – and look at the Snr Management and their C.Vs)
      Local Government
      MFAT (and the political interference and resulting staff moral a while back)
      not to mention that fossil heading SSC

      • Hopefully the Labour Party will listen to the voice of their supporters and do it differently this time…this open-ended neo-liberal growth at all costs mentality is killing the world and everything in it.

  5. Grant Robertson said in the debate that “Winz /Msd culture would be reviewed, especially in regard to disabilities.”

    I was so pleased I missed the next bit about “the system was failing NZ.”

    I hope Russell has a better result today.

  6. “Russell Brown is one of the most respected voices in NZ current affairs. He has an enormous social media footprint and is considered by many to be the best in his field.”

    Russell keep the faith help is on it’s way.

    Russell is a rock a legend guys, my mind sapped onto his picture as it was posted here and remember how he delved deeply into current affairs really hard it was so inspiring and left me feeling safe that out there were real investigative journo’s out there keeping a close eye on crooks and deviants.

    Today we need him and his Ilk now more than ever.

    You Martyn are an equal here so we need you all there to take back the public media of our Radio NZ/TVNZ after we change this evil Government.

  7. Everyone who has to navigate the WINZ or Social Welfare structure needs two things. First, a dedicated case manager with both time and expertise to help their client navigate the arcane requirements of the agencies, get what they need and plan a better future. Second a simple, user-friendly appeal structure when the usual people or procedures prove inadequate.

    The algorithms that Bill English seems to place so much reliance on, treat beneficiaries like insects under the magnifying glass. They may well get burned but, of course, it isn’t the fault of the “scientist”.

    Instead we should go back to treating people like people and realising that welfare dependence, no matter how it is parsed, is a symptom, not the disease itself.

  8. Radio NZ is being screwed by national also now, as the regional reporters are now gone!!!!!!

    So if we need a reporter on the ground to cover a story we are now finding no-one is available!!!!!!

    National are killing our public services now and it is an effective way of silencing Government critics!!!!

    So we need the new Government to change our own public media back again and sack all these National ‘cling-on’s’ that are running down our Radio NZ and TVNZ and killing our democracy.

  9. Well, since it happened to Russell’s autistic son, and since Russell has made this public, perhaps some media members may finally register what goes wrong so often.

    This is absolutely nothing all that unusual, to be frank, they make more stuff ups than most ordinary, ‘hard working’ Kiwis would ever be able to imagine.

    I have not heard any reports on the news though, hence it must be treated as just another operational matter.

  10. Work and income follow a similar model in the UK (that’s the one with horror stories from disabled).

    Modeling a shitty plan has to stop. It’s as though the highly paid public servants can’t come up with an original welfare plan of their own.

  11. WINZ staff…? Without the unemployed, they’d be unemployed. Is that irony or just a bit fucked?
    What’s deeply ominous is the way WINZ offices are now patrolled by private army heavies gagging for a stoush.
    Bit by bit. We’re being assimilated into fascism.

  12. WINZ is still taking $20/week out of my pay and are still not able to tell me why. Several phone calls, appointments etc empty promises of getting it resolved. I am just getting sick of it. You basically have to go to a tribunal to remedy their fuck ups. I don’t have time for that. This has to change.

    • When I first got on the student allowance. Think it was just being rolled out, or something, back in the 90’s. Took 6 months for the first back payment to arrive. Of course I had to work during that 6 month period. And I didn’t want to give up my job in any case.

      Reasons why I moved to Perth are all flooding back now. So I’v lived, experience provides counsel. So listen up nub.

      Party vote TOP. Reason. Democracy reset required.

  13. This shit Martyn Bradbury is why I posted yesterday a request you do a official information request as to the number of people refused the supported living benefit and forced into the job seekers and then forced off that into jobs winz know full well they will never be able to keep. In doing so they cause that person illness or long term disability to worsen and increase health care costs in general.

    • 100% Jeoff
      We also need a investigation into the National Government gaging regional reporters inside our own public media platform of RADIO NZ.

      my case evidence on National gaging RADIO NZ is posted on Martyn’s last blog on the latest Leaders debate after we contacted RNZ CEO office.

      • Hi Z – Thanks for the suggestion.

        Tried FYI and got this back’

        Minister of Broadcasting
        Ministers of the Crown

        The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage is now responsible for previous duties of the Minister of Broadcasting.

        This authority no longer exists, so you cannot make a request to it.

        Fuck these people they cant even front up any more!!!!!!!

        • Thanks again Z

          I sent a URGENT Official Information Act request to Radio NZ CEO Paul Thompson today, asking why they have now no regional reporters now as we in HB/Gisborne don’t.?

          I guess we have to wait?

  14. Whilst working for WINZ in the 90s I and my work colleagues heard the regularly National Party inspired mantra of ‘NZ taxpayers are not the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ when it came to benefits. We heard this mantra to the point of pure nausea even at the old Mercury Theatre in Auckland when Christine Rankin, George HIckton, jeff Dougal etc jumped through a paper curtain after some Warriors(rugby warriors that is)had thrown a couple of rugby balls amongst the waiting audience aka captive audience and staff members of what was then called NZISS.
    When Christine Rankin held up her right hand one of my work colleagues was so tempted to respond with the Seig Heil Mein Fuhrer” salute.
    Back in the 90s and after the Bolger government took full control of every aspect of beneficiary life/living and existing there came along what was called Performance Bonuses for staff. WINZ staff were paid on how many beneficiaries they could get off the benefit and into employment. but also the Performance Bonus system took on a personal attitude and that was the management of WINZ would hold the ‘Yay or Nay’ final decision as to whom merited the Bonus.
    If one was not an arse-licker of the relevant manager or his/her fellow manager friend then one would be assured of no bonus. Arse-licking applies today as it did in the Bolger years.
    Likewise with so many National MPs the government departments they are heads off appear to hold no accountability let alone responsibility for the botch-ups.
    I have worked in WINZ and also been on the other side of the counter. To date I see nothing admirable about WINZ. In fact I feel ashamed that a government department I served loyally can so easily demean itself to such a low level. It lives and survives only by the actions of its very minister. The minister cannot blame the staff at WINZ for following her instructions to the word.
    But then it’s a track record of National to blame everyone else but themselves for what has happened UNDER THEIR WATCH.

    • … ” but also the Performance Bonus system took on a personal attitude and that was the management of WINZ would hold the ‘Yay or Nay’ final decision as to whom merited the Bonus.
      If one was not an arse-licker of the relevant manager or his/her fellow manager friend then one would be assured of no bonus. Arse-licking applies today as it did in the Bolger years ” …


      And you have just described the worst aspects of both communism and fascism .

      Interesting , that the final ends of neo liberalism are, in actual fact , more akin to extreme communism / fascism , – ideally headed not by a national govt , but by an international / supranational govt that divides the globe up into regions , not nations, … and that the people within those ‘ regions’ ,… are herded like cattle , work for low wages , and give deference to authority by having their democratic national sovereign rights to change their govt wiped.

      Essentially , this is also what globalism seeks to achieve .

      New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

  15. In all fairness to Paula Bennett, the government is moving beneficiaries off welfare. They’re just moving them into the gutter, where they can die cold and alone like the wretched piles of human refuse the government knows them to be. Bennett must be permanently stoned, as it’s likely the only way she can render herself deaf to the continuous anguished shrieking of her conscience.

  16. Strange to conceive how the social welfare department followed every political jink over the last 30 years. When its essence was for the poor, weak and sick foremost–no deserving or undeserving poor. But it just cracked like a whip back to the Victorian era immediately, as so 1935 and demo-cracy had never happened. To compare, so unlike the teachers.

  17. The thing is, they haven`t lost his information, they`re just saying that. This clients file, like everyone else`s has numerous copies of said documentation, it`s their job to make beneficiaries jump through hoops. Most GP`s electronically provide documentation they have their patients client numbers, so they can send their info` directly to WINZ. I bet that if you request to see your file it would be there. To say they`ve lost it is disgusting, if I was to misplace one of my clients files, there`d be a good chance I would be stood down without pay pending and investigation.

  18. It’s time for UBI, Universal Basic Income, which would simplify, cut costs of administering WINZ and bring dignity to ALL.

  19. Agreed. I once met a senior policy at MBIE who worked in social housing policy who proclaimed a hatred for people begging on Lambton Quay. Is there no one in central government ensuring that standards of decency and respect are upheld? I can tell you, government is a rancid place full of toxic, rancid people. A purge is definately needed.

  20. “a vast purge of the public service staff who are as much part of the problem as the policy is.” – sounds like a Nats wet dream. If Labour win it will be the same old reform – keep management, ditch the workers

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