Dr Liz Gordon – That disgusting benefit sanction is gone


Yes, I know, the decision not to increase benefits yet is terrible.  It does condemn many households to a further miserable existence in povertyland.  And it is wrong.

But I am celebrating today.  Because thousands of single parent families, whose only ‘crime’ was to refuse to name the father of their child/ren, will no longer be subject to a punitive and disgusting sanction of $28 per week.

The cost, over $25 million per year, of removing the sanction demonstrates how much money has been taken out of the pockets of impoverished families by the state in exercising this penalty.

The sanction was a disgusting exercise of patriarchal state power against our most vulnerable women.  It basically told women that they must tie their future fortunes to a man they had, for all sorts of reasons, left behind them.

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It made families in the poorest of situations face worsened poverty and shame.  The fact that, in light of this exercise of state power, so many women refused to give out the father’s details, says something about how deeply this issue cut.

Those women’s stance has now been vindicated and the terrible sanction will be removed. I note there was a rearguard action from the Nats, who grumbled that it allowed the fathers to get off scot free.  That position is tone deaf. The fathers always got off scot free. It was the mothers and their children that bore the cost of the policy.

This invidious, outrageous policy will go down in political history of one of the worst attacks (along with Māori land seizures, dawn raids on Pasifika families and the Chinese poll tax, among others) on a section of the populace ever.

So the yellow brick road is a long one, with plenty of hurdles still to overcome, but today I am celebrating.


Dr Liz Gordon began her working life as a university lecturer at Massey and the Canterbury universities. She spent six years as an Alliance MP, before starting her own research company, Pukeko Research.  Her work is in the fields of justice, law, education and sociology (poverty and inequality). She is the president of Pillars, a charity that works for the children of prisoners, a prison volunteer, and is on the board of several other organisations. Her mission is to see New Zealand freed from the shackles of neo-liberalism before she dies (hopefully well before!).


    • @ CASTRO.
      Another scone to help Dr Liz come here and write the above to enable us to better understand a cruelty foisted upon us by a corrupt and venal state system where by ‘They’ take great care of themselves and fuck you mate.
      Can I ask? How do you earn your scone for the greater good?

    • Got a laugh from me Castro! But Liz is at least genuine and authentic in her quest to help the poor and has A LOT more clues and practicality than most of the “poor souls in povertyland!!! Another scone?” types.

      Since religion is on the down, actually less of those Sunday, scone types who are at least well meaning, than the new 21c scarier wokies who seem angry and abusive, and ultimately increasing poverty with their totalitarian and militant attitudes against others, hence often in agreement with the right wing ideology action lists.

    • The tone is just like that isn’t it. And to equate this — a move which could entail robbing children of half their birth rights — with the wholesale alienation of Maori land is just delusional.

  1. On a par with “Māori land seizures, dawn raids on Pasifika families and the Chinese poll tax” … really??

    And how exactly was this policy “patriarchal”?

    I’m genuinely unsure about this policy. Removing it does look like signalling to men that fathering children doesn’t imply any responsibilities on their part. But maybe there’s also an also a good argument that if a man doesn’t shoulder his fatherly responsibility voluntarily, he won’t be much use as a parent? I don’t know.

    • YES, absolutely DISGRACEFUL, what Sepuloni the careerist and the rest of rotten Labour reveal in their behaviour yet again.

      • Labour has deliberately put a blunt knife in charge of benefits because they don’t intend to do anything to fix things.

  2. What is this government waiting for? The second coming? The time when their base gets sick of their broken promises and stop voting for them? The current benefit rates are not enough to live on, period. I watched the minister late on Friday (how convenient), someone who receives thousands of tax payer dollars per week, tell the million unemployed, students, underemployed and families that essentially none of 42 welfare recommendations will be implemented. The well educated and remunerated panel who put the report together must be bewildered, though the report was submitted 10 weeks ago so they must have known. The lack of action will result in more hardship, illness and stress, possibly lasting generations. It will lower productivity and the economy in the communities where the extra money would have been spent (food, clothing, transport, health, education, communications; not drugs, booze or gambling, those industries are propped up by name-suppressed media personalities, upper class winos and middle class wife beaters).
    This government could have given a $10 net increase in benefits immediately as first stage and still retained their plaything surplus. It would have at the least shown that they care, that they are moving on the issues, and given our people two more loaves of bread per week. If society isn’t even worth a loaf of bread each, then we need better people in charge (politicians who really care about their supporters).

    Postscript: While some politicians were distracted with name calling others instead of advocating for the lower class and indigenous peoples, or making social media pacts with arms-selling governments, the media was absent. If the Working Groups report was even mentioned by MSM (Stuff did not), it was buried down the list of headlines and preceded by breaking news that Gayford was engaged or Markle was feeling fat. Fuck off.

  3. This is a complete overreaction!

    “This invidious, outrageous policy will go down in political history of one of the worst attacks (along with Māori land seizures, dawn raids on Pasifika families and the Chinese poll tax, among others) on a section of the populace ever.”

    There are three reasons why women don’t name the fathers.

    They don’t know the name.
    They don’t want the father to be involved in the childs life.
    They don’t want the father to be required to pay child support.

    While in some cases it is reasonable, to my mind, it is sad for a child to grow up with their birth certificate to have ‘father unknown’ and have that stigma.

    It is not a cut and dried issue and it is not always best for the child to grow up without their father although in some cases it is. (And vice versa on the Mother).

    Certainly not be over dramatising this issue by linking it with other unrelated historic issues!

    • There are five exemptions under the Act. The problem with the sanction is that it focuses on the wrong group of sole parent.

      Most people who cannot name the other parent – as opposed to choosing not to name the other parent (which is a crucial difference) will usually fall into one of the five exemptions, but the issue for this group is that MSD just say “go see a lawyer”. The person usually doesn’t do that because of cost and the reduction remains in place despite being entitled to have it removed. The reduction isn’t supposed to penalise this group but it does.

      The group the sanction is supposed to target are those who can name the other parent but choose not to. That group often includes people whose ex-partner earns a decent amount of money and so agrees to pay the custodial parent an amount that’s more than the reduction but less than the assessed child support payments, so win-win for both parties which removes any incentive to name the other parent, which is supposed to be the driver for the reduction in the first place.

      The reduction regime is flawed for this reason. The only way to deal with the issue is to axe the whole regime, which finally this government says they’ll do, but it hasn’t come soon enough.

  4. It is so disgusting but it couldn’t possibly be done until April 2020?

    It should have been done the day after election along with abolition of the spousal provision section 70 for superannuitants.

    The sole parent sanction had very little to do the WEAG report which has been conveniently buried.

    • “The sole parent sanction had very little to do the WEAG report which has been conveniently buried.”

      Conveniently buried, I agree, very appropriate.

      Labour are TRAITORS to their heritage, the heritage of Michael Joseph Savage and others, if they still have his picture on their office walls, I ask them to remove these, until they step up and deliver what must be delivered.

      Shame, shame, shame on you, Labour, and Sepuloni.

      • Can’t really blame Sepuloni. She was given the job for the very reason she knows nothing about benefits.

  5. Liz, I celebrate with you but maybe for different reasons.

    First up, the delay…. these people need it now. Not good enough, reeks of the Treasury dog wagging the tail.

    Criticism of your comments.

    “Patriarchal state power”…I have worked around Wellington and I can tell you half the public service is female, as are around half of the government. Half the electorate are too. The empirical evidence doesn’t support this ongoing narrative, it’s far too simplistic, and actually it is lazy. Jacinda who? And how many men are complaining about a woman PM? National..all eyes on Judith?

    “Tie their future fortunes to a man”….terrible concept here. Parents come in sets of two. So male parents don’t count? If you want equality start giving it.

    Solo parents? I for one as a male resent paying for other men’s children, the reason I pay is because I don’t want the children to suffer. Men should be held to account, as equality demands so should the women. I support the drop of the penalty to women for the sake of the children, but I’m still pissed off. There’s a word…rights. Yes always rights. Where’s responsibility? Responsibility to you, to me, to all of us?

    • Nick , agree: “Patriarchal state power”…I have worked around Wellington and I can tell you half the public service is female, as are around half of the government.

      Ditto. And half the public service females are bullies too. And that’s not to say that half the men are bullies – probably fewer than 25%.

      (The rest are busy looking for other jobs.)

    • Valid points, I reckon. Trouble has always been, with the mother was punished the child, which is not on.

    • So Nick if you’re so pissed off that you have to support other men’s children perhaps you could encourage all you male friends, and their friends and their friends to support their own children.
      That might help.
      I suspect you think it is the mothers responsibility to cajole or otherwise, the father of their child, into acting responsibly.
      It is not.

      • Brigid, you are 100% right men should support their own children. And no women should not have to cajole fathers, the buggers should show responsibility. Don’t get hung up on money, that’s only a component, there’s heaps more to bearing responsibility for children.

        Now let’s flip it on it’s head. Does that absolve women of responsibility? Women after all generally control their fertility, who they mate with and when. You can deny it, but the evidence points otherwise. So what is womens role and responsibility?

        And whilst we sort out gender specific fairness you might note that we should uphold one principle. Let’s not visit the sins of the parents on the children, they didn’t get a choice, so caring for them comes first.

        • “Now let’s flip it on it’s head. Does that absolve women of responsibility? ”

          Considering it’s women who predominantly look after children after the men have left (or kept away due to violence), I don’t think women lack responsibility in raising a family.

          They deserve a medal, not quasi-religious moralising demanding saint like virtuosity.

          • Frank, it’s pretty patronising and paternalistic to paint women as not capable of making decisions, not responsible for their destiny.

            Yes they are primarily left with the children…all the more reason why men take personal responsibility, as opposed to leaving it to our collective goodwill (i.e. you and me).

            As for quasi religious sermonising, I hear plenty on your posts demanding acceptance of your quasi religious ideological beliefs. That’s cool, I sometimes agree. I’m merely stating my position.

  6. I may be wrong but this previously had Bennett written all over it. It was disgraceful policy from an appalling politician. Bennett is now celebrating the leaking of the proposed cannabis bill saying the government is in trouble with someone leaking this to National. I wonder whether Labour will waste thousands of taxpayers money with an investigation like National did? I am begging to wonder if Bennett is not that bright.

    • No she is not that bright, dear Paula, she smoked too much weed when she was young, it affected her brain, hence her lacklustre and at times bizarre performance. Now she wants to have nothing to do with her once upon a time party days.

  7. Right up there with “Māori land seizures, dawn raids on Pasifika families and the Chinese poll tax” ? Really Liz?

    I’m not sure about this issue. I agree with SAVENZ that it’s not cut-and-dried.

  8. I’m old enough to remember supporting the DPB Act in the 70s. The argument was that women and children could escape abusive relationships. That in itself is a very good thing which is why we supported it, and still do. There were abusive relationships, how common was never stated but the assumption was an epidemic…plague proportions. We had so little faith in our fellow men, for which I am now very remorseful and apologetic.

    I recall an old Labour MP opposing it vociferously, he predicted that it would lead to the growth of single parent families and a welfare generation. We of course thought that he was an old reactionary of dubious parentage. Obviously wrong. Be was accused of only thinking about the cash cost, his answer was think of the families and children. Deaf ears pretended to listen and responded “cash”.

    Well was he right? What do the numbers tell us? Is the claim that the DPB is a career option an urban legend? Reason I’m asking is because the Left in particular is very good at promoting solutions to social ills and then not monitoring the success of the solutions, whilst ignoring collateral damage and unintended consequences.

    • Lets face it Nick, people are openly penalised now for being in a relationship financially (DBP, superannuation, housing benefits, pensions etc) so it is no wonder people vote “single’ and have a relationship on the side or not at all. But not that good for the kids growing up and society in general being single for the most part!

      I’d like to stop the discrepancy for single/married/defacto full stop.

    • How can being entitled to receive a benefit be a problem? The only way that can be the case is if you disagree with the benefit. So what’s changed for you since you believed in having benefits? Numbers? The cost to the state? If you now disagree with having a benefit system do you still believe in the importance of everyone having the opportunity to fully participate in their communities? Or in people being able meet basic needs like everyone else? If so, but you now don’t believe in having benefits, what’s your plan to ensure people participate in their communities and can meet basic needs like everyone else? Doesn’t the answer bring us back to some form of income redistribution, whether a UBI, some other kind of benefit system or the like?

      • Some good questions Chris. Let’s be clear I don’t oppose benefits per se, my general attitude is that they are deliberately set too low, and made deliberately too hard to get. I haven’t changed my mind on looking after the vulnerable, what I have done is grown wary of sending wrong signals and getting unintended consequences.

        My take is that everybody should be able to fully participate in their community, but let’s be clear, it’s a two way street. You can’t just take and expect to take. The quid pro quo is to take responsibility for your actions. Communities are willing to take on the cost of misfortune or incapability, where irresponsibility comes in it’s a burden that seeks sanction. The question is where is that point? Once agreed what are the signals?

        On the cash I reckon a UBI would help get rid of the need for benefits, and may be the only option we have to re-establish incomes in an automated world.

  9. 3 out if 42 recommendations


    Bennett mudt be laughing in her can of bourbon and coke

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