Stop the war on the poor


The government needs to be told that there is a difference between measuring a problem and doing something seriously about it.

This is true for climate change or child poverty.

We have all the tools we need to measure the progress (or lack of it) in dealing with these critical issues.

We even have recommendations from various groups on what needs to be done to fix it.

For three decades we have Labour and National-led governments that have waged a permanent war on beneficiaries and the poor.

TDB Recommends

This is not an exaggeration.

Let us take the fate of people who are unemployed unemployment benefits as an example.

When the National Government was elected in 1990 they slashed the value of benefits. The Finance Minister at the time, Ruth Richardson, policies were dubbed “Ruthanasia”.

The adult benefit went from 40% of the average wage to 30%.

Currently, its value is only 16% of the average wage. The current government has re-established a link to the average wage but at a level that cannot be survived on.

A sole parent benefit has gone from over 50% of the average wage to 25% today

This is because both governments only increased the benefit each year by the movement of the Consumer Price Index. This was deliberate. Superannuation payments were tied to the average wage and retained its universal entitlement and its relative value.

That is why New Zealand has lower rates of poverty among the elderly compared to many other similar countries.

At the same time, a draconian regime has been imposed at WINZ to deny access to benefits.

Between 1990 and 2002 the number of people accessing an unemployment benefit was steady at around 70% of the Household Labour Force Jobless number or around 100% of the official unemployment number even though they are not measured in exactly the same way.

Today those numbers are half their previous historical averages and most of the fall happened towards the end of the 1999-2008 Labour-led Government.

If a similar percentage of the unemployed were accessing benefits today there would be an additional billion dollars a year going into working-class homes which aren’t today.

Escalating housing costs are the final nail in the coffin for low wage income and beneficiary households. The lowest 20 percent of earners spent 54 percent of their income on housing in 2015, compared with just 29 percent in the late 1980s.

That is why we have seen an explosion in homelessness, poverty and dependency on food banks grow.

We need a return to policies designed to empower not punish poor and working people.

We need access to benefits as an entitlement not as a tool to humiliate.

We need levels to be reset to levels that existed before Ruthanasia was inflicted on New Zealand.

We need comprehensive programmes to train and retrain people who become unemployed.

Benefits should be delinked from someone’s relationship with another person.

Child allowances should be restored as a universal entitlement of $200 a week for each child regardless of other income. The money should go to the main caregiver. Get rid of the in-work tax credit for child support.

Higher taxes saxes should be imposed on accumulated wealth and very high incomes to pay for it.


  1. Removing GST on food and essential services would be the perfect starting point and would win widespread support.

    • Once you start selecting various items to be excluded from gst the administration costs go up so benefits are lost .This is the case in UK and Australia. Benefit levels need to go up but help to get off the benefit needs to be improved . Free meals for all children at school should be implemented . Lessons could be based around these meals teaching children how to cook budget and the value of fresh food.A level of free dental care needs to be extended to all.

      • @TS.
        GST should be abolished and tax rates must go up for the riche manipulators who convinced little goff to implement GST in the first place.
        While the big four ( FOREIGN OWNED ! FFS! ) banksters suck upwards of $5 billion a year in net profits out of our economy ( After they artificially inflate the absurdist ‘property market’ for their benefit. ) it should be seen as an embarrassment to suggest those now rendered most at-risk must find ways around the bankster’s financial meddling’s in OUR AO/NZ.
        Fuck making do! Rebel!
        GST is a swindle as much as when corporate criminals make off with our stuff, things and money.
        As for getting people off benefits?
        First and foremost.
        Get rid of the foreign banksters.
        Any public monies spent on our most vulnerable will be immediately sucked up by the banksters who control our costs of living.
        How, might we de-louse ourselves of that most parasitic scourge, the foreign bankster, you might ask?
        Easy. Rescind their ability to trade here then asset strip them. Freeze their accounts and ban their ability to trade here. ( The reason that won’t happen would make for a decent royal commission of inquiry. )
        We didn’t vote the bastards in. We don’t engage them in any way to provide any real and actual service. Seriously? What do they provide by way of a service or asset that benefits us? We’re an agrarian export country, why do we need foreign banksters crawling all over us few, now five million people?
        Could it be for that $5 Billion dollars a year in their net profit they scoop up from our economy?
        The very riche who enjoy tax havens, tax breaks, tax loopholes and can use GST refunds as deposits to buy the houses we normal people can no longer afford have us all bullshitted.
        They are, in fact, arseholes who enjoy subjugating is for their perverse pleasures and if it turns good coin? Then sweet !
        Before we can defeat our enemy we must first identify our enemy and our enemy is the foreign bankster and they can be found dead in the middle of every city and town in AO/NZ.
        For your reading pleasure.
        Know your enemy.
        Stanford Professor Robert I.Sutton.
        American academic and toxic personality expert Bob Sutton.
        And here’s his book.
        The Asshole Survivor Guide. Robert I. Sutton.

        • Great stuff can always rely on you to tell it like it is CountryBoy.

          Lets have a political party that guarantees full employment at a living wage for all. There are thousands of jobs out there that are not happening because governments and councils feel financially constrained and bullied by big business, well of course we know they are also the mates of the two big parties.

          THEN and only then cancel unemployment benefit – real employment will stop the increase in our prison population, cut back on crime, feed the children, cut mental health statistics and do many other things. Only people who won’t like it are the big business, unemployment has always been good for them.

          This is all in the book, The Spirit Level, Why Equality is better for everyone (OMG even the rich).

        • The toxic bankers:
          “Westpac faces a huge fine and its reputation is in tatters after financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC accused it of 23 million breaches of money laundering laws, and failing to properly monitor payments potentially linked to the streaming of child exploitation.”

          Did the bank take responsibility? Not for second. Simply pick a scapegoat and reward him for taking the fall:
          “Westpac gave Mr Hartzer 12 months’ notice and will still have to pay him his $2.7 million (NZD$2.85 million) salary”.
          TV NZ 26th November.

  2. And we need to reiterate in every article like this, in the comments sections, and at every opportunity, that these punishments have also been applied to seriously ill and disabled New Zealanders who have absolutely no choice but to be on a benefit. Is everyone who promotes and supports these policies- politicians and voters- ok with that?

    • They are already looking at reducing care for the disabled in NZ which is disgusting.

      Limited showers, no meal prep: ‘Ruthless’ plans to cut disabled care revealed

      Meanwhile no problem for the Natz, Labour, Greens and NZ First to add more low paid workers and aged parents into NZ to ‘attract’ more migrants for the fake and dysfunctional businesses etc. Plenty of money in the kitty for the world’s people who don’t need it and don’t live here and that has to come from somewhere and it tends to be places like disabled care.

      Charity defiantly does not start at home in NZ.

      Don’t forget the health spend per person is actually declining in NZ! Less money per person for each person’s health, will not translate into a better health system and patient care going forward, it’t putting us backwards!

  3. To help Rogernomic ideology for the last 30 years our government and officials have been selling off assets to stakeholders who pay taxes elsewhere in the world (if any) which now makes profits our 2nd biggest EXPORT.

    This was supposed to get more jobs through ‘trickle down’ but never trickled down, instead the profits are exported and funny money used to get as much profit off NZ assets. Meanwhile NZ workers are made redundant on mass very easily with no compensation needed under our laws only to have workers bought back cheaper in many cases.

    At the same time in particular in the last 10 years our government has been importing in low paid workers who need benefits to survive off their wages such as being a “cafe manager” which is often just a residency scam or to undermine existing low paid workers who are now not even on minimum wages in many cases. or importing in income less migrants who will require NZ benefits going forward

    So what country imports in beneficiaries and exports profits?

    Not a very smart one. But it’s all rah, rah from the rest of the world and international banks profiting from NZ government stupidity!

  4. Sounds like plenty of work around in NZ, they just don’t want to get unemployed Kiwis to do it.

    NZ wages are often lower than the costs of getting to the location and paying for accomodation.

    Employers don’t want NZ workers in horticulture anymore and by making it easy to bring in migrant workers and not employing local people in rural areas in particular, we are getting intergenerational poverty and other factors from that.

    Life on a benefit is not pretty. Even if you get $20 – $70 p/w more… as more people come to NZ and it gets more and more dysfunctional with work/cost of living it is never going to end. We have had two governments fail to build affordable housing which the costs have now doubled from 5 years ago with all the ‘migrant’ labour coming in to help build the houses. Housing shortages are getting worse and worse as more people are coming to NZ to work and study often low level courses like being a chef, from overseas.

    30% of tourism workers are now from overseas… that is supposed one of our main sources of work.

    Most of the Chorus workers are migrants… and 92% were not being paid minimum wages.

    Many of the jobs are fake and just being used as scams. That is the ‘culture’ and workforce the NZ government rogernomic thinking, is attracting into NZ.

    The headlines are full of scams and the government does nothing.

    Sikh temple to pay $100k for breaching employment laws

    22 restaurants, 120 staff – and now a $40,000 fine

    The Big Scam: ‘Marriages for sale’ in alleged visa rort

    Indian restaurant bosses fined for exploitation

    Indian businesses ‘sell’ jobs for visas to students

    The Indian women paying for a NZ education with their freedom

    Immigration marriage and dowry scams on the rise, says charity

    I have yet to see any headlines with migrants who came to NZ and actually created NEW high paid jobs for Kiwi workers. Our system is broken and creating a nation of working poor getting poorer in jobs like cafes.

    As for the unions, broken as well. While the unions seem excited by getting short term recruits from migrants they fail to realise it is short term thinking, aka how many union leaders do you see in China and India and the Philippines, as our work force goes in that direction and we get he mash up union bosses?

    Don’t see any social welfare or free education and health care in China and Indian and the Phillipines either. But the woke and government seem to worship overseas cultures and governments as being far superior to our own.

    It’s just an extension of thinking private business can do everything better, now is is morphed into overseas workers and business owners can do everything better.

    So it’s no surprises where NZ is going to be in a decade and it won’t be a socialist country any more with active unions for workers rights, universal super, free quality health and education and benefits for all. That has been steadily eroding for 30 years and some of the biggest people being hoodwinked are the socialists turned woke.

    • saveNZ “But the woke and government seem to worship overseas cultures and governments as being far superior to our own.”

      I doubt that. I’ve always believed successive govts have cynically exploited Asian workers because they are there to be exploited. How many Filippino families are fractured by mothers having to work as drudges throughout the UK and Middle East ?

      Bringing in cheap overseas workers enables Govt help keep wages low for NZ workers; they provide a convenient scapegoat for NZ’ers to blame for lack of jobs, housing, and creaking infrastructure, when every single road leads directly back to flawed govt policy, just as all roads lead to Rome.

      This is nothing to do with the woke – another totally crap word tossed around as a weapon. It is what capitalism has always depended on, and govt will do exactly what it thinks it can get away with.

      Last night I read Grant Robertson’s glossy mail out – which I usually toss out – and it reads like an old Country Women’s Institute report minus recipes and household hints – no longer necessary, because everything now also gets tossed out rather than fixed, mended, darned, or preserved, and is replaced with junk from China. I was looking for something a little more substantive.

      Don’t under-estimate the cunning of politicians ; it well suits them to have under-paid exploited immigrants blamed for own deliberate inadequacies, and politicians know exactly what they’re doing. Jacinda can hug, and Grant do Mr Pickwick, while shell-shocked Nats continue to spit tacks and flounder.

      This week’s most simple and eloquent quote about the tragedy of White Island came from Paula Bennett, and that was a pleasant surprise.

      • I’m beginning to wonder if our major parties are now acting as a cartel.
        I always thought that there must be some supreme global power that has “bought” NZ political leadership and controlled the ever increasing far right economic policies and globalist agenda. How else would you justify such persecution of the people who live here. And it is persecution, I see it every day.
        But now I wonder if they act in unison to enrich themselves by creating the housing ponzi scheme, along with periods of rise and fall, so anyone with inside political advantage can profit from that knowledge regardless of who is in power.
        After all, once Helen Clarke has built up her portfolio, wouldn’t a rational economic human being pass leadership to National, to maximise future gains.

        • SOB I always thought Helen Clarke emasculated the LP, but have never dared to say so. I think she should stop playing the oracle at Delphi now too.

          There’s long been info out about Binderberg, secret meetings and so on, but a reality may be the international financiers and global banking systems holding the real power – and if Trump has bucked that, that’s OK.

      • Snow White, the NZ flawed government policy is the bringing in of cheap overseas workers aka they are one and the same issue…. where do you think all the new people all live in NZ, thin air, like the Labour advisors seem to think?

        I don’t blame the migrants coming here apart from the fakes and crims and people like visa advisors and immigration lawyers selling visas and profiting from it.

        I blame NZ government policy in particular over the last 10 years that have caused massive social decline, while refusing to deviate from their ideology and pretending they could somehow build the houses and public transport and the high paid jobs would appear like the mythical ‘trickle down; , and expecting the existing taxpayers who many already have paid again and again under user pays, to now pay for employers cheap labours, infrastructure upgrades, housing up grades, new hospitals and schools and super.

        • saveNZ – I don’t for one moment think that any political party has put its mind to, or even been particularly concerned about where poor or exploited immigrant workers, or NZ’ers, will eat, live, shelter or sleep.

          It may not even be intentional neglect, because it is sort of vaguely assumed that all those sort of people look after themselves, and that they live at a different level from ‘us.’

          It is when there is uncomfortable publicity from an NGO like the Sallies, that the politicians go into self-protective mode, that’s all.

          The Salvation Army is lucky that it is a big and respected organisation, because others critical of government have had their funding slashed; whether the current government will have the effrontery (or is it the gumption?) to follow National’s negligent path here, isn’t that clear, but it helps if there is not too much media publicity about the bad stuff, and if television is fronted by bimbos and puppets.

          The venom, anger, and ignorance of semi-literate rght-wing trolls is often irrational and confrontational, and they perhaps are the biggest fools of all, if they think that supporting the politics of money is going to help them.

          Their anger at people who are concerned about others, suggests they’re material and spiritual paupers themselves – otherwise they’d be busy enjoying themselves.

          SOB’s above cartel comments here, were mooted during John Key’s reign over NZ, and I am starting – to my horror – to wonder if the dumbing down of the educational system in New Zealand has been deliberate.

          When a Labour lesbian MP representing one of the poorest parts of NZ, stood stating that the most important thing in her life was same-sex people being able to marry, she startled me – but that could be my weariness and wariness of political dimwits – and of gay women seeing heteros as traitors.

          But do not think that they care – think of how they can be used in they way that they use others, and if that’s not poss, then they need to be dispensed with too.

    • Yes agree with you 100 % saveNZ immigrations is the goose that keeps giving for many NZ businesses and in the meantime who is suffering. I am interested to know how during the next election our coalition are going to explain this because they said they were going to reduce immigration now has this happened, it doesn’t look like it.

  5. The NZ public as a whole will not vote for increasing benefits by a significant amount or for any other party that has policies to really fix our poverty issues. Generally we are all selfish people, who put ourselves and our own priorities first whenever we vote. Of course there are exceptions but generally we vote for the few not the many. The left needs to understand this as can be witnessed in yet another massive defeat in Britain. The public is not with us.

    • Mick, it was all trickery with the books, Thatcher on. Immediate gratification winning elections. That’ll go on til it doesn’t go on anymore. When it will be too late. But we must go on presenting reality to skew 1750 to organised plenty a bit longer. Bernie and Warren can turn the whole card game still, if we atheists pray. The defeat of the Left now wouldne be good, a turn to fascism, but just a few years further we complacent will scream for us.

  6. Very clear they’re not doing this because of NZers’ prejudices captured in focus groups. And now enforced by Labour’s defeats in the UK and Australia. They grew up after 84. Don’t have the last demo-crats’ fury.

    Our last great push. What after us? Drive or nothing. Only we 50 ups can do this, as we ease off. No idea of social meaning after us.

  7. And that pricko Simon Bridges now establishes the ridge of not being ‘soft on crime’. His own people. He knows. Persecution of Maori and the poor for electoral advantage. Snoozing oldies who haven’t thought an original in a few decades. Prejudices as much as small children.

  8. If you want to delink from relationships does that mean if I decide to be a stay at home parent I should get a benefit even if my partner is earning enough for the entire family?

  9. Thanks Mike Treen for putting this so clearly and so directly. The changes need to be enacted swiftly, without hesitation or compromise.

    I had thought that this government would at least have made a start on such legislation by now. I feel some concern that this may not happen in time. There is no guarantee that a similar Labour-led government will be voted in again in 2020. These long overdue changes are needed now, not in a few months time.

  10. Stop the war on the Poor.

    Speaking in terms of civilized adaptation the status quo will only change if there is a radical ecological and social platform to the left of the present party structure.

    Still, both Labour and Greens do not experience sufficiently organized creative dissatisfaction (or inspirational support, pending on how one wants to see it).

    The share in the population supportive to socio-economic and environmental ‘change now’ is much larger than anticipated by classical political fortune telling. A mounting share.

    One day the whole matter implodes …..

    Transformational change – effective short steps whilst going for the impact of the long haul.

    Mixing poverty causes and effects with migration is only helpful, if done from a perspective of class-structure and political economy.

    Royals. Lorde.

    • Bruce Moose – Does he really want to build autobahns ? Where ? Sure he’s not just posturing again ?

      I had to drive on one in Germany once and it was totally terrifying – the big articulated lorries were the worst of all, and our truckies look as if they’re under a lot of pressure from their employers.

      Guess the cyclists caught riding forbidden places could appear in court before Hannah Tamaki JP, because this whole country is going slightly mad.

  11. I’m over all this faux woke chivalry bullshit.
    Not just families.
    Not just children
    End ALL poverty now.
    We are not on the fucking Titanic!!

Comments are closed.