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Family members of traitors of the Motherland

Written By: - Date published: 1:16 pm, February 20th, 2013 - 85 comments
Categories: benefits, crime, families - Tags:

No-one likes fraudsters, whether they’re ripping us off as beneficiaries or as suit-clad businesspeople. National’s announced some ineffectual steps to ‘crack down’ on the minor amount of benefit fraud that occurs (no similar crackdown on white collar fraudsters and tax avoiders). But they’ve gone to far in trying to criminalise people just for being partners of benefit fraudsters.

Here’s what the announcement says:

“Currently there are few options available to prosecute partners who know or benefit from such offending, leaving the entire debt with one partner.”

“The proposal will also extend MSD’s ability to seize assets owned or jointly owned by a spouse or partner under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009, and to recover some of that debt from the partner who has benefited from the fraud.”

Obviously, if you are party to offending – ie you know about it and benefit from it – you should be prosecuted, and you can be already. But it’s nuts to suggest that people could be made criminals just for having been in a relationship with a fraudster and, as part of a single household, unknowingly benefited from the fraud.

That’s Stalin stuff. He created the offence of being Family Members of Traitors of the Motherland for people who had done nothing wrong except have a family member who was an ‘enemy of the people’.

It’s a basic tenant of our society that you can’t be punished for something that you aren’t responsible for.For example, if your mate takes you out for lunch and it turns out the money came, unbeknownst to you, from him holding up a dairy, should you have to pay back the money or go to the clink? Of course not, you didn’t do anything wrong.

National’s ‘get the wives too’ offence is a daft attempt to do away with that founding principle of our legal system. Where the hell is Crown Law?

From what I can see the other changes look pretty minor (keep an eye on the known crims, share info with IRD) and will do bugger all to affect what is already a tiny problem compared to, say, the huge increase in benefit costs arising from National’s failure to create jobs.

But that crazy familial guilt stuff has got to go.

85 comments on “Family members of traitors of the Motherland”

  1. Rogue Trooper 1

    where will it end

    • Tom Gould 1.1

      This is simply a diversion for the idiot chooks to lead with. Which they will. Works every time.

    • aerobubble 1.2

      A while back there a\was a case where investors investing in a ponsi scheme would have to pay back the profit on their investment since obviously in comes from fraud. And where does that stop.
      I mean if you are getting twice the average return of comparable investments in the market, how can your ignorance of how that money is made be argued (since you recklessness in not knowing) could help your case, it could not, but parties who benefited (say as gifts) would not have known and so should they still be liable? Its still money that is the benefit of fraud. If you receive stolen property then sure you have to give it back, there’s the difference, if however you buy a car that turns out to be stolen, and you did due diligence, then you have a case against those who certified the car as legitimate. so I suppose the question is can the state provide a spouse knew their spouse was telling lies, does depend a lot on whether the state provided information about entitlements, that information was available to the spouse, and they knew it was in error. Like the investor, who needs to be able to do due diligence, a spouse who cannot access their spouses records to check they are telling the truth. Just thoughts.

  2. infused 2

    Is it not the same as receiving stolen property? You get done for that too, regardless of whether you know or not.

    [no you don’t, see comments below. In fact, the example of receiving shows that knowledge or recklessness is required for guilt when benefiting from a crime. Eddie]

    • TheContrarian 2.1

      Interesting point.

      • McFlock 2.1.1

        Not really. Crimes Act 1961 s246 Receiving (1):

        Every one is guilty of receiving who receives any property stolen or obtained by any other crime, knowing that property to have been stolen or so obtained, or being reckless as to whether or not the property had been stolen or so obtained.

        My bold.
        So intent applies for receiving, with a certain fudge for folks playing silly buggers with the “oh, but I didn’t KNOW that the stuff bought off the back of a truck for massively cheap prices was stolen”.

        This means that if I fudge my benefit paperwork without telling my partner, they can be pinged for it. Yet another fucked up nact policy.

    • toad 2.2

      Crimes Act, s 246

      246 Receiving

      (1) Every one is guilty of receiving who receives any property stolen or obtained by any other crime, knowing that property to have been stolen or so obtained, or being reckless as to whether or not the property had been stolen or so obtained.

    • joe90 2.3

      Indeed, but if you’re from the top end of town receiving stolen property isn’t a crime.

      http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/fraudster-reneges-590-000-payback-ihc-4951619

      • Colonial Viper 2.3.1

        Yeah I don’t see anyone going after the wives, husbands, partners and children of convicted fraudsters who lived off the proceeds of theft.

        Usual Tory underclass bashing.

        • TheContrarian 2.3.1.1

          Wouldn’t the Crimes Act, s 246 apply in such cases?

          • Colonial Viper 2.3.1.1.1

            And when has it actually been brought to a prosecution.

          • McFlock 2.3.1.1.2

            Bankrupt. And winz docks the benefit for reparations – IHC wouldn’t have that power.

            Interesting the offer of reparation before sentencing and withdrawn afterwards – probably counts as perjury or contempt if it was a plan to get a lighter sentence.

      • TheContrarian 2.3.2

        What do you mean? She went to jail for 3 years

        • Draco T Bastard 2.3.2.1

          Yeah, I was thinking that as well. The proceeds of the sale of the lodge should have gone to IHC.

    • tracey 2.4

      Nope, nothing like receiving stolen property, not that fact will prevent people making the analogy and passing it into the world of memes to justify gross double standards.

  3. TheContrarian 3

    What an odd thing to do.
    I would certainly be keen to see how they define ‘benefited from’.

    Does that include watching a TV which is powered by electricity which was paid from a fraudulent benefit?

    • Colonial Weka 3.1

      And why just partners? Why not flatmates? Some couples share finances in the same way that flatmates do.

      • Tim 3.1.1

        Don’t give them ideas Weka! They’re already short of a couple of brain cells to rub together. We might find that’s stage two in the fascist march forward.

        • Tim 3.1.1.1

          Actually ….. why not incarcerate the children too. They will have benefited given their ‘reasoning’. Then we’ll get Serco to set up workhouses. Perhaps they could even be used as the labour to build Transmission Gully

      • freedom 3.1.2

        beat them to the end zone, just sell the kids and move it all into south american zinc

  4. quartz 4

    I think they should incarcerate the spouses and children of white collar criminals. And any representative of a political party that has benefited from donations from criminals.

    • Tim 4.1

      There’s an easier option. Just incarcerate, or execute the ring leaders of the fascists as they did post-WWII.
      I’m still left wondering why there is this complete and utter reluctance to label some of the right-wing antics as fascist – especially those that are going beyond the realms of moderate behaviour.

      I remember reading, some time back – I think on politicalpendulum, or somewhere, that a better description of fascism is corporatism.
      The misbehaviour of corporate ‘citizenry’ [ fuck me, now there’s a joke and an attempt at trying to legitimise their imperative in and of itself! ], the incompetence, the snuggling up, the lobbying, the preference of the corporate over the actual citizen and/or voter leads me to think that politicalpendulum (if that’s where it was) is correct.

      • TheContrarian 4.1.1

        Because fascism, as a political ideology, demands strict nationalism and an attempt to remove class divisions as well as, in most cases an expansionist foreign policy.

        These are key definers of fascism which National doesn’t display

        • Tim 4.1.1.1

          Ah! I see! the kind of ‘get-out clause’. So you can fit all but one of the criteria and satisfy yourself you’re not such a fascist, because you’re not a nationalist (which – in your case “the Contrarian”) I think you probably are anyway.

          • Tim 4.1.1.1.1

            oh btw TC (aka “top Cat”), if I don’t reply forthwith, it’s because there are normal day-to day things on the agenda. It’s not that I don’t want to give you my undivided attention – lest you get ideas of non-engagement.

            • TheContrarian 4.1.1.1.1.1

              This conversation has been had on The Standard before.

              National don’t display the key identifiers of Fascist ideology. A key element of all fascistic parties throughout history has been this mass public mobilization to Nationalistic causes, the the attempt removal of class definitions while appealing to the proletariat as well as expansionist foreign policies. These aren’t ‘get-out clauses’ these are key behaviors associated with fascism.

              I don’t care if you engage or not.

              • ..so it seems, to be precise a new word is required.

                Might I suggest Fascionarrowindividualistism-tyrannical-bullshit

              • aerobubble

                Profit is a mass appeal of National, free markets ignore class divisions, expansionist policies of mining, etc, expand and destroy our future.

              • Tim

                Oh really – well apologies – I’m a newcomer.
                …and btw (below). I see no need of inventing a new word, I’d rather describe it as I have.

            • TheContrarian 4.1.1.1.1.2

              A fascist government certainly would not be selling strategic state owned assets and would be trying instead to bring more assets and facets of public utilities under state control.

            • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1.1.1.3

              Tim, not to agree with Contros definition of F, (because it’s rubbish) , when people describe F as corporatism they aren’t talking about modern corporations.

              In Pre-war political theory, corporatism was a political idea that competed with syndicalism or socialism.

              It was about ways of organising economic structures.

              The corporatists weren’t talking about making modern style private business corporates, but rather that that sectors would incorporate. That for example, car manufacturers would get together and carve out co-operative deals and act together strategically. Bread makers and farmers would do the same etc. Each ‘Corporate’ would represent the industry both politically and economically.

              The word has changed it’s meaning basically.

              • TheContrarian

                @PB – it isn’t a definition, it is a characteristic.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  It’s still rubbish.

                  The class stuff isn’t really right at all, and you miss the things that really set them apart, ie characterise, them.

                  Eg. the Nationalsim is of a particular type. It’s about the defining and promoting ‘essence’ of the nation, rather than just ‘my nation right or wrong’. That’s why they spend so much time on defining internal enemies.

                  It’s about action over thought. It’s anti intellectual and anti liberal.

                  • TheContrarian

                    I am aware it is a particular brand of Nationalism – the point was to show that National doesn’t that extreme nationalistic tendency which really sets fascist ideology apart.

                    “Fascism recognizes the occurrence of class conflict, and advocates a resolution to end the division of classes within a nation and secure national solidarity.[9] However fascism publicly favours proletarian culture due to its association of proletarian culture with economic production and claims that the proletariat as producers must have a dominant role in the nation.”

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facism

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Try this:

                      http://www.anesi.com/Fascism-TheUltimateDefinition.htm

                      The wiki seems to be based on Mann, but I don’t think he’s that convincing re the proles. What he’s really getting at is producerism (it’s on wikipedia! ) which is a middle and working class populism. The proles are as much a target as the elites, in that proles (such as they exist), in modern societies tend to be made up of ‘outsiders’.

                    • TheContrarian

                      Thanks for the link – I’ll have a gander.

                      There are quite a few competing definitions out there.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      He rambles a bit at the end, fucking libertarians.

                      David Neiwert is good too, just google him and fascism and you’ll be swamped by him beating the shit out of Jonah Goldberg, unless I’m very much mistaken. Which I often am.

                    • TheContrarian

                      You have seen The Wave?

                      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1063669/

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Yeah, people are shits in a bunch, on the whole.

                    • TheContrarian

                      I hear that.

                    • Murray Olsen

                      Wikipedia is hardly ever reliable for specialist, in depth knowledge, and even less so when it doesn’t even spell the word correctly.
                      Kiwi fascism, if it developed, obviously would not involve expanding the motherland by military force and also would need to adapt to the recent accelerated internationalisation of the world economy. It would represent the national capitalists only in so far as they were integrated to multinational interests. It would be anti-intellectual and promote a type of Kiwi blokeishness which would probably glorify hunting, smashing beneficiaries and lamenting the role of “front bums” in society. It would dispense with the rule of law and any ideas of civil rights or due process. I think we are fearfully close.

                  • TheContrarian

                    “It’s about action over thought. It’s anti intellectual and anti liberal.”

                    I like that – succinct.

              • Tim

                @PB yes I’m aware of that… but @ TC “A fascist government certainly would not be selling strategic state owned assets and would be trying instead to bring more assets and facets of public utilities under state control”.
                That is certainly NOT necessarily so.
                Especially so since Fascists attempt to confuse WHAT and WHO the state actually is.
                Fascists would would be bringing more “assets and facets of public utilities under the control” of a master-class elite that has confused what exactly a ‘public’ is comprised of – in ALL its pluarlity.

                If you’d rather we call it neo-fascisim or other newly invented label in order to fit some exact category, or to make you sleep better at night without the taint – so be it. I’d say that this current gubbamint is the closest thing to fascism I’ve ever encountered in this country, and what’s worse – there are a couple of dominatrixes in it that appear to actually get off on it. The only thing that I see that’s different is that they’re not quite as clever as Nazis were, though they’re certainly as underhand and devious.

        • Tim 4.1.1.2

          Oh…. (btw as they say in the connected world) … I don’t necessarily agree that Fascism demands strict nationalism. It may well have in a mid-20C definition of nationalism when a majority associated nationalism with statehood (a la nation-state), but that was always going to be primitive at best. Those creators only ever envisaged an area of turf with a majority that shared common belief. Hence anything foreign was just that. WORSE than that, anything that deviated from an ‘assimilated norm’ should be conquered. Hence ….. some of the most aggregious attrocites ever – South Africa, Rwanda/Berundi, Australia’s White Poicy, and so on and so on and so on and so on and so on and so on and so on ……
          I see a state as a legal definition (which surely you’ll agree with – after all I’m sure you don’t disagree with the very legal definitions that you use to perpetuate your agenda do you?). Whereas I see nationhood as a shared affinity and culture regardless of boundary. I’m sure most tribal affiliations and the nomadic would agree. Possibly even Hitler would agree, except that he could not understand that multiple affinities might, people with more than one cultural understanding, and could co-exist.
          The arrogance of someone to come along and impose their definition is just that – and incidentally – a characteristic INDEED an essential characteristic of fascism. Sound familiar? It’s what we’re seeing now – better make sure you’re on the ‘right-side’ aye? Mussonilini didn’t quite get it.
          We might see a Maori Nation, or indeed a LGBTI Nation, an Anglican Nation, a Nation of Islam (oops…we already have!), an Immigrant Nation all trying to coexist under a NZ Nation(S)-State.
          Anyway – it’s been duscussed before.
          Jah Vol Herr Commandant

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    ugh spambot

  6. In a way I see it is fair enough that partners, who benefit from illegal acts are required to experience the consequences of such.

    What I see as the real problem this issue raises and the thing I find it questionable with welfare distribution is the way our welfare treats those in relationships.

    I fail to understand why people are not paid as individuals and why one receives a different amount (and lesser) when one is in a relationship.

    Now I know the pat answer that Winz workers are trained to address this query “Two people living under one light bulb costs less”

    I find this questionable, it is clear that two people can make savings, however, in order to make the substantial saving that is assumed, requires that the two people ensure they stay in the same room at the same time at all times. (Otherwise “two lightbulbs” are involved….) Two people have two separate costs, such as health, transport and such things requiring two separate outfits per day…..
    Yes, there may be savings, coming out of a joining of two lives, however largely, these savings are very similar to the amount of savings one experiences from flatting in the same house with others, and flatmates are not given lesser rates of assistance.

    This appears to be a human rights issue.

    21. Prohibited grounds of discrimination
    (1)For the purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are—
    (a)sex, which includes pregnancy and childbirth:
    (b)marital status, which means being—
    (i)single; or
    (ii)married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship; or

    I daresay, due to the system being one of welfare this form of discrimination is allowed for (has been exempted from the requirements), however, if people were simply paid as they should be, as individual members of society regardless of their marital status, I believe it would clear up a lot of complications and ensuing costs of calculating married people’s “entitlement” and also the vast costs that must go into investigating this type of “benefit fraud”. It would also clear up the issue that this post raises.

  7. quartz 7

    I think it’s simply a ghastly unprincipled diversion tactic.

    • Yep the nats are on the ropes over Sky City and what happens …

      Some more bene bashing!

      They are so predictable. Someone should do a correlation between embarassing times for the Government and the announcement of social welfare reforms. I suspect the correlation will be startling high.

  8. alwyn 8

    I think that it was a very great shame that the USSR, after Stalin introduced the policy, did not enforce it strictly.
    Included in the people whose families were to be punished, and in that period this meant being killed, were soldiers who had surrendered to the Germans. These included Stalin’s son and the law should therefore have applied to him and his father, Stalin himself.
    It is hard to see how the world could have been worse off from the absence of that maniac.

  9. Aww 9

    Next, they will be going after the hookers (as in the Steven whatshisname case from ASB) and the drug dealers who sold a good or excellent service to the fraudster, … and themselves for benefiting from the GST on any money spent. (Holy heck, can’t believe ASB went after the hooker! She earned it and may have even paid income tax on it.)

    Here is an idea: Make sure all low income earners receive their full and correct entitlement under the current system. That way you remove much of the desperation out there, combat child poverty and improve overall standards of living.

  10. aerobubble 10

    The government has back down on stripping prisoners of any civil rights windfall court payments and giving the money to a general victim fund. Seems someone finally realized that plaintiffs have the need when they win to actually receive a remedy for wrongs done to them. Even criminals.

    This current government has real problems with understanding that the legislator only write the laws, laws actually come effect in courts of law, and if they over reach their power government have the tendency of losing in the courts, costing tax payers. All government decisions can be appealed in courts and so be tested for their lawfulness.

    Key has a problem with fair impartial consultation, look at schools closures issue, etc, so court can and do look at the character of both sides of an action to access the truth of their statements, like govt dealt in good faith.

  11. vto 11

    This disgusts me.

    Why not make it a generic criminal offence, that would catch all fraud, such as the massive white collar and tax-dodging fraud?

    Why restrict it to beneficiaries?

    Why restrict it to beneficiaries?

    Why restrict it to beneficiaries?

    Why restrict it to beneficiaries?

  12. johnm 12

    The Market Pimp’s Government strikes again. :-(

  13. QoT 13

    National’s ‘get the wives too’ offence

    I find this really interesting because my own first assumption would’ve been more “get the boyfriends” – as in, this targets male partners of hetero women receiving the DPB. Funny how different perspectives work, of course it targets male or female partners of DPB/unemployment/sickness etc beneficiaries equally.

    • the pigman 13.1

      I think it is pretty obviously “get the boyfriends”, because the vast majority of this very low-value fraud is mums on the DPB with live-in boyfriends/on-off abusive relationship partners, who are concealing it from their case workers either because they are afraid of having to exist on even less than they already have to, or their relationship is volatile and unpredictable and they don’t want CYF on their backs so they “ended” that relationship.

    • tracey 13.2

      exactly, which is why we dont have a hunt down the white middle class men cribbing their child care cos the new wife and new kids deserve it more campaign… and when we do, it is hijacked by the “men are not allowed access by their evil ex-wives” campaign.

  14. Tigger 14

    Great post Eddie.

  15. tracey 15

    welfare something is always rolled out as a diversion. Usually Ms Bennett fronts it to take the heat off (in the past education)… and here we go again.

    At least TV3 actually said what benefit fraud costs each year (39m). It failed to point out the percentage perpetrated by employees.

    National announced this morning that the public love it. How could they know so quickly? Or do they just mean the section of the public which they pander to who are less informed on these topics than the politicians will swallow it. Shame on the MPs who KNOW the facts and lie or mislead. The people relying on their representatives to be truthful about this kind of thing are duped again.

    Even infused who is informed has an excuse/justification already on the go … it’s like receiving stolen property.”

    So why aren’t bank robbers wives and partners charged? Why aren’t the wives of directors found to have been fraudulent charged? Why arent parents whose kids are rorting the student loan scheme (with full knowledge of the parents) charged or hunted down?

    And where is the heavy handed effort to chase down unpaid child support????? If a man or woman doesnt pay their child support, but has had a second family, we charge the partner, and put their children into care (afterall we are paying for their children anyway, what’s a couple more)? The answer is because most unpaid or underpaid child support isn’t from beneficiaries… it’s from demographics more likely to vote…. National. And yes, I say that from experience of the area of family law.

    I have never heard as much squealing about the awful and unfair welfare “nazis” as from middle class men who have started a second family and resent paying for the first. The same men who at dinner parties applaud the govt for getting tough on bludgers.

  16. tracey 16

    “The evidence for the existence of widespread benefit fraud is paltry to non-existent – despite the fact that a special fraud intelligence unit was set up in the Social Welfare department in 2007 to detect it. Last year, the department checked 29 million records, and found the benefit fraud rate (as a proportion of the total benefits paid) was a miniscule 0.10 per cent. A declining number of prosecutions – from 937 in 2009 to 789 last year – resulted.

    Of the $16 million in benefit fraud detected last year, a proportion was carried out by social welfare staff – ten of whom were sacked last year for ripping off the system – and not by beneficiaries themselves”

    The exact figures will be known to both labour and national MPs who choose not to share the percentage committed by employees. I can’t wait for Mr Shearer’s timid response being ever so careful not to upset the misinformation being perpetrated for fear of losing voters he never had or will have.

    http://werewolf.co.nz/2011/02/ten-myths-about-welfare/

    I will happily read updated or replacement statistics from those who wish to disagree?

    • xtasy 16.1

      tracey – this talk about “fraud” is also misleading.

      In the strict eyes of MSD a client dependent on a benefit is already committing a “fraud”, if such a person takes on a job and waits a week or two to inform WINZ about this.

      I know many people who took on jobs and waited a week or two to tell WINZ staff about this, because they were nervous and unsure about whether the job may work out. So they waited to see that it would work out for them. If they had told WINZ staff immediately, they would have had their benefit stopped immediately, and in the case of a job not working out, they would be sitting without money to pay for rent, power, food and anything else for a week or two.

      Such overpayments are in some cases treated as “fraud”, well at least included in figures about supposed “dishonesty” or about “claiming a benefit without justification”. Of course hardly any such cases would be prosecuted, but MSD do not look kindly on not declaring changes of circumstances straight away.

      Given there are close to 360 thousand people on some form of benefits, it is riduculous to use the very low number of proven “fraudsters” or “cheats” as justification to introduce new laws that will bring fear and suspicions into the lives of so many on benefits.

  17. Akldnut 17

    So we’ll be seeing Mary English being held to account soon?

    • tracey 18.1

      “The RNZ report also includes this incredible segment:

      The Social Development Ministry says that in 95^% of benefit fraud investigations, the person involved does not provide the necessary data, delaying enquiries by “ at least” 25 days. It estimates this delay costs $3 million a year, and gives the person time to cover up the fraud and destroy any evidence.

      One hardly knows where to start with this insanity. Safe to say, with no other social group would a department tot up its ordinary administrative costs and then – in paranoid fashion – blame them on a plot by the people it is supposed to be serving. Clearly, the Ministry expects all of the information it wants from the very moment it asks for it – because judging by the above, the meter is running from the very moment the Ministry mails out its letter or lodges a call.

      Let’s look at that. Lets assume the Ministry has got the right address, can express its needs clearly and that the information it asks for can be readily obtained. All very big assumptions. Even so, people are getting back to the Ministry in 25 days. In just over three weeks. That sounds pretty good, right? But no, the Ministry doesn’t think so. Because from the moment they send out their request they assume the person is playing for time “to cover up the fraud and destroy any evidence.” Even though 84 % of the time, it is the department that has got the wrong end of the stick, and not the beneficiary.”

      architects, builders, certifiers, plasterers, roofers, developers all had about ten years to destroy their evidence in the leaky home debacle. So often the High Court demands, at the behest of the defendants that an owner provide the evidence of their claim against so-and-so. BUT many owners weren’t the original owners so had no access to documentation… the mantra of these defendants is we destroyed everything after seven years like the law says we can. BUT the Courts accept this lame excuse. Lame, because it is only tax records you DONT have to keep after 7 years. It doesn’t say you MUST destroy invoices after seven years and it says nothing about building contracts etc.

      Everyone of the people in this defendant group knows their liability under the building act is for ten years, and they all would have known within the 7 years given for keeping tax records, that they may have built or inspected or developed a leaky home YET they destroy ALL records… That’s not to count the “floods” and “fires” (undocumented) that mysteriously destroy these kinds of records.

  18. NoseViper (The Nose knows) 19

    This beneficiary crackdown is built on the notion that there is huge fraud going on. There is occasional huge fraud by some inventive trickster, the rest are struggling, trying to manage with obstacles placed in their way by a punitive, hating government. It is the same vicious approach used when men dockworkers went on strike way back. The public were ordered not to help families with food and many disgraceful edicts. .There is a pretence of caring about morality that comes out in the NACT approach. Stop fathers running off, forcing them to accept responsibility etc.

    It’s just another way of making the public suffer as a result of the deliberate running down of the economy, jobs and wages by various governments. Then blame the losers from this process and refuse to see people as of value but just units of welfare and cost to the government.

    This new policy is an indictment on police thinking as Chester Borrows comes from that background and must be following attitudes learned there.
    With a history in policing and the law, Chester’s policy interests are around Law and Order and Welfare.
    He was raised in Nelson and attended Nayland College before entering the Police in 1975 as a 17-year-old Cadet. For 24 years he worked as a uniformed and CIB officer in cities, provincial towns and rural stations before leaving the Police to stand for Parliament in 1999. He attended Victoria University, obtaining an LLB between elections and campaigned again in 2002.

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      WINZ cheating beneficiaries out of money must be considered fraud too, right?

      • xtasy 19.1.1

        Good point CV!

        Add to that also the fact, that over years, MSD and their largest department WINZ, have resorted to “assessing” and “re-assessing” many sickness and invalid’s beneficiaries – by using their selected, preferred, actually specially “trained” and thus influenced doctors (mostly GPs), and also by having “trained” staff members like Regional Health and Disability Advisors make the recommendations they expect, which in itself is a breach of NATURAL JUSTICE.

        The doctors that are under the Social Security Act supposed to “examine” clients with health issues and conditions are according to that Act supposed to be INDEPENDENT.

        Now, how “independent” are doctors that conduct examinations and make assessments according to criteria set by MSD and that follow expectations by MSD to look rather at anything a sick or disabled person hypothetically “can do”, rather than “cannot do”?

        I would say there have been thousands of decisions by such doctors, that break the law – in particular natural justice!

        So dear Ministers, when are we going to have WiNZ and MSD adhere to the law?

    • tracey 19.2

      it also makes it look like NACT is doing something, when in fact whatever they are doing in this policy is not addressing the billions they have borrowed since 2008, some of it for tax cuts… and for a stagnating economy. The earthquake was terrible but it is also providing this govt with a lifeline

  19. xtasy 20

    “National’s ‘get the wives too’ offence is a daft attempt to do away with that founding principle of our legal system. Where the hell is Crown Law?”

    Crown Law appear to not be consulted all that much these days, and when the government does it, it seems to pick the advice from probably a number of Crown Law experts that suits their intentions and goals.

    This proposed law change and measure is clearly discriminatory, same as a number of proposed law changes under the presently considered Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill. It breaches the Bill of Rights Act and Human Rights Act, as it is only targeted at partners of beneficiaries, who may commit some alleged fraud.

    Also is this another proposed law change, which is clearly intended to “appeal” to many in the public, as the mainstream media has over years already prepared the ground for bashing beneficiaries, by reporting only about the very few fraud cases that involve high amounts of dollars, by reporting about other supposed failures, about dishonesty and supposedly “easily” chosen “lifestyles” at the expense of the taxpayer.

    So this is intended to distract from National’s failures in economic and social areas, and National knows, that large parts of the public have a dim view of beneficiaries. Hence many will “welcome” this.

    It is the “collective guilt” approach being applied here, and that raises yet more legal questions, and those are right who ask, why single out beneficiaries and alleged “partners” who “know” about the partner’s benefit receipt, and not tax fraudsters – or any other fraudsters there are.

    I would think that the present law also makes it possible to prosecute a partner, if she/he knew of the fraud being committed by the other. But it seems that MSD and the government really are after pressing monetary compensation out of those partners, who may be guilty of condoning and indirectly participating in such alleged “fraud”. Hence an addition to the law, to make things more convenient to do so. But I expect that there will be problems introducing the law change as it is.

    Anyway: Welfare fraud is peanuts compared to other fraud and to tax evasion or avoidance.

    • Descendant Of Sssmith 20.1

      At one level this could be seen as a way of helping relieve the directly offending partner of the total burden of the debt when the predominantly male partner had the benefits of the relationship without needing to provide any of the support.

      Put that way it could be seen as reasonable.

      Put that way it could be seen as a desire to help the offender.

      Of course it’s not. If Winz was really concerned about the debt burden they would allow the judges in their court cases to consider restitution. It was evident in the 80’s that DSW as it was then was finding that judges were not ordering restitution or if they did only to a small proportion of the debt owed.

      We noticed a trend then not to request restitution and that has no doubt continued. As a result the offender gets sentenced and still has to pay every cent back – unlike many many white collar and other fraudsters.

      It’s another way in which beneficiary criminals are generally treated differently to other criminals.
      If there was truly some desire to help the offender with her debt burden they’d let the courts decide appropriate restitution in line with any other sentencing.

      Put as above it looks like a good intention in reality it’s a road to further hell.

      In many of these situations there’s a strong power imbalance between the male and the female receiving the DPB – I can’t see in any way how this helps women in those situations one little bit. I can see how it puts them at more risk than they are now.

      There’s no protection here for the most vulnerable.

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 20.1.1

        And I wonder how much National have thought this through in terms of cost:

        Two prosecutions, two imprisonments, children in CYFS care, two appeals.

        The partner charge will require different evidence.. Certainly when I was in banking you saw couples applying for loans with one person working and the second getting DPB but based on detail in court cases in the paper usually there are no assets to speak of I’m thinking for many the evidence will be minimal or witness based.

        It does seem that the cost of prosecuting will be higher than any gain in collecting money back and the disruption to families even greater.

        I don’t condone any fraud whether benefit or otherwise but this law simply seems poorly thought out, costly and just simply bad law.

        Just waiting now for Labour Greens Mana Maori Party to say they will repeal it.

  20. xtasy 21

    What is the reason and justification for this proposed law change, in view of section 66 of the Crimes Act 1961 already providing for the prosecution of known participation in such alleged “fraud” by a beneficiary???

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM328506.html?search=sw_096be8ed809832a0_parties_25&p=1&sr=10

    The only reason I can detect is, that the law as it is does not necessarily give MSD the means to get a “partner” as a “party” to committing benefit fraud, to get that “co-offender” pay for damages.

    It seems they simply want to have access to the partner’s funds, income and so forth, to recover the money that was lost due to “alleged” fraud. There is no other reason and justification for this measure, that I can find. And as stated above, it is discriminatory and thus illegal, what they propose.

    • aerobubble 21.1

      I’m guess because its not clear. But seems that some girlfriends with kids where harassed to lie to WINZ to get more benefit, then when caught they declared they were in an abusive relationship and so lawyers could no longer argue the girlfriend was in a relationship. And in order to catch those being abused by their boyfriends WINZ also want the ability to closer scrutinize the lives of those who are have been manipulated into lying to them.

      Now the question is will they abuse their power, and will individuals (as in any part of society) in WINZ who abuse their power be open to over sight. What checks and balances, what fairness is there in comparable crimes like white collar fraud who do not lose as much as a benefit fraudster.

      Remember also not everyone on a benefit is eligible for legal aid (as its asset tested).

  21. Murray Olsen 22

    From my uninformed layperson’s viewpoint, this law has to be in violation of the Bill of Rights. It also will have the effect of making it harder for beneficiaries to start or form relationships, so that the family values so beloved of NAct will be denied them. It really rams home just how little humanity exists in government and especially in people like Paula Bennett. She might not have been able to form a stable relationship until she had a ministerial salary – I really don’t know. But why is she so keen to deny the opportunity to everyone else. It’s a bill to promote quickies in the back of a Corolla and to take any love or humanity out of beneficiaries’ lives. A South African friend suggested to me that it’s the sort of law she would have expected back in their bad old days, when they had people who tested sheets for bodily discharges in an attempt to snuff out interracial relationships. NAct are sick, sick people.

  22. Mary 23

    The whole thing’s obviously fraught with difficulties, not the least being the criminalisation of people who have no idea of the alleged offending, on top of, of course, the fact that so many people are wrongly convicted because of MSD telling people that if they plead guilty they “won’t go to jail” – completely ignoring the requirement to apply the proper test for what constitutes a relationship in the nature of marriage.

    One thing, though, that many people haven’t mentioned is that as soon as a spouse (or alleged spouse) gets done for fraud they didn’t know about what do you think will happen? I’d say it’d be curtains for any chance a relationship may have had therefore removing all doubt over whether the person is entitled to a benefit. These changes are guaranteed to make more people entitled to a social welfare benefit.

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