Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, August 8th, 2014 - 266 comments
Categories: cost of living, election 2014, internet mana party, john key, Metiria Turei, patriarchy, poverty, workers' rights - Tags:
There are sobering and harrowing stories coming out of Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Action Impact at Mangere this week. Yesterday’s press release from AAAP, states:
“The number of people in need standing outside Mangere Work & Income early this morning was almost beyond belief,” says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.
“Some had been here since 6am to get help from our advocates. There have been many hundreds overall.
“This morning one woman with a medical condition collapsed and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance. Two other people had ‘turns’ and were provided medical assistance on site.
“People are desperate. They come to the impact because they have been turned down for assistance in the past, aren’t getting what they’re entitled to or are simply too frightened to come into the office on their own.
“If most New Zealanders could see what’s happening here, they would be appalled at exactly how badly their government is letting so many of its citizens down.
“It is an indictment that Work & Income does not adequately support beneficiaries and unemployed people to get the assistance they need as a matter of course, so that when a group like ours turns up we are completely overrun.
Simon Buckingham’s post on the Daily Blog is a must read. He is a lawyer helping out with AAAP’s advocacy work with beneficiaries.
I grabbed a spare desk as one of two Lawyers who are assisting Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Impact Day, and my day began helping predominantly single mums who cannot name dad.
Before we begin, let me clarify. Last year when I was helping at the New Lynn WINZ office, I had the single mum who was sexually violated. She had her child, and WINZ wrongly started deducting the $20 per week for not naming the father. This was an error, as rape is the exemption, but this error had deducted $20 per week for ten years for being a victim. We managed to secure her a $10,000 rebate at a time that she needed the break!
This is an indictment on the current Paula Bennett-John Key driven system of dis-entitlement. It is also testament to the continuing existence of compassion, care, collaborative flax roots efforts, and the human spirit under extreme pressure form those in power. Buckingham reports that some of the WINZ staff have shown genuine compassion and been very helpful.
A couple of days ago, Metiria Turei had dropped by the Mangere Impact, to see for herself what was happening. She posted on Facebook:
Just been politely but firmly thrown out of the Mangere WINZ office. Ive been at the advocacy Impact at Mangere WINZ, talking with the advocates about the extent to which beneficiaries are still not getting their full entitlements. Then on the advice from the Ministers office, management asked that I leave. Protocols and all that. But for just this one hour I was transported back 25 years when I was doing this work. Nothing has changed for the better for people in need of some help. And needing help should not be an excuse for being treated like a second class citizen.
We will roll back these cruel welfare reforms. We will restore the principles of decency and justice in social security. National is hurting families. We have to make them stop.
I’m not sure what the “protocols” are that govern such days of advocacy. However, Turei seems to have accepted the request to leave. But she did have enough time to see for herself the struggles and the compassion.
Turei and Buckingham, like many others, are calling for change of government, and new policies to “restore the principles of decency and justice”.
Yesterday’s video posted by AAAP, spells out the problems, the inequalities and the needs. The Inequality gap cannot be just measured by comparisons of average incomes over time. The biggest inequality gaps are seen when comparing the gaps between the richest and poorest 10% over time. It includes the way income inequalities feed into wealth inequalities, which become very had to reverse.
The AAAP workers state on the video, that the Mangere Impact has shown even greater needs, dis-entitlement, and suffering than at the previous Impacts in Onehunga and New Lynn.
AAAP advocate, Oliver Christellor, talks of the legal requirement that solo mothers name the child’s father. If they don’t, they get their benefit reduced by about $27.00 a week. He idneitifies this as a human rights problem, because only women are penalised this way. Christellor says that the women are often not listened to. Talking to them uncovers many reasons why they haven’t named the child’s father.
We have a government that doesn’t care about the struggles of the disempowered, the poor, or women generally:
This is the same John Key who is dismissive of the criticisms by women journalists for his blatantly sexist labeling of Laila Harre as Kim Dotcom’s “sugar daddy”. He sucks in his breath as he stands by his statement as being “totally accurate”, while deliberately ignoring the sexual connotations of the “sugar daddy” phrase.
This is the leader of the same government that under-funds women’s refuges, and pressures women struggling to survive, to name fathers, even when it may endanger them.
For the good of us all, and especially, for the good of those doing it really tough these days, VOTE LEFT this election! We are all in this together.