web analytics
The Standard

Gordon Campbell on Nats’ welfare plan

Written By: - Date published: 10:36 am, August 12th, 2008 - 15 comments
Categories: benefits, national - Tags: , ,

Dog whistle politics to some, beneficiary bashing to others. But is there logic to National’s policy on benefits? Gordon Campbell asks:

Will John Key’s policy announcement on welfare this afternoon do much to resolve the problems it claims to address? Hardly…

It is as if National felt the need to beat up on beneficiaries somehow, and somewhere – and so it picked primarily on solo parents, the group of beneficiaries widely recognized as being in LEAST need of extra motivation to get off the benefit.

One angle I thought was interesting was a study done by the Ministry of Social Development which looked at the health (and mental health) status of sole-mothers. If they are already more likely to be sick then sending them out to work with penalties if they don’t is not likely to lead to good outcomes, for either the parent or the children.

And one question I was hoping to hear asked – what are the penalties planned for those who do not abide by the rules? And what happens if there are others (like children) living in the household?

There’s a fundamental difference in approach here with both sides arguing that the studies back their logic. However as Simon Collins suggests:

…there are other factors besides welfare in the breakdown of the traditional family, and forcing parents into paid work may not be the answer.

15 comments on “Gordon Campbell on Nats’ welfare plan”

  1. Crank 1

    I don’t like beneficiary bashing for cheap political gain but I can’t see the problem with asking DPB parents to work or take part in upskill training for 15 hours whilst their kids are in school.

    Some of the arguments presented about the negative effect on children of having a working parent “stressed out” by having to both work and bring up children is quite frankly very insulting to the large numbers of working parents out there.

  2. Dancer 2

    I thank my lucky stars that I have a partner to help me at home with our children – as they can truely run us ragged (even when they are being good!). i’ve seen a number of two parent households struggle with the reality of even 10 hours work. Certainly it varies, and the more skilled and in demand you are the easier it is – but getting to and from work (esp if you rely on public transport), walking children to school, spending time helping out in class w general reading/writing, NOT being late for pick up – i really have to question whether it’s practical to bring in a big stick when lives are already complicated. I would rather have parents invest time in the classroom and helping with homework, so by the time i retire we have a workforce that is capable of generating income for my nz super!

  3. Phil 3

    Dancer,

    A lot of single parents work, and bring up their children, and do all of those other things – for which they should be celebrated.

    But, the lives of beneficiaries are no more complicated than those doing the exact same parenting on minium wage. Why treat them as ‘different’?

  4. Matthew Pilott 4

    But, the lives of beneficiaries are no more complicated than those doing the exact same parenting on minium wage.

    I don’t imagine that’s true. A single parent with a minumim wage job will no doubt struggle – but they have employment, which is a start. They will have more money. They will, by defnintion, be employable. They will, also by definition, have the ability and means to work, to get to work, to manage their time so they can work, and have the freedom to work. None of those are a given with a solo parent on a benefit.

    I think ‘complicated’ isn’t the right frame of reference. Work will make someone’s life more complicated, but their personal circumstances dictate whether that complication is manageable or not.

    Those personal circumstances are the real factor under which someone may or may not be able to work – and this is where the two are ‘different’.

  5. Dancer 5

    thanks matthew – that’s a better description. it also matters what the penalties are for sole parents who don’t meet the criteria – and what effect that may have on others such as children, who get caught can get in the crossfire. A good summation of the potential damage is “National’s welfare policy would hurt the vulnerable children in society”, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said today
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4652747a6160.html

  6. Ari 6

    I suppose the good part of this is that they’ve seen some sense and let DPB benficiaries keep a bit more of their benefit money while working- which should help some keep afloat with part-time work if living costs keep going the way they are now.

    It’s kinda ironic when the first move from one of the big parties to help beneficiaries in years comes as part of National’s plan to play tough love with solo parents, rather than from Labour. =/

  7. Alistair 7

    “Some of the arguments presented about the negative effect on children of having a working parent “stressed out’ by having to both work and bring up children is quite frankly very insulting to the large numbers of working parents out there.”

    People’s situations can be quite different and such generalising may be short sighted. I am in full time employment but have spent several years looking after a child who suffered from bipolar disorder. He went to school like all other kids but unlike other kids keeping him inline was very difficult. Some parents may be blessed with average children but not all. If one chooses to work so one’s standard of living is better then that is an individuals choice. Money doesn’t but happiness but it is typical of our pathetic materialistic western society to assume it does. Is a child happier with all the latest toys or with more time spent with loving parents. Perhaps we have lost the point of life – perhaps we never knew it… perhaps we don’t even know ourselves Wake up people

  8. insider 8

    Gordon Campbell doesn’t like NAtional’s policy. Who’da thunk it?

  9. Roby110 9

    Phil said:
    But, the lives of beneficiaries are no more complicated than those doing the exact same parenting on minium wage. Why treat them as ‘different’?

    But, Phil, the Tory policy DOES treat them “different”. It says – “you – unlike other people – will not have a choice”.
    The thing that annoys me the most is hat there is very clear evidence that th vast majority of solo parents on benefits want nothing more than to get off the benefit and be self supporting. The evidence also indicates very strongly that the more we support a person raising children on their own the more quickly they move from benefit to being self supporting and the less likely they are to return to the state for support later.

    And in the end what are the government going to do if a parent refuses to obey this edict. Cut their benfit. To punish who? The kids.

  10. Greg 10

    The argument that potential benefits cuts (due to not fulfilling the working requirement) will impact negatively on children is not valid. You see, it is not the policy itself that is impacting upon children, but the actions of their parents who chose to ignore it. You cannot set policy to the lowest common denominator, that would make for a very depressing society. Its the hidden third variable, which does need to be addressed, but not at the expense of tolerating benefit bludgers (by this i mean genuine bludgers, those who can work). Instead of doing away with this policy on that basis we need to fix the problem at its roots – instead of simply fixing the symptoms, better education, more support (non monetary) for struggling families are but some ideas.

  11. Matthew Pilott 11

    Ari, that’s a good point – that rate is very low ($80) now, if there’s a clear benefit to doing this then it is something you’d think Labour should have looked at.

    The argument that potential benefits cuts (due to not fulfilling the working requirement) will impact negatively on children is not valid. You see, it is not the policy itself that is impacting upon children, but the actions of their parents who chose to ignore it.

    Those children are still entirely dependant on their parent’s income. It’s a valid concern that a blanket policy will negatively affect those children. Key has said that there are some exceptions to work out (as with all their ‘policy’, they are light on detail), so I will watch with interest, and hope that they are very well considered – the stakes are high.

    Also, as I said on another post, Labour’s policies are just what you say is required – free healthcare, childcare, apprenticeships and WINZ emphasis on training. These all help fix the problem at the root.

  12. Savage 12

    If you want someone to do something – such as a beneficiary getting a job or attending a seminar it is better to use a positive reinforcement rather than a negative punishment.

    The streamlining and privitisation that has occurred during the last 25 years has eliminated much of the skilled and semi-skilled labouring jobs that had sustained New Zealand’s working class. From rail to steel to manufacturing almost all these areas have been hit hard.

    You can’t expect people to do jobs that you wouldn’t do for wages that don’t really pay the bills.

    You can’t streamline people out of society – we are all in this waka together. John Key’s latest salvo at beneficiaries is exactly what it looks like – a well placed kick from possibly one of New Zealand’s richest delivered to that of the guts of New Zealand’s poorest.

    If you want to solve this problem then you need to be creative in finding a solution.Simply saying “You are not a productive section of society and we will punish you.” is mind bogglingly simplistic – Just like Mr Key.

  13. Pascal's bookie 13

    The way I see it, we can set up the system with one of two things as a focus, but not both.

    One way is to say that there is a need for welfare programs, and human nature is such that some people will try to free ride on that system. We should focus on eliminating these free riders.

    The other way is to say that there is a need for welfare programs, and that because it is a need, we should ensure that all who need it, get it.

    The first way attempts to eliminate giving the benefits to the undeserving (avoid false positives), at the cost of making things harder for those that need it.

    The second way attempts to make sure that no one who needs the assistance misses out on the benefit of it (avoid false negatives), at the cost of accepting a higher rate of free riders.

    Any system that tries to eliminate free riders will necessarily make the program more onerous in some way or another for those that need it, and will probably mean that some who need it won’t get it at all.

    Given that both approaches take the need for the program as a starting point, I think false positives are less important (and in the scheme of things, less costly) than false negatives, so I prefer the second approach.

  14. Anita 14

    One of the important things about the DPB is that it is intended to support the children. No-one (that I’ve heard anyway) argues that the children will cheat/act to become free riders, it is not a sensible analysis of their actions.

    So in the case of the DPB we must use the need analysis, no other analysis makes any sense at all.

  15. Savage 15

    Calling people ‘free riders’ when you have had more opportunities than them is unfair. If New Zealand society was a truly level playing field eg everyone had the same access to education, healthcare, and other resources then I would be all for penalising ‘free riders’.

    New Zealand isn’t a level playing field. People who think that this is true are really out of touch with what is happening in parts of our society.

    We are going to keep getting the same results if John Key gets his way and gives more funding to private schools.

    “After paying Lucinda’s school fees we only managed to make it to the Swiss Alps twice this year!”

    If he really wants to get people off of welfare then they need more opportunities to succeed in education and to make it out of the hole they are in.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Will poor TPP dairy outcome stop National selling out our homes?
    After failing to protect the right to stop foreign speculators buying our houses it’s clear the Government is not going to get wins on dairy in their TPP negotiations either, Labour’s Trade and Export spokesperson David Parker says. “Labour has… ...
    7 hours ago
  • Feeling aspirational
    Yesterday the Rich List showed the number of people who have over 50 million of wealth had increased by another 15 people since last year. Collectively this group are now worth 55 billion, an increase of over 7% since last… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    8 hours ago
  • Feeling aspirational
    Yesterday the Rich List showed the number of people who have over 50 million of wealth had increased by another 15 people since last year. Collectively this group are now worth 55 billion, an increase of over 7% since last… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    8 hours ago
  • Feeling aspirational
    Yesterday the Rich List showed the number of people who have over 50 million of wealth had increased by another 15 people since last year. Collectively this group are now worth 55 billion, an increase of over 7% since last… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    8 hours ago
  • Bennett’s legacy a test for Tolley
    Former Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has been thrown under the bus by her successor after its been suggested that Ms Bennett gave the green light to an ‘unethical’ observational study of high-risk children, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.… ...
    9 hours ago
  • Submission to Greater Christchurch Earthquake Recovery: Transition to Rege...
    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Draft Transition Recovery Plan on behalf of the New Zealand Labour Party.  It is important that the citizens of Canterbury have a voice in the governance of the next step of… ...
    12 hours ago
  • Troubled school wanted $25,000 dollars to fence farm
    The troubled Whangaruru charter school asked Hekia Parata for $25,000 to fence the school farm at the expense of spending on teaching, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This unbelievable revelation comes hard on the heels of Hekia Parata’s decision to… ...
    1 day ago
  • Troubled school wanted $25,000 dollars to fence farm
    The troubled Whangaruru charter school asked Hekia Parata for $25,000 to fence the school farm at the expense of spending on teaching, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This unbelievable revelation comes hard on the heels of Hekia Parata’s decision to… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government report on sexual & family violence a good first step
    Yesterday the Government released the cabinet paper on progress on the work programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Along with the Human Rights Commissioner and Women’s Refuge, I really welcome the report. I’m relieved that… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 day ago
  • Government report on sexual & family violence a good first step
    Yesterday the Government released the cabinet paper on progress on the work programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Along with the Human Rights Commissioner and Women’s Refuge, I really welcome the report. I’m relieved that… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 day ago
  • Prisoner voting disqualification and the Bill of Rights Act
    In 2010, National rammed the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill through Parliament. Paul Quinn’s Member’s Bill existed because Paul Quinn thought anyone who’d been imprisoned was a serious offender, and serious offenders had ‘forfeited’ their right to vote.… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    1 day ago
  • Mainfreight ‘appalled’ by Government’s rail madness
    The Government has been given a serve by New Zealand-based international trucking and logistics firm Mainfreight which says it lacks a national transport strategy, and has treated rail badly, Labour's Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The company has told shareholders it… ...
    2 days ago
  • National’s Health and Safety Reform Bill: less safety and fewer rights at...
    The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is embarking on a campaign to fight the changes that weaken the Health and Safety Reform bill. As part of the campaign the CTU has organised vigils with the display of 291 crosses… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 days ago
  • All options need to be put on meat sector table
    Farmers must be given every assurance that all potential risks have been considered before Silver Fern Farms opens its door to foreign equity, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The ongoing saga involving the meat sector and amalgamation has… ...
    2 days ago
  • Flag the referendum if 50% or more don’t vote
    Labour has moved to have the second flag referendum canned if the first attracts fewer than half the eligible number of voters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “John Key has already wasted more than $8 million on his vanity project… ...
    2 days ago
  • 90,000 cars reclassified in botched ACC ratings
    New figures obtained by Labour show the ACC Minister’s botched motor vehicle levy system has resulted in 90,000 vehicles having to be reclassified so far – at a cost of $6 million, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Nikki Kaye’s… ...
    2 days ago
  • Brutal health cuts confirmed, crucial services suffer
    Chronic under-funding by National has seen the health budget slashed by $1.7 billion in just five years, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A report by Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, shows health funding has been cut in four of the… ...
    3 days ago
  • Meth ring under Serco’s nose
    The news that two Serco inmates have been arrested for helping to run a methamphetamine ring from prison should be the final straw and see their contract cancelled, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “National has stood by Serco despite… ...
    3 days ago
  • Ministers failing women and their own targets
    New figures showing just five Ministers have met the Government’s own reduced targets for appointing women to state sector boards is evidence National is failing Kiwi women, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “The Ministry for Women’s 2015 Gender… ...
    3 days ago
  • Charges up for some as funding up for grabs
    A proposal being considered by the Government would see some people having to pay more for health care and district health boards forced to fight amongst themselves to fund regional health services, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Information leaked… ...
    4 days ago
  • Stop experimenting on kids
    The trouble with the Charter school model is that it is a publicly funded experiment on children. The National Government has consistently put its desire to open charter schools ahead of the safety of the children in them, ignoring repeated… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    4 days ago
  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    4 days ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    4 days ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    4 days ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    6 days ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    1 week ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    1 week ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    1 week ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    1 week ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    1 week ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    1 week ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    1 week ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill raises bar to protect Kiwi farmland
    The Government’s rubber-stamping of every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farm land over the last three years proves tougher laws are needed, Labour MP Phil Goff says. “In the last term of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Costly flag referendum should be dumped
    John Key must ditch the flag referendum before any more taxpayer money is wasted, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Millions of dollars could be saved if the Prime Minister called a halt to this hugely expensive, and highly unpopular, vanity… ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats letting Serco off scot free
    Government members have prevented Parliament’s Law and Order select committee from getting answers out of a senior Serco director about the fight clubs being run at Mt Eden prisons, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “At today’s Law and Order… ...
    1 week ago
  • Charter school experiment turns into shambles
    The National Government’s charter school experiment has descended into chaos and it’s time for Hekia Parata to stop trying to cover up the full extent of the problems, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The Education Minister must release all… ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere