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Poverty Watch 45

Written By: - Date published: 8:14 am, August 24th, 2013 - 20 comments
Categories: national, poverty - Tags:

Just a quick Poverty Watch this week, on Auckland’s beggar ban. Here’s the short version:

Auckland’s begging ban bylaw passes

Beggars who are deemed intimidating or causing a nuisance will be banished from Auckland’s streets under a bylaw, passed today by Auckland Council.

There has been very little public debate on the issue. This Brian Rudman column stands out:

Beggars need help, not a kicking

Five years ago, right-wing Auckland City councillor Paul Goldsmith – now a National list MP – was “gravely concerned with the prevalence of rough sleepers in Auckland City” and called for new laws that allowed police “to do their job – picking people up and moving them somewhere else”.

This week, left-wing Auckland Councillor Mike Lee is chairing a bylaw committee contemplating outlawing beggars causing “a nuisance”.

The conundrum, both five years ago and now, is, “and then what?” Under the Local Government Act, defiers of city bylaws can be fined up to $20,000. But chances are, a beggar doesn’t have the money for a hamburger, let alone a fine. Which leaves the lock-up. But history suggests that doesn’t work either. …

The beggars are not necessarily homeless, or addicts or criminals. But sitting out on the cold pavement in mid-winter, with a handwritten sign and a cap, is surely a hint to a caring community to offer the person a helping hand, not a kick in the backside.

Unfortunately Rudman’s compassion is not shared by the majority of The Herald’s selfish readership:

At 1.30pm, a poll on nzherald.co.nz found 69 per cent were in favour of a ban, with 22 per cent against and 9 per cent unsure.

So now the ban is in place. What sort of country are we, that when seeing a social problem we want to sweep it under the carpet instead of understanding and fixing the cause? Auckland is going to “move” the beggars on, but Rudman’s question remains. Then what?

Here’s the standard footnote. Poverty (and inequality) were falling (albeit too slowly) under the last Labour government.   Now they are on the rise again, in fact a Waikato University professor says that poverty is our biggest growth industry.

Before the last election Labour called for a cross party working group on poverty. Key turned the offer down.  Report after report after report has condemned the rate of poverty in this country, and called on the government to act. Meanwhile 40,000 kids are fed by charities and up to 80,000 are going to school hungry. National has responded with complete denial of the issues, saying that the government is already doing enough to help families feed their kids. Organisations working with the poor say that Key is in poverty ‘la la land’.

The Nats refuse to even measure the problem (though they certainly believe in measurement and goals when it suits them to bash beneficiaries). In a 2012 summary of the government’s targets and goals John Armstrong wrote: “Glaringly absent is a target for reducing child poverty”…

The costs of child poverty are in the range of $6-8 Billion per year, but the Nats refuse to spend the $2 Billion that would be needed to really make a difference. Even in purely economic terms National’s attitude makes no sense.

20 comments on “Poverty Watch 45”

  1. rosy 1

    Where is the “somewhere else” that Goldsmith speaks of?

  2. tracey 2


    i propose epsom.

  3. srylands 3

    We should at the very least discourage begging.

    Give everyone a guaranteed minimum income of $15,000 per year. No WINZ, work tests, no abatement.

  4. beGone Craven SpyBill leopard 4

    It would be altogether better for our society to have the destitution that is created by the craven economic policies we vote for in our faces. This might encourage us to see that there is something seriously wrong. Keeping those eyes tight shut makes for not much chance of improvement.

    This really is a disgusting move.

  5. tracey 5

    do we actually encouragr begging?

    i just dont get how seemingly intelligent people prose a ban and to move them on without the obvious next bit… to where.

    it smacks of ” get them out of my line of vision, it really wrecks things to be reminded and makes the house look messy.

    its not a solution except to some peoples desire to delude themselves about the world they live in and allow them to continue believing tgat poverty doesnr exist in nz.

    • srylands 5.1

      “i just dont get how seemingly intelligent people prose a ban and to move them on without the obvious next bit… to where.”

      Is there any evidence that most of them are homeless? If not, the answer is “go home”

  6. AsleepWhileWalking 6

    Shouldn’t we be banning poverty?

  7. tracey 7

    Is there evidence they have homes to go to or why they consider they need to beg

  8. Mary 8

    It’s going to be interesting how the bylaw will be enforced. Will a person who’s merely sitting on the pavement with a sign and bucket but well out of everybody’s way be regarded as “intimidating” or a “nuisance”? I suspect that this intimidation/nuisance threshold has been put in place merely as an attempt to protect against NZBORA claims but that the intention is to use the bylaw to move everyone along who some Queen St shopkeeper doesn’t like the look of. My prediction is that the courts will very quickly put the brakes on the bylaw being used to do this. The test is very close to disorderly behaviour (begging the question why it’s needed in the first place) which requires a little bit more than sitting quietly in a corner with your cap out. But then Auckland Council knew that if they banned all begging outright the courts would knock it straight out as preventing freedom of expression under NZRORA, and probably a handful of other sections of that Act, too. The upshot is that after a court case or two the bylaw will be useless.

    • xtasy 8.1

      Mary – I would not put it past this government, to make a rushed move, to amend the Bora, to basically take out those parts that they dislike, and that may hinder them bringing in more laws that are discriminatory and take away people’s rights. With only just over a year to the next elections, they may push it through under urgency, before we may have time to even send in submissions.

      What is happening to this constitution debate and review by the way? Or has that been put into the too difficult drawer as well?

      • Mary 8.1.1

        You may be right, xtasy. The response to the carers’ case was abysmal. Showed the true level of contempt this government has to human rights and NZBORA concerns. Legislating the remedy was bad enough although not surprising. What was definitely telling was preventing Part 1A challenges to that new legislation when the only thing at stake when it’s legislation is a declaration of inconsistency with NZBORA, that’s it. Locking the remedy up in legislation protected government against having to do anything further, but then went further to stop even a declaration. Unbelievable. Utter contempt towards human rights and Bill of Rights protections.

  9. beGone Craven Spy Bill leopard 9

    Gee, I hope you leave ‘Ramonds’ spam up. What a brilliant example of the mechanisms of how we all are rattling down the road of bankruptcy.

    “This is to help you meet your financial obligations especially with the ongoing global financial crisis

    How could taking out more debt help “meet financial obligations”? What about the “financial obligation” of paying back that debt?

    What a load of bloody nonsense we are living under just now.

  10. xtasy 10

    Liquor ban area, beggar ban area, smoker ban area, poor person ban area, beneficiary ban area, poorly dressed ban area, wrong coloured ban area, free speech ban area, public eating ban area, and so the list is likely to be continued over coming years, in Auckland City, and possibly other urban centres as well.

    I smell a hint of fascism spreading, intolerance growing, divisions increasing, frictions increasing and a society being created, where the few “better off” will live in gated communities, and many others in ghettos, separated by fences, walls, barriers, and kept apart by private security personnel and police.

    Welcome to the future of Aoteaoroa NZ that is in losing it’s heart and soul.

    Certainly the “Heart of the City” in Auckland has got a totally new meaning now. Shame on those in Council who voted this in.

  11. Craig Y 11

    Next stop, Brazilian paramilitary style social cleansing? Incidentally, is this any different from the similar bigots who want to ban street sex work from Papatoetoe and Manukau? No, it isn’t. I oppose beggar bans, beneficiary bashing and the sinister street sex work ban promoted by New Zealand First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor, which will be highly destructive to transgender street sex workers health and perhaps lives. Which is also one reason why I’d not vote for Len Brown if I lived in Auckland.

    • xtasy 11.1

      Craig Y – while I am highly critical of Asenati LOL Taylor, and those supporting her, I think there is an issue with street prostitution and some minors getting involved. I do therefore not share your “libertarian” view on this, as I would rather see NO prostitution, as males and females should responsibly and voluntarily engage in sexual activities as mature persons, not treat this as a commodity, which is symptomatic of a capitalist society, where whatever activity is considered a “service delivery” and “service purchasing” arrangement.

      Would you want to turn other physical functions into commercial activities, to allow people to make profit from it, or a living for that sake, while it should just be part of mature, material living, also involving emotional and other aspects?

      I think that prostitution is degrading, and people should not even be forced into situations to engage in such. Any work should be free and dignified, and not involve compromises on emotional or other parts of human being. Prostitution is generally done by people who also suffer from addiction and various forms of exploitation, and that is not at all to be encouraged.

      As for transgender persons, why do they need to make a living to sell their bodies and whatever, should they not be allowed same rights and treatment, so they would be respected and accepted as ordinary fellow citizens, to participate in any more dignified and sound work or whatever other activities. This is a subject often abused, also by those thinking it is a “right” to be free to choose to do whatever, for gender equality. Why is there less male prostitution? Maybe because social norms favour males and give them more acceptable means and ways to earn an income?

      A rethink of your arguments is suggested, but that is up to you to look at and follow through.

  12. Ed 12

    Related to poverty, but not begging bans, I came across this site which has some interesting material

    The interface appears to be trying to make it as hard as possible to print out teh reports and read them, but it is worth persevering.

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