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Smirks & inversions

Written By: - Date published: 10:54 am, February 13th, 2014 - 41 comments
Categories: benefits, child abuse, child welfare, employment, housing, Metiria Turei, news, paula bennett, poverty, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

The Salvation Army’s latest State of the Nation Report: “Striking a Better Balance” (2014) has been the subject of some intense debate from the right and from the left. On the surface, it just appears to be a different interpretation, and hard to tell which is the correct interpretation.  It is necessary to go to the report itself to see where the spin is being applied.

The Salvation Army’s summary of the report, gives praise for some improvements,

In its annual report The Salvation Army gives the thumbs up to an improvement in Maori participation in early childhood education, a drop in infant mortality, reducing teenage pregnancy rates, a reduction in overall criminal offending, a drop in unemployment and a reduction in the per capita spend on gambling.

But the main focus of its conclusions is this:

But The Salvation Army remains deeply concerned at the lack of progress in reducing child poverty, family violence, the harmful use of alcohol, and the failure to address criminal re-offending and serious crime.

Metiria Turei questioned the Minister of Social Development on this yesterday in the House.  Turei asked the questions directly, seriously, without rhetorical embellishment.  She focused on the central cause for concern with respect to the lack of progress on child poverty.  Bennett, in contrast, was all contained smirks and diversions.

Turei said the Salvation Army assessment of D on child poverty.  Bennett said that must mean “Dotcom”, though this had no apparent connection with the poverty issue – just a dog whistle, a diversion.

Bennett largely focused on the aspects the Report praised, and denied and diverted from the main causes for concern as expressed in the Report.  She blamed the GFC, and inverted some of the points the Report raised so as to shift the focus from the government’s failings.

Jacinda Ardern also questioned Bennett on the D for child poverty, and the C- assessment for child abuse and neglect.  Bennett responded with the diversions and spin (eg on employment figures).

Bennett has provided a very skewed and inverted interpretation of the Salvation Army Report, shifting from the main concern with continuing child poverty and housing unaffordability to the secondary focus on improvements. Bennett uses the Report’s considered summary of community, parental, and government factors impacting on child poverty, as a smoke screen for the government failure to act decisively and sincerely on such deeply entrenched problems.

And today’s NZ Herald editorial repeats the Ministers inversions, diversions, and misrepresentations of the main emphasis in the Salvation Army report.

Here is the actual Salvation Army Report:

Some of the things it praises, like the drop in teenage pregnancies, are attributed to a collective community achievement. Government policies, such as getting tougher on solo mothers, are only credited with contributing a small part to a cultural change.

The Report mentions some of the levers that the government can use, pointing out that the choices made on which levers to pull indicate a government’s priorities.  The report also puts a significant stress on the moral and spiritual framework of society, in its damning critique of neoliberalism’s focus on small government, market forces and materialistic individualism.

The neo-liberal paradigm that has been so dominant in New Zealand politics is convincing us that a society is little more than a collection of markets, that citizens are only consumers, and that governments have only a residual role in mediating all of this. The Salvation Army does not accept this view of humanity or of community life. We believe that there is a spiritual and moral aspect to life that demands we individually have a clear spiritual and moral framework to our lives—not just a framework that sees achievement in personal economic benefit. Similarly, New Zealand’s strength and achievement as a nation is not found in economic indicators alone but in indicators that show the strength
of our concern to deliver care, compassion and social justice to everyone.

It is The Salvation Army’s hope that this year’s State of the Nation report gives insights into where, as a country, our ambition has been underwhelming and our imagination stunted.

The Report gives praise where it’s due, but identifies deep causes for concern about the country’s future, as indicated by lack of progress on child poverty and affordable housing: labelling these as “time bomb issues”.

It argues that governments will only change their priorities and policies if there is significant pressure from the public.  This only serves to reinforce just how much the government is stalling on acknowledging the need for real and fundamental changes in priorities.

Above all, we need to continue to exert community pressure, to circulate information about the real state of the nation in society, and highlight the smokescreens in the conservative media reports, for any real change to happen: change that will result in a more caring, collaborative and sustainable society.

 

 

 

 

41 comments on “Smirks & inversions”

  1. captain hook 1

    the tories cant lie straight in bed. they think the truth is for sale to the highest bidder as well.

    • Puckish Rogue 1.1

      Do you really have to bring KDC into this?

      • karol 1.1.1

        This post is not about the Dotcom diversion. Further comments diverting from the issues of the Salvation Army Report, and the issues it raised like child poverty, abuse, neglect and housing affordability, will be moved or deleted.

        [lprent: Or just banned for months. I’m starting to get irritated about diversions. ]

  2. Chooky 2

    the Salvation Army works at the grassroots…and tends to those most in need in New Zealand ….its report must be taken very seriously

    Greens party……Metiria Turei was on the ball

    ….but where was Labour’s spokesperson?…..who is Labour’s spokesperson?

    ….is Labour hammering this issue? ( the way Shane Jones is hammering the Aussie supermarket issue)…because they should be if they are to have credibility….This is a core Labour Party issue that the Salvation Army addresses

    • karol 2.1

      Labour’s spokesperson on children was Jacinda Ardern. As I reported in my post, she put a question to Bennett on the Report as well.

      Like Turei, Ardern also put out a press release on it.

      So did David Cunliffe:

      “The report shows signs of improvements in some social indicators but, while the top end of town and the privileged few continue to do well under the current Government, child poverty and the lack of affordable housing are ‘time-bomb’ issues for our country.

      “The report repeats calls for action to address these matters, as well as rising living costs and the number of families struggling to pay their bills.

      Then Cunliffe focues on Best Start.

      But the MSM, especially TV news, was too busy focusing on claims of Norman and Peters visiting Dotcom.

      • Chooky 2.1.1

        sorry karol…i missed that

        …..quite apart from the adequacy of Jacinda Adern’s reply, which seems pretty good

        …..imo Labour needs someone really ROUGH, TOUGH, CHARISMATIC and very HIGH PROFILE as a spokesperson for this issue…

        (scream, harangue the media , think outside the box, street theatre tactics…..co-opting expert witnesses at grassroots level eg church and welfare leaders, charity hospitals , teachers ….it needs to be a priority attack on this NACT govt)

        Social Welfare /Social Development ( concerned with poverty and those at the bottom of the heap) …. is core to the Labour Party policy and winnability in this General Election

        imo….. I think Adern looks too civilised, sweet and nice for this role….and she would be better as a spokesperson for the Arts or some such ( i wonder who xtasy thinks would be most suitable)

        • Chooky 2.1.1.1

          oops Adern is spokesperson for the Arts…maybe Nanaia Mahuta could take over speaking out for children in poverty

          ….at the moment it doesnt seem as if there is a clearcut Labour spokesperson on poverty, children, youth and families …..except David Cunliffe who announces policy…it is really important that the NZ voter can identify one Labour spokesperson on this imo…and they are very effective and look like they have been there and know what it is all about…and also can slug it out with Nact…take the initiative and take on the fight!

          • karol 2.1.1.1.1

            Ardern is spokesperson on children, and played a significant role in drafting the Best Start policy.

            • Chooky 2.1.1.1.1.1

              @karol…..urr umm …shows how much i know

              ….nevertheless speaking as an outsider ……Labour does not seem to have a single high profile equivalent of Metiria Turei or Sue Bradford to face off Bennett….. and to slug it out and swing the lead on issues of poverty,kids , beneficiaries , youth unemployment

              ….(those issues that Xstasy talks about)

              …..apart from David Cunliffe who is fully occupied being the leader

              • karol

                Yes. But consider this. A Labour-Green government would be likely to choose Turei as Minister for Child Poverty/Poverty, as she has been onto it, and with heart and a personal mission for quite a while. So then Ardern would drop that and step into arts, etc.

                Meanwhile Turei leads, and Ardern provides some support.

                • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

                  You make a good point here Karol, yet Chooky’s point is good too and should be cause for concern for Labour

                  Because if Chooky’s general impression is shared by others – a lack of passion/power occurring in relation to this issue – then that can easily translate into a loss of votes.

                  I think luke-warm needs to be taken out of the Labour Party and passion and strength of conviction brought in.

                  A lot of people will only pick up on the type of impression they get and if Chooky’s impression is anything to go by, this is something that needs to be improved in the Labour party.

                  …just saying….

                  • Chooky

                    yes my feeling as an outsider is that Labour needs to have very high profile authentic, credible, gifted spokespeople on ALL their important key issues/policies/platforms

                    …a SINGLE spokesperson that the public can relate to…and be able to say this is the Labour Party spokesperson on this issue…this person is fighting for me on this issue and doing a good job and will make a good Minister

                    …Labour needs front spokespeople that can take the heat and who look the part…(this is partly why Winston is such a success)

                    ….to create good policy is a skill and a very important backroom skill ….but to be a good public spokesperson to swing the voters to your side and represent your Party is an even more important skill imo ( because many people dont read the policy detail so much as look at the Spokesperson and see if they can relate to that person…..and then say this person represents me and what I want and is doing a good job in fighting for me)

                    ….so policy makers to the back room and gifted spokespeople (strategists)to the fore…to sell and win voters for Labour!…it is a performance!

                • xtasy

                  Perhaps I better comment, as Chooky also referred to me:

                  Maybe that is what they will ultimately do to share responsibilities when (if) in government, but Chooky is right to point out that there is something lacking in Labour.

                  Sue Moroney is the new spokesperson for social security. There have been a fair few questions to Bennett during Question Time, some by opposition MPs (usually Greens) – but it seems more often so by government MPs (the latter trying to score points by letting Bennett show off supposedly “good” statistics). Yet Moroney has mostly not asked ANY supplementary questions, she just sits there and lets Bennett get away with too much. Today she asked one supplementary or two, after weeks of silence.

                  Jacinda Ardern has a range of responsibilities, and one is that for children. She seems to be more vocal and engaged than Moroney, while Moroney has the bulk of responsibility for MSD and WINZ and CYFS matters.

                  Labour also made clear, they want to campaign on their policies, and whatever negotiations will take place after the election, that is a matter to discuss then, who will get what ministerial position.

                  I had expected much, much more from Moroney, she has so far nothing but disappointed. That means Labour has a LOW profile when it comes to social security issues. And that suggests, that for them social security issues, including child poverty and child abuse, are not really top priorities, which is in my eyes a turn off for the many voters that are the poorest with no voice.

                  Besides of Moroney they have Louisa Wall as associate spokesperson for social security, but she plays only second fiddle, and also asks nothing really. She may be lacking some experience, but I would think she would be more “hitting” in the role, if allowed to, rather than Sue Moroney.

                  I am dismayed with Labour when it comes to welfare or social security matters, the only thing they ever raise is child poverty, that is “when” they do so (like the last 2 days).

                • xtasy

                  Perhaps I better comment, as Chooky also referred to me:

                  Labour and Greens will ultimately share responsibilities when (if) in government, but Chooky is right to point out that there is something lacking in Labour right now. My sad and worrying suspicion and impression is, that they do not really place a high priority on social security, apart from the slogan stuff about inequality and child poverty, which of course are important issues.

                  Sue Moroney is the new spokesperson for social security. There have been a fair few questions to Bennett during Question Time, some by opposition MPs (usually Greens) – but it seems more often so by government MPs (the latter trying to score points by letting Bennett show off supposedly “good” statistics). Yet Moroney has mostly not asked ANY supplementary questions, she just sits there and lets Bennett get away with too much. Today she asked one supplementary or two, after weeks of silence.

                  Jacinda Ardern has a range of responsibilities, and one is that for children. She seems to be more vocal and engaged than Moroney, while Moroney has the bulk of responsibility for MSD and WINZ and CYFS matters.

                  Labour made clear, they want to campaign on their policies, and whatever negotiations will take place after the election, that is a matter to discuss then, who will get what ministerial position.

                  I had expected much more from Moroney, but she has so far nothing but disappointed. That means Labour has a LOW profile when it comes to social security issues. And that suggests, that for them social welfare issues, except as the two mentioned above, are not really top priorities, which is in my eyes a turn off for the many voters that are the poorest with no voice.

                  Besides of Moroney they have Louisa Wall as associate spokesperson for social security, but she plays only second fiddle, and also asks nothing really. She may be lacking some experience, but I would think she would be more “hitting” in the role, if allowed to, rather than Sue Moroney.

                  I am dismayed with Labour when it comes to welfare or social security matters, the only thing they ever raise is child poverty and inequality, that is “when” they do so (like the last 2 days). There are many more issues in the welfare area, and they need to be addressed. Maybe they lack competence in medical and other areas (legal, human rights, industry training), or they simply cannot be bothered?!

                  P.S.: Sorry for the “double up”. The first attempt to post did not seem to work, now the incomplete first comment shows though. The second one (this one) is my “final” version though!

                  • karol

                    chooky and xtasy: yes I do agree with your assessment on Labour not making a strong enough case on social security issues – not just poverty, but on beneficiaries etc. Ardern does OK on child poverty, but she does not seem to have the srong commitment of Turei.

                    And I agree that Moroney is not taking as strong a leadership on social security as I would like.

                    This seems to be a pandering to the neoliberal MSM, and may not reflect the policies Labour are developing. Nevertheless, a major concern about the current Labour caucus and its electoral platform.

                    My party vote remains with the Greens.

                    • Chooky

                      thanks xtasy and karol

                      …imo as a former Labour voter who comes from a Labour voting family

                      …Labour is not cutting the mustard for its core voters …and the 800,000 who didn’t bother to vote last time

                      …Unless it has decided to relinquish this vote to Mana…and is happy/resigned to be a Social Democrat Party….it really has to do the following imo

                      1). decide that its priority issues are the traditional Labour ones of advocating for the poorest New Zealanders ..(children , beneficiaries, the disabled, low income earners, poor families etc)

                      2.) get someone(s) on its team ….either in Cabinet now ….but probably from the back benches …who is/are capable of raising the dust and being a charismatic spokesperson(s) for the poorest..and taking on Bennett and Key!….and shaming them!.

                      3.) probably such a spokesperson should be Maori or Polynesian or working class or have beneficiary experience….in order for them to have passion and credibility in this role as an advocate.

                      4) middle class MP policy makers can work behind the scenes in a supportive role and feed this advocate (s)

                      Do you have any ideas xtasy…. on who in the Labour Party could perform the spokesperson(s) roles ?

                      National seems to do very well in the area of picking spokespeople …maybe Labour needs to take the advice from outside experts in raising organisation profiles…getting the best people for the job!

                    • karol

                      Louisa Wall?

                    • xtasy

                      Chooky –

                      I am struggling to find a truly passionate one amongst Labour’s present MPs, to perhaps also be competent, convincing and committed enough. Besides of Louisa Wall, there maybe perhaps Moana Mackey – or Carol Beaumont, who could do a better job, but my suspicion is, whosoever is appointed to look after social security, the person(s) is/are kept on a leash, and do not have the freedom to speak and raise issues as they may like to. And what about Poto Williams, she seems to have NO role assigned as yet?

                      Labour do need to internally get SERIOUS on welfare matters, and put it along other issues at the top of their policy priorities, but I cannot see that happen at the moment. They certainly also need “fresh blood”, and that can only come in with the next elections.

                      The present lot: https://www.labour.org.nz/people

                    • Chooky

                      xtasy and karol…agree with everything you say

                      ….i think i would go with Poto Williams and Louisa Wall ( Nanaia Mahuta seems fully occupied with Treaty and Maori issues)

                      (i would swap Louisa Wall’s and Sue Morroney’s portfolios)

                      Poto Williams is very smart and a very good speaker and I think Louisa Wall is a real fighter ….so those two women should lead the charge imo

                      ( and everyone else should give them as much support as possible…and as much professional help as possible to have the maximum impact)

  3. captain hook 3

    The main thing for me was that the Salvation Army spokesperson said that it doesn’t matter matter how many bloody dollars you have if they wont buy anything.
    you know.
    like food and clothing and electricity and rent.

  4. JanM 4

    The Salvation Army report is truly impressive, especially in the way it names the policies and habits of mind that have brought about this potential disaster.
    It brings back echoes of the 1972 elections when the Norman Kirk government won office from a National Government that seemed almost ‘born to rule’. They had so lost their moral compass that some of the ‘mainstream’ churches were openly supporting Labour -to the point of ministers preaching the need for change from their pulpits. With The Salvation Army’s leadership, I wonder if any of them will find the courage to do this again – I would argue that the situation is worse this time than it was then.
    Despite a press that seems hell-bent on hiding or obfuscating, we might yet see a tidal turn – fingers crossed!

    • Bill 4.1

      I’m quietly hopeful that what you say transpires…that corporate media outlets lose credibility in the eyes of a large majority of the population. I believe it’s already happening, but if the churches and the mosques and whatever begin to speak about this stuff in sermons and what not and if congregations pick it up and run with it…they have huge potential in shaping and speeding a change in social discourse.

    • Chooky 4.2

      @ JanM+100

  5. tricledrown 5

    The Media back then wasn’t bought off .
    Campbell live and one or two commentaters on RNZ are all we have left in the Mainstream Media.
    Luckily Scoop the Standard etc are taking the fight on and holding the MSM to account.

    • JanM 5.1

      They may not have been bought off, tricledrown, in quite the same way but from one who had a partner in the press gallery around that time, let me tell you they were definitely right wing. Tom Scott is the only one that comes to mind who I would not have identified as a died-in-the-wool Nat, and can anyone remember Keith Hancox? -oh boy, – a right wing bovver boy who openly trumpeted his conservative agenda – well he soon showed what manner of man he was, didn’t he?

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    This only serves to reinforce just how much the government is stalling on acknowledging the need for real and fundamental changes in priorities.

    This government’s only priority is to enrich the already rich. Unfortunately, that has been the main priority of all our governments since the 4th Labour government.

    • The Real Matthew 6.1

      If that’s their priority Draco they are doing a pretty poor job

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        Really?

        I would say that the increasing inequality over the last 30 years is proof that they’re doing quite well at it.

  7. Well I watched both of those videos and bennett is pretty formidable – her body language is to the point as her hand chops and slashes in answer to Turei, She seemed less bothered by Ardern. I have to say, she scares me – she”ll say and do what she wants to do and smile that fake smile the whole time.

    • karol 7.1

      Agreed. But Bennett is all front glossing over the slippery substance of her arguments – arguments with just enough content to pass at first glance.

      On the other hand, Turei was focused, sincere and persistent. She’s playing the long game.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      Formidable is the right word. She’s not ready to lead the National Party yet, but give her another couple of terms under her belt.

      • xtasy 7.2.1

        Paula Bennett’s new haircut and her now usual make up, plus her present way of dressing, does make her look very much alike Jenny Shipley in her years “in power”! Perhaps Shipley is her role model after all?

        I hated Shipley (as did so many others that suffered under her regime), and I HATE Bennett at least as much. Both have much in common.

        • Macro 7.2.1.1

          I hated Shipley (as did so many others that suffered under her regime), and I HATE Bennett at least as much. Both have much in common.

          You and me both …

        • felix 7.2.1.2

          “Paula Bennett’s new haircut and her now usual make up, plus her present way of dressing”

          Yeah I see she’s dropped the westie costume, which is all it ever was for her.

          Are her new marks going to fall for her new tory costume so readily?

          • David H 7.2.1.2.1

            I must admit that when I first started that video I almost died laughing at her ‘new’ look. Then I remembered that she reminded me of that ‘scarey old lady’ that lives in a dark, dank, house, and scares small children..

            But I do wish she would do het job properly, and look after those who need it (like she did) because some of the young people have made choices that will stay with them all their lives and they will need help, not hindrance.

      • fender 7.2.2

        “She’s not ready to lead the National Party yet, but give her another couple of terms under her belt.”

        Far-king-hell, as if there aren’t enough future problems facing mankind.

        • karol 7.2.2.1

          My thoughts, exactly, fender. And really, I do think Bennett is a far more polarising figure than the likes of Shipley. if she was made leader of the Nats, I can’t believe she would end up as PM – more of a Brash type leader.

          • fender 7.2.2.1.1

            Yes hopefully common sense would prevail resulting in Bennett never becoming PM, although I think she has an ability to disguise her contempt for certain groups with a shroud of “concern”. I can see her only getting better at this as time goes on. :sad:

  8. Ron 8

    I am worried at the way the Salvation report seems to down play crimes and almost seem to be acting as a mouth piece for National Governments Law & Order spokesperson.
    The figures in the report seem to indicate a decrease in sexual crimes for instance but a recent study published in The Lancet show that Sexual Assault in Australia and New Zealand is more than double the world average.
    The study reported that 7.2% of women aged 15 or older reported being sexually assaulted by someone other than an intimate partner at least once in their lives.
    However the study found that Australia and New Zealand has the third-highest rate, more than double the world average, with 16.4 per cent.
    However, the study’s authors have cautioned that the figures probably underestimate the true rate of sexual violence because in many areas women don’t report assaults because of underlying social or cultural stigma (Stuff web site Feb 13 2014)
    I find these figures at complete odds with the S.A. report and wonder just how the come up with the figures they used.

    • karol 8.1

      Ah, yes, thank you, Ron. I did notice that the Report seemed to accept some crime stats unquestioningly. I recall there has been some debate as to how such crimes are recorded.

      The report says it got it’s crime stats from here:

      Crime data is from Statistics New Zealand’s NZStat database and is based on the numbers of reported offences for the year ended 30 June. The offending rate is calculated from Statistics New Zealand’s estimates of the mean population for the corresponding year.

      The report notes serious crime is down: such offences described as “Recorded violent or sexual offences as a proportion of the population (per 10,000)

      But it also notes.

      Alongside every prisoner there are victims, and the real testimony to the success of our crime reduction and penal corrections policies should be the extent to which we have avoided or reduced the numbers of victims of serious crime. Recent progress in this regard is disappointing.

      And this:

      The decline in recorded crime has not been evenly distributed across the spectrum of offences. […]
      Offences that had slight increases in numbers included sexual offences and dangerous or negligent acts.

      There is, however, no information available to assess whether or not these declines are due to reduced rates of offending or to reduced rates of reporting and recording. The most recent survey of New Zealander’s experience of crime was undertaken in 2008 and reported in 2010.[18]
      This survey found that perhaps only 41% of crime is reported to Police, and that of this reported crime just 32% of this was recorded by the Police. In other words, perhaps as little as 13% of all crime actually makes Police statistics of recorded crime. [19] …Just 32% of assaults were reported to Police. [20]

      This 2008/09 report was similar in its methodology to one undertaken in 2005, andthe results of the survey show consistent levels and patterns of under reporting of crime. This may suggest that New Zealanders’ crime reporting behaviours are fairly constant, and by implication that official crime statistics such as numbers of recorded offences present a consistent if understated picture.

      However, as I recall, the Nats have changed the ways crime stats are recorded, the categories, etc.

      Family Violence Clearing House expressed some concern over the official crime stats.

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