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Welfare profiteers

Written By: - Date published: 10:23 am, January 22nd, 2014 - 32 comments
Categories: capitalism, paula bennett, poverty, Privatisation, same old national, welfare, workers' rights - Tags:

Simon Collins reports in the NZ Herald that an Australian Company has been awarded a(pilot) contract to find work for Kiwis.  They get a big sum of money for each Aucklander with “mental health” conditions or who is a sole parent, that they ssuccessfully get into employment for one year.

Beneficiary advocates are angry that an Australian company has emerged as the big winner in an experiment that will pay contractors up to $12,000 to help a sole parent or a person with mental health issues into paid work.

Sole parents are already contributing to the economy and social good by bringing up the next generation of Kiwis.

Mothers are workers too

Forcing them into work is not helpful.  It is part of the devaluing of the positive caring, nurturing and community work that people do within their own communities. Bringing in an overseas corporate to interfere with such activities, so that money can be made out of the people dislodged from their communties, is a fail in too many ways.

And it is part of an ongoing privatisation and globalisation of welfare.

Perth-company Advanced Personnel Management (APM) has won pilot contracts for people with mental health conditions in Auckland, Waikato, Christchurch and Southland, and for sole parents in the Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Nelson and Canterbury – more than any local agency in the Work and Income tender.

The company will make between $2250 and $12,000 for every person with a mental health condition in Auckland that it can place in a job if the person stays employed for a year. The fees vary depending on the number of hours the person works and whether their needs are classified as medium, high or very high.

The article repeats Paula Bennett’s spin about how many people have come off welfare as a result of her “punitive” reforms, and focuses on one or two individuals who have benefitted.

In the midst of the article there is this from people crticial of the privatised scheme:

Beneficiary Advocacy Federation co-ordinator Kay Brereton said the contracts should have gone to more local agencies such as the West Auckland Living Skills Homes (Walsh Trust), which won one of the mental health contracts, and the Kawerau Job Centre, which won a sole-parent contract.

“How can we see that moving people into work is going to be achieved without creating a community solution?” she asked.

Strive Community Trust chief executive Sharon Wilson-Davis said she did not bid for the contracts and allowed an existing sole-parent contract to end late last year because she felt it would be impossible to achieve the work placements required to earn fees under the new pilots.

“A lot of these people certainly want to work but sometimes you are better off to get them into further training,” she said.

Otherwise if you push them into these low-paying jobs, then when those jobs go they are back in the same place.”

Sue Moroney has also been critical of Bennett’s job-focused policies, concerned that there is no focus on providing “real” jobs, with long term prospects and that pay fair wages and provide good working conditions.

“National’s policy of cutting people off benefits whether they have jobs or not is increasing child poverty and inequality.

“There have been instances of people having their benefits cut because they couldn’t get to a seminar 30kms away or there was a bureaucratic bungle within Work and Income – this is hardly a cause for celebration in a country that prides itself on fairness.

“We know that less than half of people coming of benefits each week are going into jobs. Unless the Minister can show that these 17,000 people have got decent jobs we have nothing to celebrate,” says Sue Moroney.

“There are still 35,700  more people on benefits now than there were in December 2008, when Labour was the Government.”

Simon Collins reports on the Perth company:

APM’s website describes the company as “the largest private sector provider of Australian Government funded vocational rehabilitation services and disability employment services”. It says New Zealand operations started in 2012 with vocational rehabilitation contracts with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

social welfare not corporate welfare

The APM website is all corporate gloss with it’s slick sounding mission and values. It boasts of being, or having been, the preferred provider of various businesses, including:

AXA/AC&L – Insurance company

Yum Foods – Pizza Hutt, KFC, Taco Bell

AMP – financial services and investments

Optus/Supercheap (foods)

I imagine such businesses do help some job seekers and employers, but such services would be better provided from within beneficiaries’ own communities, and without the extra cost to profit-seeking corporations.

The focus should be on making the best provisions for people and communities, not on financial incentives for implementing a punitive welfare programme: a programme like those initiated by Paula Bennett, which pressure people into paid work, whether or not the jobs are good ones,  or the best way of providing for each beneficiary.

And it should not be a scheme to siphon profits overseas to companies based outside NZ.

corporat welfare social welfare

[Update] APM conflicts of interest

xtasy has posted a lot of useful details about conflicts of interest related to the Aussie APM company referred to in the post Workwise (a business as part of the larger ‘Wise Group’) and re David Beaumont.  Some extracts from xtasy’s comment:

I am not at all surprised about Workwise getting a contract, as they had ‘Strategic Policy Advisor’ sit on the “Health and Disability Panel” that MSD selected and appointed to “advise” on welfare reforms affecting sick and disabled. Helen Lockett is her name. See some onfo on her here:

Another one who advised MSD and was a senior member of the “Health and Disability Panel” that “advised” Paula Bennett and the government was Dr David Beaumont, a former ATOS employee from the UK, who has previously also made “reports” and “assessment recommendations” for ACC, and repeatedly advised the MSD. He has also a vested interest, running ‘Pathways to Work’ and ‘Fit for Work’:

And to open your eyes here a bit further, he has for years also been the ‘President Elect’ of the ‘Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’:

32 comments on “Welfare profiteers”

  1. just saying 1

    I recommend “The Little Pakeha’ blog for anyone who wants to know how WINZ is already making life for those with mental health disabilities who are reliant on a benefit untenable:

    http://www.thelittlepakeha.net/2014/01/21/the-modus-operandi-of-winz-tw/
    http://www.thelittlepakeha.net/2014/01/22/dont-read-between-the-lines/

    This new development will only increase the pressure on the thumbscrews for most affected people.

    If money is the bottom line – suicide can be regarded as “actuarial release” – if not to be actively encouraged, by such programmes, then certainly acceptable collateral damage

    • Bill 1.1

      Excellent links js. Thanks. Just picking out this short excerpt because I reckon it’s being echoed up and down the country every day in the thoughts of countless people.

      WINZ is killing me. I don’t know whether or not I mean that literally, but emotionally it’s true

      • just saying 1.1.1

        Thanks Bill.
        It’s worth putting up the preceding paragraph. As you say, echoed with slight variations up and down the country. And WINZ is crowing about adding even more pressure to this situation:

        It’s now been about six weeks of sending emails back and forth, consulting benefit rights advocates, writing letters requesting appeals, and waiting. Always waiting. During those six weeks I think I’ve spent more time crying than I had since I moved here. I’ve considered suicide. I have two plans that I know are workable and plausible. I’ve had to put food on my credit card because I was so low on fruit, or dairy, or meat, I’ve had days in a row where I wasn’t eating because I couldn’t even leave my room knowing anyone else was home, I’ve sat with my phone in my hand trying to ring crisis lines and not able to do so (see aforementioned trouble with phones). I’ve had fleeting fantasies of turning up at the WINZ office and doing… something, god knows what, that would convince them I need help. (Preferably financial, but practically more likely psychiatric or criminal.) I’ve sent long emotional emails to them. I’ve sat on Trademe poring through properties to rent that I’d never be able to afford on my current budget. Right now I’m on the first day of a “1-2 day” extenstion to a history essay I’ve been looking forward to writing for the whole summer semester. I’ve nearly hit the word count, but I can tell it’s mediocre, it’s shallow, it doesn’t explore the things I want it to. I still need to do all the citations. I can hardly look at it.

        WINZ is killing me. I don’t know whether or not I mean that literally, but emotionally it’s true.

  2. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 2

    This is a bit gobsmacking really,

    Yes, it is good to hear that people in difficult situations are going to get more support – if the support is helpful that is.
    Why has an Australian company been employed? In what way does doing that help New Zealand interests? This takes jobs and money straight out of our country?!

    If the money being given to this Australian company was given directly to the people in tough situations, my guess is that there would be just as good success rate of people getting out of the difficult circumstances they are in.

  3. Tracey 3

    Would be tempting to slip cash to an interviewer to prefer their candidates?

  4. Bill 4

    So the bastards have finally gotten around to privatising aspects of welfare just like they have done on the UK. Naked profiteering on the back of poverty…atos – suicide – fraud.

    Wonder how long before a version of the UK’s ‘anti social behaviour orders’ gets rolled out so that poor people committing no jailable offence (eg -begging) can be slammed up in a private prison for breaking the conditions of their asbo so that profit can be generated from misery?

  5. Johnm 5

    Hi Bill
    +1
    Hi Just Saying
    +1 This is a major turn of the screw.
    It’s like Pilate washing his hands you’ve been turned over to a heartless, soulless corporation who’ll make money of your misery. Shame!

    Another means of harassment of the disadvantaged. The answer is a universal basic income for all. This will increase inequality in social status and money as well as subtly intimidating the recipients.

    Karol, just a note not “interfer” but “interfere”

    Plus this signifies an alienation of a citizen’s rights (as a member of the social political unity of a society, mutual care and responsibility: community,) into the powerlessness of an object for profit, it’s unkiwi and undemocratic.

  6. Michael 6

    Not all of our money handed over by NACT to foreign companies in return for them policing our beneficiaries will stay offshore: some of it is almost certain to wind up in the NACT slush funds (eg the Waitemata Trust), although a lot of that money will flow back out again into Crosby’s Textor’s pockets. Just how much of it the successful lottery winners are expected to kickback, in the form of political “donations” (anonymous, of course, under our hopelessly opaque laws), is anyone’s guess, apart from the donors and the trustees for the recipients.

  7. Will@Welly 7

    This has been what Key has been angling at for sometime – privatizing “social welfare”. Whether National get back in this year or not, is immaterial, the seeds of the privatization of social welfare have been sown.
    This Government is a continuum of the one in power between 1990 -1999. Labour failed to address National’s policies of that era. It must do so next time in office, it must gut all the dire legislation that National has past and is passing otherwise National will keep building on it’s past “successes”.
    In America, many workers had “benefits” built into their contracts, never expecting to be laid off, and if they were ever laid off, it would be a temporary situation. We now know, many have run out of “benefits”, even their state benefit is exhausted. We probably won’t be so lucky – we will have to buy our own social welfare insurance, much like ACC, but probably more expensive, and with a lot more “conditions”. This is the kind of “utopia” John Key wants to sell to New Zealand.

  8. Xtasy 8

    Quoted from Simon Collins’ Herald article:

    “APM’s website describes the company as “the largest private sector provider of Australian Government funded vocational rehabilitation services and disability employment services”. It says New Zealand operations started in 2012 with vocational rehabilitation contracts with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).”

    “NZ service delivery manager Karen Came said she could not speak because of confidentiality clauses in the Work and Income contracts.”

    “Beneficiary Advocacy Federation co-ordinator Kay Brereton said the contracts should have gone to more local agencies such as the West Auckland Living Skills Homes (Walsh Trust), which won one of the mental health contracts, and the Kawerau Job Centre, which won a sole-parent contract.”

    “”How can we see that moving people into work is going to be achieved without creating a community solution?” she asked.”

    So here we have the glossed over report on all this stuff! Only by writing according to the terms laid out by the Herald editors does Simon Collins now appear to be allowed to have pieces published.

    And he again uses selected, individual stories of affected, which tells us little about what goes on behind the scenes.

    I am not at all surprised about Workwise getting a contract, as they had ‘Strategic Policy Advisor’ sit on the “Health and Disability Panel” that MSD selected and appointed to “advise” on welfare reforms affecting sick and disabled. Helen Lockett is her name. See some onfo on her here:

    http://nz.linkedin.com/pub/helen-lockett/25/1b/86b
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE1305/S00096/employment-and-mental-health.htm
    http://www.workwise.org.nz/news

    Another one who advised MSD and was a senior member of the “Health and Disability Panel” that “advised” Paula Bennett and the government was Dr David Beaumont, a former ATOS employee from the UK, who has previously also made “reports” and “assessment recommendations” for ACC, and repeatedly advised the MSD. He has also a vested interest, running ‘Pathways to Work’ and ‘Fit for Work':
    http://www.pathwaystowork.co.nz/contact-us
    http://nz.linkedin.com/pub/david-beaumont/2a/780/943

    And to open your eyes here a bit further, he has for years also been the ‘President Elect’ of the ‘Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine':
    http://www.racp.org.nz/page/racp-faculties/australasian-faculty-of-occupational-and-environmental-medicine/realising-the-health-benefits-of-work/latest-news/

    The AFOEM wield a lot of influence on the medical profession and other key institutions and organisations, as they also set the agenda for new policies! The Royal NZ College of GPs will listen a lot to what they suggest and do. Most worryingly one of the main brains and movers behind the welfare reforms in the UK, Professor Mansel Aylward, was also very instrumental in influencing the AFOEM and lately the NZ government on their drive to “reform” welfare:
    http://www.racp.org.nz/page/racp-faculties/australasian-faculty-of-occupational-and-environmental-medicine/realising-the-health-benefits-of-work/may-2010-video-presentation-professor-sir-mansel-aylward
    http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/09/professor-mansel-aylward-my-what-a-very-tangled/

    He has also his own “rehabilitation” business(es) that are operating together with DWP there!

    There is not that much I can find out about APM Workcare via their website, but it must be suspected they have played similar roles in Australia as the above and some other players have here in NZ, when trying to get favourable contracts.

    No surprise that their Delivery Service Manager does not want to talk about their operations to the media, due to “confidentiality clauses” with WINZ and MSD! Prepare yourselves that these players will be operation without being “bothered” by Official Information Act requests, as that will not apply to them! No question there, that this was intentional by MSD!

    To find out what really has been going on, and what the drive behind it all is – I once again recommend some serious study of this:
    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/
    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/
    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15463-designated-doctors-%e2%80%93-used-by-work-and-income-some-also-used-by-acc/

    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-controversial-bio-psycho-social-model/

    The ROT sits deep, and yes, some that profiteer were instrumental to “convince” the NZ government to bring about these changes, that benefit them personally, also financially!

    So, we are waiting for David Cunliffe to perhaps raise concern about this in his speech on 27 January, are we?

    And to Kay Brereton: You should NOT even support these policies FULL STOP, thanks!

    • xtasy 8.1

      I find it absolutely ASTONISHING, that nobody seems to notice the “conflict of interest” scenarios I pointed out in my post above. Helen Lockett sitting on the ‘Health and Disability Panel’ “advising” the government on welfare reform and what to do, and then having her Wise Group business “Workwise” getting a contract with MSD, that is simply “astonishing”. Even Simon Collins does not raise these issues.

      And Beaumont has been at it for years, advising ACC and MSD, and he himself runs at least one major business, profiting from at least some cases referred to them by ACC and WINZ (although apparently not involved in this particular tender).

      Even Dr Bratt has certain “interests” in an addiction treatment service and more.

      But it is all about “personalities”, and what they do now, it being election year. Talk about New Zealand being one of the “least corrupt” countries. Maybe there is a fine line between “corruption” and “backroom deals” or “old boys” and “old girls networks” doing deals? Wherever “government” has their fingers in, there is also a temptation to influence professionals and others, to do what is preferred. And it works vice versa as it clearly shows.

      Perhaps also take a look at who pays and sponsors ‘Transparency International New Zealand’, who do make the recommendations regarding NZ for the international rankings that Transparency International publish:

      http://www.transparency.net.nz/2013/05/

      What a joke this is here! And do not get me started on the damned “commissioners” they appoint, like the useless Health and Disability Commissioner:

      http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/14923-health-and-disability-commissioner/

      • karol 8.1.1

        Thanks for all this detailed background and information re-the conflicts of interest, xtasy. I’ll update the post to link to your comment. These are important. You are right about the APM website not giving any crucial info – just a lot of gloss.

        • xtasy 8.1.1.1

          “xtasy has posted a lot of useful details about conflicts of interest related to the Aussie APM company referred to in the post.”

          Hi Karol – my info on conflicts of interest were rather re Workwise (a business as part of the larger ‘Wise Group’) and re David Beaumont, not really APM, as I have little info on them. Workwise did already do work for WINZ before, and they seem to have lobbied strongly for the government and MSD to consider this outsourcing. Lockett therefore seems to have acted as “advisor” and “sales person” – representing Workwise and the Wise Group.

          I am not sure whether APM will themselves do the actual work, perhaps they will sub-contract to another local player in this new “business”?

          But thanks for doing an ‘update’.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Let It Bleed: Libertarianism and the Workplace

    What makes the private sector, especially the workplace, such an attractive instrument of repression is precisely that it can administer punishments without being subject to the constraints of the Bill of Rights. It is an archipelago of private governments, in which employers are free to do precisely what the state is forbidden to do: punish without process. Far from providing a check against the state, the private sector can easily become an adjutant of the state. Not through some process of liberal corporatism but simply because employers often share the goals of state officials and are better positioned to act upon them.

    One does wonder why the government is bringing in private sector corporations to do the work that the government should be doing – if it was work that needed to be done which, quite simply, doesn’t appear to be the case. Creating more work opportunities would work far better than punishment.

  10. captain hook 10

    The thing to remember is that the National Party are psychologically disposed to bashing people up legally and tapping into that stream of oiks that want to get away with it too.

  11. AsleepWhileWalking 11

    Why the hell can’t they fix the Work and Income system for disabled before rolling this out?

    FACT: Doctors up and down the country are insisting that they “can’t sign” for disability expenses that exceed $60 a week. This is causing massive issues for severely disabled and those with multiple disabilties. The message from the medical community is clear, starve or suffer you disabled fuckwits. That message carries to those disabled people who are working as they also qualify below a certain income level. Thanks Doc!

    FACT: There is no theoretical upper limit to the amount of disability costs payable, although after the first $60 a week it will usually be picked up under a different supplement (TAS).

    The widespread misinformation has served it’s purpose which appears to be saving $ while increasing discrimination against disabled on low incomes.

    Bitching at disabled people, in particular those with mental health issues to get jobs while deliberately failing to provide accurate information to doctors (how hard would that be?) so that disabled cannot get essential costs related to disability met could only originate with a far right government.

    I would have thought the most logical use of money is to support disabled in recovery by providing proper $ to cover disability related costs.

  12. Rosie 12

    karol, thanks for the compassionate and informative people focused articles you have provided in the last few days. This article is the saddest.

    There’s been talk of how the UK welfare system functions and the effect of ATOS on people (thanks Johnm and others) but to see a form of the privatisation of welfare happening here, now, is really upsetting.

    To outsource our welfare “services” to a (foreign) company to profit from the kickbacks it receives from its “services” to WINZ is sick. Now a beneficiary has a price on their head, they are now a commodity. Congrats Nat Govt, you have reached a new low in your reign.

    If this is a pilot scheme, then lets hope it when it reaches the end of it’s contract it isn’t renewed. We should have a new government by then…………….

    • Johnm 12.1

      Hi Rosie
      “Now a beneficiary has a price on their head, they are now a commodity. Congrats Nat Govt, you have reached a new low in your reign.”
      +1

  13. TightyRighty 13

    but it’s ok if the funding goes to local agencies is what you are saying? whether or not they actually achieve any tangible results. gotcha. xenophobia – check

    • Rosie 13.1

      You’re not using the reply button so I don’t know who you’re talking to TR. I’m guessing it might be me because your comment is after mine.

      I don’t think there’s much to misunderstand in my comment but you seem to have. To clarify: This isn’t “funding”, it’s profiteering out of people’s misery. Secondly the responsibility for “tangible results” lies with our government, not a company. Furthermore, NZer’s should be responsible for NZer’s, so that means WINZ and community based organisations, as long as they aren’t operating on a business model., ie, they exist to create profit, profit is their bottom line.

      What is up with you RWer’s screeching “Xenophobia!” any time any one questions the involvement of an oversea’s corporate in our affairs? Or do you think it’s awesome that, say, Hollywood has the power to get our Govt to over ride our employment laws, or say, that Big Oil has the power to get our Govt to “adjust” our protesting at sea laws?

    • framu 13.2

      didnt realise that that idea of the govt choosing local over off shore was xenophobia these days

      fucks sake tight pants – thats rather OTT, even for you. Its almost nth korean in its reframing

      “whether or not they actually achieve any tangible results” – thats you just making something up to try and add weight to a really dumb statement

      theres three issues here
      1) is it wise to spend tax dollars in aussie if we can do it here for a comparable price?
      2) is it wise to think an overseas outfit will have the same level of “on the ground” knowledge and experience of NZ?
      3) is it wise to give contracts to people who appear to be involved in the policy process that came up with the idea?

      nb: just keeping it about the $$ here – not looking at the issues rosie mentions above

  14. JonL 14

    Aaaahhhhh APN………..hooked up with Centrelink over here (same as WINZ)

    that useless pack of sods……..

  15. Murray Olsen 15

    First prisoners were turned into commodities, now beneficiaries. If these Randian superheroes were as good as they claimed at making profits, why would they need so much government help? They are the real bludgers, and SERCO, APM, and the likes should be expelled from the country. Anyone complaining that this was xenophobic would be welcome to go with them.

    • Xtasy 15.1

      They work together like the Mafia with their favoured “service deliverers” (“a body was found on the banks of the river last night”, “nobody knows what happened”).

      WINZ, MSD and the government get “rid” of a “costly burden”, and on a cost benefit ratio, at least in the short therm, it is “profitable” or “positive”.

      The provider gains and the government agencies gain. The “commodity” has no say, and is shafted, no matter how it pans out. Slave your way through, or die. Either way, it will “pay” or “save costs”. A WINZ funeral is the cheapest you can get, I do not know, whether it is in a cardboard casket, or whether it is simply an old blanket wrapped around. If a true coffin is chosen, the relatives or friends will have to foot the rest of the bill.

      http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/a-z-benefits/funeral-grant.html

      The “books” look better, and “Blinglish” will show them with delight, to entice his favoured voters, to give them another term.

      Morality and true responsibility is an “alien” word to them.

      Long live our dear leader, John Key, hail, hail hail, HEIL, HEIL, HEIL!

    • McFlock 15.2

      sigh
      it’s all so fucking depressing sometimes

      • Xtasy 15.2.1

        Tell Cunliffe and others, and challenge them, the fight must go on, it just started, we must get the message through, to those that usually get inundated with info and who may “miss” these important bits. Even the media is failing day in and out, keep hammering, keep raising issues, and make them aware of the info here, as their thick heads seem to still not get it, unless they are the enemy themselves.

        Fight and fight, and keep fighting, there is NO alternative, there is none for me, it is to finally get the message through, or die, none else.

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    The prohibition against torture is one of the cast-iron features of international law. You're not allowed to torture people, and you're not allowed to return or extradite people to a country where there are substantial grounds to believe they will… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    9 hours ago
  • Fiji: Removing the opposition
    Last year, Nauru's government abused its parliamentary majority to suspend the opposition from Parliament on a spurious privilege motion. Its a disease which is spreading: last night, Fiji's "democratic" regime did the same, suspending an opposition MP for making a… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    10 hours ago
  • Budget 2015: Don’t worry about the surplus, worry about this… Whiteboar...
    Bill’s budget put a bit of extra change in the pocket of poor families, but that came at the cost of the promised surplus. But should you be worried about it? With government debt still only at 25%… ...
    Gareth’s WorldBy Gareth Morgan
    10 hours ago
  • The productivity trap – heads they win, tails we lose
    The article below was written in 2006, so some of the stats are a bit dated.  However the fundamental argument remains.  For instance, NZ productivity growth continues to be poor and NZ capitalists remain behind most of the OECD in… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    10 hours ago
  • Attention leftie campaigners: Watch Lynton Crosby
    This is a video of Lynton Crosby, of Crosby/Textor fame and infamy, talking about how he approaches campaigns. It is well worth an hour of any serious campaigner's time - whether they're of the left or the right. I've… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    10 hours ago
  • Hard News: Friday Music: Out there in the world
    Friday Music posts here don't generally have much to do with my day job helping make a media TV show, but next week's Media Take is an exception. We're putting together a New Zealand music month-themed programme and one of the… ...
    11 hours ago
  • Government announces plan to grow Auckland housing bubble
    The key initiative in yesterday’s budget is a plan to grow Auckland’s housing bubble. Auckland’s housing bubble is projected to take over from dairy farming as the fastest-growing sector of the New Zealand economy. Consider a typical Mangere housewife. For… ...
    Can of wormsBy Can of Worms, Opened
    11 hours ago
  • Paul F Tompkins: The undisputed king of podcasts
    When Paul F Tompkins got into comedy in the mid 1980s, the formats with which he’s achieved most renown and popularity didn’t actually exist. “None of them did!” he yells, laughing, into the phone during an interview about stage… ...
    12 hours ago
  • Budget 2015: What does it mean?
    ...
    12 hours ago
  • What next?
    It feels really, really surreal to nearly be done with my degree. And terrifying, mostly. Right now I have a single 2000 word essay remaining for Politics of Protest and then three exams mid-way through next month, and… that’s it.… ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    13 hours ago
  • Solo parents forced to work; but where are the quality jobs?
    The Government is increasing the expectations of paid work from solo parents without any thought as to where the jobs will be, the Council of Trade Unions said today. “There are already 100,000 part time workers who are wanting more secure… ...
    CTUBy andrew.chick
    14 hours ago
  • April-15 Patronage
    Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays.… ...
    15 hours ago
  • April-14 Patronage
    Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays.… ...
    15 hours ago
  • Children and steady-as-you-go – but how steady?
    There are three political dimensions to the budget’s star “children in hardship” item. One is John Key’s ownership. That fits his protestations of concern about disadvantaged children — though action has been slow coming. He made his pile in… ...
    Colin JamesBy Colin James
    17 hours ago
  • Thoughts on budget 2015
    There’s a Herald summary here. I’ve been saying for a while that ‘neoliberalism’ – ie a belief in the efficacy of free markets, the distortionary evil of taxes and benefits and the minimalisation of the state – is dead. There… ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    17 hours ago
  • What if your MP was decided on the flip of a coin?
    The provincial election in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island finally came to an end a couple of days ago when its last MLA was declared elected following a judicial recount.(What - you didn't know that Prince Edward Island… ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    24 hours ago
  • Gordon Campbell on Budget 2015
    From the outset, the slogan for yesterday’s Budget – “The Plan Is Working” – begged to be mocked. There’s actually a plan for the national economy? Who knew? And its been working for whom, exactly? Not for families in poverty,… ...
    1 day ago
  • Building better connections between Asia and the Pacific
    Speech – New Zealand Government I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at this International Conference on the Future of Asia.22 May 2015 Building better connections between Asia and the Pacific (speech delivered to 2015 Nikkei Forum, Tokyo,… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    1 day ago
  • Budget 2015: Media releases and tertiary education coverage
    We will update this page over the next few days with media releases and news stories on Budget 2015 and its effect on tertiary education and on employment. Radio NZ: Govt tightens education purse strings The Government is expecting fewer… ...
    1 day ago
  • Helping Our Heritage Come Alive – Mt Eden Rd
    This is an image from Mark Bishop. Here are the previous posts: Queen and Wellesley, Newton Rd, Kingsland These images were developed by merging together various historic black and white photographs (all from the “Sir George Grey Special Collection” –… ...
    1 day ago
  • Budget 2015 shows no plans for public sector wages
    The Public Service Association (PSA) says this budget does not address the wage rises needed across the public sector. ...
    1 day ago
  • Don’t expect to see chemical safety data sheets in restaurants
    I keep coming across this very naive form of chemophobic scare-mongering – the use of safety data sheets to frighten consumers about trace chemicals in their environment, food and drink. Here is an example anti-fluoridation propagandists continually use – safety data… ...
    1 day ago
  • World News Brief, Thursday May 21
    PunditBy Daily Digest
    1 day ago
  • Hard News: Mediaworks: The only horizon they see
    When it emerged last month that Campbell Live was facing the axe, I ventured that Mediaworks had become far more Julie Christie's company than it was John Campbell's. And I think that's the reality behind the news that Campbell Live… ...
    1 day ago
  • Andrew’s little Poem
    by Don Franks Twas the night before Budget When just for a change Andrew Little’s thought’s did more widely range Labour’s leader cast round in his mind for an angle On which a publicity moment might dangle Some little device… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 day ago
  • One good thing
    Today's budget is a dismal affair, as the government shuffles money around and announces new spending while conveniently forgetting to mention that its a sub-inflation rise and that health and education are going backwards - as they have every year… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Budget tougher for students – NZUSA and TEU media release
    Lowering the annual fee increases for students from 4 percent to 3 percent means universities, polytechnics and wānanga will have less money, say national student and staff unions NZUSA and TEU. Slightly slower fee rises are no good if the… ...
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Lala-land forecasts on housing investment
    Some of the forecasts in the Budget beggar belief, and when they almost inevitably turn out wrong they spell disaster for New Zealand families. Here’s the clearest example. In the last year, investment in residential property ballooned by 16%. In… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Cynical bribery on the horizon
    Bill English has said time and again that new spending initiatives of around $1 billion each year are the responsible thing to do, and are the new normal. And, in the next two years, he is as good as… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Share of the economy going to workers continues to fall
    The BEFU documents today have unwelcome news for workers. Over the next four years, the share of the economy that ends up in the hands of workers through their wages will fall by around 1.3%. That 1.3% of GDP,… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Bill English’s Budget illustrates complexity in welfare system
    Budget 2015 has been touted as a package for the poor. And it certainly delivers them more money. However, it gives with one hand and takes away with the other, revealing the confusing and perverse nature of our welfare system.… ...
    Gareth’s WorldBy Geoff Simmons
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Pathetic half-measure on housing
    Yesterday, Paddy Gower thought he had a big scoop. He had leaked Budget docs alluding to a big government-lead house-building programme in Auckland. Today, the pathetic truth is revealed. The Budget puts only $52.2m – as a one off –… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Good idea on child poverty. Pity about the tinkering package.
    I can only speak personally, but I am genuinely pleased that the government is following through on its promise to focus on child poverty. New Zealand’s rates of child poverty are appalling, and anything that helps to bring them down… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Blah Budget: Why there won’t be a surplus next year, either.
    Having failed to reach surplus in this, his promised year, Bill English looks set to fail next year, too. Having been over-optimistic this year to the tune of almost $1.2b – comparing BEFU 2014 to BEFU 2015 - Treasury has… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago

  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    6 hours ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    6 hours ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    7 hours ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    7 hours ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    9 hours ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    9 hours ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    10 hours ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    12 hours ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    1 day ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    1 day ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    2 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    3 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    3 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    3 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    3 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    4 days ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    4 days ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    4 days ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    4 days ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    4 days ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    1 week ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    1 week ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government bows to ACC pressure
     The Government has finally buckled to pressure from Labour and the New Zealand public in making a half billion dollar cut to ACC levies, but the full benefits are two years away,” says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “$500 million over… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • False figures cloud Auckland transport facts
    The Prime Minister should apologise and issue a correction after both he and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have been caught out misrepresenting facts on Auckland’s transport spending, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Both John Key and Simon Bridges have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt books confirm National can’t post surplus
    The last publication of the Government’s books before the budget shows National will break its promise of seven years and two election campaigns and fail to get the books in order, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • US state joins NZ with GE food labelling
    New Zealand has a similar law making the labelling of many GE foods compulsory, but the Government seems to let it slide.  Because the government has not monitored or enforced our GE food labelling laws since 2003, it seems the… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago

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