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Beneficiary for life: the joys of permanent disability in present day NZ

Written By: - Date published: 6:42 am, November 10th, 2017 - 111 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, disability, health, human rights, welfare - Tags: , ,

This Guest Post is by Kay, a long time commenter at The Standard. 

Living with any sort of disability full time isn’t exactly what any of us sign up for. But these days, for many New Zealanders a disability not only entails managing the actual condition, it means having to contend with ever-increasing hostility from WINZ, politicians and most devastatingly, from our fellow citizens. On top of that, increasing cuts to the public health system and access to necessary ongoing treatment and care, and more recently access to suitable housing. Not to forget the ceaseless benefit cuts.

I’m writing this using my own experiences but am pretty certain I’m speaking for many.

I have very uncontrolled tonic-clonic epilepsy (grand mal in the old terminology).  I’m in the small sub-set of people with epilepsy who are simply not able to hold down regular paid employment due to the frequency, nature and complications of my seizures and medication. I’d like to emphasise that a lot of people with epilepsy are quite capable of working, employers take note. In my case, hell, I wouldn’t employ me so not holding any grudges there. I’ve had a go many times and it never ends well.

So for official (read: WINZ) purposes I’m disabled, ie unable to regularly work at least 15 hrs a week. I’ve been on Invalids Benefit since 1990- just in time to have it slashed by a certain R Richardson- and now SLP. There’s been some part-time work along the way but I’ve always stayed on at least the core benefit. I’m one of the lucky ones, as in I can pay the rent and bills and aren’t starving-yet. But I’ve also been bailed out by a family member more times than I can remember now, and without her I would be in serious shit.

To anyone who’s still deluded about benefit increases (and I remind you again that the Natz did NOT increase benefit rates across the board contrary to propaganda), read this.

Between 1994 and January this year there was only a $10 difference in my rent. I know, bloody lucky there. In that time I was getting  Invalids, Accommodation, Disability and a bit of Special benefit. Even allowing for subtle ups and downs of the supplement benefits, in 17 years my TOTAL benefit increased by a grand total of $83/week. It’s effectively been frozen for 25 years so in real terms going backwards all the time.

This is bad enough for anyone who has to meet just everyday expenses. Being long term disabled can get bloody expensive, with medications (@$5 per item plus any unfunded drugs); physiotherapy and other types of therapy- not necessarily available through the public system; taxis to get around because physically unable to take buses or drive; special diets; keeping warm etc etc. You get the idea?

I remember back in the 90s, even after the brutal cuts being quite able to get the treatment I needed, taxies when I needed to use them, pay the bills and even have a bit of money left over. But then, power was 1/3 the price, medication was still free…

Despite my earlier statement re paying the bills – well I can, but I’m part of the heat/eat/treat deciders and frequently juggle resources. I’ve stopped taking an unfunded drug based on cost and like so many others am terrified of turning on the heater. I’ve also been left with permanent injuries from seizures as a result of not being able to pay for the physio treatment. At $30-35 surcharge even on ACC it’s just not possible. That’s just everyday reality. One physio treatment or eat for a week? (yes it’s possible to eat for a week on $35, less even. Hint: always keep well stocked up with brown rice, tinned beans, tinned chopped tomatoes and frozen veg. It can get a bit boring but nutritious and filling).

I don’t remember a lot about the beneficiary bashing going on in the 90s, only the cuts, and taking part in the massive protest in Queen Street. Maybe it’s a good thing I’ve got a lot of memory problems at times! Unfortunately the last 9 years are still crystal clear. Coming to the realisation that so many of my fellow citizens genuinely despise my existence because I’m on a benefit, never mind the reason I need to be. Or the reason ANYONE needs to be.

In a way it’s not even what the politicians were saying- I’m more angry at the MSM for giving them the platform. The media have always been happy to go along with a good bene bash – it’s great click bait and they don’t even have to do any journalism- just print the government press release, no questions asked. I was pretty stupid for a few years, reading the Trade me and Stuff comments. Some are obvious trolls, but a lot aren’t.

The divide and rule campaign has been incredibly successful, I’ll give them that.

Until a few years ago I wouldn’t have considered treating people on SLP as a separate group because it wasn’t really necessary. We were actually treated ok for the most, this current nightmare began in 2009. It’s no coincidence WINZ has become a seizure trigger for me (never was before 2009) and I’ve had 5 hospitalisations so far as a direct result of run-ins with them. Chronic illness requires minimising stress and they are not helping the situation for anyone. It would be really interesting to work out just how much their behaviour has cost the public hospital system. I’m currently going without money I know I’m entitled to because it’s not medically safe for me to go anywhere near them.

Disabled/ill on SLP long term do need a separate system within WINZ as Super does, including not being forced to queue for ages at reception when you’re wobbly or injured because if you don’t hand in the paperwork your TAS won’t get renewed and you can’t pay the rent…

Welcome to our world.

Note: Special Benefit and TAS (Temporary Additional Support) are weekly supplementary benefits available to beneficiaries experiencing financial hardship. TAS replaced Special Benefit in 2003.

 

111 comments on “Beneficiary for life: the joys of permanent disability in present day NZ”

  1. patricia bremner 1

    Kay, I will send this item to several ministers and know there are people out in the public who are aware of the dreadful bind you and many others are in.

    This is one of the many things we hope kindness and empathy in practice will change.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Belladonna 2

    I can so relate to this Kay having had rheumatoid arthritis for 18 years and have been punished by successive governments for years because I got sick. Hope life gets better for you.

  3. Delia 3

    I sympathise with Kay on many issues raised here but I will comment on how difficult it is to wait long periods in WINZ if you are disabled. In eighties, nineties and even into the 2000’s those on Invalids were seen in different area of WINZ, to be attended to quicker with some allowance given, for the difficulties attending if you have a disability.Now It is very hard to sit in a general area. People have pain, sensory issues, mobility problems. No allowance is made for this by WINZ.

    • tracey 3.1

      Thanks for speaking up Delia. WINZ is a system not unlike conveyor belts at a slaughter house. The good operation of tge conveyor belt and stun gun is what matters.

    • cleangreen 3.2

      Delila you are so correct about WINZ now being draconian.

      I came home after suffering with a workplace accident overseas, and was ruled by that country as permanently disabled.

      In 1999 when I returned I was treated with civility and respect by WINZ then.

      Later when the National government came into power in 2008 I was left with less and less support from services to the point hat I felt like WINZ wanted me gone.

      It was an ugly time that must change, as we are all given our human rights to expect to be treated with repect and dignity.

      I am confident this new government will change this current draconian WINZ system of hard treatment towards the disabled, as it was not our chioce to be disabled in the first place so no blame should be pointed upon us.

      • OnceWasTim 3.2.1

        @Cleangreen.
        I know you’re in the twilight years, but keep up the good work. Progress is actually being made. Just see MPI as the first step. I’m not quite sure which comes next. Probably MSD but maybe MoBIE. NZTA would be another candidate, Munstry of Health and others.
        Then there’s the over-arching problem of the Public Service’s ‘upper class’ generally – often imported from WASP origins, and now worried that their comfort zones might soon be challenged. One or two might actually be shitting themselves about now. (And that’s just in the gubbamint sector)
        Keep it democratic!

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    When are human rights abuses going to be prosecuted in New Zealand?

    Until sadistic Ministers face prison they will never stop.

    • cleangreen 4.1

      100% OAB we are all responsible for our actions they claim, so they should be held to account.

      The new government must restore the past labour Gov’t levels of funding “legal Aid” for citizens making these legal claims, so that any case of abuse of any kind can be supported by Government in a court of law.

      That “legal Aid” offer in ‘abeyance’ should ‘persuade these horrible employees in WINZ to behave toward us civily by giving us due dignity and respect.

      • tracey 4.1.1

        Can you outline NZF’s intentions for welfare provision, service reform and disability?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.2

        It’s the law that’s horrible. For the most part, the abuse is legally sanctioned.

        Parliament could fix that by entrenching the Bill of Rights Act. Some other legislation would also need to be repealed and/or re-drafted and passed into law.

        Once the human rights of all citizens are genuinely protected in law, the abusers have fewer places to hide.

    • Until sadistic Ministers face prison they will never stop.

      QFT

      I’m looking at you David Shearer and others that have ridden the Bene Bashing gravy train.

  5. tracey 5

    Thank you so much for this post. Only yesterday I commented on the ridiculous demarcation drawn between disabled by an accident and not.

    Those born with disabilities which mean they cannot work, or employers wont take on need to be at least on a par with Super.
    FFS this is not the 1800s. On what freaking planet do we call ourselves civilised and a glowing econony when we say to our most vulnerable

    – the most you get is survival. Thriving is not an option for you –

    I know folks with disabilities and no family with the wearwithall to help who only get to take a day trip if a charity offers to help. And that is not even once a year.

    To those people who read this and are thinking

    – oh I agree, I think people like you should be helped. Its the lazy bludgers I object to-

    Now ask yourselves who you just voted for? Cos when you vote for a party that classifies and treats any beneficiary as a lazy bludger you just condemned a very large section of fellow kiwis to a subsistence life.

    We are sentencing people like Kay to prison but allowing them to think they are free.

    Shame on every one of us for standing by while it happens.

  6. Kay 6

    Tracey, I remember when Paula was doing her reform thing and the Natz were falling over themselves publicly to acknowledge there would always be a group of people unable to work due to illness/disability and they’d be looked after, that’s what the welfare system was for, something along those lines. In fact, they couldn’t say it often enough! I do remember my cynical laughter.

    I’m very upset about the way we’ve somehow become “deserving” vs “undeserving” which of course is a load of bull. Of course everyone who reads this site knows full well the reasons people end needing the welfare safety net-or what’s left of it- so I don’t need to defend it. But I hate the idea that any one category of benefit is more “deserving” than another.

    Somehow the public mindset towards ALL of us has to be changed, but I’ wonder if it’s too ingrained now. While I really don’t like playing the disabled card and don’t think it should be, when it comes to pointing out serious problems with WINZ, the general unenlightened, even redneck population are more likely to sympathetically respond to “that” word; in the same way adding “child” in front of poverty makes them feel a slight twinge of something they’d otherwise easily ignore.

    • tracey 6.1

      Fair points. It appalls me that we turn people into shells of themselves as they have to beg and prostrate themselves for basic living. And the ” keep growing the economy” BS that we are told will fix this is dishonesty at its worst. There has been plenty of time for that be the case and yet here we are, villifying people for their circumstances which are by health, birth, accident or crime.

      If you had been badly assaulted and this had resulted in your chronic epilepsy someone would have set up a givealittle page or started a trust to assist you.

    • Karen 6.2

      The purpose of talking about deserving and undeserving poor is designed to vindicate cuts in welfare and to make those who have never had to rely on welfare feel justified in their antagonism towards those who do. This country should not tolerate poverty full stop. I am also unhappy with talking about reducing child poverty while ignoring the issue of adults (like you) having to live in poverty.

      Can we change the mindset of the general population? I hope so. My feeling is that the culture of WINZ needs to be changed urgently and I think this will be done with Carmel Sepuloni in charge (she has already signalled this). Increasing basic benefit rates is also urgent IMO and, while this will be a harder battle, it is not unsurmountable. The particular problems for those on longterm benefits unable to work at all is a problem that is usually ignored and also needs to be addressed.

      Your post is going to be a very useful tool when lobbying MPs.

      • weka 6.2.1

        “Your post is going to be a very useful tool when lobbying MPs.”

        +1000

        Apparently Grant Robertson got pinned down at a disability forum in Sept and said that they would look at increasing SLP. I’ve seen one other reference about raising the income of all NZers. So I think the door is opened a crack and it’s a good time to lobby both on the government leading on the cultural stuff as well as benefit rates.

        (raising SLP without raising other benefits has issues, but I’m guessing that the question was specifically about SLP because of the meeting context rather than necessarily being raise SLP on its own).

      • tracey 6.2.2

        Yes. Yes. Yes. By labelling as they do, they give comfort to the smugly self righteous who defraud the revenue by doing and paying for jobs in cash, for demanding personal accountability from the poor and vulnerable but excusing Cabinet Members from it, who can afford lawyers and accountants to “organise” their affairs and enforce their rights…

        Yes I am angry

  7. keith ross 7

    I agree wholehearted with the article above and want to ask “what about those of us with long term/chronic injuries that are on ACC?” I suffer chronic back pain after failed surgery and am constantly fighting with ACC. They have been told to leave me alone for the stress is killing me and they reply with things like “you have 24 hours to reply to this notification” and other stress inducing tactics trying to wear me down.when I complained about their dr examining me with direct recorded evidence that he lied in his official capacity to me , they decided to increase my examination time from 1 to 2 hours instead of using one of the many other drs available for the job just to pressure my family and I.
    clean out the top management and stop linking KPIs to how many you can get off the books rather than how many you can help.
    regards
    stressed out ACC “client”

    • weka 7.1

      Yes, ACC have their own set of things to be held accountable for. That one is on successive govts too.

  8. Thanks for the post – I’m sorry about the way you and others have been treated – we need to look after people, we need to value all people and we sure as hell need departments to start and finish with compassion.

  9. RedLogix 9

    A sorry read; and all too familiar. The original ACC proposal was to gradually expand it to include non-accident disability as well, but somewhere along the line some tory bastards probably flushed that idea as well.

    Perhaps the one bright development on the horizon is growth of community organisations that provide managed housing, medical, and social care. We encountered one such organisation in Thames a few months back, that looks after the needs of the intellectually disabled. Even though we didn’t fit their client profile, it looked a very attractive setup with a lot of good things going on.

    They won’t all be brilliant, or suit everyone’s needs perfectly, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how well they might work for many.

    • tracey 9.1

      RL, by non accident disability do you mean occupational disease or gradual process injury? Or do you mean something else? I know they offer compensation to proven victims of sexual abuse on the basis of mental suffering but wasn’t aware that non work related suffering/illnesses were otherwise included at any time?

      • RedLogix 9.1.1

        I just meant all the forms of long-term disability that ACC doesn’t cover at present.

        As I understand, the original designers of ACC originally intended it to cover a much broader range than it does at present. It never came to pass.

        • tracey 9.1.1.1

          Thanks for clarifying RL. I have a particular interest in ACC and like employment law it is one area that changes a lot due to political changes of govt. My understanding was that Woodhouse stuck to work related but it is a while since I read his amazing report. My recent reads are revisiting PWC in 2008 and a report to the Nats in 1998

    • Perhaps the one bright development on the horizon is growth of community organisations that provide managed housing, medical, and social care.

      No, that just highlights the blight that is our government now.

      Private charities don’t work anywhere near as well as the government simply getting in and doing the job properly. We simply shouldn’t need private charity.

      • tracey 9.2.1

        OR the government adequately funding organisations which have expertise as NGOs. For example, I know of a youth drug and alcohol addiction center in regional NZ with great results but its MOH funding has to be applied for every year.

        There is an organisation in Auckland which counsels convicted/reported pedophiles, as well as young children, and adults who have not offended but are self reporting “inappropriate” thoughts toward children. This organisation can show that 92% of the people it counsels do not commit another (or any) sexual offense. That is an outstanding record. Of course it needs to be monitored but 1 year funding cycles place too much stress on an organisation and diverts resources to finding money rather than doing core work.

        • marty mars 9.2.1.1

          Yep agree. It is the governments job to fund and if necessary train and pay people to help. I work in mental health – not enough money/funding even though proven results with very challenging individuals.

          I do agree that, with government support, this is a community solution. The communities around everyone who needs support need to grow to widen and encompass all of society. For instance how can any building be allowed that doesn’t accomodate wheelchair or mobility challenges? Why are these allowed to exist.

          • RedLogix 9.2.1.1.1

            For what it’s worth marty, all the new units we built are universal access, plus a host of other design features. Started doing this 16 years ago … and I agree there’s zero excuse for it not to be totally normalised by now.

            If you’re doing it from scratch the biggest items is slightly wider hallways and doors. The rest is pretty much just good design.

          • tracey 9.2.1.1.2

            And how did Joyce get away with excusing Chchch rebuild commercial premises from these access requirements?

      • RedLogix 9.2.2

        @DtB

        Usually these organisations receive substantial funding (if not all) from some govt source or another. And for reasons I’m not disclosing here, I have a long term and close association with another ‘private charity’ that does astoundingly brilliant work in every possible respect. And in a fashion no govt dept could hope to emulate.

        I’ve no problem at all with the idea of govt doing a good job directly, but by nature they tend to be ‘once size fit all’.

        • tracey 9.2.2.1

          Maybe I am naive but I consider a charity to be different to a PPP type arrangement. Closer to NGO type affair which in my affair is like a Ministry subsidiary in a way?

  10. smilin 10

    Yes it is a very real situation for people with permanent disability that takes them out of the mainstream of employment and a very accurate article by you Kay of the last 30 years of govt help for those who find themselves in a similar position to you .
    From my perspective if we hadnt had a Labour govt for 9 years or so the difficulties of being disabled in this country would have been absolutely abysmal and a crime against NZers
    I wont go on as Kay has highlighted the chronic behaviour of the NATZIONAL govt thru her life but really we as a nation really need to take a good hard look at how we treat the disabled and less capable in this country because for many years more than the last 30 it has been fucking shocking digrace and for cunts like Key to get kthds for doing SFA the ordinary citizen in this country who paid big time to give ingrates like him a country to live in is appalling

  11. adam 11

    For the sake of my health Kay, I walked away from work and income and the invalids benefit. For that, I have a wonderful partner to thank.

    It is not worth the stress (which makes my condition vastly worse) dealing with an agency that brutalised you. And it has been a brutal agency ever since it became an ideological storm trooper for neoteric liberalism.

    I have some dealings with them via accommodation supplement and disability allowance, because at 5 dollars a prescription, I have no choice. But I’m able to keep it it an absolute minimum. How long that can last is anyone’s guess – probably not much longer though – with the rate of inflation via the housing rental market running somewhere between 5-20% in Auckland.

    I’m not alone in walking away. As work and income resembles a partner who beats you, and like that relationship, it’s safer to remove yourself from the situation.

    • Kay 11.1

      Adam, you’re one of the lucky ones. I’m so pleased you were in a position to escape.

      Obviously not an option for the vast majority of us, but as I alluded to in my post, there’s many of us minimising our contact by deliberating not getting money we’re ENTITLED to under current legislation- not matter how much we need it- because it’s literally life threatening to deal with WINZ.

      I voluntarily surrendered the last few $$ of my Special Benefit a few years ago after an appalling run in with a “case manager” over it landed me up in hospital following multiple seizures. That SB covered the cost of an unfunded drug at the time but it just wasn’t worth the grief any more to have the 3-monthly contact. I suspect the cost to the taxpayer of that admission was way more than the SB I surrendered.

      Annecdotally WINZ has already been a contributing factor in suicides, in one case proven to be. I’m sure that if you surveyed hospital doctors (medical and psychiatric) they’d be many who would report their patients talking about WINZ stress pre-admission.

      • Annecdotally WINZ has already been a contributing factor in suicides, in one case proven to be.

        And because WINZ actions are a result of government policy the government that brought in the policies that caused such stress should be held accountable – and booked for murder.

        • tracey 11.1.1.1

          personal and professional accountability, which the Right rails for from the poor and vulnerable

  12. Heather Maich 12

    I’m really hoping the Labour government will improve the relationship between WINZ / ACC relationships. These big state organisations have become such bullies and have such a punitive attitude and unfortunately have huge power. Hang in there.

  13. keith ross 13

    Adam you are so right in what you say about the stress,I feel that people generally have no idea how much the stress affects an already comprised body. The thiongs that can cause it may also seem small to outsiders of the systems we have but when you are trapped in a closed loop of no more substantial work in the future and kids to look after. I am tossing up weather or not to give my young’in his melatonin every other night as the cost is to much for me, I never thought that would happen in NZ let alone to me.(it is not funded)

  14. tracey 14

    I will be interested to read comments from our ACT, Nat and Labour voters on this post. One reason I voted Green is their comprehensive (spelled out) policy for welfare reform. Kay, I am thinking an immediate rise of 200 bucks a week would have helped?

    • Antoine 14.1

      Hey Tracey

      Having been a Nat voter for some years in the past and spent a certain amount of time on Kiwiblog, I think I could take a good guess as to what the Nat and ACT voters would say. I am fairly sure that hearing it would not make you any happier or wiser.

      My own view: roll on WINZ reform. Even if entitlements did not change, it would improve almost all beneficiaries’ lives greatly.

      A.

      • tracey 14.1.1

        I wasn’t looking to feel happier by their input but to see how they rationalise it. Getting it from their heads to the page is one step 😉

        • Antoine 14.1.1.1

          > I wasn’t looking to feel happier by their input but to see how they rationalise it.

          I could tell you, but then I’d look like a douchebag. And Kay already knows from reading e.g. Stuff comments.

          A.

          • tracey 14.1.1.1.1

            I am hoping that they will have the courage to be honest about it in front of someone (and others who commented) who are suffering rather than being keyboard warriors seeing politics as a game for winning regardless of who suffers. 3stepstotheright has passed comment, upon being pushed by me to come here in another thread, but hasn’t posted here.

            Cowards who like to pass judgment on others but shy away from the realities of their positions.

            • Antoine 14.1.1.1.1.1

              Well to be fair, I think most National/ACT voters aren’t here reading a left wing blog. Ask Kay to repost as a guest post on Kiwiblog and I’m sure you’ll get plenty of right wing comment.

              A.

      • Kay 14.1.2

        Antoine, we’re under no illusions what NACTs think about us. But I’m curious to know- if you think WINZ needs reforming and beneficiaries lives need improving, then why should entitlements stay as they are? Because our live CANNOT improve without more money. Simple as.

        And if you really do give a damn about the well being of beneficiaries, why are you continuing to support a party who’s goal in life is to make our lives a misery?

        • Antoine 14.1.2.1

          > But I’m curious to know- if you think WINZ needs reforming and beneficiaries lives need improving, then why should entitlements stay as they are?

          I don’t know about _should_ but I suspect they _will_ for this parliamentary term at least.

          > Because our live CANNOT improve without more money. Simple as.

          But they can improve by WINZ treating you more humanely. Not only because it will be more pleasant to deal with WINZ, both in person and remotely, but also because some people who don’t currently get their full entitlements, will get what they ought. And some people who give up on the whole WINZ business because it is too nasty (like adam above) will hopefully return and collect what they should get.

          > And if you really do give a damn about the well being of beneficiaries, why are you continuing to support a party who’s goal in life is to make our lives a misery?

          I voted Green this year.

          A.

    • Kay 14.2

      Tracey, $200 would be luxury to any extreme budgeter! The difference that would make to our lives…wow. But sadly just a dream. I’m under no illusions that’s going to be happening for a long time. I’m a Greenie too, for obvious reasons 🙂

      Hell, they could always start small with $50- even that would make a massive difference, but even that would be enough to rile up the media and rednecks out there (oh the extravagance!)

      • tracey 14.2.1

        That is why I am interested to see their comments here. They usually have no problem putting forward a view. We shall see.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 14.2.2

        They’re riled up now, and have been for decades. There’s no middle ground – the government should simply be very direct and call out hate speech for what it is. Meet the bigots and sadists head on with facts and evidence, call out their behaviour and demand that they explain themselves.

        It’ll never be the right time if the bigots and sadists set the agenda.

        • weka 14.2.2.1

          Sadly there’s lefties still arguing that Labour can’t afford politically to deal with bludger memes and raising benefits.

          • tracey 14.2.2.1.1

            Agree

          • One Anonymous Bloke 14.2.2.1.2

            A compromise solution: enact Seattle-scale minimum wage rises and tie benefit rates to the MW.

            The bigots and sadists will howl their envy-based politics – forced to attack wage-earners as well as other citizens, and be proved wrong within twelve months.

      • weka 14.2.3

        Yes, $53/wk is the 20% increase for all benefits that was in the GP policy.

        • tracey 14.2.3.1

          https://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/income_support_20170521_0.pdf

          https://www.greens.org.nz/page/income-support-policy

          Because YES some of you out there it is about money, and money can solve some problems. Cos folks like Kay, cannot be cured, cannot get into decent work. So the answer tot heir appalling circumstances is money. The money Google do not pay in taxes, the money that went to Warner Bros, the money people like Bill English use lawyers and accountants to take from taxpayers, cos they can find a way to make what is blindingly wrong, legally “right”.

          and do not forget this

          “Tax reform will ensure everyone who earns less than $150,000 a year is better off, by reducing the bottom tax rate to 9 percent and putting in place a new top tax rate of 40 percent on income over $150,000.”

          That is right, for each dollar you earn after 150k, you pay 40c back into the society that raised you, supported you, educated you. Remind me why that is a problem?

          • The Chairman 14.2.3.1.1

            “Because YES some of you out there it is about money, and money can solve some problems. Cos folks like Kay, cannot be cured, cannot get into decent work. So the answer tot heir appalling circumstances is money.”

            And that is the message we need to get through to Labour.

            • tracey 14.2.3.1.1.1

              And to National.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                That is a waste of investment. National’s owners want all social services to be privatised. They’ll pay lip service to anything to achieve that goal.

                “Swallowing dead rats”, eh.

                • tracey

                  😉

                  It is very clear that many Nact voters and some Labour only give a shit about this stuff when it happens to tgem or a loved one. Nikki Kaye’s response to her health crisis being a case in point. Did we give her 5 sick days like most people get or did she get leave on full pay? She offered to resign but Key, on our behalf refused. That is a good thing but rare

                  ” I find I connect with people more than ever before as a result of it.”

                  And yet a couple of years earlier voted for the Public Health and Disability Act Amendment 2013 which disenfranchised care givers who look after disabled family members 24/7

          • cleangreen 14.2.3.1.2

            Good one there tracey,

            we have long witnessed the uncaring of those who have made themselves rich from National Party plundering our SOE’s we owned but got nothing as they sold them.

            So the rich now must pay back those ill-gotten gains in part at least, but they wont.

            So regulatory tax change is the way to go now.

            • tracey 14.2.3.1.2.1

              I know some wealthy folks work hard but some poor folks work 2 or 3 jobs so this is not about work ethic.

              If I earned 150k I would happily pay 40 cents for every dollar over that. I think the slightly deceptive thing by the Right is they dont make it clear it doesnt kick in until you reach that figure and let people think it is 40% on the whole 150k

    • Craig H 14.3

      As a Labour voter, I’m all for a better system that pays more. We have record labour force participation, so all the beneficiary bashing is totally unfounded.

      • Tracey 14.3.1

        That is great Craig. It makes me wonder, whose loss of vote bothers Labour then? Those who dont vote for them? It is interesting tgat when we get a new Nat govt they move quickly against workers rights in favour of business but when Labour is in their first moves are often to ease the worries of businesses.

        • Craig H 14.3.1.1

          There are a lot of childless workers who resent how little they get paid, and get annoyed by long term beneficiaries. Labour is their natural home, so it’s a real balancing act to keep them happy while still being compassionate and helpful to beneficiaries.

          These workers get annoyed by working for families, DPB/SLP, and long term beneficiaries because these are all income streams that are unavailable to them, and, as they see them, optional, so are effectively the product of poor choices (in their worldview, not mine). Invalids and superannuation are usually exempt from this.

          This is a mindset that gets upset by the increase in minimum wage because they don’t personally benefit from it, or because their good job is about to become a minimum wage job, so it damages their perception of themselves.

          Turning this around is tough…

  15. The Chairman 15

    Thanks for sharing your story, Kay.

  16. Kay 16

    I have to go out for a few hours now so won’t be able to respond to any more replies till this evening sorry. Thanks for your replies and comments so far, and thank you Weka for your help in getting my first ever post up!

  17. Treetop 17

    Kay, I identify strongly with your post.

    The term I have come up with for people in the situation you speak of is medical retirement. This does not mean that a person has to give up on finding a way to increase their income (part time) or to have meaningful structure in their life.

    At what age should a person be entitled to medical retirement?

    A person age 60 goes to their GP for a medical for SLP and the GP states that the condition is to last 5 years and issues a medical for 5 years.

    It is about keeping welfare payment cost down to a minimum and not recognising medical retirement.

    Is there a difference between medical retirement and disability?

    It is about time that Work and Income STOP pressurising people on supported living payment, all this does is place more stress on those who never get a day off from the impact their health has on their life.

    I thought that Richardson did not cut the main benefit for the then invalid benefit in the early 90’s.

    • weka 17.1

      Medical retirement, that’s a great concept. It’s also trusting that people will want to take part in society where they can and doors should be left open to that. At the moment it’s all barriers.

    • beatie 17.2

      Yes! I am 63 and have had rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years. I am on the supported Living benefit. Four years ago , my rheumatologist signed my medical certificate (required for Winz) and said I would never need another. However last year Winz demanded another one and I will also have to provide one next year. Why? My arthritis is incurable and has slowly become worse.

      It is difficult enough to live with a debilitating illness, with it’s attendant poverty, loss of hopes and dreams etc. Once I had dreams of doing another OE at this stage of my life, but instead have the slow erosion of my dignity, feelings of self-worth and inclusion, isolation etc. Then there’s the judgemental attitudes of those who don’t have a clue, un- solicited medical advice from all and sundry, including a Winz case manager.

      I don’t expect much from Labour. They have been part of the problem for years and have yet to acknowledge this, let alone rectify the situation. So when Jacinda talks about ”all NZer’s”, there’s still the unspoken, ”except beneficiaries”.

  18. savenz 18

    Great post and essential reading.

    It does not sound like an easy life and outside of your control. I also agree tolerance is lower and cost of living continues to rise.

    I also think in NZ going towards a low wage economy combined with deregulation, sickness will be on the rise so there are going to be more people in your position on a sickness benefit.

    The only thing I can see you could do that might make things better is getting involved in community groups who could support you (and you others). Or expand on writing in blogs. Getting heard.

    Good luck, Kay!

  19. savenz 19

    Also worth remembering that medical charges are going to rise under TPPA. It’s a crazy world where major industries have unregulated profit from misery and misfortune and governments let them.

  20. sanjaywa 20

    Thanks for this article Kay. My brother has cerebral palsy and is physically disabled. Despite being a bright cookie, most employers take one look and decide it would be too tricky to take him on.

    As a disabled person, living on his meagre benefit, he still has to pay for a yearly visit to the doctor to prove that he is fact, still disabled and worthy of getting the benefit. He has to pay for things like the stoppers on his crutches, replacing tires and batteries on his mobility scooter and many more costs that simply come with the disability he has. It’s so wrong!

    The disabled and chronically ill absolutely need to be in a separate stream to other beneficiaries. And ALL need to be treated with dignity and compassion, not greeted with security guards and treated like scum.

    • tracey 20.1

      I hear you. It is not as if discovering a cure for CP would not make the news. This is a system designed to make people give up trying. Then a govt can announced most smugly that it has reduced the numbers on benefits.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 20.2

      Better to treat everyone the same: as individuals with individual circumstances and needs. Charge public servants with the duty of ensuring that individuals have what they need to live and fully participate in society to the extent that they are able.

      • weka 20.2.1

        The one I’m thinking about today is the manager of every WINZ office in NZ that makes people stand in line and provides no alternative. There’s around 100,000 NZers on medical benefits in NZ. Not all of those will be incapable of standing in a long line, but many will. Then there are the people on other benefits who are sick that day, or exhausted. Any manager who is running an office that doesn’t provide easily accessible options for people that can’t stand in line is practicing discrimination on the basis of disability because they’re limiting access to entitlements. They wouldn’t get away with not having a wheelchair accessible space so why are they allowed to put barriers in the way of other kinds of disabilities? Those people need to be held to account.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 20.2.1.1

          I’d dispense with the torture sessions altogether. For those without access to internet and phone there may be a need for public servants to see them in person.

          In that case, absolutely, hold the managers responsible for providing access, ensuring that staff keep appointments in a timely manner, are honest and reliable and trained to be useful.

          I can think of few reasons why someone with a permanent disability would ever need to deal with them. Actually, I’m struggling to think of any.

          • McFlock 20.2.1.1.1

            Changing circumstances, or changing levels of disability.

            Phone and internet are good for some people and purposes, but suck for others – and of course the nat move would be to close the local offices, then de-staff the contact centres so that you’re always on hold or waiting for an email.

            • weka 20.2.1.1.1.1

              +1

              Sometimes the call centre waits are huge, and the call centre doesn’t have the ability to process benefits. It would be good to go back to having local phone numbers that are staffed by local offices.

              Lots of people need an actual case manager (WINZ have rarely had case management despite using the name). But only if the MSD is going to utterly change the directive to front line offices that they are meant to give money to people not prevent people from getting it.

            • tracey 20.2.1.1.1.2

              And for some folk on disabilities they actually have few human contacts due to their circumstances. Having a compassion winz person they see each time might actually create a relationship.

              • weka

                Also issues with understanding entitlements, form filling etc, some of that can be better in person. What WINZ should be doing is giving people a choice. I’ve known ill people who have to do special trips to town because WINZ have lost their paper work.

                • tracey

                  I hear this commonly. Also if you move towns you often have to repeat everything, including identification docs etc even though it is all on the system.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 20.2.1.1.1.3

              I suppose what I’m getting at is that the public servants need to be instructed and enabled to support citizens in whatever manner is appropriate.

              WINZ staff are ill-equipped to assess changing levels of disability. That job is better suited to GPs and other health professionals (and not WINZ designated doctors enablers).

              • McFlock

                But they aren’t necessarily better suited to adjusting the income of beneficiaries or accessing an additional allowance if needed.

                Under the last govt, the WINZ job was to find an excuse to lower someone’s entitlement and get them off your books. That needs to change into getting people what they need.

                I’d also expect a transition into actual case work – chasing down things like taxis chits that might be available from other organisations, or disability parking permits. Or getting onto a contact at the local DHB who does occupational therapy and can arrange ramps for the front door step, and maybe the gp overlooked the referral. At the very least, telling people about these services.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Also, they need a well resourced investigative team to identify and document the human rights abuses that the department perpetrated over the last few decades, so that affected citizens can be appropriately compensated.

                • weka

                  We used to have a Department of Social Welfare.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    If you really want to change the culture call it The Department of Human Rights.

                    Give it responsibility for all workplace and social welfare legislation, prosecuting slavers, traffickers and Mr. Peter Talley.

                  • Kay

                    Ohh Weka….you’re making me all nostalgic now 🙁
                    My bank statement still uses the SW code for my payments, so maybe banks still think it’s social welfare?

                • tracey

                  Like ACC the default position became obstruction. Make it hard to operate under the system. In ACCs case in any doubt refuse and wait for the claimant to find an advocate to challenge. Most cannot afford to challenge so hey presto successful claims drop… we saw this reflected in the high rate of appeals overturned.

        • Kay 20.2.1.2

          Weka, I never did follow through but I went along to a Community Law talk about WINZ Worries (out of curiosity) which was a general know your rights thing. I asked at the time about the legality of their refusal to let any clients- including disabled people- access to their toilets, and did that fall under the disability discrimination act, especially as they’re a Govt agency.
          Said Community lawyer couldn’t tell me off the top of her head but certainly felt strongly it was and suggested I initially contact the Human Rights Commissioner.

          One of the many things on my to do list, but I should really add that being forced to stand in a queue thing to it. Though of course they will always find a way to deny they’re “forcing” us.

          • weka 20.2.1.2.1

            The way I understand it is that if there are barriers to prevent you from accessing something that you could access if you weren’t disabled, then it’s discriminatory. So if each time someone has to supply paper work to WINZ they have to stand in a queue and their disability prevents them from doing that, then that’s access denied that wouldn’t be if they were physically able.

            WINZ will probably argue that there are seats etc, but the onus is on them to make access visible and known. What I would expect is a process whereby WINZ offers another way to do paper work to people who need it. e.g. they can scan and email their paperwork. Or if they have an appointment, they can text the office when they arrive and someone comes and finds them in the waiting room when they are ready. These are not difficult things to organise from a managerial point of view.

            I’m guessing that WINZ offices are understaffed and that is another reason why there are queues. But imagine if you had to queue up when you arrived at your GP for an appt. It’s ridiculous.

            The toilet one is a bit different, because they can argue that everyone is being denied access. But it could then be argued that a differently abled person could walk to the nearest public toilet whereas someone who is unwell can’t. etc.

            • Craig H 20.2.1.2.1.1

              WINZ are definitely understaffed because the previous government didn’t accept forecasts of higher unemployment or benefit numbers.

    • Treetop 20.3

      CP is not a choice. Managing CP should be a choice. Dignity and compassion is not easily found at Work and Income for those who are disabled and chronically unwell.

  21. tracey 21

    No 3stepstotheright, Puckish Rogue, BM, James… funny how when it isnt about petty point scoring and “my team is better than yours” but real people with real struggles a piece of their anatomy just shrivels right up

  22. Ad 22

    In a years’ time, this writers’ experience will be a good benchmark for Minister Sepuloni.

  23. Korero Pono 23

    I work with homeless people and the common theme in my work is that ALL that have come through my doors were not receiving their full benefit entitlements and ALL have missed out on significant Disability Allowances – even though their case managers knew they had long-term illness. Most of those people have ended up homeless as a result of adequate resources. The long term impact of not receiving entitlements are, increased debt (and poor credit history) – probably could have been avoided had their full entitlements been paid. This directly impacts on their ability to find housing because they’re considered liabilities. Their health has also deteriorated – stress, poor diet and lack of medical care does that to people I would hazard a guess that if they’d had their full benefit entitlements, they’d probably not be homeless now.

    How long will it take for Government to understand the relationship between poverty and health?

    • weka 23.1

      Yes, and the people whose health would have improved if they’d been given support instead of being harassed, denigrated and denied access to income.

      The correlations between poverty, stress and health are so well known now it’s hard not to see governments as just not caring, or in the case of National, wanting a bigger underclass. (also possible is that National really are just incompetent).

    • Kay 23.2

      “How long will it take for Government to understand the relationship between poverty and health?”

      They know. Everyone knows. It’s this thing call basic empathy and general giving a damn about anyone but ourselves that’s gone missing somewhere along the way.

      And from a political perspective throw in money as well. So the angle of attack there has to be getting through their thick skulls the basics of cost benefit analysis. Hell, I never even did 3rd Form economics, I don’t profess to have a clue about how it works, I’m not even interested in the subject. But common sense dictates that it’s much cheaper for the State to adequately house and feed it’s populous than it is to foot the bill for frequent/prolonged hospital stays.

      Now taking that basic proposal directly to politicians won’t make the slightest bit of difference. But perhaps Joe Public- with a bit of encouragement- might start to get the message that his hard earned taxes are being unnecessarily wasted by said State, and in addition scare hospital resources are also being tied up that might be delaying treatment for him and his family.

      Politicians don’t give a damn about what we have to say, but taxpayers saying it is something else. Worth a try?

    • Patricia 23.3

      Totally agree with you – Koreo Pono. I too work with long term homeless people and those with mental health issues. Some MSD Case Workers do their best but tell me their hands are tied. Checking entitlements is a must and then going to WINZ with the client to ensure they are heard. Single people have been disadvantaged for years and seemingly have no voice.

    • Descendant Of Sssmith 23.4

      The government does know the relationship between income and health – just as they do between income and education.

      hawkesbay.health.nz/assets/News-and-Event-files/Health-Equity-Report-2014.pdf

      As noted many times benefit rates used to be the same as NZS and Labour has had no plans to increase benefit rates.

      Labour sucks.

  24. Julian 24

    This story resonates a lot. I have Cerebral Palsy and for most of my adult life I’ve been on a benefit. Most of my work was part time and although it helped I still had to be careful with spending. Attitudes in the last decade towards the disabled have really gone backwards to the point I have hatred towards WINZ as a result. I really hope the system changes.

  25. UncookedSelachimorpha 25

    Awesome story and comments. Well done and kia kaha.

  26. Incognito 26

    Awesome post!

    I guess it would be asking too much for mobile case managers to deal with low- or no-mobility clients and do home visits. I know it’s not equivalent but midwives and Plunket nurses do home visits for similar reasons: to support & assist and to educate and make sure things are alright and people’s health and wellbeing is secure. Obviously, this falls under MoH but if it can be done there …

  27. r0b 27

    Thank you for writing this Kay, and good luck to you.

  28. Karen 28

    Not only are benefits set at far too low a rate, many people are not even being paid their full entitlement.

    Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) have put together this useful booklet that is essential reading for anyone trying to survive on a benefit and cope with the culture at WINZ.

    http://www.aaap.org.nz/resources

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    by The Council of Disobedient Women In her excellent oral submission to the Abortion reform select committee on 31st October on behalf of Otago University’s Department of Public Health, historian and public health researcher Hera Cook stated: “We would ask that the committee not use the term ‘pregnant persons’ and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • “A Passage to India”: enduring art in changing times
    by Don Franks In 1957, E M Forster wrote, of his greatest work: “The India described in ‘A Passage to India’ no longer exists either politically or socially. Change had begun even at the time the book was published ( 1924) and during the following quarter of a century it ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Contemptuous
    The Referendums Framework Bill was due back from select committee today. But there's no report on it. Instead, the bill has been bounced back to the House under Standing order 29593) because the Committee didn't bother to produce one. They probably tried. But given the membership of the committee (which ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Zero Carbon: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law
    Two years into New Zealand’s Labour-led government, the long-delayed Zero Carbon Bill became law on 7 November. Passed essentially unanimously, the lengthy public debates and political manoeuvring faded away until the final passage was even anticlimactic: Flipping through the @nzstuff @DomPost I was starting to wonder if I’d dreamt ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: What happens next?
    Now the Zero Carbon Bill is law, what's next? Obviously, the ETS changes currently before select committee are going to be the next battleground. But we're also going to get a good idea of where we're going, and if the progress the Zero Carbon Act promises is good enough, during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate change will fuel bush fires
    Grant Pearce The effects of the current Australian bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland (and also again in California) are devastating and far-reaching. To date, the fires have resulted in several lives being lost and many homes and properties destroyed. Here in New Zealand, the impacts have been only ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Participation rates
    A passing comment in a post the other day about the labour force participation rates of older people prompted me to pull down the fuller data and see what we could see about various participation rates over the decades since the HLFS began in 1986.   As it happens, the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Reddell
    1 week ago
  • Not So Much “OK Boomer” As “OK Ruling Class”.
    Distract And Divert: The rise of what we have come to call “Identity Politics” represents the ideological manifestation of the ruling class’s objective need to destroy class politics, and of the middle-class’s subjective need to justify their participation in the process.THE RELIEF of the ruling class can only be imagined. ...
    1 week ago
  • Asking for it …
    "I saw a newspaper picture,From the political campaignA woman was kissing a child,Who was obviously in pain.She spills with compassion,As that young child'sFace in her hands she gripsCan you imagine all that greed and avariceComing down on that child's lips?" ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Poor Pandemic Preparedness According to the Global Health Security Index
    Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson The Global Health Security Index which considers pandemic threats has just been published. Unfortunately, NZ scores approximately half marks (54/100), coming in 35th in the world rankings – far behind Australia. This poor result suggests that the NZ Government needs to ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Thank Winston
    The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Illicit markets and Bali Booze
    The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They’d consumed a toxic cocktail ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    1 week ago
  • This is not what armed police are for
    Last month, the police announced a trial of specialist roaming armed units, which would drive round (poor, brown) areas in armoured SUVs, armed to the teeth. When they announced the trial, they told us it was about having armed police "ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed". ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Spain’s failed electoral gamble
    Spain went to the polls today in the second elections this year, after the Socialists (who had come to power in a confidence vote, then gone to the polls in April) rejected the offer of a coalition with the left-wing PoDemos, and instead decided to gamble n a better outcome ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The astroturf party
    National has finally rolled out its "BlueGreen" astroturf party, fronted by an array of former nats and people who were dumped by the Greens for not being Green enough. Its initial pitch is described by Stuff as "very business-friendly", and its priorities are what you'd expect: conservation, predator-free funding, a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How to cheat at university
    A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    1 week ago
  • How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury
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    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    1 week ago
  • Georgina Beyer: We need to be able to talk without being offended
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
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    1 week ago
  • Chosen To Rule? What Sort Of Christian Is Chris Luxon?
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    2 weeks ago
  • War of the worms
    I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.In fact, we might just be seeing the start of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Marvelly shows us how to be a feminist without feminism
    by The Council of Disobedient Women Lizzie Marvelly: “I may have missed this… has @afterellen gone all terf-y? Or am I reading something incorrectly? “ https://twitter.com/LizzieMarvelly/status/1191840059105742849 After Ellen is a lesbian website that is unashamedly pro-lesbian, as you’d expect. So why is Ms Marvelly so bothered about lesbians having their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of the past – Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century
    Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1000 of these now
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    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Shane Jones Just Saved NZ First?
    Counter-Puncher: The “activists” and “radicals” (his own words) from the Indian community who took such strong exception to Shane Jones’ remarks about Immigration NZ’s treatment of arranged marriages, may end up bitterly regretting their intervention. Jones is not the sort of person who turns the other cheek to his critics.SHANE ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: As predicted
    Yesterday, when National voted for the Zero Carbon Bill, I predicted they'd gut it the moment they regained power, just as they had done to the ETS. And indeed, they have explicitly promised to do exactly that within their first hundred days in office. What would their amendments do? Abandon ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Let this never be forgot
    In the spirit of Remember, remember the fifth of November, let's keep this in mind FOREVER.
    Oh dear. Extraordinary interview on PM with Andrew Bridgen and @EvanHD just now. Bridgen was defending Jacob Rees Mogg’s Grenfell comments. Evan asked him if JRM had meant to say he would have left ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too Late To Change Capitalism’s Flightpath?
    Collision Course? In conditions of ideological white-out, the international bankers’ “Woop-Woop! Pull Up!” warning may have come too late to save global capitalism.WHAT DOES IT MEAN when international bankers are more willing to embrace radical solutions than our politicians and their electors? At both the International Monetary Fund and the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Whooping cough vaccine works well despite its imperfections
    Pertussis (whooping cough) is a conundrum. It is a disease that was described hundreds of years ago and the bacteria that causes it (Bordetella pertussis) isolated in 1906. We have had vaccines for about 80 years but this disease is defiant in the face of human immunity. I wanted to ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Passed
    The Zero Carbon Bill has just passed its third reading, uanimously. In the end, National supported it - but we all know they'll turn around and gut it the moment they regain power. Meanwhile, I guess ACT's David Seymour didn't even bother to show up. I am on record as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Retailing of vaping products – New NZ Research
    Dr Lindsay Robertson, Dr Jerram Bateman, Professor Janet Hoek Members of the public health community hold divergent views on how access to vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products should be arranged. Some believe ENDS should be as widely available as smoked tobacco and argue for liberal ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Justice for Bomber
    When the Police were trying to cover up for the National Party over Dirty Politics, they went all-in with their abuses of power. They illegally search Nicky Hager's house, violating his journalistic privilege and invading his privacy. They unlawfully acquired Hager's bank records. They did the same to left-wing blogger ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Britain’s climate tyranny was unlawful
    Last month, in response to a wave of protests by Extinction Rebellion, the British government purported to ban their protests from the whole of London. It was a significant interference with the freedoms of expression and assembly, and another sign of the country's decline into tyranny. But now, a court ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • More crime from the spies
    Last year, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security reported on significant problems with the intelligence warrant system. While they were unwilling to declare any warrant "irregular" (meaning unlawful) due to the recent law change, they were also not willing to give the system a clean bill of health. Now, they've ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Vaccination, compulsion, and paternalism for the lower orders
    The National Party has come out in support of encouraging greater vaccination uptake. But it sure isn’t the way I’d do it. National’s suggested docking the benefits of those on benefit whose kids aren’t keeping up with their vaccinations. Some in National have suggested extending that to payments under Working ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    2 weeks ago
  • Global Protests Rage On: But Slogans Are Not Plans.
    Feeding The Flames: It is simply not enough to demand an end to “corruption”, or “inequality”, or the overbearing influence of the authorities in Beijing. These are just “lowest common denominator” demands: the sort of slogans that pull people onto the streets. They are not a plan.WHERE’S THE PLAN? Across ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Cowboy clampers will be stymied
    Clayton Mitchell, Spokesperson for Consumer Affairs The ‘wheel clamping’ Bill that will cap clamper fees to $100 passed its third reading in Parliament today. New Zealand First welcomes The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill to combat predatory wheel clamping behaviour in what is currently a largely unregulated business. Cowboy clampers are: gouging ...
    10 hours ago
  • Mental Health Commission back on track
    Jenny Marcroft, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First welcomes the passage of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill through its first reading in Parliament. “Today’s progress takes serious action on the mental health and addiction crisis the country is facing,” says New Zealand First Health Spokesperson Jenny Marcroft. “The re-establishment ...
    10 hours ago
  • New Zealand’s key assets are not for sale: national interest test delivered
    Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries Today the Government announced the delivery of the promise to protect New Zealand interests by applying a new National Interest Test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. This further strengthening of the Overseas Investment Act will ...
    1 day ago
  • National interest test added to protect New Zealanders’ interests
    The Coalition Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high-risk assets to overseas buyers. Under current Overseas Investment Act (OIA) rules, assets such as ports and airports, telecommunications infrastructure, electricity and ...
    1 day ago
  • Electoral law breach allegations
    Rt Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First Allegations raised this morning by Stuff Limited / Fairfax concern a party matter but I am confident that New Zealand First has operated within electoral laws, now and for the last 27 years. Declarable donations were declared to the Electoral Commission. Our ...
    1 day ago
  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    2 days ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    2 days ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    6 days ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    1 week ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First is proud to have brought common sense to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament today. Party Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says months of hard work went into negotiating a balanced ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
    We began the week by commemorating the New Zealand Wars and celebrating a major increase in the number of teachers. Then, we were busy supporting offenders into work and getting our rail back on track after years of underinvestment. And that's just the start! ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
    In October I was sworn in as the Mayor of Lower Hutt. It’s the privilege of my life to serve Hutt people as their Mayor. There is something really special to be able to serve the community where I was raised, and where I live.   ...
    3 weeks ago

  • APEC 2021 Bill passes first reading
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the first reading of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation 2021 (APEC 2021) Bill in Parliament today. The temporary bill supports New Zealand’s security preparations for hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in 2021. “APEC is the leading economic and trade forum ...
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    2 hours ago
  • Making progress for our kids
    The Government is making progress on improving the wellbeing of the one million New Zealanders under the age of 18,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on World Children’s Day. The Government has today recommitted to the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history – the United Nation’s Convention on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Māori women in business contribute to our economy, whānau and communities
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has released a new report celebrating the contribution of Māori women in business across Aotearoa New Zealand. “Māori women are leaders in our communities, they employ many people and support our economy and our communities,” Julie Anne Genter said. The report, Ngā wāhine kaipakihi: ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Two schools on the way for Omokoroa
    Four parcels of land have been bought in Omokoroa, in the Western Bay of Plenty District, for an education facility that will accommodate both a primary and secondary school on a campus-like facility, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Two parcels were acquired from private land owners and two were ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Families Package helps over 1 million New Zealanders in first year
    1 million New Zealanders warmed by the Winter Energy Payment 36,000 families bank the Best Start Payment in first year 6,000 more families received the Family Tax Credit, 220,600 in total   They receive an increase too – from an average of $117 to $157 a week for Inland Revenue clients, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Clamp down on wheel clamping passes third reading
    New rules to clamp down on overzealous wheel clamping and extortionate fees charged in order to release a vehicle have passed their final stage in Parliament today. The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill has now passed its third reading. “These changes mean $100 will be the maximum wheel clamping ...
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    23 hours ago
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill passes first hurdle
    An independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is a step closer after it unanimously passed its first vote in Parliament today.  The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill lays the groundwork for establishing the Commission as a fully independent crown entity – delivering on a key recommendation of He Ara ...
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    24 hours ago
  • Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued
    We’ve improved border security with the NZeTA, New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which helps us to screen travellers for border and immigration risks off-shore before they travel to New Zealand. It was launched in August and became mandatory on 1 October 2019. More than 500,000 NZeTAs have been issued since ...
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    1 day ago
  • Plan of action to protect seabirds
    A proposed national plan of action to reduce the number of seabirds caught in fisheries is being circulated for public feedback. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage say New Zealand is a global centre of seabird diversity with about 145 species in our waters. It has more ...
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    1 day ago
  • National interest test added to overseas investment rules
    The Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker said under current Overseas Investment Act rules, assets such as ports and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New housing part of support for Kaumātua
    The Government is building special housing to accommodate one of Aotearoa’s greatest taonga- our kaumātua, says the Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Speaking at a National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference in Rotorua today, the Minister reinforced the importance kaumātua play in maintaining and passing on mātauranga Māori, knowledge, ...
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    1 day ago
  • Forestry helps prisoners into jobs
    Eleven men from a pilot forestry training programme for prisoners in Northland now have full time jobs or job offers upon release, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced today. The ‘release to work’ programme was a collaboration between Te Uru Rākau and the Department of Corrections, ...
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    1 day ago
  • Reform of public service a step closer
    Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins today introduced into Parliament a Bill that will make it easier for the public service to tackle the biggest challenges facing Governments. The Bill represents the most significant change in the public service in 30 years. The State Sector Act 1988 will be repealed ...
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    2 days ago
  • Donations scheme to relieve pressure on families
    The families of more than 416,000 students will be better off next year as their schools have signed up to the Government’s donations scheme, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. The scheme will see almost $62.5 million in additional Government funding go to schools nationwide next year. “I’m really pleased ...
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    2 days ago
  • Further support for Samoan measles outbreak
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced further support as the Government of Samoa responds to a serious measles outbreak. “New Zealand will deploy a further 18 vaccination nurses, bringing the total to 30 working in Samoa over the next four weeks,” Mr Peters said. “A New Zealand Medical Assistance ...
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    2 days ago
  • Speech to the Child Poverty Action Group 2019 Summit
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    2 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Annual Conference
    ***Please check against delivery*** Good morning everyone. It is a pleasure to be with you this morning to open this year’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Conference and AGM. Firstly, thank you Dr Alan Jackson, NZTR Chair for your introduction. And let us acknowledge also: The NZTR Board; Dean McKenzie, Chair ...
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  • Fairer rules for tenants and landlords
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    3 days ago
  • Two decades of marine protection celebrated at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako in Tairawhiti
    A marine conservation milestone - the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve - is being celebrated today at a community event in Tairāwhiti/East Coast attended by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “The creation of this marine reserve in November 1999 was a game ...
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    4 days ago
  • Food industry asked to step up fight against obesity
         The Government is asking the food industry to step up work to tackle obesity including reducing sugar, fat and salt in their products, better information for consumers, and tighter restrictions on advertising to children. Health Minister David Clark and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor have responded to a ...
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    4 days ago
  • Modern emergency care for Queenstown area
    ew, modern emergency department and outpatient facilities at Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital mean better emergency care for the growing tourist mecca’s visitors and locals, says Health Minister David Clark. Today Dr Clark officially opened the hospital’s redeveloped Emergency Department and Outpatient facilities. The new facilities include: •    An extended Emergency Department ...
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    5 days ago
  • Contraception important for New Zealanders
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter says today’s release of sexual and reproductive health data reinforces the significance of the Government’s commitment to providing free or very low-cost contraception. The Ministry of Health today published statistics from the Ministry of Health’s 2014/15 Health Survey. “It is important people can make ...
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  • NZ medical staff and measles vaccines going to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced that at the request of the Samoan Government, New Zealand will be providing further support to Samoa as it faces a worsening measles outbreak. “In response to a request from the people of Samoa, New Zealand is providing 3000 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) ...
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    5 days ago
  • Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2023
    “The new Disability Action Plan 2019–2023 moves us towards the inclusive and accessible New Zealand that this government has committed to,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today.  “The Action Plan was designed by disabled people, their family and supporters, the disability sector and government agencies. It will ensure ...
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    6 days ago
  • Joint Statement – Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting
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    6 days ago
  • Sexual Violence Legislation Bill has its first reading
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    6 days ago
  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
    Streamlined payment practices are a step closer for Kiwi businesses with the formal launch of New Zealand’s e-Invoicing framework. Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says the government has now established the structure to enable automated and direct data exchange between the accounting systems of buyers and sellers. “The move to ...
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    6 days ago
  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
    Another 51 quarantine officers and four new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “The Government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system and support our valuable primary sector “New Zealand’s flora, fauna ...
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    6 days ago
  • NZ space economy worth $1.69 billion
    A new report has found New Zealand’s space sector contributed $1.69 billion to the economy in the last financial year and employs 12,000 people, Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford announced today. The report by Deloitte was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and shows New Zealand ...
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    6 days ago
  • New Chair for Royal Commission into Abuse
    Judge Coral Shaw has been appointed as the new Chair of the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today. "Judge Shaw, who is currently one of the inquiry commissioners, is extremely well qualified for the ...
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    6 days ago
  • Better mental health facilities for Palmerston North
    The Government has confirmed its third major mental health facility upgrade since the Budget, this time at Palmerston North Hospital. The Prime Minister and Health Minister today visited MidCentral DHB to announce that $30 million has been allocated to upgrade its acute mental health facility. It follows earlier announcements in ...
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    6 days ago
  • Bowel Screening hits halfway point
    The roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme has reached the halfway mark, with 10 out of 20 District Health Boards now part of the programme. MidCentral DHB, which covers Palmerston North, Manawatu and surrounding districts, this week became the latest to DHB to offer free bowel screening to ...
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  • More vaccines for meningococcal disease
    The Government welcomes PHARMAC’s decision to fund a vaccine to protect young people from meningococcal disease from 1 December this year. “Meningococcal disease is a serious threat which people at higher risk should be protected from,” says Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter. “The combined pharmaceutical budget was increased by ...
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