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Big Brother comes to Kindy

Written By: - Date published: 2:10 pm, July 22nd, 2013 - 36 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, national - Tags: , , ,

The Nats used to make a career out of faux “nanny state” hysteria. My how times have changed:

Kindy kids to have ID numbers

Identification numbers attached to children as young as three could be used to track and punish their parents.

The ID system will be rolled out next year, paving the way for information to possibly be passed from kindergartens to the Government agency which monitors beneficiaries.

About 190,000 children in early childhood education will be assigned a national student number, with providers collecting information including each child’s daily attendance.

The Greens say childhood workers will effectively be asked to dob in parents who are not meeting their obligation to have their children in education, with preschool teachers used as “de facto benefit police”.

The Government has moved to downplay the fears but refused to rule out an information sharing programme between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development, saying it could be considered.

I meant to write about this in the weekend, but Paul Little beat me to it:

We’re the surveillance state

Children in early-childhood education, ages 3 to 5, are to be given ID numbers.

It’s not the fact of having a number that should concern us … it’s the compulsion and the reason for it. Given the only group of children who must compulsorily attend early-childhood education are those of beneficiaries, it is hard to see that it is aimed at anyone except them. It leaves us asking: why? What is broken that this will fix?

With characteristic dissimulation, the Ministry of Social Development insists there is no need for concern. At the same time it won’t rule out that these numbers could be used in the future to monitor how well parents are sticking to newly introduced “obligations” to seek work, which many believe are unworkable. …

This Government operates on the principle, if that’s not too noble a word for it, that it is easier to marginalise beneficiaries than help them. It just wants them to go away.

Meanwhile, it will insist beneficiaries look for jobs that aren’t there, without accepting an equivalent obligation to create jobs. …

ID numbers for preschoolers are not something we should welcome, but, unfortunately, they are typical of the sort of thing we need to get used to in the surveillance state that we are becoming.

Big Brother – coming soon to a Kindy near you.

36 comments on “Big Brother comes to Kindy ”

  1. Bill 1

    Any idea what the government is saying this possible scheme is for? I’m asking, because when I read the links, the writers seem to be making assumptions. Quite reasonable assumptions to my mind, but assumptions nonetheless. Has the government categorically stated that the intention is to track kids’ whereabouts? Or is this yet another instance of the government casting bullshit to outrage and distract from some other, slightly lesser, plan that it actually intends to go ahead with and implement?

    edit: Also, just to say, Paul Little’s ‘roll over and take it’ attitude – (“typical of the the sort of thing we need to get used to..”) – is absolutely fcking lamentable.

    edit no.2: The following link says that the National Student Numbers are already in operation and have been since 2001.

    The NSN was first launched in 2001 to track students’ progress through a National Certificate of Education Achievement. Early childhood education providers, however, were given assurances that children’s information would not be passed on.

    (format altered for space)


  2. vto 2

    John Key and Paula Bennett deserve to have their heads shat on

    • Bill 2.1

      The results of my quick google search suggest that the shit should be shat on a greatly increased number of heads than just theirs VTO.

  3. Bill 3

    From http://www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/SchoolOperations/NationalStudentNumber/NSNBackground.aspx

    The Education Amendment Act 2006 authorised the use of the NSN throughout the rest of the education sector – in the school and early childhood sectors.


    The Act allows the use of the NSN in the early childhood education sector. This has not been implemented.

    So do amendments get voted on in parliament? And if so, who the fuck voted for it, who opposed it and, in both instances, why? Are anybody’s hands clean?

  4. There are many things happening which are shocking and the demonising of beneficiaries is right up there, but this? This is so bad it turns my stomach. How can a society accept these measures – it’s bad enough that they take the children off the parents so that the parents can do non-existent work for not enough to live on, but this? Words are failing me – I need to go and be sick.

    • weka 4.1

      I agree marty. It doesn’t affect me personally, but it’s one of the worst things I’ve seen them do.

  5. Sanctuary 5

    “…This Government operates on the principle, if that’s not too noble a word for it, that it is easier to marginalise beneficiaries than help them. It just wants them to go away…”

    To paraphrase Hermann Goring:

    “…The Beneficiary must clearly understand one thing at once, he must get out..!”

  6. Bill 6

    Sorry to bang on about this, but this was made possible and is wholly in line with the 2006 Education Amendment Bill that was put through parliament by Steve Maharey and that Labour, the Greens, NZF, UF and the Progressives voted in favour of.

    And Clause 36 Section 343 amended (Assigning national student numbers)


    “(1A) The Secretary may also assign a national student number to any child under the age of 6 years if the Secretary has reasonable grounds to believe that—

    “(a) the child is unlikely to attend an early childhood service; and

    “(b) the child is likely to benefit from attending such a service.”

    The only good thing I can say is that there appears to be wriggle room for parents to refuse the acceptance of an NSN for their child – if they can show that it is not reasonable to believe that their child will not attend. Or, if they don’t attend, that attendance is not likely to benefit their child.

    I guess financial and psychological well being arguments could be put forward on the latter argument.

    But fuck…in the meantime, we can expect a deafening silence from Labour (it being their Bill in the first place) and, well….I guess the Greens might want to tread carefully seeing as how they voted for it.

    Wonder how many other delicious little ‘sleepers’ like this one are sitting around in various pieces of legislation?

    • weka 6.1

      Looks to me like it’s aimed at getting at risk kids into state supervision early on. I remember when it was being debated in the UK. People that opposed it were considered conspiracy theorist types, along the lines of if you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to fear.

      I think the wriggle room is to allow policy to be developed that isn’t draconian – the legislation isn’t about a surveillance society, it’s abotu child welfare and helping those in most need.

      To the middle classes it seems like a good idea, because kids are falling through the cracks and when you have a liberal agenda running social services the policy makes sense (kind of). It becomes more of a problem when the proto-fascists are in charge.

      Is the targetting of beneficiary families written into legislation, or is it at the policy level? The thing I can’t understand is why early childhood education facilities would be keeping records of the occupation or otherwise of the parents. Why would they need to know that?

      • Bill 6.1.1

        Good question on the tracking of a parent’s occupation. There are also vague clauses within the act referring to those making ‘unauthorised’ access to NSNs.

        But all that aside, and allowing that the intention wasn’t to use it as a blanket provision against children of parents claiming state entitlements (and, yes – I’m hestitating to make that allowance), what on earth could the enactment of the legislation ever have been except discriminatory? It’s not as though you have to work hard to untangle that clause I cut and pasted above to figure its intent and possible ramifications.

        • weka

          Not sure what you mean exactly Bill. I think the intention was for the State to be able to pick up and monitor at risk kids more easily, as well as make sure that the population as a whole was getting best served in terms of education. I disagree that this is the way to do that of course (better to reduce poverty), and the misuse comes as no surprise, but I’m not sure that the intention was to be discriminatory.

      • marty mars 6.1.2

        Little (above) says, “Given the only group of children who must compulsorily attend early-childhood education are those of beneficiaries, it is hard to see that it is aimed at anyone except them.” These children are discriminated against because they are forced from their beneficiary parent/s which is bad for them and the parent/s imo. The concern for ‘at risk’ children is bogus, they are after the beneficiary parent/s because they don’t want them on the books. In the country area where I live everyone knows what people do but in cities I’d imagine a question on the registration form or maybe the fees will come direct from work and income and therefore the beneficiary parents will be identified.

        • weka

          We’re talking at cross purposes marty. I was referring to the 2006 legislation that Bill quoted. I completely agree that the current policy of targeting beneficiaries is entirely discriminatory.

      • Psycho Milt 6.1.3

        The thing I can’t understand is why early childhood education facilities would be keeping records of the occupation or otherwise of the parents. Why would they need to know that?

        Haven’t studied it, but I expect there wouldn’t be any need for ECE centres to record parent occupations, if the government’s getting the kids’ ID numbers. WINZ gets the ID numbers for children of the parents it’s dishing out money to, and the monitoring is easy from that point – do a trawl through the ECE data every now and then to see which of the IDs you’ve gathered aren’t currently attending an ECE centre, and chase those ones to see what the story is.

        I doubt that bullying beneficiaries is what Labour had in mind when it introduced the ID numbers – more likely it was pandering to the NZEI’s interest in promoting ECE. But the thing about dumb ideas is that they’re rich sources of unintended consequences.

        • weka

          “WINZ gets the ID numbers for children of the parents it’s dishing out money to,”


          “and the monitoring is easy from that point – do a trawl through the ECE data every now and then to see which of the IDs you’ve gathered aren’t currently attending an ECE centre, and chase those ones to see what the story is.”

          I don’t think WINZ has such good data matching systems. Yet. I know they do with Customs (getting benes coming in and out of the country), but even with IRD they don’t seem to do that much that doesn’t come from the beneficiary themselves (apart from investigations).

          Maybe that’s where they are headed. Bizarre levels of bureacracy would be needed to make it work though, and WINZ ain’t exactly known for efficiency with it’s internal systems. Maybe they’re going to give a heap of benes jobs at the department.

      • Transient Viper 6.1.4

        HAHHAHA! Seriously?

        National does it: “It doesn’t affect me personally, but it’s one of the worst things I’ve seen them do.”

        Labour and Greens do it: “Looks to me like it’s aimed at getting at risk kids into state supervision early on…. The legislation isn’t about a surveillance society, it’s abotu child welfare and helping those in most need.”

  7. Can any of us imagine the howls of hysterical outrage from the Nats, Whaleboil, Farrar, NZ Herald, et al… if LABOUR had introduced a policy like this, ten years ago??? Coupled with the GCSB bill, the Right would be bursting brain blood-vessels all over the place…

    Pop,pop,pop,pop,pop… (there went six Nat supporters right there)…

    • See comment 6:

      …this was made possible [by] and is wholly in line with the 2006 Education Amendment Bill that was put through parliament by Steve Maharey and that Labour, the Greens, NZF, UF and the Progressives voted in favour of.

    • infused 7.2


  8. TightyRighty 8

    Really, we want these kids to succeed and giving the best opportunity, but you won’t make them go? After all the pissing and moaning about the mystery “cuts” to ECE, you don’t want the most vulnerable and needy, and therefore the most deserved to be made to go?

    • Can’t speak for anyone else but yes, seriously, I don’t want people to be made to send their kids to ECE centres.

      • weka 8.1.1


        And not all young kids do well in that environment. The idea that every 3 or 4 year old should be in school or grow up disadvantaged is ridiculous.

        Besides, if it was about making sure all pre-schoolers get something they NEED, then it would be compulsory for the whole population, not just beneficiaries.

        • Transient Viper

          You don’t think education is important?

          Would you like to make primary school optional too?

          I know, how about allowing charter schools – that way… Fuck, National’s done that, and we hate that right?

          I’m so confused! Let me try and get this straight…

          We are allowed to id number preschool children as proposed by Labour, but not by National – okay, makes sense.

          Then we don’t worry about enforcing education to vulnerable children, until they’re 5. Then we only want them in a public school, and shouldn’t allow funding for other options. I understand where you’re coming from now.

          [lprent: You have been looking like a particularly stupid troll with trite phrases and wanting to stay below the moderators attention. But you have now written 13 comments without any substance apart from this one. And in this one you seem to be quite confused… 😈

          However you have also attributed a set of assertions that you claim someone else said. That is a drearily old troll tactic used a flame starter

          Until I can see that you can either contribute something (*anything*) substantive to the conversation and display some actual human intelligence rather than a urge to wank in public, you will remain in a state of permanent auto-moderation. Personally I suspect that I will eventually toss you into auto-spam as just another pathetic player of silly games.

          Read the policy. ]

        • TighyRighty

          How about teaching the parents pre-school the methods of responsibility that then translate to better performance at school and beyond?

          • Rosetinted

            Tighty Righty
            Good idea. Teaching parents how to do the task of child-raising, and then giving them something extra on the benefit so they have some valuable money help as well which would be an added incentive, would be great. They are being paid to give them all a home, food and life’s necessities because they need help as they bring their children up through their age stages,,they are not just paid carers doing a job for money.

            Further ways to help would be to then take the opportunity to give the parents some training in other skills, and keep them in the society mix instead of forcing them out into their own areas of similarly struggling people which can be depressing and demoralising.

      • TightyRighty 8.1.2

        Even if they are getting paid to raise these kids?

  9. Rosetinted 9

    I wonder if anyone else has thought of the Harper Valley PTA song.
    Here’s a version showing Jeanie Riley and group performing it. It ironically socks it to ‘nice’ straight-laced, narrow-minded judgmental society.

  10. Rosetinted 10

    Sing along version – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFlPVVk2H5c

    Lyrics from OldieLyrics
    “Harper Valley P.T.A.”
    (Tom T. Hall)
    Send “Harper Valley P.T.A.

    I want to tell you all a story ’bout a Harper Valley widowed wife
    Who had a teenage daughter who attended Harper Valley Junior High
    Well her daughter came home one afternoon and didn’t even stop to play
    She said, “Mom, I got a note here from the Harper Valley P.T.A.”

    The note said, “Mrs. Johnson, you’re wearing your dresses way too high
    It’s reported you’ve been drinking and a-runnin’ ’round with men and going wild
    And we don’t believe you ought to be bringing up your little girl this way”
    It was signed by the secretary, Harper Valley P.T.A.

    Well, it happened that the P.T.A. was gonna meet that very afternoon
    They were sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room
    And as she walked up to the blackboard, I still recall the words she had to say
    She said, “I’d like to address this meeting of the Harper Valley P.T.A.”

    Well, there’s Bobby Taylor sittin’ there and seven times he’s asked me for a date
    Mrs. Taylor sure seems to use a lot of ice whenever he’s away
    And Mr. Baker, can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town?
    And shouldn’t widow Jones be told to keep her window shades all pulled completely down?

    Well, Mr. Harper couldn’t be here ’cause he stayed too long at Kelly’s Bar again
    And if you smell Shirley Thompson’s breath, you’ll find she’s had a little nip of gin
    Then you have the nerve to tell me you think that as a mother I’m not fit
    Well, this is just a little Peyton Place and you’re all Harper Valley hypocrites

    No I wouldn’t put you on because it really did, it happened just this way
    The day my Mama socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A.
    The day my Mama socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A.

  11. Rosetinted 11

    Both of the above comments have flashed a Connection closed by remote server after pressing submit button. I then have left both, made a new visit to the Standard and the comment has been put up. But though it has just been entered, there is no edit available.

    I have not been going through the login process when I comment. So should I to prevent being cut off at the knees?

    edit – This one went through normally – difference – I didn’t carry over any links from google.

    • lprent 11.1

      There hasn’t been anything odd on the server apart from a moderate spike at about 1430. Probably just the vagaries between you and the net

      • Rosetinted 11.1.1

        Yes I think that I am a bit vag-uery about the net and vice versa. It just doesn’t understand me.

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