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Collins beats up on the sick, again

Written By: - Date published: 2:59 pm, August 6th, 2008 - 15 comments
Categories: benefits, national - Tags: ,

The dreadful Judith Collins is once again peddling lies about sickness beneficiaries to try and soften the ground for National to throw our most sick and vulnerable citizens back into work if they ever regain power.

In a press release this afternoon, Collins screams:

“the latest figures showing that the number of people on the sickness and invalid benefits has reached an all-time high”.

Well of course they bloody have. We have a growing population, which means even if the ratio of sickness beneficiaries remained static numbers would still grow. Furthermore, we have an aging population which means an increasing number of people are reaching an age where their health starts to fail them and they are unable to work.

It’s also highly hypocritical. If you adjust the figures to population, sickness beneficiary numbers increased 51% under three terms of National compared to just 33% under three terms of Labour.

The graph below shows no marked increase in sickness beneficiaries outside of what you’d expect from a growing and ageing population.

As I pointed out last time, Judith Collins has a research unit to tell her this kind of stuff. She just knows you don’t.

15 comments on “Collins beats up on the sick, again ”

  1. Ari 1

    You can also see the unemployment figures get progressively better as Labour stays in government. Neat.

    Do you have the data to normalise this for population?

  2. Ari. I have to working age population figures for the relevant years. In fact, I think I’ve done a post combining the two sets of numbers at some point.

    this one is just for more recent years and long-term beneficiaries. http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=1819 I’ll try to see if I’ve done the other one, otherwise I’ll do it for tomorrow.

  3. lprent 3

    Arrggh I HATE people who draw conclusion using absolute numbers in a population that is changing.

    Either they don’t understand what they’re talking about, and therefore should shut up until they do. Or they are trying to lie with statistics.

    This is a good test for the MSM’s handling of press statements. They should be all over this crap.

    BTW: The other one that is a pain is the % change on a small absolute delta. You know – there has been a 25% increase in staffing levels in X, when there used to only be 4 people in X.

  4. I hear that Lynn. Bad stats are the bane of my existance.

    You can see some of them in that Herald article (which seems to have disappeared now) that claims public servants are overpaid… after arriving at conclusions based on what appears to be pretty dodgy methodlogy, the stupid buggers argue unions shouldn’t push for higher wages just because lower unionsed workplaces in the private sector have lower wages… why is that the public sector workers’ fault?

    btw, I love the line you hear from economists – if someone doing a job enjoys their job they should be paid less than someone doing a comparable job who doesn’t enjoy it, after all they’re getting more utility than the other guy – reminds me why I dropped economics at uni

  5. Ben R 5

    “The other one that is a pain is the % change on a small absolute delta. You know – there has been a 25% increase in staffing levels in X, when there used to only be 4 people in X.”

    Lprent, this would be an example of that? (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

    “Steve Pierson
    August 1, 2008 at 2:29 pm
    insider. Labour has 50% more female MPs (13 v 18) and nearly the same total number (48 v 49).”

    I agree with you though that it’s easy to mislead people regarding sickness beneficiary numbers. Collins’ comments obviously need to be more closely looked at. The thing that would concern me more are the anecdotal stories of the pressure on GP’s in small areas to issue medical certificates. They’re in a difficult position.

    [lprent: Similar, but he did give both sets % and actuals. Easy enough to see the difference. And Steve – its isn’t 50%, it is slightly less than 50%]

  6. Stephen 6

    Well Steve did give the numbers involved…still.

  7. I should point out that sickness & invalid benefits are unrelated to the relative increase in our elderly population. Sick & disabled elderly are funded by the elderly budget & are not captured in the beneficiaries statistics.

  8. ghostwhowalks 8

    Once they used to include pensioners amoung the numbers of ‘beneficiaries’, to show what a terrible waste they all were.

    As though people were going to be taken off Superannuation. Permanently

    There is only one way to do THAT.
    then again nothing is beyond Cruella de Clevedon..

    ps I wonder if she supports the fast tracking of major projects. The lifestyle block owners in Clevedon want to know as Transpowers towers loom closer. A tape recoder/cell phone might get different answers to what she says in public

  9. Kinoy001 9

    Good old Judith having her monthly bark….

    She loves to blow everything out of proportion….

    the poddle needs to go and find some real fact and not lies….

    Cant stand her…

  10. ghostwhowalks 10

    Macdoctor, as you should know the numbers in the 40 -65 age group has increased as a proportion of the population to say 15 years ago.

    This is common to all western countries and is mirrored especailly in Australia which has common economic and cultural background to NZ

    Collins sems to have taken on the mantle still carried by Muriel Newman.

    The funny thing is that without the government support such as benefits and especially the new Working for Families scheme any recessions would be far more severe.

    It would certainly be 1929 all over again without the US Federal reserve giving 10s of billions to keep the major Wall St firms afloat.
    But NZ the government support for ordinary kiwis will mean the current circumstances will improve relatively quickly.
    Thank God for a government that ran high surpluses when times were good so the cupboard wasnt bare when tax cuts were needed and WFF gives more support for those with families

  11. Razorlight 11

    ‘The Dreadful Judith Collins’

    And you lefties try to claim you don’t make politics personal.

  12. lprent 12

    Razor: Perhaps you would like to defend Judith Collins maths and her previous statements and actions.

    She has a habit of making politics personal herself. This particular type of claim comes up every other month – about beneficeries. I’d call that a pattern.

    Now believe or not, people who are the targets of her vitriol don’t like being attacked by a persona who doesn’t appear to have the slightest degree of compassion, and apparently little intelligence. They take it personally. So do people who know them. Like me for instance – because we know she is lying with her broad brush offensive statements about our family members.

    Now if Judith Collins doesn’t like it getting personal back, then perhaps she should stop playing politics for long enough to consider exactly who she is attacking (and the people who know them). Alternatively some remedial maths would be in order because she appears to sorely need it.

  13. Razorlight 13


    I am not trying to defend her. I do not know enough about the facts to defend her.

    If what Tane is saying is true, her actions may be dreadful. She is not dreadful. I know she is not dreadful and take offence when this is written. In my book there is a clear distiction.

    Politics becomes sick when it becomes personal. The Hyde Peters debate last week really was not a flash look for the Parliament.

    Some from the left call the right nasty. Jordan Carter has called National the nasty party. By opening a post labelling a person dreadful hardly gives the left any defence when people criticise the filth of personal politics.

  14. lprent 14

    Razor: Besides I have no idea where you got the idea that lefties don’t take politics personally. Some mightn’t but I surely do.

    Frankly if I’m attacked, my friends are attacked, or especially family is attacked – I tend to mount a vigorous defense. It is good at airing out all of that nice useful anger, annoyance and frustration. That surely helps with the code afterwards.

    In Judith Collins case, I’ve been deeply offended by her comments on the DPB previously. There are a high proportion of my friends and family and their kids who have had to depend on that after marriage breakups while the kids were pre-school. To suggest that they are all trying to screw the taxpayers is pure crap. This is exactly what I pay taxes for. For that matter, what they pay taxes for. Without exception, all of those people I know who have been on the DPB have subsequently moved on to highly taxed jobs.

    The stats on DPB tend to indicate that this is the norm not the exception. Even if it was the exception, then it is cheaper in the long-term than the alternatives for those chilren.

    Exactly what was the alternative? To make them live in absolute poverty? The level of the DPB isn’t much, but it is enough.

  15. RedLogix 15


    I’ve just had a text conversation with my younger brother. He is severely deaf and has limited eyesight. Despite this he manages to work, but requires subsidisation and asssistance to do so.

    Much of his adult life was, until this Labour govt changed things for the better, was a constant struggle against govt various departments determined not to give him the help they were supposed to.

    What he has said just said to me about Collins statements today is both unrepeatable and in it’s own way heartbreaking.

    I’m fed up with this. Goodnight.

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