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Metiria Turei’s legacy

Written By: - Date published: 7:27 am, September 26th, 2017 - 127 comments
Categories: benefits, bill english, class war, journalism, Metiria Turei, poverty, welfare - Tags: , ,

Metiria Turei explains this week why she has no regrets about her admission of benefit fraud from 25 years ago,

It means that no-one in this country claim ignorance of what poverty looks like. Or can claim ignorance about how the system drives people into such despair.

A whole lot of shit went down after her admission, but in the past few months I’ve seen more real stories of people’s struggle with poverty and welfare being told in the MSM and on social media than I’ve ever seen before. The importance of this cannot be overestimated, because the kinds of stories being told about welfare determine what we do.

It’s not stopping. Here’s Catriona MacLennan at Newsroom writing yesterday about the importance of Turei’s act and putting it up against Bill English’s reputation and responsibility for poverty in NZ,

2017 was the year in which the first tremors of a povertyquake started in Aotearoa, but fake news based on fearmongering and selfishness saw them speedily suppressed.

Former Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei’s admission of benefit fraud electrified the country and – finally – started a real debate about poverty and our awful treatment of beneficiaries.

In the wake of her confession the Greens soared to 15 per cent in the 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll, their highest-ever result.

Small wonder, then, that Turei had to be brought down.

Turei has spent 20 years campaigning against poverty. She said she had made submissions, given speeches and promoted members’ bills, but the result had been no improvement.

In fact, things had got worse.

All she had left was her story and her baby’s story.

She was right. Without her admission, the Greens’ ‘Mending the Safety Net’ welfare policy would have been a sidebar in journalists’ stories.

Political journalists have serious reflection to do on their takedown of Turei.

They decided their job was to dig into who Turei flatted with 25 years ago.

Our country would be a very different – and much better – place if they had instead seen their role as challenging the Minister of Social Development on why benefits are deliberately kept at unliveable levels.

MacLennan on Bill English,

The other key feature of the election was the ripping aside of Prime Minister Bill English’s mask as an honest, compassionate conservative.

This was never an accurate image, given that one of English’s first acts on being elected to Parliament in 1990 was to vote in favour of the benefit cuts which have wrecked the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders and continue to cause poverty to this day.

It was not former Prime Minister John Key who for eight years drove the policies which have resulted in homelessness, low wages, a mental health crisis and other despair.

Key was the popular face, but it was English who was the policy initiator.

And about what happened when Labour overtook National in the polls. Another take down.

In the final televised leaders’ debate English stared into the camera and said Labour’s fiscal plan had an $11.7 billion hole, Labour would increase income tax, and the party with the largest number of votes had the right to form a government.

All of those things were untrue.

Also great in the MSM this week was Stephanie Rodgers as one of the guest commentators on RNZ’s post-election special (starts at 17 mins),

I really just do think that this election represents a  lost opportunity to have a really honest, significant conversation about the welfare state, poverty, inequality and just how broken things are.

One of the other commentators trotted out the middle class lines about Turei not having apologised. Rodgers again,

I just don’t know what she had to apologise for to be honest… she was making an incredibly important point, this is what many, many families have to do…

Wallace Chapman interrupts in a rather agitated manner to talk about Turei not paying the money back, and Rodgers continues,

You know who else didn’t pay things back, until they got caught? Bill English with his housing allowance. And he didn’t need that. She needed that to feed her child. And that to me is a point that really got missed in amongst what became a very mucky story about ‘where was she living?’ and ‘was she really in a relationship?’, and all kinds of insinuations we didn’t need.

These are the voices we need to hear. People speaking up and pushing back against the dominant narrative that says the behavioural standards of the ruling classes should reign supreme and everyone else should be judged by them. I don’t mind that there are people in NZ who think badly of Turei. I do mind that too many in the MSM couldn’t tell the story straight.

Stephanie Rodgers is getting a few radio gigs now as a left wing commentator, long may that continue and here’s hoping it heralds a shift in the MSM taking both left wing and welfare politics seriously (someone needs to have a word with Wallace Chapman about talking over the end of his commentators’ sentences though).

MacLennan’s article finishes with this,

Let 2020 be the election of the povertyquake, when New Zealanders come together in shared concern for all parts of the community and vote to lift everyone up, rather than only the favoured.

Whatever happens in the next three weeks with the formation of the next government, we have work to do. There is still a lot of processing of the outcome on Saturday night and the campaign that ran before it. We need time to take in the complexities of the last two months, so much happened in that time. We also need to keep the momentum going of the things that changed for the better.

Turei’s legacy is one of them and may end up being the most important event of the election. The Greens sacrificed institutional power to break the 3 decades long anti-welfare spell that neoliberalism had placed on the country. It was the right thing to do, and it’s up to all of us now to pick up the baton in whatever ways we can and make the best of that.

127 comments on “Metiria Turei’s legacy ”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    Well said weka, MacLennan, Rodgers, Turei and all those who speak truth to power about poverty and our dysfunctional wlefare system.

    And THIS:

    Political journalists have serious reflection to do on their takedown of Turei.

    Journalists probably think they are thinking for themselves. But from where I sit, it looks frustratingly like they have a hive mind, building their own reality between them.

    They start promoting one untruth, or debatable point e.g. Turei made a mistake or didn’t control the narrative – putting it all on her. Then they all keep repeating it as if it was an incontestable truth – and it becomes the untruth of history.

    So I repeat MacLennan

    Political journalists have serious reflection to do on their takedown of Turei.

  2. Rosemary McDonald 2

    I thought Mojo Mathers summed it up with some poignancy a few weeks ago…

    “”As disability spokesperson I am hugely aware of how broken and punitive our welfare system has become.”

    Mathers did not respond to a question regarding her view of the situation sparked by Clendon and Graham.

    “We need to have a conversation about what our welfare system is doing to our poorest, most vulnerable members of society.

    “Metiria has tried for years to get this conversation going, all she had left was her story.” ”


    • David Garrett 2.1

      Ah…except for one thing Rosemary: It WASN’T her story..even the unctuous John Campbell didn’t entirely buy that after the revelations from the Hartley family…[deleted]. But watch this space as they say, my complaint to the BSA about Campbell’s interview might confirm or disprove that.

      And to forestall your inevitable riposte: YES I committed fraud or at least forgery too, in the dim dark past…once, not multiple times. The other big difference between Turei and me is when I realised the effect my shameful behaviour had had on the family (notwithstanding that they would not have known about it but for the police telling them) I apologised most sincerely, and kept on doing so, until two years ago, five years after I resigned from parliament, when I finally decided “enough”

      Oh and the other big difference between us was that when I committed forgery I was a roughneck on an oil rig in Taranaki. Turei was a law student. She knowingly breached the Electoral Act, which as every law student is taught, is a cornerstone of our largely unwritten constitution.

      [don’t make unsubstantiated allegations of crime. It puts the site at risk, and in this thread it’s blatant trolling. Both are bannable offences. I see that there is something else below where you need your bevhaviour moderated. My suggestion is that you do two things. One is read the Policy and About. The other is take some time to learn the culture of The Standard. It’s not a free-for-all. Take a week off to have a think about it. – weka]

      • Bill 2.1.1


        A well paid oil rig worker is to be cut slack for doing stuff much more odious than anything done by a struggling student – who is to be tarred, feathered and damned…. because oil rig worker?

        • David Garrett

          Well, if I could understand what the hell you are saying I might be able to respond…

          but as it happens, I think the Electoral Act is rather important, and any breaches of it pretty serious…but hey, I’m just a broken arse lawyer from Kaukapakapa…

          • tracey

            You forgot toadd, living in poverty. Your failure to recognise your own privilege is mind boggling.

          • Robert Guyton

            David Garrett said:
            “It is important to remember that at the time, Turei was a law student. When I became one in 1988 I was acutely aware that I had a terrible and shameful secret that could do me great harm – a false passport obtained four years earlier, but never used. I took legal advice on what to do – my preference was to confess, but the advice was that to do so was unnecessary, and would almost certainly lead to my being prosecuted. I was advised to destroy the damn thing and hope for the best, which I duly did (My bold)

            Turei took a very different path.”

            Indeed she did.

            [if you are going to cut and paste someone’s words, please link or cite. People have been moderated for this. – weka]

            • David Garrett

              Robert G: So you read Kiwiblog…Good on you…I wouldn’t advertise that fact over here too much though chum, not if I were you…

              • tracey

                Step 2 after concealment is deflect. Still some work to do on faking sincerity David.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Robert reads it so I don’t have to. I’m grateful for that.

                Then, people like you come and regurgitate the things you read there, ad nauseam, a flaccid pretence if ever there was one.

                Do you deny that the Social Security Act breaches the BoRA?

              • Robert Guyton

                Fortunately for me, David, you are not me, evidenced by our vastly differing views on Metiria and her actions. I wonder why you think I oughtn’t mention here that I’ve read some Kiwiblog posts? Do you think the others here so fickle that they’d send me to Coventry for doing such a thing? How odd your view of TS commenters!
                One comment you made on Kiwiblog (shall I link it, weka?) really showed, I thought, the depth and value of your views, David, where you wrote:

                “But let me ask a question: In your view is “skirt” a sensible name for a child, particularly a girl? (I am not asking whether Ms Turei had the right to name her child thus; of course she did…but should a woman be saddled with that name?) Would you call your son “shirt” or “coat”??”

                I thought that comment was one of the most puerile I’d ever read. Others here may believe so too, I can’t know 🙂

            • tracey

              Yes. In order to lead the privileged life he has today he lied and destroyed evidence. Apparently taking money to help your family while a law student is worse. WTF

              • The Chairman

                “Apparently taking money to help your family…”

                Allegedly, Tracey.

                Keep in mind, Turei has denied this.

            • Robert Guyton

              I hear you weka, only I did open the comment with, “David Garrett said:” and it’s true, he did. The link is to Kiwiblog and I know many find making those offensive. However, so as not to incur the wrath of a moderator, or be accused of fomenting happy mischief, I’ll paste the odious link in future.

          • marty mars

            You arent even that buddy – just white noise

            • David Garrett

              Marty: Well, if that was aimed at me, at least I identify myself with my comments…but if your name really IS “Marty Mars” then I stand corrected…

              But I’m very proud of my legacy…a law that currently has 215 second strikers – all by definition thoroughly bad bastards you wouldn’t want living near you – doing their sentences for serious violent offending without parole…a fraction of the 5500 odd first strikers…and whether or not Winston goes with Labour, that law isn’t going anywhere in a hurry

              [read the Policy. The Standard supports people using pseudonyms including where they do that to protect themselves from nasty trolls online – weka]

              • tracey

                Good for you. Champion of non evidence based populist law and order measure. And .5% of the country may still love you for it.

              • McFlock

                It would be funny if your pseudonym was actually someone stealing an identity fraudster’s identity….

                But didn’t that individual also claim he had no convictions when he had an overseas assault conviction? While being a spokesman forsomeone on justice? Correct me if I’m wrong.

              • The Chairman

                @David Garrett

                With the serious violent offending taking place in our prisons (rapes, assaults and deaths) it’s disappointing your legacy was to ensure more would be incarcerated longer rather than initially ensuring our prisons were of better standing.

                Trust a right-winger to be proud of their arse about face approach.

      • greywarshark 2.1.2

        It’s hard enough to be a struggling law student and struggling young mother trying to get skills to get a living income. It would be even harder trying to be a roughneck on an oil rig and a struggling young mother at the same time.
        Your comparison doesn’t stand up, sit up, or fall down – it just don’t compute,
        so leave mothers alone, especially ones that are trying to get away from the constant difficulties and poverty that unskilled parents often experience.

        • tracey

          Well said. When Garrett starts outting Bennett and any other former beneficiaries in parliament I may take notice. Til then he is selecting who to chastise. There is NO way Bennett never broke a single WINZ rule. Why? Cos almost every single beneficiary and non beneficiary does. In the beneficiary’s case they do it to get a life. People like Garrett and me, we do or pay cash for services/work to get our hols to fiji. So righteous.

          Apparently defrauding the revenue is fine if you have a job when you do it but not if a beneficiary…

      • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.3

        Mr.Garrett, when history’s gaze passes over you in years to come, what do you think will be found?

        Think carefully.

        A fearless spokesperson for truth? A committed thinker, keen to always carefully weigh each fact and nuance before making a public pronouncement? A respectful person, who values all human life and recognises and accepts and respects diversity? A person capable of honest self examination?

        I have no interest in your opinion of Meteria Turei. None at all.

        What I do have interest in is your opinions on the place of people with disabilities.

        Kiwiblog, aka ‘Farrar’s Ferals’, which appears to be your spiritual home, is literally littered with David Garrett’s pontifications on disability.

        From whether a disabled child’s life is worth living to the unreasonableness of disabled people asking for the built environment to be accessible. You seem to have a particular beef about mobility parking spaces and accessible toilets.

        When I say ‘interest’,I don’t mean it in the ‘lets have a conversation about this’ way, because my time is too precious.

        And you are not worth it.

      • Korero Pono 2.1.4

        @David Garrett, just go away. Your words are a false representation of facts. Some do what they do for power and greed, others do far less because of hunger and need. Your self-serving narrative is revolting and a blight on every woman and child in this country.

  3. roy cartland 3

    Bill English may be the “winner”, Metiria is a hero.

    • Carolyn_nth 3.1

      yep. Turei will work better in fighting poverty outside parliament. We need a flax roots movement for this to gain further traction.

      Turei is reported to have been somewhat uncertain about staying much longer in parliament before she made her welfare speech. She was frustrated about little traction from working within the system for change.

      Politics doesn’t just happen in parliament. It’s too often an arena of game-playing and theatre, where grass roots democracy is not understood or valued. Real change begins outside the House.

      Turei has pointed the direction – now we can follow.

      GP MPs usually come from activists, and many return to activism when they leave Parliament: Norman, Bradford, etc.

      Green politics partly includes grass roots democracy – where all true democracy begins.

    • weka 3.2

      Great way to put it Roy. Not that I see English as a winner 😉

      • Roy 3.2.1

        Not winner; “winner”. Them quote marks say all 🙂

        There are few politicians that have elicited from me a feeling of love for what the have done. Was it the Dalai Lama who said the world is full of successful people, we need more good people. Or something!

  4. Zorb6 4

    Meteria Turei’s revelation was poorly timed imo.12 months before the election or some months after it would have been a better tactic.Assuming it wasn’t a ‘Captains call’..and everyone was on board,it was a terrible strategic decision that close to an election.Now a long and dedicated career has been destroyed.Great shame ,and a lesson in there,somewhere.

    • popexplosion 4.1

      +. Also too early. Until its over, its still ongoing. But since it has been brought up. It was arrogrant. Not the talking about welfare. But the sinner, look at me, I’m head of a political party and a fraudster. Now, yes, I agree with how people up against it are tempted over the line, criminizing the poorest is a sign of dysfunctional societies, people. But what she did was say you all now bless me. Then two mps broke rank and rightly lost for it. So, leave it, if she gets into parliament?! she should resign, not for the fraud, but for the arrogance.

      • weka 4.1.1

        Except she didn’t do those things. I get that some people thought she was arrogant, but they might want to ask themselves why that bothered them when parliament has lots of arrogant MPs. And if you think she should resign over arrogance, why her and not other arrogant MPs? There are some not very pleasant double standards in your argument.

        Where did she say bless me? She wanted people to talk about the issues, they did. Whatever you think about her personally, this strategy worked in ways that 15 years of being a good little MP didn’t. So interesting that supposed arrogance is deemed such a terrible thing for her, but it worked.

        • popexplosion

          We agree. It was about her. Her history. Bless her. Take the fraud out, the welfare issue, she still made the campaign about her. Look at me. blah blah I’m la la lala.
          At its core it was arrogant. Now, look at any other MP and show me them doing that. It’s she jumped down on the tube tracks and shorted herself, politically shocking and no way to engender trust. Take the two MPs who said enough, they broke rank in a election campaign, also big no no. She put them in the invidious position and all three should be gone. It’s about trust, she is not nor should she be the welfare issue. She became that, and owes the issue to get out the way. Resign. Clear the deck the Greens are bigger than her. Hey in govt we can give her an ambassador placement. Russia?

          • weka

            She didn’t make it about her. The MSM did, and here you are doing the same thing. Read the post, it’s not about Turei, it’s about her act and what that means for poverty and welfare and why the political classes couldn’t handle that an targeted her instead. Just like you are doing now.

            You have some problems with her? Fine. But your argument appears to come down to you don’t like her arrogance.

            The two MPs broke GP rules. Turei didn’t. That’s why they had to leave the caucus. Turei had to leave because some people think that who she might have had help from 25 years ago is more important than the people literally dying on the streets because we allow welfare bashing. Noting that you are not addressing those issues, but just want to slam Turei instead. This is exactly what the problem is.

            • popexplosion

              Certainty she lives in a nation where politics is dirty, driven by those who distort and divert. She knew that as a party leader for ten years??

              Speak to the point. She is not the party. She is not the issue. What other MPs have made a crime an issue? You can’t. You’d like this to be a nice happy place, but its not, its politics and people move on after politics.

              Speaking to welfare. I agree it was a good attempt, sure politically I’ll timed, niave, shocking voters is not good anytime in a leader. Leaders need to shepherded, true, hard in the media is jumping all over. Good leaders fed a little out at a time, converse, and yeah she did that.

              But in essence, the idea that a crime was a virtue, coupled with me me me, was too easy for the media. And sure the fact she is Maori, a women, and in a highly paid job was just going to invite even more… …then add to be related to a MP… etc etc. She should have known. She could have batted away better.

              Welfare bashing does not kill people, its the housing crisis pushing middle nz to pay more for less, a private tax setup by Key, that is pushing people into garages, cars and killing them. The bashers are doing us a favor, they show us how real and nasty the last nine years have been. Give voice to how awful Tories are.

              Turei should step aside. Welfare is more of an issue becuase of her, its clearer now to see that crimilizing poor is immoral, unethical, but mostly uneconomic, look a lawyer lost the chance of being a minister because she’d been a beneficiary and spoke up.

              • weka

                “But in essence, the idea that a crime was a virtue”

                Give me 3 citations where Turei made benefit fraud a virtue. Be specific. Otherwise you’re just making shit up. You don’t like that she didn’t apologise or whatever, I get it. But at no stage did she say that benefit fraud was a good idea. In fact she said repeatedly that it wasn’t a good idea and the point of her story was to show how people were forced into the situation where they had to do it and that this wasn’t good.

                “Welfare bashing does not kill people, its the housing crisis pushing middle nz to pay more for less, a private tax setup by Key, that is pushing people into garages, cars and killing them. The bashers are doing us a favor, they show us how real and nasty the last nine years have been. Give voice to how awful Tories are.”

                Wow. Ok, so you endorse bene bashing because it has political value. That certainly explains your view on Turei quite a bit.

                Welfare bashing does kill people, because welfare bashing is what National do. Their welfare policies kill people. Do I really need to give examples?

                “Turei should step aside”

                You do realise she’s not returning to parliament, right?

                • popexplosion

                  She had to look after her child, what greater virtue.

                  [lprent: Statement of fact. In fact a duty that is demanded her by the legal system as the sole legal parent. You get one more chance before I define you as a simple liar and ban you for a long time as being a simpleton troll who lies and cannot back their assertions of fact.

                  I tend to get irritated with simple minded fuckwits waving their false facts around in our public area like a flasher on speed.

                  Adding you to the moderation list. You have 24 hours from 1930 to either provide factual examples or apologise to the person you defamed or to get sentenced for your crimes on this site.. ]

                  [lprent: Banned for 4 months. Commenting here is a two way process in both directions. ]

                  • tracey

                    You need to go and hear her speak about it. Or talk to beneficiaries. Then you will discover where beneficiaries learn to lie. From WINZ when they tell tge truth

                • tracey

                  ” You do realise she’s not returning to parliament, right”

                  She still needs to admit that she was a naughty ungrateful girl weka, unlike English who will get to be PM

    • weka 4.2

      So you think Turei should not have stood up for beneficiaries and instead protected her career? Why exactly?

      • popexplosion 4.2.1

        No. There is good theatre and bad theatre. She bombed. Left a political vacuum that gave the Labour right ascendancy, Ardern took Labour right to soakup the center. Bad theatre has its efficienardos.

        • weka

          And yet the Greens got poverty and welfare on the table in ways that no-one else has done in my 33 years of voting. As MacLennan points out, without Turei’s personal story their welfare policy would have sank like a stone. Peters would most likely still be in kingmaker position and on the left side arguing against compassionate welfare reform. You are saying that Turei was wrong to stand up for beneficiaries yet you present absolutely no alternative, so I’m guessing that you favour welfare not being transformed (Labour aren’t going to do it).

          • popexplosion

            Greens need to do better at connecting how poverty, inequality, drives pollution too. Poor towns dump sewage in water ways. Hello, Auckland has to turnoff it’s Waikato river take when the dirty water from Cambridge, Hamilton floats by. Poverty is pollution. Pollution of people, communities, society by unaccountable private taxes legislated by Tory parliaments. Instead of tunnelling profits to build nz we buy and sell the same houses to each other at higher and higher prices. Kicking poor into garages, cars, poor keeping warm dumpster dive, buy plastics to keep warm, its all bad.

    • tracey 4.3

      A year earlier it and maybe she would have disappeared earlier… and who knows Ardern may have stopped talking poverty like she stopped talking climate change. And English would still be denying poverty because John Key.

  5. Sigh 5

    She collapsed the Green vote – they were nearly out of Parliament. This will go down as one of the most disastrous political stuff ups in New Zealand electoral history.

    • Carolyn_nth 5.1

      Such a superficial conclusion.

      Politics outside parliament can be as important as what happens inside.

      I’ve seen Maori and Pacific people stand with Turei since the whole episode – and a movement is building. A movement is absolutely necessary for social, economic and political change.

      • popexplosion 5.1.1

        It’s not about Turei. There was no oxygen. Media is so right of center in NZ, with cuts, it got worse. Key got free air. The opposition lost all credibility, incapable, unwilling, or just inept… …all gone, except Winston and Shaw, well Nats need Winston and he is already retired on a pension… …Shaw is new blood… ..Key vampire teeth hadn’t gotten around to sucking him dry.

    • Bill 5.2

      No ‘Sigh’. A media campaign bent on demonisation – on character assassination, “collapsed the Green vote”.

      • David Mac 5.2.1

        Not assassination, collateral damage. The MSM don’t care if MT comes or goes. The MSM is dying, they care about revenue more than they ever have and ‘GREEN LEADER ADMITS WELFARE FRAUD’ is a jolly good headline. A story that just kept on delivering clickable headlines. Her supporters and mockers alike, we all lapped it up, clicked aplenty.

        In some years I fear the man in the street won’t recall a selfless act to shine sunlight on poverty but a benefit fraudster.

        We’ve all got skeletons in our closets, regardless of any moral high ground we may hold, a job interview is a poor time to highlight illegal activity. Much better to get the job first.

    • JC 5.3

      “Former Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei’s admission of benefit fraud electrified the country and – finally – started a real debate about poverty and our awful treatment of beneficiaries.

      In the wake of her confession the Greens soared to 15 per cent in the 1 News-Colmar Brunton poll, their highest-ever result.”

      Did you read the piece?


      Including this poignant line..

      “English won for National the largest share of the votes, but he lost the respect of a wide swathe of the electorate – people who until now might have disagreed with him but regarded him as “fundamentally decent”.

      When politicians are dishonest with voters, it diminishes and degrades our democracy.

      That should concern all of us”

    • greywarshark 5.4

      Obssession blinds the mind. Getting into Parliament is all for so many people.
      It is what you then do, or choose to do, or are able to do that really counts. Ignore the peasants if you wish, but there are many of us who cannot and could see that the ignoring that is rife would continue if something dramatic wasn’t done to spark the flaccid comfortable. Metiria bravely fronted up and woke them up to some hard facts. And how they hated that.

      Don’t regard the debacle as a completely lost opportunity. The comfortable have had to look around and the strength of their reaction is a measure of how bloody uncomfortable it made them. So we can keep on pressing the boil until the pus comes out now. Because the pressure must be kept up and Dr Metiria just gave us the prescription and know-how.

  6. David Mac 6

    Our MSM is driven by clicks and ratings. A “Turei committed fraud” headline generated many more clicks than another “NZ families in poverty” story ever could.

    • weka 6.1


      But the silver lining is that we are talking about welfare and poverty now too. Not just poverty over there as something that happens to someone else, but poverty as a direct result of government welfare policy and see here are the stories of actual people affected.

      • Johan 6.1.1

        “But the silver lining is that we are talking about welfare and poverty now too.”
        ….and for how many nano-seconds? New Zealand has lost its soul, when Douglas and Prebble committed treason, and allowed to introduce the flawed neo-liberalism model while still members of the Labour Party

        • marty mars

          The people suffering poverty have been talking about these issues for decades. And long after the crowd have moved on to some other subject we’ll still be talking about it. Lived reality is sorta like that.

          Edit – it is a double edged sword telling the stories without the reform.

          • tracey

            Actually many stopped talking about it. Well and truly silenced as intended.

            • marty mars

              I tend to agree with weka that the subject has been talked about more openly – ie in the media
              AND imo the subjects have not not been talked about – you know from Sue Bradford, John Minto the various poverty groups and so on. whew, sometimes it seems like that is all we talk about.

              • tracey

                You are talking about advocates but they only get intermittent coverage and then get dismissed as rent a mob… I am referring to those living in poverty who might as well as had their tongues ripped out by the system… by Bennetts bullying privacy breaches. But since Turei spoke up it has almost never been out of the media. And that continued with another story yesterday

                • It is obvious we hang in different circles – on my feeds and in real life I get the stories daily if not more frequently. It is good that the audience has widened now.

        • greywarshark

          Johan you still have your soul though and so do most of the people that come to TS. So use it to refresh yourself and then go out again and do battle for the people with soul against the crazy and the deluded and the forgetful.

      • Karen 6.1.2

        Sorry, Weka, I disagree. The people talking about poverty and the failings of the welfare system are exactly the same people who were talking about it before. There have been more stories on social media that will have been read by some people who didn’t know what was happening before, but the effect on most people’s understanding has been minimal.

        When Metiria shared her story it did get media coverage that it wouldn’t have got otherwise and at first I thought it was a clever way of highlighting the policy. However, it soon became apparent Metiria and the Green Party communications team had assumed the media would just accept the story as told and not do any investigation themselves. This was incredibly naive considering what we know about dirty politics. The story became about Metiria, not the widespread poverty that is prevalent for those dependant on benefits.

        I agree with Graham Cameron’s assessment in this piece:

        Edit: I just want to add that it is mostly the Green’s benefit reform policy that made me give my party vote to the Green’s and that policy is largely the work of Metiria. I am confident Marama will continue this work.

        • tracey

          was fair to think they wouldnt investigate 😉 . They regurgitated Joyces lies for 2 days before realusing it might be false… imaginary tax cits and no door stepping of Key or McCully over tge 11m proven lie about the saudi businessman.

          The solo mother and brown woman… now thats who we love to kick…

          Even after Bill lied, twice, again a professor annointed him a decent man. Salmond must have known the media would highlight the errant decency line

          • Karen

            “The solo mother and brown woman… now thats who we love to kick…”

            I wasn’t suggesting the media’s pursuit of Metiria was fair or justified – it certainly was not. What I was trying to say was that it was entirely predictable that the media would do so – in part because she is a brown woman and was a beneficiary. It is deplorable the lengths some journalists will go to destroy someone’s credibility but it isn’t new.

          • Incognito

            Anne Salmond called Bill English “fundamentally decent” and that qualification is hugely important in the context of discussing Metiria Turei IMHO.

            I believe Salmond was referring to the person ‘underneath’ so to speak. It speaks of a belief that people are not intrinsically good or bad but display behaviour & actions that can and is judged (!) as such by others and society at large.

            I think it also speaks of redemption – not necessarily in a religious way. People can change their ways, either way.

            Think of rehabilitation of convicted criminals and also of restorative justice (and forgiveness) to encourage taking responsibility and being accountable.

            This is why the demonising of Metiria Turei was so galling and it was diametrically opposed to the Anne Salmond’s compassion towards fellow human beings in general.

            I don’t think it was an “errant decency line” but entirely appropriate and highly accurate and it challenged us to change our point of view.

        • weka

          “Sorry, Weka, I disagree. The people talking about poverty and the failings of the welfare system are exactly the same people who were talking about it before. There have been more stories on social media that will have been read by some people who didn’t know what was happening before, but the effect on most people’s understanding has been minimal.”

          I have never seen the mainstream discuss poverty like this in my lifetime. People are talking about middle class people they know talking about poverty like they haven’t heard them talk before. There are people on welfare talking about poverty like they haven’t before. Before the election I couldn’t keep up with the number of MSM articles that were talking about poverty and welfare. Even on TS there is far more discussion and getting to grips with the issues than there was before. I can write about welfare in ways I couldn’t before. I can talk in my community about welfare in ways I couldn’t before.

          If one measures what happened over the space of a few months of the election then it looks like a failure. But if one looks it in a longer time span it can be seen as a surge of energy in a long movement. We’ve all been sitting around talking about wanting a movement, and now here’s the potential for one. If Turei’s actions can only be seen in context of the election then we may as well give up and go home. But I’m seeing far wider ripples than that. There is a whole nascent sub-movement around disabled benefices, whose stories are finally being heard and we can finally move on from the mainstream narrative of children as the deserving poor.

          I’m not even going to go into it further here because I feel like your comment minimalises what has happened on the ground and in relationships and in people’s hearts in the past 2 months, especially for beneficiaries, and I don’t want to have to argue against that.

          All I can say is that in 35 years I’ve never seen anyone stand up for beneficiaries in the way the Greens did, and some of us are taking notice. I hope enough of us are taking notice.

          Edit: I just want to add that it is mostly the Green’s benefit reform policy that made me give my party vote to the Green’s and that policy is largely the work of Metiria. I am confident Marama will continue this work.

          Whereas I’m hoping that many will continue the work, including Marama, Metiria, the Green MPs, and many people outside of parliament.

          • tracey

            I agree. And the stories keep being published post election


            • David Mac

              In too many cases I feel our poverty related problems extend beyond not enough money. I just put this person’s name into the Tribunal Order search engine.


              The hefty rent arrears aside, not enough money, ok. But to leave her power account in the name of the organisation providing the subsidised home? To leave the Vision West Community Trust with a bill of $724 to remove her rubbish, a $320 cleaning bill and then not even bother showing up at the hearings?

              Our poverty issues are a broader problem than not enough money.

              • weka

                Can you please explain what your point is because I’m not getting it.

                • David Mac

                  Whilst the published story revolves around financial hardship I feel this woman’s inability to be positively engaged in our society extends beyond a shortfall of cash.

                  So many folk dream of a rental home that costs a third of their benefit. I think being granted one should be met with respect for the opportunity. She stopped paying the rent, stole the community trust’s power while she was there and took off leaving a clean-up bill of over a $1000 for them. I have doubts that an extra $200 a week would of seen her behaving much differently.

                  More money is an obvious place to start but by itself, in too many cases, I fear all the symptoms of poverty will still be with us. I don’t share this opinion because I’m a bene basher. I choose to live and work in our most impoverished region with our most impoverished people. I share it because I want whatever we do to work.

              • you’ve got a dirty cheek buddy and zero right to attack that poor woman further – shame on you

              • lprent

                Having been around a few tenancies from either side, I’d make these comments.

                1. In one of these judgements the landlady acted totally inappropriately kicking her out with no notice and appropriately the landlady got fined.

                2. Establishing a account with a power company is pretty damn hard when you don’t have any money or a bad credit record. In one of these cases that is exactly what happened, and I’d guess that it also happened in the case you are referring to. I recently had to establish one after not having a power account for 8 years (that was my partners responsibility) and that was hard enough. I had to get her to vouch for me. I’m 58, have a 6 figure salary, own my own apartment and have a reasonably good credit record apart from a near brush with bankruptcy over a leaky building 9 years ago.

                3. Cleanup bills are problematic. Because they are made at the expense of someone who isn’t the person ordering it, seldom scrutinised before the work is done, then they are routinely inflated and excessive. I have been in several rented places where the landlords agent has tried to limit the return of the bond. In the last place 5 years ago I got a crew of cleaners to go through the townhouse at a cost of about $500 and they cleaned everything. None-the-less the letting agents informed me that there would be a cleaning fee of about the same – until I showed them the invoices and told them that would be what went to tenancy tribunal. My conclusion – some ‘cleaning fees’ are just a way to hold on to bond.

                4. Looking at the cost for rubbish removal, I struggle to see how $724 could be achieved for almost any level of rubbish possible in a situation with limited money. It looks like a simple letting agent rort to me. But I lack the information to be sure. However I’d love to take p[photos and copy of the invoice around for quotations and comment from waste removal companies.

                Basically my opinion is that your opinion is meaningless. You lack any substantive information and that jumping to conclusions on the basis of little to no facts is just the mindless stupidity you’d expect from someone who judges less on facts than they do on bigotry.

              • The Chairman

                “Our poverty issues are a broader problem than not enough money.”

                Yes, but once we’ve overcome the fiscal shortfall (correcting a number of related and indirectly related social ills) it frees up resources and makes it more easier to identify those suffering from other broader problems.

            • weka

              I made a comment below which reminded me that Turei could still potentially be charged with fraud. The people who think the Greens didn’t think this through are missing that she risked a lot and knew this right from the start.

          • Karen

            “I feel like your comment minimalises what has happened on the ground and in relationships and in people’s hearts in the past 2 months, especially for beneficiaries, and I don’t want to have to argue against that.”

            I am very sorry if that is how my comment came across. That was not my intention but I can see why you thought that was what I was saying. I am very aware that those who are, and have been, on a benefit were incredibly grateful that their experiences were being shared and validated.

            What I was trying to say was that these conversations have mostly been on social media not in the MSM (apart from an initial flurry). Now I know you disagree about this but I have been doing some research on poverty and as part of this have monitored MSM over the past 2 years. I cannot see an increase in articles related to poverty and the inadequacy of benefits in the MSM now compared to last year or the year before.

            If Metiria had not stood down (and I understand why she felt she had no choice) then I think she would have been able to make poverty and the inadequacy of benefits an election issue.The reason she was forced to stand down was because of the way the media decided to make the story about whether she was justified in lying to get more money rather than the inadequacy of the benefit system. I think that this was foreseeable.

            I agree with Catriona when she says:
            “Political journalists have serious reflection to do on their takedown of Turei.
            They decided their job was to dig into who Turei flatted with 25 years ago.
            Our country would be a very different – and much better – place if they had instead seen their role as challenging the Minister of Social Development on why benefits are deliberately kept at unliveable levels.”

            Unfortunately the nature of MSM now is that most political journalists are only interested in scandal and gotcha moments because of the nature of the MSM in this country. Even Checkpoint, after playing some heartbreaking interviews from beneficiaries, indulged in “how poor were you” questions in that final interview with Metiria.

            The problem for me is where we are now – no Metiria in parliament and a much reduced number of Green Party MPs. The result is that it is now going to be much harder to get benefit reform.

            I could go into detail about how I think it should have been handled in order to get a better result but there really is no point. I hope the Green Party will be doing this, however.

            Welfare reform is something that is urgently needed and something I will continue to push for whenever I get the opportunity.

            • Karen

              I just what to add that I do think that the ongoing social media stories are incredibly important and may yet be an effective force for change – for example the stories on #wearebeneficiaries. This wouldn’t have happened without Metiria telling her story.

              I am sure Metiria will continue her fight for change outside parliament as will Marama as co-leader (I hope) of the Green Party.

            • weka

              thanks Karen, I want to come back to this, just been tied up with some things.

            • tracey

              Thanks for clarifying this karen. It will be interesting to see whether the coverage of poverty stories during the 2014 campaign period and earlier campaign coverage (and the next one) are on par with post Turei announcement?

  7. Frida 7

    Sorry, I beg to differ with all that commentary but, regardless of the motives, it was a poorly timed and naive move without which the left might have been assuming the Treasury benches sans NZ First.

    I’m not arguing with the fact she did it, the fact she wanted to talk about it, the reasons why she wanted to talk about it. All valid. And all necessary. But the timing…..totally misconceived.

    and yeah, for once in my life, I am agreeing with David Garrett. Where was the apology? Where was the humility?

    • Bill 7.1

      Where’s the fcking apology from the overseers of a system that crushes people? Where’s their humility Frida?

      • tracey 7.1.1

        Or as David Garrett might say

        ” “Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

        George Burns

        • In Vino

          I thought it was Groucho Marx… Must look it up.
          Edit – Yes, Groucho did say it before Burns, but apparently a French guy called Jean Girardoux deserves points for the original quip… in French, dammit!

      • greywarshark 7.1.2

        Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread (when I am a good person and has always tried to be a worker, do the right thing as a citizen)? That’s the theme of the line from the Depression days Yip Harburg song.

        Change it slightly – why should a single mother not be given enough money to train, learn and work towards getting a solid respected job and be a good parent. Just the sort of thing that a good country as NZ seems to still think it is, would do for its young people.

        But Metiria didn’t get what she needed so she put herself out to make the required money and added it to the money that she was already getting so she could complete, and she did. She didn’t rob anyone. She worked harder and made the opportunity by increasing the tenants in her house. Which provided them with housing and her with needed extra money. And the great NZ class knocking machine comes out with its silver hammer and hits her on the head.

        Frida you and all the mean complainers should be apologising to all those young parents who need more than the mean help they get from the authorities. You should be complaining to the authorities who work hard to keep all these people in poverty and many of them in degrading circumstances. Not nit-picking from comfort, or from your own unfortunate circumstances.

        The envy and meanness of people who have gone without and accepted it instead of complaining and insisting the authorities provide better, is the most unsettling thing to arise from this. Being proud of putting up with neglect and disdain, is showing false pride. Being proud of asking for fair and decent help definitely would be justified. Miserably resenting someone who broke through is malicious and quite a few yabbered the poor but honest pitch. NZs broken spirits spoke.

  8. Carolyn_nth 8

    The Green Party is built on activism. After Bradford left, came AAAP, left wing think tanks, and ESRA.

    After Norman came Greenpeace.

    After Turei comes


    And the ongoing stories of the NZ state’s inhumanity – the ones the powerful, the MSM and neoliberal pollies don’t want to hear.

    but still the stories keep circulating; and still AAAP, Marama Davidson and her south Auckland supporters keep on doing the good work.

    After this year’s election we on the left all have work to do! Let’s stop the blame game and get to work for a new direction!

  9. Grey Area 9

    As someone who has always voted left (for more than four decades), I still haven’t totally processed my own feelings about what happened with Metiria’s revelation. But so far I have come back to my initial reaction – it was a dumb move especially as regards the timing and how it was handled.

    There did not seem to have been enough thought about the potential consequences and how to manage and/or pre-empt them. In my opinion it was poor political management and the way it unravelled should have been foreseen and mitigated if it couldn’t be prevented.

    It’s a big call to stand up and be courageous but we also need to show some smarts. And this time we didn’t.

    Yes we are talking more about poverty and that’s a good thing. Yes any chance I got I pointed discussion to the fact that her actions arose because of a welfare system that is deliberately cruel.

    But for the moment my feelings about what happened remain conflicted.

  10. tracey 10

    This will be talked about way more than

    Double Dipton
    Lie about a hole
    Lie about taxes
    Lie about legal advice leading to $11m payout to wealthy businessman

    This isnt about lying or arrogance. We need to have more self awareness about who we are when we go beneath the surface.

    English admitted there was poverty… 7 weeks ago his party steadfastly claimed it didnt exist in NZ. There is no housing crisis.

  11. RedLogix 11

    Such a tough argument; on principle weka is completely correct, Turei’s effort to front-foot poverty in the Green campaign was both admirable and entirely ethical. And I think it’s fair to say that most if not all commentators from the centre leftwards have agreed with this.

    And I sincerely hope that in time the nation may view what subsequently happened to force her resignation a much clearer light.

    But a little humility around the dire political consequences is also in order. Those who argue Turei’s ‘confession’ was poorly thought through and even more badly managed have a fair point. The results speak for themselves.

    • tracey 11.1

      To the membership and her caucus Turei is responsible.

      You see no corrolation between the appointment of Ardern and the Greens final position on Saturday? That means effectively that 10% shifted to Labour from Greens cos Turei wasnt contrite enough? We will have to agree to disagree on that.

      • RedLogix 11.1.1

        Adern’s sudden rise and Turei’s assasination occurred pretty much within the same time period, so it’s hard for either of us to disentangle cause and effect here.

        But I don’t think anyone can argue the loss of two MP’s, their co-Leader and the relentless attack from the media did the Greens any good either. The only good that came from it was to highlight how very fortunate they were to have Shaw to pick up the pieces.

        • tracey

          I have made a post which includes the Green Party results at every election since 1999. This seems to show that when Labour is strong, Greens drop and vice versa.

          I am just not as certain as some that Turei’s “behaviour” alone was enough for people to go “fuck it, I am voting Labour”. I think Ardern’s breath of fresh air and relateability had much more to do with drawing back prior Labour voters.

          Kennedy Graham’s tenure at the Green’s was duing the weaker labour times btw.

          I am sure we can agree to disagree.

      • Grey Area 11.1.2

        As Red Logic says Tracey it hard to differentiate between cause and effect. I think a lot of the support that switched from Labour to the Greens was soft support that had moved across because they didn’t think Labour had much of a chance and they wanted their vote to count somewhere. Along came Jacinda and boom! back they went.

        People I spoke to who wrote the Greens off because they were “benefit fraudsters” were unlikely to vote Green anyway. I believe many who wacked us only wanted an excuse but why did we have to hand them the stick?

  12. CM Traitor 12

    I think it’s important to note that Metiria got 24% of the vote in Te Tai Tonga – better than any other Green candidate. It seems likely that the Greens would have done better if she’d stayed on as co-leader, though I don’t blame her for dropping out in the face of the sort of attack she was subjected to.

  13. Anonymous 13

    I get what she was trying to do, but she should have got ahead of eventual revelations from the get go. Because, her initial story was so sanctimonious it made any uncovered impropriety (real or perceived) that much more damaging. If she’d admitted to and apologized for electoral fraud and etc* from the get go perhaps the story, about welfare reform, could have stayed on track.

    As it was it just looked like /more/ fraud vying for political advantage, to the point that it comes across as vindication of the bene bashers position. “Their biggest advocate is a liar too! See they’re all just lying for there own advantage!”. It’s hard enough to change peoples opinions, might’ve been good to not appear to prove them right…

    *etc because I’m not sure of the depth or provability of any other allegations

    • weka 13.1

      I don’t disagree with that except that she says that she had forgotten about the electoral roll thing and I believe her. Hard to stay ahead of something you don’t remember.

      So yes, I think in hindsight there are things to be learned, but I don’t think they fucked up big time like people are making out.

      The other line being run is that she should have paid it back earlier. No-one says when though, but the implication is once she could afford to. So let’s say a couple of years after law school and getting off a benefit she approaches WINZ and says she lied on her forms and was thus overpaid for a number of years and she’d like to pay it back so could the please calculate what she owes. What do you think WINZ would do at that point? The first thing they will do is reassess her benefit from that time, and that will include looking at what her entitlements were and if she committed fraud. If they decide to prosecute her, then that’s her career finished and she’s back to square one and still has a young daughter to raise as a solo parent.

      She was also criticised for taking assistance from family. This is the one that really gets me and where John Campbell dropped the ball seriously. The narrative at this point is that the real poor don’t have wealthy family. But we also know that many people in poverty without any other assistance do things like steal, deal drugs, do sex work, or go hungry/end up on the streets. Or lie to WINZ. Catch 22. I do think that Turei and the Greens could have been better prepared on this one and had some push back prepared, but in reality once people get to making judgements about beneficiaries based on their own reckons and life experiences, there is probably no way to win.

      If liberal bleeding heart John Campbell thinks it’s ok to frame the debate in terms of real poor people are prostitutes not law students with rich family, then the battle is already lost. I know from my own experience that having a family with wealth who help out when it seems right but who have no real idea about what my life is like that it’s incredibly easy for people to judge from the outside and get it wrong. I also know from being around many other people in similar situations, with and without family. It’s just too hard to get ahead if you don’t have assistance. That’s the whole point and what we’re seeing now is even lefties blaming the Greens for not being good enough, which is pretty much an exact mirror of what happens to beneficiaries all the time.

      • Olwyn 13.1.1

        …we’re seeing now is even lefties blaming the Greens for not being good enough, which is pretty much an exact mirror of what happens to beneficiaries all the time Dead right!

        Entrenched inequality has allowed the middle class to take the role of judge and jury over the poor in general, and beneficiaries in particular. Even those who seem to care often talk as if they are speaking of remote cases rather than their fellow human beings. Beneficiaries are even forced to talk about themselves that way if they hope to get an audience from outside of their own circles.

        Metiria broke the mold, and offered , horror of horrors, to actually stand up for people in this situation, rather than stay within the safety zone of caring-as-brand. There is no right time or place to jump the conceptual tracks like that, and the Greens lacked the infrastructure to cope with the fallout. However, that fallout has knocked a few masks sideways, not least that of the local media. People blather on about what she should have done differently – they should instead ask themselves what we have become as a country. Aren’t we the people who once protested loudly against apartheid?

        • RedLogix

          All that I totally and whole-heartedly agree with. But the lesson is that if you are going to do something this bold you’d better bloody make sure the back-story is watertight.

          Aren’t we the people who once protested loudly against apartheid?

          No not any more. Much of that generation have either left NZ or are now a minority of those who are left.

          • weka

            “But the lesson is that if you are going to do something this bold you’d better bloody make sure the back-story is watertight.”

            That’s macho politics. The politics of Aunties is that it’s ok to not be perfect. And making mistakes is ok too, it’s what you do next that matters. Being able to respond compassionately to people who make mistakes is important, as is not taking shit from people who are trying to harm.

            What you just said is again similar to what beneficiaries have to go through. You say the wrong thing and your benefit gets cut or you have extra hoops to jump through or you get demeaned and judged. It’s the same dynamic. Macho politics, macho welfare.

            “Much of that generation have either left NZ or are now a minority of those who are left.”

            I wouldn’t have thought so. I was mid teens in 1984, so most protestors are older than me now. That’s the boomers and first Gen Xers. Isn’t that a demographic bulge?

            • Grey Area

              I don’t see that whole”macho” thing in what RedLogix is saying Weka.

              To me it’s simple risk management. What could go wrong here, how likely is it to happen and what steps can we take to minimise or eliminate the risks?

              If you’re going to go public with such a potentially risky tactic, do your preparation. The back-story wasn’t sound and we got burnt.

              • weka

                The macho thing is that people think it was the GP’s fault that Turei (and the Greens) didn’t hold up under the onslaught.

                “If you’re going to go public with such a potentially risky tactic, do your preparation. The back-story wasn’t sound and we got burnt.”

                Read Olwyn’s comment again, it’s all there. You are either saying that people have to be infinitely resourceful, or that the Greens shouldn’t have done what they did. I think both those positions are problematic.

                People are human not gods or robots. So the judgement should be on how they handle stress and failure and mistakes, not on those tings happening to them. To my mind the Greens and Turei weren’t perfect but they stepped up, endured, sorted themselves out, carried on, and did so all the while staying true to GP principles around relationship and communication. That’s actually a huge feat. There’s been some analysis of this, esp by and about Shaw, including the resources they drew on to manage.

                Second thing is the Greens did the right thing with the welfare announcement even if it cost the nominal left. If you want to have a go at something, have a go at the centre left who are still willing to throw beneficiaries under a bus because they’re scared of what mainstream NZ will do. What the Greens and Turei did was incredibly courageous. That it didn’t work out perfectly is way less important than that they stood up for the most vulnerable people in NZ at a time when almost no-one else in positions of privilege was willing to lay it on the line like that. They broke the spell. That spell can only be remade if we let it. This is why I am disappointed with lefties who think the important thing here was how the Greens failed rather than what they succeeded at and how we can build on that.

                • Grey Area

                  You are either saying that people have to be infinitely resourceful, or that the Greens shouldn’t have done what they did.

                  No, I’m not. The situation was far more nuanced than that.

                  What makes you think they didn’t do that? Looks to me like they did.

                  And going on how things played out it looks to me like it wasn’t done as well as it could have been.

                  I said earlier I still feel conflicted about these events. I understand how passionately some people feel about what Metiria and the Greens did and I agree totally she was crucified by the media and some sectors of the public. But it is possible to want to see an end to poverty in New Zealand and still have questions about how and why events unfolded as they did.

                  • weka

                    “And going on how things played out it looks to me like it wasn’t done as well as it could have been.”

                    We’re just going round in circles. You think they should have done better, I think it’s ok to not be perfect. Until you can demonstrate that there were significant things that they could have foreseen and acted upon with the resources they had i.e. not stuff seen in hindsight, then I can’t see the validity of the argument.

                    “But it is possible to want to see an end to poverty in New Zealand and still have questions about how and why events unfolded as they did.”

                    Definitely. Shaw has said the Greens will be going through a review process. Lefties could be doing the same thing, but at the moment, what I’m seeing under a post about Turei’s legacy is people wanting to talk about her failures. I don’t see how that’s helpful (it’s not the same thing about considered inquiry about what happened).

                    For instance, Red didn’t reflect in what happened, he stated that the Greens should have been better to the point of not making mistakes (that’s what water tight means). There’s nothing wrong with him believing that but if he’s going to bring it up under a post about the importance of breaking the spell about welfare then I am going to question its relevance.

                    • RedLogix

                      There’s nothing wrong with him believing that but if he’s going to bring it up under a post about the importance of breaking the spell about welfare then I am going to question its relevance.

                      It’s relevant because it was a mistake that may well have set back the entire conversation about poverty by a decade or so. The left consistently makes this same order of mistake over and over; convinced of the moral superiority of our argument we consistently underestimate the people we’re up against.

                      But on reflection that was one of CV’s core argument’s too; and I doubt you’ll hear it any better from me than him.

                    • weka

                      “It’s relevant because it was a mistake that may well have set back the entire conversation about poverty by a decade or so.”

                      I see you asserting that but I don’t see the argument or evidence. We have multiple people talking about how they’re seeing the conversation about welfare has changed and giving examples.

                      “The left consistently makes this same order of mistake over and over; convinced of the moral superiority of our argument we consistently underestimate the people we’re up against.”

                      Again, I’ve put up why I think your argument is wrong. The Greens aren’t right from moral superiority, but from ethics, values and strategy. I’m fairly sure that you don’t understand the strategy yet.

                      I also think it’s highly unlikely that a party that’s been in parliament for 2 decades is unaware of what they’re up against. I simply don’t see any evidence for your assertion on that being true.

                    • RedLogix

                      Well the evidence is plain enough to see. The Greens appear to be missing a co-Leader.

                    • weka

                      So? Turei will leave and go amazing things just like Norman and Hague and others.

                  • tracey

                    Remember when people here were gloating that joyces lie had backfired. It didnt.

                • The Chairman

                  “If you want to have a go at something, have a go at the centre left who are still willing to throw beneficiaries under a bus because they’re scared of what mainstream NZ will do.” 

                  And their fear only reinforces the notion there is something to fear. Standing tall and pushing back is the way to show voters there is nothing to fear from improving the treatment of beneficiaries.

              • weka

                “To me it’s simple risk management. What could go wrong here, how likely is it to happen and what steps can we take to minimise or eliminate the risks?”

                What makes you think they didn’t do that? Looks to me like they did.

                • tracey

                  R L and proved again the issue is more important to them than the individual. The opposite will play out at National.

            • Anonymous

              “it’s what you do next that matters” – and what she did was quit, in order to bury whatever story was brewing.

              To me politicians and beneficiaries are too different to compare – the concept of not wanting those in power to appear to be inept and the concept of compassion for the poor are practically in different universes.

              I kinda like this concept of aunty politics. However, it’s not the political game anyone plays, nor can I recall any politician ever owning their mistakes. Lose the current game, and/or fail to advocate for playing a different game, and all people are going to see is failure.

              • weka

                The Greens do Aunty politics all the time. Shaw admitted the Greens were wrong on immigration, did a whole speech on it during the election campaign. He later apologised about how the Greens had dropped the ball with the fallout from the welfare speech. I’m sure I can think of other examples. This is the fundamental conflict being played out as we speak. The Greens don’t do macho politics and it’s why again and again people get getting it wrong about what the Greens are doing and what they are about.

                The reason why the Greens get away with it is because it’s paired with integrity and placing an extremely high importance on values. Also, the relationships are important, so the Greens don’t trash people and everyone is important. They get respect for that.

                “To me politicians and beneficiaries are too different to compare – the concept of not wanting those in power to appear to be inept and the concept of compassion for the poor are practically in different universes.”

                I’m not comparing politicians and beneficiaries, I’m saying the dynamic of how Turei was treated is remarkably similar to what happens to beneficiaries. It’s wrong.

                • RedLogix

                  Of course it’s all bloody wrong; still doesn’t mean it ever made sense to stick her head into the noose without having a clear Plan B. Initially the response to her story was quite positive; it was only when the holes in it were made public and pressure put onto her family that it all unraveled.

                  Yes this is the dynamic that grinds beneficiaries down, but Turei has years of legal and political experience and all the resources of a significant political party behind her. Not to mention a very real responsibility towards that party.

                  I’ve said this before; we’re up against a machine that has chopped down four Labour leaders and now a Green one. How many more do we want to see assassinated?

                  • weka

                    Actually it makes perfect sense to many of us. When you want to have that conversation let me know. But if you want to go down the path of we should all be tougher at macho politics, then I will be resisting because that’s what was used to smack Turei down. As I’ve commented above, the Greens will have their own review. The Left could too, but what I’m seeing here is just expressions of they need to toughen up. I think there are better paths than that, and that it fails because it doesn’t address what happens when people aren’t tough enough. Now we are back to the beneficiaries.

                    • tracey


                      And we are seeing masculine politics being imposed on the negotiations too. Media public and some politicians alike.

                    • RedLogix

                      And precisely where did I ever suggest the ‘left needed to toughen up’? Can you produce at least three citations to clearly support that contention?

                      You keep projecting onto me this idea that I’m promoting ‘masculine politics’ (which is a sexist smear in it’s own right, one that assumes all masculinity is toxic) … when quite clearly I’ve said nothing of the sort. That’s just the usual sort of conclusion you jump to when you see “RedLogix” … your mind reads the words I write through a fixed lens.

                      In this entire conversation at most I’ve suggested the left could well learn something important from this sad episode with Turei, and we could be a whole lot smarter (NOT tougher) about anticipating our opponents often rather transparent templates.

                      But that would require a little intellectual honesty and humility … and it seems these are masculine traits which I’m not going to find here.

                    • greywarshark

                      I think you might agree with my term or phrase which I think should be the slogan for now and that is ‘pragmatic idealism’.

                      That would have helped Metiria turn her revelations into a powerful positive force for change. She went for the ideal of more consciousness and empathy and fairness and goodwill, all of which are not airy fairy but should be the basis of a caring and vibrant society making its way in the world.

                      The pragmatic part would come as she and her supporters thought through the process and what the opposition tactics would be. If she had confessed at the beginning that she had to get additional income to carry on with her studies, and care for her baby it would have been wise. And she would have explained about the abatement rate, and that the government locks poor people into their poverty by keeping their allowed earnings rate lower than necessity requires.

                      This means that the more you try, the more they reduce the benefit they pay, and meanly they take a $ off for every $ you earn, without allowing for extra costs incurred by going to work, and also they then they also remove the usual PAYE tax from earnings. So they reduce the benefit for each dollar you earn, and then take back part of your earnings, so you are hardly better off.

                      If she had explained this all the attention would have swung to the benefit system as RW tried to prove her wrong. A proper planning meeting of how Metiria’s revelation would be treated, with perhaps some role playing of someone from RW media questioning a person playing Metiria and throwing up the mud they keep in buckets for ‘cheeky Darkies’ and other lesser beings and tactics would have overcome and blunted such attacks.
                      Instead they allowed her to set herself up as a target like a coconut shy at a fair. She behaved with strength and dignity but it was very sad to see.

                    • RedLogix


                      Very well expressed. Your last sentence captures it perfectly; in the end all I could feel was sadness at the whole dismal spectacle.

                      Your middle paras also captures precisely my own experiences about 18 years ago when I first encountered how beneficiaries are captured by the system and then abused by it. The technical term for what you describe is ‘the poverty trap’.

                      Thinking about it one night the idea of combining a fixed universal income with a flat PAYE tax rate to produce a clean and progressive tax system with welfare as an endogenous feature occurred to me. For some time after in my own ignorance I imagined I’d invented the idea; but of course the concept of a Universal Income has been around for at least 150 years or more.

                      But crucially the idea of a UBI combined with a flat (or very slowly progressive) PAYE tax rate … in it’s simplest form … completely eliminates this abusive poverty trap. And that core idea has motivated me for many years.

                      Of course getting from where we are now, to where us ‘pragmatic idealists’ would like to be can’t be done in one fell swoop. Most people are far too change resistant to accept that; so it has to be done in incremental steps. As with all experiments you have to be honest about what worked and what didn’t. Did it meet your expectations, and what were the unintended consequences? And to be prepared to alter the design as you go along.

                      But on this I do agree with weka … the aggressive ‘gotcha’ political rules in play at this time pretty much preclude such a nuanced progressive agenda from ever being carried through.

                    • greywarshark

                      Good to hear your thoughts RedLogix. Many of us have been coming here for ages and discussing and venting and discussing again and referring to links to other people’s discussions. When you’ve been thinking and talking and writing about things for a while and

                      Under our present democracy though the election occurs and people who have never thought their prejudices through thoroughly just go off and choose the easiest option. It may be that we should have a caretaker government all the time, to watch over the country, and ideas for new laws are decided on by set groups who accept new members who have passed a test after studying the particular problem or behaviour that is to be voted on. Then the effects and benefits will be noted properly and the law be passed after a vote of those interested in government.

                      Someone told me me about a forty year old woman saying she was not going to vote this election because she just didn’t think she could add anything useful. Bloody wimp. After all these years of trying to get women to a position where they are shown respect and consideration and fairness. (I see Saudi Arabian women will soon be allowed to drive.)

                      Lazy thoughtless people should have to prove they have a grasp of the situation through passing a serious test. And then interested people will be able to front up to their persecutors face to face as the obssessed will be up for it. Meetings would have to be tightly controlled. But how we can get people to take a responsible interest and vote the charismatic rugby All Black down in favour of useful, dedicated nerdy Josephine Blah – I don’t know.

          • tracey

            And half of us supported the tour remember

        • weka

          Thank-you so much for that Olwyn, that’s one of the most socially intelligent things I’ve seen said on the matter in a while and really helpful for me today. So many good things on one comment.

        • greywarshark

          Thanks Olwyn. I always enjoy reading your thoughts. Please keep dropping in. I like to see the flag or design of gravatar you use.

        • tracey

          Hear hear

  14. greywarshark 14

    It’s Google’s 19th birthday, and those from pregoogle days might not have hears of the Eureka stockade in Australia. But it is relevant to us here and now, government and workers tend to be in dispute, and it takes a wise government to handle these fairly, reasonably, and with a win-win approach.

    Miners were unable to claim the land on which they worked, and so risked being relocated at a moment’s notice. They were also required by law to buy a licence and carry it with them at all times, or face a fine and arrest. The miners felt this was an unfair system and were prepared to fight for change.

    Police invaded the mines to enforce the licensing laws, in late November 1854. The miners refused to cooperate, and burned their licences and stoned police. Several miners were seriously wounded.

  15. The Chairman 15

    To keep the momentum going and to help grow the movement, I hope the Greens and Turei take my free advice and put together a hard hitting commercial (or a range of them) that captures and explicitly illustrates their (beneficiaries) struggle. Ending with a range of high profile New Zealanders saying they stand with Turei – are you with us?

    Encouraging people to apply pressure on the Government (whoever that may be) and their local MPs to get in behind.

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