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Ministerial review: poverty

Written By: - Date published: 6:22 am, January 6th, 2011 - 26 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, employment, health, poverty - Tags:

When was the last time that John Key mentioned the ‘underclass’? In his Statement to Parliament at the start of last year – after Eddie called him out on never talking about the underclass – but he didn’t actually read that part of the statement. So, what has Key actually done for the underclass that he purported to care for so much? Nothing. He’s let poverty worsen.

By the numbers:

Inequality –
GINI coefficient (0 = perfectly equal distribution of wealth, 100 = perfectly inequal), 2007 = 37
GINI coefficient, 2009 = 38

Households reporting income “not enough” to meet everyday needs, 2008: 213,700
Households reporting income “not enough” to meet everyday needs, 2010: 295,200

Employment –
Jobless workers, Sept quarter 2008: 179,100
Jobless workers, Sept quarter 2010: 243,500

Child poverty
Number of children in benefit-dependent households, April 2008: 211,609
Number of children in benefit-dependent households, April 2010: 243,884

Percentage of children living in households below the poverty line, 2007: 22%
Percentage of children living in households below the poverty line, 2009: 25%

Diseases of poverty
2000 more child hospital admissions due to diseases of poverty than in 2007/08


If there’s one group of New Zealanders that John Key and his band of elitists has betrayed more than any other, it is the poor. He tricked many of them into voting for him with his ‘aspirational’ personal story and promises to save the underclass. But when he got into power, with the help of another person whose life was turned around by State support – Paula Bennett, he began cutting those same supports that helped him escape destitution.

Yes, we’ve had a recession but that’s no excuse. This remains an incredibly wealthy country. With the money that Key has lavished on the wealthy elite in tax cuts, he could have pulled hundreds of thousands of Kiwi kids out of poverty. Rather than that money being frittered away on overpriced bachs and overseas holidays, it could have been an investment in the lives of these young Kiwis that would have been repaid many times over int he decades to come.

But this is a National government, doing what a National government does – governing for the rich, screwing the poor.

26 comments on “Ministerial review: poverty ”

  1. crashcart 1

    Some damning stats that say every thing that needs to be said about this government. Why can’t the masses see this? Why is the goverment still riding so damn high?????

    One quater of kiwi kids growin up in poverty is a disgrace. It wasn’t good before but it just keeps getting worse.

    • higherstandard 1.1

      What do the stats actually mean ?

      I expect many people look at statements like

      “Percentage of children living in households below the poverty line, 2009: 25%”

      Call bullshit and turn off.

      Better to look beyond the headline and get more information.

      “Data Source and Methods
      1. Proportion of children with equivalised disposable household income < 50% or <60% current median
      2. Proportion of children with equivalised disposable household income < 50% or <60% 2007 median (adjusted for movements in consumer prices)
      Data Source
      Statistics New Zealand Household Economic Survey (NZHES n=2,800-3,500 households per survey)
      Relative poverty measures set a poverty benchmark that rises and falls with changes in national median incomes (i.e. poverty is defined in relation to the incomes of others in society). Constant-value poverty measures select a median at a set point in time (e.g. 2007) and then adjust forward and back in time for changes in consumer prices (i.e. they seek to maintain a constant buying power for the poverty benchmark over time). Most income poverty measures use equivalised disposable household income (i.e. after tax household income adjusted for family size and composition). Both measures can be calculated before or after taking housing costs into account. "

      The proportion of children living in hardship (ELSI Levels 1-2) had fallen from 26% to 19% between 2004 and 2008. Most of these gains were for low to middle income working families, with hardship rates for sole parent beneficiary families remaining steady at around 55%

      Hardship rates for sole parent families were around 4 times those for two parent families (39% vs. 11%)

      Beneficiary families with dependent children had hardship rates around 5 times those of working families with children (50% vs. 11%), but as there were many times more working families than beneficiary families, half of children in hardship were from working families and half from beneficiary families

      Sole parent families in work (20%) had hardship rates well below sole parent beneficiary families (54%)

      Although hardship rates for children had fallen, children remained significantly over represented in the hardship group. "

      • Bright Red 1.1.1

        sorry, HS, what’s the problem?

        I can see the data being referenced – % of children living in households with less than 60% of the contemporary median income – page 24

        are you claiming that child poverty hasn’t risen under Key?

      • crashcart 1.1.2

        How does this change the fact that things have gotten worse? Children will always be over represented in the hardship group simply because families that have more children have less ability to earn as much in most cases (i.e one parent usually has to stay home). I know the counter argument to that is that they chose to have more children so should bear the burden. However this government come to power on promises of improving living standards for all New Zealanders. The figures you yourself listed showed that during the previous governments term in over all statistics less children were suffering to poverty and it improved during their term. However during this governments short tenure (yes we all know there was a recession) they haven’t even managed to maintain the levels of when they took over. they have worsened them.

        I was a long time die hard right wing voter. This government has convinced me that I was a fool.

    • Lanthanide 1.2

      I think a lot of people who might see these bad things just shrug their shoulder and blame ‘the recession’.

  2. just saying 2

    It’s rude not to include a link so I’ve done it for you.
    To quote Stats NZ:

    “HES has a relatively small sample size (4,700 households), and although survey results are
    adjusted for various demographic variables (age, sex, and region), there can be differences in
    survey estimates from one survey collection period to the next. These differences arise because
    a different group of households is selected for each survey.

    In a rush so won’t comment further except to say that the Labour Party continues the ultimate betrayal the poor. National has never pretended to represent them. This shit is what NACT represents.

    The Labour Party barely mentions the poor. Hardship is usually mentioned in relation to the “struggling” middle class. Labour’s big welfare and education spending
    increases largely advantaged the middle class and were designed to. Labour’s antidote for the depression amounts to nothing more than ‘austerity-a-little-liter’ and like National it expects the poor to keep on being invisible as they take the bash and the blame.

    edit – this was meant to reply to ‘HigherStandard’ at 1.1

    [lprent: The link was sprawling over the page so I fixed it. Got to try out a plugin that is meant to fix that problem.. ]

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Get the lower quartile of income earners to consistently turn out in elections and you will see all political parties start to pay a lot more attention.

      Make the politicians do what they should be doing.

      BTW Annette focussed a large portion of her Conference 2010 speech on policy development on children and child poverty.

      • just saying 2.1.1

        If a party of the left is formed I’ll be out there doing my bit come the election caampaign CV.

        But don’t you find it disgraceful that Labour ever abandoned the poorest, sickest, and most vulnerable in the first place, and that it continues to do so with apparent impunity because this group is less likely to vote? And why would that be anyway? Interesting that you mention King’s speech about child poverty seeing as children can’t vote. Does this also give Labour licence to sell their interests down the river in the interests of the powerful and the rich? Maybe we could ‘kill two birds’ and put DPB children out to work.

        The speech itself has been debated before. We’ll have to agree to disagree. I thought it was a just a bunch of empty slogans.

        I’m doing my best to “MAKE politicians do what they should be doing” but I’m just one voice. I suspect you are too – from the ‘inside’.

        • McFlock

          “If a party of the left is formed I’ll be out there doing my bit come the election caampaign CV.”


  3. Lanthanide 3

    I have nothing specific to say about this particular post, but this series of Ministerial Reviews is excellent. Short, to the point with the bad numbers up front and some analysis after.

    I think it might be nice to have links to each of the previous reviews at the bottom of each new post, sort of building up a corpus of failure so that new visitors to the site or people who don’t visit every day during the holidays, or more importantly the media with short attention spans, can see direct links to the other subjects. As each one is pretty short and to the point, this could encourage more clickthroughs and readership.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    All while the youth jobless rate soars.


    And thanks for making it harder to get into training, at the same time, Bill and John.

  5. Deadly_NZ 5

    And reading their priorities in 2010 it’s like reading the Natcts wish list…


    what a pity that as a document it’s just a pipe dream. Or maybe this is the Public version

    the private version probably reads and they probably sing the Nactional anthem

    Fuck em’ all
    Fuck em’ all
    the long and the short and the tall
    Fuck em ‘ Alllllllllll

    and refrain

  6. Jones 6

    It irritates me that these sort of numbers don’t get more coverage in the media. Shouldn’t the key thing that people look for when they’re casing their vote be who is going to make the most people better off?

  7. marsman 7

    Yesterday’s Dom-Post had an item to launch Paula Bennet’s beneficiary bashing bullshit for the new year. Re a certain group of beneficiaries ” Let’s help every single one of those individuals get a job ” What jobs? What a moron! What a malevolent moron!

    • Exactly. While not excusing Key’s disconnect from and lack of concern for those on benefits, in state houses etc it does seem to me to be just that: total disconnect and lack of concern, possibly caused – or at least exacerbated – by his “success” (if one equates success with money) since.

      Whereas Bennett is a different creature. This isn’t Key’s blithe “couldn’t care less” attitude, it is, as you say, a haughty malevolence which often bubbles to the surface, especially when a mere beneficiary dare question her.

      I’m reminded of the preacher damning the sodomites while consorting with the gay escort… so disgusted by what they see in themselves they feel they must vehemently condemn it so as to distance themselves from it.

      Someone needs to tell her there was no shame in accepting a benefit when she needed it, and no shame in others doing so now.

  8. tc 8

    The only behavior you can expect from the MSM is more of the same….assisting the gov’t by not putting a spotlight up to it (remember that journalism stuff) and more of that “Phil won’t make the PM’s office” mantra they’ve already begun 2011 and any other lines CT err I mean NACT lines they’re given to run with.

    Meanwhile NZ effectively burns…..75% of my kids call Oz home now, it was 25% before the clown took office. Remember those dog whilsting billboards of 2008 and how nobody in the MSM has called the dealer and his trading room to account on any single broken pledge…..repeal FSA/EFA/S59/bridge the gap/stop kiwis leaving/no gst rise etc etc.

    Wonder how many in NACT will put themselves in front of Beatson this year or the featherweights of Holmes/Sainsbury/Espiner/Campbell/Garner etc etc who like it or not have to play nice or the smiley wavey man doesn’t come out to play.

  9. BLiP 9

    For King John the Clueless of Charmalot the underclass were so beloved that he begat a host more and sayeth unto them “go forth and multiply”

  10. M 10

    ‘the featherweights of Holmes/Sainsbury/Espiner/Campbell/Garner etc etc who like it or not have to play nice or the smiley wavey man doesn’t come out to play.’

    I wish they would ignore S&W – if these people had one ounce of moral fibre they’d totally blank Key and the lack of TV coverage would finish him off. Sometimes I wish there wasn’t TV because he’d have to sound like someone who had a brain when being interviewed on the radio and put forward well-reasoned, as opposed to, populist arguments for his (government’s)decisions and wouldn’t be able to smile his way out of a corner.

    At fault though is the whole aspirational wealth syndrome. Most of the miscreants in the upper echelons have got there by stealth making their money out of fleecing workers and companies with their outrageous salaries. Added to this mix you get the John Keys of this world wanting to make something out of nothing and then being hailed as financial Messiahs. Most people, even if not the sharpest knives in the drawer know this is inherently wrong but they want their taste of sugar so keep shtum so they can board the gravy train as well.

    From what I’ve gleaned on this blog most here want a decent minimum standard of living for people that disappeared decades ago with a vastly smaller disparity in incomes and fairer taxation given that the wealthier consume more and generally are doing more to harm the planet with their capricious desires.

    I’m regarded as being outré by others because I don’t aspire to having a rental, big flash car and don’t judge people by the type of job they have and the accoutrements that may go with it. Visiting this site imparts a little hope and makes me realise that some halfway decent people still reside in this country.

  11. Drakula 11

    Well the statistics are disturbing, higher child poverty and the unemployment rate on 20% the highest since the 1987 debacle.

    And John Key is currently on holiday in Hawaii no less and if he loses the next election he says he will quite politics; he also throws a few bones for the workers like ‘if we can help employers increase increase production (by tax cuts) they will be able to pay workers more money’.

    If I believed everything that Key says I would be in the same parrty holding hands!!!!

    But we all know how honest he is don’t we!!!

  12. Drakula 12

    While Key is enjoying his holiday in Hawaii we could discuss ways and means of getting rid of his government.

    So what are the alternatives?

    Well there is Labour, I am afraid to say that they are no longer a left party their main support base is small, medium, corporate class, professional class and a minority of unionist employees.

    Then there is the Green Party, the Alliance, Socialist Aotearoa and the Workers Party.Plus a few others I can’t think of at the moment.

    The Greens are going a bit to the right and Sue Bradford had to leave because I think that the Greens wanted to persue more environmental issues; and I can understand that.

    However Sue seems to have teamed up with Matt McCarten of UNITE fame and they are thinking of forming another party or at least the idea has been put to them.

    Personally I don’t think that’s a very good idea because that would further fragment the left and the NAT/ACT would take advantage of that.

    I think that the best thing that Sue and Matt can do is invite the Greens, Allience, Socialist Aotearoa and the Workers Party around for a beer, hold out the olive branch and bang a few heads together.

    The way things are now the left has ‘nothing to lose and the whole world to gain!’ Marx.

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