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National misleads on child poverty

Written By: - Date published: 7:24 am, March 1st, 2014 - 30 comments
Categories: class war - Tags:

Banksie child poverty.jpg-large

It has taken me a couple of days to absorb the implications of this story.  On Thursday this week Stuff reported that “Treasury and Statistics New Zealand today admitted a major error in its calculations of household disposable income, which overestimated incomes among poorer households.  This meant the number of children living in poverty was underestimated by 20,000, while the level of income inequality was also underestimated.  English confirmed today that he had been told of the mistake before Christmas.”  It seems that the OECD had to point out the mistake to the Government.

Apparently a treasury spreadsheet double counted accommodation supplements paid and gave a false impression of the level of poverty in New Zealand.  This situation started in 2009 which coincidentally was the first year of this National Government.  Of course nothing should be read into this.

The number of children officially in poverty increased from 260,000 to 280,000 and this is said to be only a modest increase.  There are also more adults living in poverty than previously thought including 32,500 senior citizens but there is apparently nothing to worry about.

Get that?  20,000 more children and 32,500 more elderly living in poverty in Aotearoa is nothing to worry about?

English is reported as saying that everything is ok because no one has missed out on support or benefits and the errors would not have changed policy advice.  Poverty being worse than previously thought is obviously not going to persuade National to do anything about it.  English could have added that the mistake will not stop the Government’s building of Roads of National Significance or its approach to climate change, such is the relevance of the mistake to the granting of benefits.

But English knew about this problem in December 2013.  Why did it take him so long to admit it?

No doubt Labour’s research unit will be peering over National’s comments on poverty made since December 2013.  Formerly proud to be a westie Paula Bennett has made a few and given what we now know there is something not quite right about them.

For instance on February 12, 2014 she was asked these questions:

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister see, then, any connection between the Salvation Army’s D ranking of her failure over child poverty with her express refusal to engage with the Children’s Commissioner’s child poverty monitor project?

Rt Hon John Key: You mean D as in Dotcom?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I have heard it said that it might be D for Dotcom, but what I would say is that the Ministry of Social Development household income report comes out. It does an accurate analysis of a number of measures. We report it transparently and publicly. It is certainly what we, on this side of the House, take notice of. As I say, it is very transparent. The member can get a copy of it any time. It is that advice that I take.

The latest MSD household income report was coincidentally released at the same time that English made his concession about the mistake.  And the two events seem to be related because at that time MSD released this document detailing the effect that the mistake had made and the corrections it had made to previous reports.

But you have to wonder at the transparency of Bennett’s statement and given that the mistakes were known although MSD may have given an accurate analysis of a number of measures it was not accurate as to all of the measures it reported on.  Specifically the reports on poverty.

And National call David Cunliffe tricky …

This next question may get Bennett into trouble.

Metiria Turei: Thank you, Mr Speaker. How, then, does the Minister explain that for all her rhetoric, chest-thumping, and political bluster, the reality remains that one in every five children in this country remains living in poverty after 5 long years of her Government?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: What we have seen by every measure is that it has flat-lined. …

This cannot be correct.  Unemployment is up and the 2009 tax changes made things worse for the poor.  And she must have known about the problems with the statistics by this time.  It is inconceivable that she did not.

What I would like to see is a TV3 headline proclaiming that National has been dishonest on child poverty.  The evidence looks pretty good, botched statistics known at the highest levels and a two month hiatus before acknowledging this.  And a Minister refusing to accept that child poverty has worsened under National’s reign.

30 comments on “National misleads on child poverty ”

  1. just saying 1

    Misled the House

    • karol 1.1

      And takes it so seriously that Bennett and Key make that silly Dotcom (non-) joke about it.

    • RedLogix 1.2

      No – the point being that if Key’s response was adlibed it tells us something about how close to the top of his mind that that particular German is.

  2. dave 2

    Bennett has to resign she is not fit to be a minister child poverty is no joke and lieing and doing a sgt schiltz “I see nothing “is not good enough shes got to go along with her government .

  3. David H 3

    And the rabid Nat supporters and party members will just shrug their shoulders and say “so what”

    But hopefully this is their ‘Oh Shit’ moment.

  4. floyd 4

    They’re such a cute couple. They must have practised that asinine reference to dotcom while having a ‘catch up’ as pb girlishly once put it.

  5. Sabine Ford 5

    the parents don’t earn a living, so the children are poor.
    That National has been milking the numbers is not shocking nor surprising.
    Anyone who spends a bit of time with actual working bees will know that money is in short supply, and that once all bills are paid, the question is to what to do with the last 5 pennys? Food or shoes?

    What is shocking, is the insistence of peeps to be shocked and surprised.

  6. Great post MS

    ‘mislead’ is such a nice term for what these politicians have done with this. Child poverty and the plight of those who find themselves at the bottom of our society are a disgrace and the measure of how deep that cuts into the head are the efforts used by the gnats to ignore, dismiss, pretend and mislead around the subject. The more they shout that there is no issue, no problem, nothing to see here – the more we know that this is a real, huge and debilitating life that many are living and for a lot of us we know anyway, we see it and experience it every day in the communities we live in. But just like there are no toilets on planet key there are no communities either.

  7. Craig Glen Eden 7

    Its just shocking what these crooks are getting away with aided by the media, people like Patrick Gower this is seriously disgusting. I use to think they ( the media ) were biased but now its so bad I honestly wonder just how big the back handers are. Thanks for your post Mickey.

    • Paul 7.1

      Folk like Gower would sell their soul just to advance themselves.
      They exist because 30 years of neoliberal ideology has seeped into their mind.
      “There is no society, just me.”
      I only have contempt for people like him.

      • Hami Shearlie 7.1.1

        Gower, with a face only suitable for radio, and with his every waking thought only of himself and his own personal advancement! Sounds like the entire National Party and the ABC brigade too!!

  8. captain hook 8

    Tell me another one. National misleads on EVERYTHING.
    They cant lie straight in bed.

  9. kenny 9

    So why should anyone, anytime, believe a word or forecast coming from Treasury? Have they EVER (since 2009) got anything right?

    Same goes for economists in general – why do we listen to them?

    The polls? Mostly biased and inaccurate even taking into account the margin’s of error. We should adopt the european rules on polls – no polls allowed for the 3 weeks preceding election date.

    • flip 9.1

      “We should adopt the european rules on polls – no polls allowed for the 3 weeks preceding election date.”

      +number of polls taken this year

  10. newsense 10

    my favourite- NZ’s answer to waiting for Godot:

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: I believe that we are making progress in a number of areas, and that would depend on which measure one used.

    Jacinda Ardern: What measure is the Government using for child poverty?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: What this Government is doing is working along on a number of complex issues that we think will fundamentally make a difference. The Labour Party may be caught up in measures; we are caught up in results.

    Jacinda Ardern: Mr Speaker, if I could just ask for your assistance. In one question the Minister said “It depends which measure”. I asked which measure then, and then she said there is a whole range—

    Mr SPEAKER: Again the problem I have got is, because of the noise from your own colleagues, I could not even hear the answer. The only way forward is for the member to ask the question again, but on this occasion I want to have the chance to hear the answer. If I do not hear it satisfactorily, that will be the end of the matter—if the interjections from this side of the House do not allow me to hear the answer.

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: Speaking to that point of order, Mr Speaker—

    Mr SPEAKER: It is not a point of order.

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: Well, the member did have a point of order.

    Mr SPEAKER: You can raise a point of order.

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. For the second time that member’s party has not allowed me to actually answer so that members could hear it, so you have had to ask me to repeat it. If they wish to hear the answer, then that is exactly what they should do.

    Mr SPEAKER: I have made that point perfectly—

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: So should that happen—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have made that point perfectly clear to them.

    Jacinda Ardern: What measure is her Government using for child poverty?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: There is not a Government measure for poverty.

    Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just ask for your assistance. If the Minister has said earlier in an answer “It depends what measure you’re using.”, and then says “We don’t have one”—

    Mr SPEAKER: No. You are now—[Interruption] Order! Order! We are now at a stage when you are litigating the quality of the answer through a point of order. The Minister answered your question quite adequately and, I would have thought, to the satisfaction of the member.

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/business/qoa/50HansQ_20130411_00000010/10-child-poverty%E2%80%94measurement-and-government-initiatives

    • Craig Glen Eden 10.1

      Thanks for that newsense, yeah sadly the example you have given is played out on a regular basis in Parliament, this lot are not only protected by the political reporters but also a speaker who is totally incompetent. Its pretty shocking when not only the Government Mps dont give a shit about the Nations children, but their indifference is not even bought to light by the media. Im looking forward to seeing Paddy Gower at a public meeting I will have a few questions for him.

    • xtasy 10.2

      Yep, and how does dear “Paula” and her subordinates then “measure” any “results” one must ask? If you have no measured statistics or anything reliable, about poverty or anything else, how can “results” be measured then, and even considered as being (supposedly expected, positive) results?

      Paula Bennett opened a can of worms with her answers to Jacinda Ardern’s questions, but as the MSM do not bother reporting much on what goes on in Question Time, and as the wider public hardly ever follow Question Time, she gets away with everything, possibly even “murder”, I suppose.

      And because the MSM let the government get away with “murder” or at least lies, the voters will not get the information they deserve and need, to make competent, fair and reasonable decisions about which party or candidate they vote for.

  11. newsense 11

    VLADIMIR:

    Well? Shall we go?

    ESTRAGON:

    Yes, let’s go.

    They do not move.

  12. emergency mike 12

    Don’t worry Paddy Gower gets real upset if there’s a hint that that politicians have been misleading, or as it seems here, lying.

    And we are not talking about a particular group of people who will miss out on $60 a week because they already get paid parental leave. This is 20,000 kids and 32,500 elderly in poverty that NAct has swept under the carpet purely to aid their own political scorecard.

    Paddy’s gonna be on a rabid campaign of righteous justice over this one – calling out, shaming, accusing. It’s all on.

    Any minute now…

  13. Philj 13

    Xox.
    English and Makhlouf, in response to the statistical ‘errors’, both responded by saying that accurate statistics would not have affected government or Treasury advice to government. Beggars belief. These folks must go. Asap.

  14. xtasy 14

    This is just one incident, where this happens, and New Zealand is anything but an “uncorrupted” country, as we are made to believe. There are local agencies and organisations that feed information that they want international organisations and bodies to spread, and they have a clear bias, as it seems.

    One needs to look more closely at what is behind the claims that NZ is one of the least corrupt countries, which it is NOT!

    Digest this perhaps:

    “Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) has released the first wave of its emergent findings in its independent review of New Zealand’s National Integrity Systems with a public forum at Victoria University, Wellington according to Voxy .

    The article was picked up by Kiwis First where it is pointed out that “The New Zealand government has less of a problem getting TINZ’s ear than the public” this article is worth a read and the web site is worth repeated visits

    Our research has revealed the reason behind this could be their connections with government which are listed in their latest news letter .

    It is interesting that the very parties who are Paying Susan Snively’s wages are the very parties whose integrity she is reporting on . Also amongst the members are the very organsiations which we seek accountability from .

    Our question is can you be part of a watchdog organization if you are the dog being watched ? IS this not a conflict of interest ? even bribery in another form ? If I am paying for a study , if I am funding it does that not sway the study to be favourable to me so that I can fund the next study? so TINZ in my opinion is using corrupt practices to show that New Zealand is NOT corrupt.”

    You find the report on this here:

    http://www.transparency.net.nz/2013/05/

    And as we come to mention also (in context of the information discussed under this post) Paula Bennett, does anybody seriously believe they (MSD and WINZ) are genuinely wanting to “support”, “help” and “assist” sick and disabled on benefits into work, when it rather looks like more and more pressure being put on those persons affected, to do all the “bloody well get off the benefit”, no matter what.

    They do not even care about the poorest of the poor, the sick and disabled going to City Missions, like also to the “medical centre” at Auckland City Mission, which has adopted one Dr David Bratt’s ideology, which he adopted full heartedly from one Professor Mansel Aylward, paid by a convicted, corrupt health and disability insurer called UNUM, to prepare “research” that appears “serious”, to deliver a justification to send sick and disabled off to work:

    http://www.aucklandcitymission.org.nz/uploads/file/Calder%20Centre/Sickness%20Benefit%20explanation.pdf

    http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/09/professor-mansel-aylward-my-what-a-very-tangled/

    http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/05/31/a-tale-of-two-models-disabled-people-vs-unum-atos-government-and-disability-charities-by-debbie-jolly-dpac/

    http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/06/10/final-report-from-the-british-welfare-state-to-another-american-state-by-mo-stewart/

    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-controversial-bio-psycho-social-model/

    Bratt likens the “benefit” to a DRUG, that people get ADDICTED to!

    http://www.gpcme.co.nz/pdf/GP%20CME/Friday/C1%201515%20Bratt-Hawker.pdf

    But Paula Bennett and this government tell us it is all about “evidence based research”, what they are doing to sick and disabled on benefits. Shame on these “bastards”, excuse my language.

    It is LIE after LIE they tell us, and sadly stupid or biased MSM reporters and “media personalities” suck it up as “real” and “proved”, coming from “authorities” like ministers and government departments, and then repeat it like trained, dumb parrots.

  15. Stuart Munro 15

    This is an unequivocal lie. Misleading parliament is not a joke, and is not to be tolerated.

    The entire opposition should boycott and picket the house until the lying ministers resign.

  16. Stuart Munro 16

    Oh, and Treasury should receive an official reprimand and lose all bonuses for this year.

  17. Whatever next 17

    Show us the facts National

  18. xtasy 18

    The MAIN problem with all this, and much else, is the fact, that most New Zealanders are either “complacent” or “battlers”, the latter putting up with too much shit. That is why in New Zealand we will NEVER have anything close to a “revolution”. That is what Key and Nats know, they rely on the brain washing MSM, and it is all in “safe hands’ from their views.

    New Zealanders in too large numbers (and totally divided) are their own worst enemies, when it comes to bring about change and move the country ahead, I fear.

    • well I never 18.1

      +100 xtasy

    • well I never 18.2

      ……..and if a quarter of those that didn’t vote in the last election had got to the polling station, I suspect we would still have our assets, and a decent education system etc. or maybe they too would have fallen for the Mr. ” I am just an ordinary, down to earth bloke” Key (yeah right) line too.

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