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Nats attacks legal aid but pays a million to defend itself

Written By: - Date published: 2:37 pm, April 30th, 2011 - 11 comments
Categories: health, law, national/act government - Tags:

“The Ministry of Health has spent more than $1 million fighting court action by families who want to be paid for looking after severely disabled relatives.
New figures show the Ministry has spent $1.2 million so far fighting seven families who the High Court has ruled are being discriminated against because they care for relatives.
The Ministry is preparing to appeal against that ruling.
Peter Humphreys, whose 23-year-old daughter has a neuro-genetic disorder, says it is unbelievable that even more taxpayers’ money will be used in a Supreme Court hearing.
Health Minister Tony Ryall says the case has significant potential implications beyond the health and disability sector, which would cost far more than the legal bill.” (Radio New Zealand News 21 April 2011)

This is disgusting. I know of a father who when he turned 65 finally got a pay rise – it was his pension. For the bulk of his adult life he has looked after his two intellectually disabled kids at home. The only difference from other pensioners is that this man cannot retire. When I was at the Masterton A&P show in February I met a couple in their early 30s. They had three autistic children. They were at the start of this lifetime of underpaid service. This couple are on a benefit. Earlier this year John Key said that being on a benefit “was a lifestyle choice”. This was no lifestyle choice. This couple are just normal parents who love their kids and want to look after them. It is outrageous that Government after Government have allowed people with disabilities and those parents who look after their disabled children to be consigned to a lifetime of poverty and effective slavery.

This Government has embarked on a hard on law and order crusade. State cash is poured into building new and larger prisons, our right to elect trial by jury is being eroded and thanks to Simon Power you can shortly be tried in your absence. Worse as an accused person you can be penalised for not telling the State what your defence is. Criminal legal aid is attacked, and lawyers who defend accused persons are attacked as being “greedy and bloated”. Yet when the Government wants to avoid doing the morally right thing it is okay for them to spend up big with their own legal aid.

We are developing a baked bean conveyor belt justice system where accused people unless they earn less than the minimum wage will not qualify for legal aid. But even if you do, you will not be able to choose your own lawyer. Then we have the new state bureaucracy Public Defence Service – set up to “compete against the independent defence bar.” New figures out show the PDS enters guilty pleas at the earliest opportunity at a far greater rate than clients who choose their own lawyers. It was no wonder that most accused persons didn’t want to choose to use the PDS.

So the answer to this was for the Government to force you to use them by removing your right to choose your lawyer. The hypocritical thing about legal aid is that it is a loan. When you are granted legal aid unless you are destitute, a caveat is placed against your house. If you needed a loan to build that house you chose your builder – the bank didn’t assign you one from the Public Builders Service. Yet now because you need a loan to defend something far more important – your liberty you can’t choose your lawyer.

It is disgusting how the Government is eroding our rights and freedoms and is compelling kiwis to use a PDS that has a track record of pleading you out at the earliest. It is even more disgusting seeing this Government attacking legal aid for citizens yet being happy to spend over $1 million dollars defending themselves from doing what most kiwis believe is morally right.

– Michael Bott

11 comments on “Nats attacks legal aid but pays a million to defend itself ”

  1. Jamaal 1

    Very good post michael, stick it to them.

  2. RobC 2

    Nice post Michael … you should add to the $1 million another six-figure sum that the IHC have been forced to spend by the Govt fighting the other disability care case going through the courts.

  3. M 3

    Michael, wonderful post.

    I have a friend who has two boys who are intellectually diasbled, one with a mental age of two and the other not much older and has done the hard yards for many years alone.

    In 2010 her eldest was put into a full time care facility in a farm like setting which meant her work was halved and many of her so-called friends chastened her for being unmotherly. Had I been privy to any of these conversations at the time I would have ripped into them because this woman should be nominated for sainthood given that she’s had vitually no life let alone respite apart from the paltry amount of respite days assigned by the state, that’s if she could find anyone to provide respite care.

    I really hope she can find somewhere for her youngest because if anyone deserves a break from the unending slavery, as you put it, she surely deserves it in her dotage.

    Fair legal representation in the future, not under NACT. We will need Bob Moodies more than ever.

  4. Aye Michael

    Good post.

    The $1.2 million paid to deny families receiving help would pay for 1,200 applications for protection orders by battered spouses.

    The Legal Aid cuts are across the board and many sectors are going to feel the pain. Whether you face jail or are unable to sort out family issues welcome to the new reality. Where the rich get a tax cut and the rest of us get a headache.

  5. terryg 5

    +1E7 michael.

    this makes me ASHAMED to be a new zealander.

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    Cant say I enjoyed that post as the saying goes the truth hurts and the sad thing is this is being done to NZers and so many still think Key is such a wonderful bloke just one of us I hear some say, like bloody hell he’s one of us.

    • terryg 6.1

      +1E5 Craig, you’re dead right – he ISNT one of US. He is one of THEM – the Oligarchs who privatise profits and socialise losses.

      Oh dear god (and as an atheist, that is perhaps the most offensive thing I can think of saying) the NZ public are probably going to return it (surely he’s a lizard man) and its cabal to power next election, thanks to a combination of ignorance, abject stupidity and believing anything the fucking idiot box says.

      shutup. be happy. the neighbourhood watch officer will be around in the morning to collect urine samples. obey.

      Its times like this when i realise just how much I need my Makiwara (how do you make an angry face emoticon?)

  7. tc 7

    A relentless focus on screwing those with limited means to fight back……it’s becoming a repeatable theme with the clowns.

  8. I realise the poor are… well, poor. And I’m not for one moment suggesting any of the appalling situations highlighted in this post are acceptable. But since the chance of getting them overturned are about 3/5 of FA, I wonder:

    1. Whether enough low income people would consider investing some small amount – $1 or $2 a week, say, into “defence insurance” to make it a product worthwhile for someone to underwrite?

    2. Assuming that worked, how many decent lawyers would accept briefs under such a scheme?

    3. Tangenital to the above, whether there are some benefactor(s) (within NZ or outside it) who’d consider a truly public defender service worthy of ongoing support?

  9. Peter Martin 9

    ‘It is outrageous that Government after Government have allowed people with disabilities and those parents who look after their disabled children to be consigned to a lifetime of poverty and effective slavery.’

    It isn’t the ‘Governments’. It’s you. All of you. Not one of you has ever remonstrated with your MP about this. The disabled are always off the radar. Only when court cases are won ,when the wee guy wins over the big fella…then it’s news.
    I have a disabled child and I can’t even hold the Government accountable to its own laws on schooling a child.
    These are the good years. When he leaves school…he stays at home . And I’ll wager the rules are still being changed…
    And another thing that won’t have changed? Using the disabled as an entree into the main course.

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