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No excuse for WINZ’s mistreatment of people in need

Written By: - Date published: 5:00 pm, March 14th, 2014 - 182 comments
Categories: benefits, blogs, quality of life, welfare - Tags:

Yesterday one woman’s story blew the lid on our government’s treatment of beneficiaries. Sarah Wilson’s post on her ongoing struggles just to get Work and Income to do their job properly and give her the support she needs went viral, and as the comments flooded in, more stories emerged.

Stories about how humiliating it is to be sitting in a WINZ office when they ring the bell and applaud people who find jobs – even if they’re in a meeting with you at the time, and you’re in tears. Stories about literally having to record yourself delivering paperwork to prove you got it in on time, because it’s been lost, again, and your support has been stopped. Stories about puking on the floor because the next available home visit was four weeks away – so it was drag yourself in to the office, or starve.

It’s shocking, and yet unsurprising. We all know the stories of WINZ stuff-ups, the labyrinthine bureaucracy beneficiaries have to navigate to prove they’re worthy. But when the stories achieve a critical mass like this, it tells us unequivocally that there’s a bigger issue.

The best-case scenario is that Work and Income is staffed by people who are trying their darnedest to help but just have a massive blind spot when it comes to the realities of life for their ‘clients’ (and are really, really absent-minded with paperwork). The worst-case scenario is that every single one of them is on a satanic mission to make life hell for people like Sarah.

Obviously, the reality’s going to be somewhere in the middle. Some individuals are doing their best to help. Some individuals are doing their darnedest to get people off benefits, any way they can, because the numbers are how this government ‘proves’ that its reforms are ‘working’.

The big lesson to take away from this, though, is that stories like Sarah’s aren’t accidental.

There doesn’t have to be a big scary anti-beneficiary conspiracy to explain the mistreatment doled out to vulnerable people. There just has to be an attitude of ‘beneficiaries aren’t worth helping’. From that comes everything: a lack of basic processes (people have to record themselves handing over their paperwork!) a lack of basic empathy (ringing bells!) a lack of doing serious, constructive things which would actually help people like Sarah get back into work.

But if you want a conspiracy, think about this: one of the first changes this government made to social welfare in 2009 was to cut the Training Incentive Allowance. It made so little sense: why remove a benefit which helps parents upskill themselves to find better jobs to support their families?

Could it be the numbers? Could it be that when you help a solo mum through a nursing degree, you’re ‘letting’ her stay on a benefit for three more years – but if you make her life unbearable, until even an insecure, no-benefits job in a café, juggling childcare and hoping the power company’s kind, seems like a better alternative, you can get her off the benefit now?

In her post, Sarah says

I’m so tired of this. I almost want to force myself to go back to work because trying to stay on a benefit is more stressful than working fulltime with a debilitating chronic illness.

I have to ask: is that their point?

Sarah has now written a follow-up post.

Related reading: Frank Mcskasy has previously covered the epic piles of paperwork WINZ requires ‘jobseekers’ to fill out.

182 comments on “No excuse for WINZ’s mistreatment of people in need”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    The big lesson to take away from this, though, is that stories like Sarah’s aren’t accidental.

    No.

    The biggest lesson to take away from this is that human rights abuses must be made criminal offences for which “I was just obeying National Party orders” is no defence.

    Recent evidence from the ACC makes it plain that the National Party will attack human rights whenever they are enabled. So the judiciary must be called into play.

    The National Party cannot be trusted to respect human rights. The BoRA must be entrenched and their behaviour criminalised.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      How can this be achieved?

      The National Party has recently increased the state’s surveillance powers. Task the GCSB with destroying them, since they are a threat to our economy.

    • Stephanie Rodgers 1.2

      I think that’s a bit of a long bow to draw.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1

        What, the ACC’s evidence of the National Party’s systematic erosion of civil liberties?

        • Stephanie Rodgers 1.2.1.1

          That the answer to ‘WINZ is hostile and badly run’ is widespread change to our human rights legislation. It sounds like a great idea in principle – let’s make it illegal to be bureaucratically abusive to people – but how on earth does that work in practice?

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1.1.1

            I hardly think the repeal of section four of the BoRA qualifies as a “widespread change”.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1.1.2

            I hardly think the repeal of section four of the BoRA qualifies as a “widespread change”.

            • Stephanie Rodgers 1.2.1.1.2.1

              That’s not what I was saying, OAB. It’s not about just repealing one section of the BORA. You’d then have to establish that ‘mucking up someone’s paperwork’ or ‘running an inefficient/broken online appointment system’ constitutes a breach of human rights. You’d need precedents in law. And, based on your other comments, you’d need a way to hold Cabinet Ministers personally responsible for bureaucratic decisions.

              I agree that our human rights laws need strengthening, but I simply do not see that it’s a cure-all for the problems which are being highlighted, and I do think pinning all our hopes on a fundamental shift in our legal system’s approach to human rights is an effective way of dealing with those problems.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Courts and commissions of inquiry deal with complex paper trails on a regular basis.

                Human rights legislation exists to protect individuals from governments. If the National Party suffers no consequences for this systematic abuse they’ll just keep doing it.

                • Stephanie Rodgers

                  And in the meantime, people are actually starving because they can’t get a basic level of support. Like I’ve said, I support the idea of strengthening our human rights law, but I think there are other things we can do too, and that’s why I object to you saying that your personal preference is the real ‘big lesson’ to take away from this conversation.

                  And I think the idea that there’ll be any kind of clear, concrete paper trail which establishes absolutely that the failures of WINZ are part of a dark conspiracy to dehumanize beneficiaries is a bit silly.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Well sure, but they don’t have to, do they: all they have to show is who authorised a specific act of abuse.

                    I didn’t say that defending New Zealand against the National Party is the only action the Left can take, but it has to be part of the solution, because the alternative is that they get away with it and their victims get no justice.

                    • Stephanie Rodgers

                      I think this is a little pointless. You’re ignoring the difficulties involved in identifying exactly what constitutes ‘an act of abuse’, much less whether such things are ever specifically ‘authorised’. And you didn’t say it’s ‘part of the solution’, you said:

                      ‘No.

                      The biggest lesson to take away from this is that human rights abuses must be made criminal offences’

                      An assertion which I reject. I’m sure you’d be welcome to submit a guest post on your preferred solution, but I don’t want it further derailing the rest of the conversation.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Ok, but I don’t think our positions are that far apart. If Sarah’s position isn’t accidental, surely that implies it’s deliberate. Deliberate bullying, victimisation, call it what you will, it’s abuse. It’s hard to prove? Well so is serious fraud, but we still have an SFO.

                    • McFlock

                      But the thing is that no one person would have designed the system or made an entitlement decision.

                      Different case managers at different appointents is sensible from a resources point of view – but if paperwork isn’t there, the new CM (who is constantly vigilant for fraud) has a tendency to assume that the client never supplied it.

                      Nobody says “ahahahaha I shall run this person through the wringer to the point they jump off the wharf”. Even the nactoids couch it in terms of “tough love” and “genuine need”. There’s no act of abuse – there’s a system that incrementally developes an abusive outcome.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Well, I am a bit wary to continue this thread after Stephanie’s warning, but that’s why I referenced the recent ACC report. Evidence is available, and surely in a government department the lack of a paper trail is suspicious in itself.

                      I have no doubt that Ministerial climate has a profound effect on departmental behaviour, but that’s the point.

                    • just saying

                      Stephanie,

                      At risk of censure, I believe OAB is right.
                      It may be hard to prove, but the fact is a bunch of middle-class ACC recipients have been able to prove deliberate abuse at ACC because they had money, education and other cultural capital, expert legal help, and a fair bit of time.

                      What is now happening to mainly working class beneficiaries (including many ACC recipients without the above who were illegally booted off) is modelled on many of the processes that were used and proven to be abusive at ACC. There are a number of financial settlements to prove it.

                      It’s no coincidence that it is middle-class WINZ beneficiaries that are getting the message out now, and good on them. But I don’t believe these same sorts of actions now being used intensively on working class WINZ clients are any less deliberate or abusive – on the contrary. Money is being stolen, lies are being told, the well-being, mental and physical health of the poorest and most vulnerable is being damaged through vicious gas-lighting, and it is not accidental.

                    • Stephanie Rodgers

                      just saying – yep, my post says it right there: this isn’t accidental. My only issue with OAB’s suggestion is that I think it’s taking a massive step away from the discussion which needs to happen.

                      I simply don’t get how moving this issue into the human rights legislative framework is the most logical solution. OAB’s initial comment said that that is the ‘big lesson’ to take away from this story. That’s all I’m arguing about!

                      Before we jump to complex legislative solutions, we have options like: overturning the current government’s ‘welfare reforms’. Changing the government. Publicising stories like Sarah’s to make it clear to people what our current system actually does and how it actually harms people. Demanding accountability.

                      The idea that we repeal one section of the BORA, and poof! Suddenly everyone recognises that this situation constitutes a judicially-enforceable human rights violation on the part of the Minister for Social Development? That just seems well beside the point to me.

                    • just saying

                      My point is that it is not just WINZ staff not caring:

                      There just has to be an attitude of ‘beneficiaries aren’t worth helping’. From that comes everything: a lack of basic processes (people have to record themselves handing over their paperwork!) a lack of basic empathy (ringing bells!) a lack of doing serious, constructive things which would actually help people like Sarah get back into work.

                      There will also be deliberate acts of sabotage, as there were and are in ACC. Deliberate lies, paperwork filed in the bin…. Not every worker, not every instance, but I suspect, more common than you think. And these people know how clients are affected, particularly the most vulnerable clients. It would be interesting to open up WINZ interstaff communications.

                      I think we’d see real hatred in many cases, and case managers egging each other on. ACC claimants have pages of this kind of thing from before staff realised the material could be accessed.

                      I know there is incompetence and negligence, and also good people trying their best. But let’s not be naive about what and who this kind of culture recruits and encourages.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      If you’d like to show where I suggested that jumping to “complex legislative solutions” is the only thing that needs to happen that would be swell.

                      On Earth, it will be necessary to do the things you mention too. In fact they form part of the case for Tory-proofing human rights, and giving the watchdogs bigger teeth.

                    • Stephanie Rodgers

                      OAB – your comments, and insistence that the primary solution to this issue is human rights reform, are right here in the post. And you’ve insisted that it’s just about repealing one section of the law, with no thought to the amount of work that will take in the first place, much less how it would be implemented afterwards.

                      just saying – I really have to object to being categorised as naive, and to you making assumptions about what I do or do not think. I’m the one who wrote the post saying WINZ’s treatment of beneficiaries isn’t accidental, remember? But there’s a big gap between ‘not accidental’ and ‘men in suits in a dark smoke-filled room writing down all their plans on OIA-able documents which prove their villainy’.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      What’s your endgame, Stephanie? Do you have any suggestions for how to prevent National Party attacks on the vulnerable?

                      Please don’t tale my focus on the offenders as disregard for the victims.

                      There’s a big difference between men in dark suits doing whatever and taking practical steps to deter Paula Bennett.

          • wikitoria 1.2.1.1.3

            Its called respecting people, regardless.

  2. captain hook 2

    sounds like the national party has done an ENRON on winz.

  3. karol 3

    The applause as an “incentive” for working seems to me to have Paula Bennett’s stamp all over it – making positive sounds while doing something quite nasty to beneficaries generally.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      So criminalise human rights abuses and make the penalty proportional to departmental pay grade, with life for Ministers.

  4. North 4

    My only suggestion is that everybody, everbody record in writing the humiliation and the vileness they receive from every WINZ officer who gleefully pariahs and mistreats people in need.

    Then, on a systematic but first very carefully screened basis, out that WINZ office and that particular officer. And always, always cite them as Minister Fatso’s soldiers. Pariah them in their communities just as they gleefully pariah and mistreat people in need.

    I speak with some authority having been closely involved with a man who was finally driven to commit a criminal offence to highlight the cruelty, the blocks placed at every turn, by a person whom he called “The Gorilla”, in a regional WINZ office. A person seemingly advisedly placed at the front counter to deal with (to) every person attending that WINZ office.

    There is war happening out there. To date no one has seriously fought back against the psychotics and the callous bullies. We must do so. I finish with this – there are probably only 1 in a 100 who behave like this but for those who persist with it after warning, give them a taste of their own medicine.

    • Stephanie Rodgers 4.1

      As other people have documented, it’s very difficult just to deal with WINZ to get the basics to survive. Expecting people who are already under massive pressure and dealing with stress, depression and anxiety to man the barricades isn’t a solution. In addition, many people have noted that it’s not always about individual WINZ employees, and we shouldn’t ascribe to viciousness or ‘glee’ what can be explained with a lack of training, or a toxic culture created by nameless, unaccountable managers.

      And I think it’s unnecessary to take cheapshots at Paula Bennett’s body shape. There are plenty of serious things to criticise her for.

      • greywarbler 4.1.1

        If people are fat or lean it shouldn’t mean that people cannot comment on the effect that their appearance has on others if they find them unsympathetic, uncaring or lazy. Everyone gets judged automatically – why should body shape be different. The attitude sounds as if it came from a Victorian book of rigid etiquette.

        I find that extremes of body shape often match the attitude of the person. I often comment on businessmens fat necks making them look like wellfed pussies. Very lean people look driven and mean, fat people can be jolly but also they look very well fed which is particularly galling to people on a tight budget who don’t have enjoyable food. Also the practice of having to dress up when working in WINZ which was introduced some years ago with the aim of looking superior to the poorer people they were dealing with.

        • McFlock 4.1.1.1

          If you substitute “body shape” with something eqully irrelevant, like “skin colour”, would you have been out of place a few decades ago?

        • marty mars 4.1.1.2

          grey what about those with medical conditions that you don’t know about – you judge them fairly or unfairly do you think? It is time imo that these baseless generalisations are removed from our discourse – they add zero to the debate and lessen us.

        • Stephanie Rodgers 4.1.1.3

          Rigid Victorian etiquette? That seems like a bit of an exaggeration. And I think making the assumption – which you clearly do – that a person’s body shape says anything about them except for a pointer to their genetic makeup is pretty crap.

          Paula Bennett would be equally as vicious, callous, ungrateful and unprofessional if she were a size 6, or blonde, or nine feet tall.

          • McFlock 4.1.1.3.1

            Come to think of it, nactoid female MPs are pretty diverse, body shape-wise.

            Generally mean, though.

  5. Bill 5

    Claiming entitlements through WINZ has been a trial since ‘I don’t know when’.

    The only thing that changes as the years go by seems to be the levels of stress, anxiety and fear that dealing with WINZ induces. Most people I know who claim entitlements deliberately and consciously do not claim any additional valid (sometimes temporary) entitlements just because the very thought of dealing with WINZ is too much.

    If there is anything missing from this post on WINZ culture, it’s the fact (by accident or design) that the culture’s set to make people think twice about walking through the door and to decide that walking away is the better option. I know for a fact that there are people who simply can’t face claiming even their basic entitlements. They just ‘disappear’ from the all the stats and struggle by…somehow and as best they can ’til a job or some ‘break’ comes around.

    As a sort of post script – the disgustingly low wages in NZ don’t help when it comes to combating this WINZ culture which is, to a degree, just a reflection of broader social attitudes. It’s a hard thing to argue against the anger towards people claiming entitlements when the angry person is working their arse off in some crappy job with no prospects, often for not much more money (sometimes even less) than they would get on a so-called benefit.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      All the more reason to entrench the BoRA and make National Party behaviour subject to legal sanction.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        BoRA? Dunno what that is.

        Anyway, not sure, but maybe you’re missing something here (maybe not), but I’ll rephrase one of the points from my comment anyway.

        From the 80s onwards, the working class first of all got shafted and then we were left, or encouraged or whatever, to rip and gouge ourselves in a kind of survival frenzy. So the poor despise the poorer despise the poorest despise those claiming welfare entitlements. WINZ, or so it appears to me, is just an institutional reflection of that. Can the whole miasma be neutralised, just by turning WINZ around? I doubt it.

        I think it’s important that financially, the screws come off of everyone. When people have enough on their plate to enjoy their own plate, then we don’t really care too much about the particulars of our neighbour’s plate. Everyone is content. But at the moment, far too many of us are chasing fucking scraps and being driven by a whip that speaks the language of precariousness.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.1

          Bill of Rights Act.

          Sure, more economic equality will reduce support for authoritarian drivel, but I think it’s worth going further.

          The GCSB is charged with protecting our economic interests. The IMF has presented evidence that National Party policies threaten our economy. Why not press the advantage?

          • Bill 5.1.1.1.1

            thanks for clarifying

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.1.1.1

              No worries.

              I like your policies better than mine, I just think the Left has to take the gloves off when it comes to Tory aggression, since they always attack the weakest, and the effects upon the victims are so extreme. Child mortality etc.

        • karol 5.1.1.2

          BoRA = Bill of Rights Act.

        • geoff 5.1.1.3

          Fucking well said, Bill.
          That’s the best description of the problem I’ve ever read.

      • North 5.1.2

        Problem there is that the Bill of Rights Act is EXPRESSLY subjugated to any other statute, viz. if according to the terms of any other statute it is permissible (expressly or impliedly) to proceed in a way that is counter to the BORA, then the OTHER statute commands and there is no actionable breach, or defence available, according to the BORA.

        The position is clearly evident in the case of the Land Transport Act 1998. Because that act does NOT say either expressly or impliedly that persons detained under its blood alcohol testing regime should NOT be entitled to legal advice (BORA) – then access to legal advice is available under the BORA. The situation is the same with the majority of criminal statutes.

        However, if for example the Land Transport Act expressly said that people are NOT permitted access to a lawyer before proceeding through the testing process and so on, then the BORA right to legal advice, does not apply.

        The BORA is constitutional in nature but not ultimately overriding as for example is the US Constitution.

        The whole business of governments latterly is to step back from the human rights advances made post-war. We are already in the march towards more and more authoritarian governance. What is sickening is that while this occurs we are deluged with all sorts of calculated, advised spin which tell us that we are the free in an increasingly enlightened society, and that the purveyors of this spin are the finest guardians of our “freedoms”.

        No – it is really a case of the wealthy and the powerful truly subscribing only to this:

        All Freedom to ME in my life…….all Freedom to me in YOUR life. Say it too quickly sounds fine. Think about it for a minute. Oh Shit…….

      • DS 5.1.3

        Except that then you end up with a bunch of right-wing judges deciding that tobacco advertising outside schools is protected by freedom of speech and cannot be infringed by politicians (this happened in Canada).

        The way to deal with the National Party is to vote them out. Not hide behind an entrenched BORA – because sure as anything, it’ll be used to screw over progressive initiatives in the future.

        • McFlock 5.1.3.1

          Even worse: Scalia.

        • Ergo Robertina 5.1.3.2

          BORA is used by the pharmaceutical industry to argue for the continued ‘right’ of New Zealanders to direct-to-consumer-advertising of prescription only medicine.
          NZ and the USA are the only developed nations to allow such advertising, and NZ’s version is the worst because the ads aren’t full of scary disclaimers and warnings like in the States.

          • Stephanie Rodgers 5.1.3.2.1

            I’ve been in the US recently, and the pharmaceutical advertising was truly terrifying. It’s far more common than it is here, and the warnings about side effects sometimes take up two-thirds of the ad!

          • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.3.2.2

            You can see no solution to this problem? Like tightening the definition of what constitutes a “human” to whom rights might be granted?

            • Ergo Robertina 5.1.3.2.2.1

              Can’t see how tightening the legal definition of what constitutes a human affects the case for drug advertising. It’s predicated on the ‘right’ of consumers to receive ‘information’, not the rights of corporations. Just like ensuring people have the support they deserve from WINZ, it comes back to left versus right politics, not human rights law.
              After all, neoliberal thinking relied heavily on human rights arguments to dismantle support systems.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Can’t you? It’s simple: advertising is not protected speech for the purposes of the BoRA, because despite wingnut delusions, corporations are not people.

                Neoliberal “thinking” (nice of you to be so generous in your description) relied heavily on convincing a tiny minority of politicians, based on the lie that it would improve everyone’s lot. It’s easy to show that it has had a terrible effect on human rights.

                Wingnuts are good at convincing one another that anything they repeat often enough is true. Do you think they’re going to stop adopting dishonest arguments if we let them win?

                “Oh noes! The right has adopted a dishonest “human rights” argument. We never saw that coming, better concede defeat.”

                • DS

                  Excellent, so we’re defining advertising in your Bill of Rights. Because it’s not as if there is any grey area between speech and advertising that lawyers can take advantage of, is it?

                  The jurisprudence of overseas countries is littered with examples of the Right using Bills of Rights to get their way – because ultimately it is the courts (not the public) who get to decide what freedom of speech (or freedom of assembly, or whatever) means under your scenario. Intent can be warped quite spectacularly: the US Supreme Court once upon a time decided that minimum wage laws were a violation of individual rights, and for thirty years the politicians were helpless to do anything about it.

                  I ultimately dislike Bills of Rights because they are so fundamentally undemocratic: they take certain issues away from the public (because those pesky voters can’t be trusted), and give determining power to a small handful of unelected individuals. It’s far easier to get rid of a crazy right-wing politician than it is a crazy right-wing judge.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    “Oh noes, human rights abusers found a loophole. Better concede defeat then.”

                    • DS

                      It’s not a matter of defeat, it’s a matter of preferring democratic solutions. An unelected judiciary striking down laws made by the people’s democratically elected representatives is not, in my humble opinion, particularly progressive. In fact, seeing as it involves taking certain issues out of the domain of public debate, Bills of Rights are arguably inherently (neo-)liberal. Our current watered-down one was a creation of the Fourth Labour Government, after all.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I bet you weren’t complaining when the unelected judiciary threw out the Dotcom warrant, nor when they ruled in Christine Bartlett’s favour.

                      By the way, when you say “littered” do you mean “it happened in America”?

    • Warren 5.2

      I myself am on an Invalid’s Benefit. I made the conscious decision not to apply for an accommodation supplement as it is far too much stress, worry and frustration to go through every year for a few dollars more per week, especially for someone already debilitated by severe anxiety and chronic dysthymia. Social Phobia is hard enough dealing with friendly helpful people. But when you are dealing with people working for a system that is clearly INTENDED and designed to be as stressful and unpleasant as possible I will do almost anything to avoid having to. In this system there are no such thing as “the deserving poor.” Everyone, no matter how ill, is undeserving.

      Add to this the sheer INCOMPETENCE of so many of the staff. The routineness with which they lose client’s paperwork is phenomenal. This is bad enough. But what is truly shocking, and totally unacceptable, is that it is WINZ policy that whenever they lose their all the forms and letters you have laboriously collected at your expense to prove your needs to blame YOU the client and sAY you never provided them!!! Once I lost a week of my benefit when this happened and I learned a hard lesson. ALWAYS always alwayS MAKE them give you a photocopy all of the forms and statements etc you give them to present as proof when they pull this shabby trick on you again.

    • finbar. 5.3

      Here is a example of one case that i know of.This lad 20 years of age was on a course,that ended at the end of the year.Mid January in the new year,his course provider came to his home on a Friday evening around 7-30pm,asking him why he had not been attending the course that had started three days prior.The lad said to him, that on the break up of the course at the end of the year no one had mentioned that the course would be continuing in the new year.One the following Tuesday,the lad received a letter from W.I.N.Z.informing him that his benefit had been cancelled.So he contacted his case worker,who informed him that his course provider had contacted her,saying that he had been to the lads home and “was not happy with what he had seen”that being due to the lad having had some beers, at a barbecue that was in progress when he had called around.So the lad informed his case manager,that he was attending the course and had been from the Monday following his course providers home visit.His case manager told him that he had to come into W.I.N.Z. and re-apply for his benefit.

      His mother contacted me,and asked if i could go to the W.I.N.Z.office with him to assist the lad with his present predicament,and i did.

      What came out of that was for the want of better words ” vindictive punishment”.the lad had been taken out of their system,so he had to re-apply for a benefit,and was told that he would have a two week stand down from application.Secondly he had to supply proof that he was attending a course.At this, i asked the case worker, why cant she just pick up the phone and contact his course provider, as he had been in contact with her and she had his contact details,her reply “we are not here to provide services to our clients,that they themselves should be doing.So i replied,this course provider who fronted up at this lads house,and then ran to you with complaint about what this lad was doing in his private time surly, is way out of order and not proper conduct for one of your course providers.Again, she was adamant that the lad had to provide proof of course attendance.So i replied,if that is the case, i will be contacting our local M.P. and raising this issue with him, especially, the illegal act of your course provider knocking on this lads door out of course hours.That got the required result, however,when she contacted the course provider it evolved that the course he was now attending for some reason did not qualify as a W.I.N.Z. course.So the lad was told that he had to find a alternative course if he wanted to receive a job seekers allowance.On leaving W.I.N.Z.i took the lad to a council funded recycling yard,and he is working there voluntary doing 35 hours per week,and his job seeking allowance was re-started after his mandatory stand down

      Since then, some six weeks ago, his old course provider contacted the Lad,when he was doing his voluntary work,spewing that he was being investigated by W.I.N.Z.

  6. freedom 6

    ” To walk in to a WINZ office feeling terrified.
    To walk out of a WINZ office feeling degraded, defeated, and in tears”

    You want to sum up the modern WINZ experience for a growing number of people? The above is bang on !!

    NZ, as a whole, does not understand the regularity of this very scene. Young, old, woman, and man. People who have done nothing wrong are living sentences, not lives. Exposed to a bureaucracy that is failing and expanding like never before. People in receipt of an allowance are making some very serious deliberations before they even consider asking for extra assistance these days. To even ask for basic entitlements, even ones that are budgeted into the individual’s annual allowance costs is an exercise more akin to begging than meeting bureaucratic requirements.
    Someone somewhere has decided that the bare minimum of allowance is paid. End of story. To ask for more, will often mean days of mental anguish and hours of expensive preparation. This is in addition to the growing list of requirements every allowance is attracting, especially the Jobseeker criteria.

    I would like to mention that expensive is a highly relative term.
    You would think WINZ would know this.
    When you are in receipt of around $235 a week a repeat doctor’s visit at $35 matters
    a return bus trip at $8.50 matters
    a dozen pages photocopied at 20c a page matters

    Throughout the process you are engaging staff who function with a scripted energy. Betraying how they are facing a long line of unhappy people. Just as surely as you yourself are battling self-doubt and always changing rules. Twisted rules, ouroborus in spirit and phantom in nature.
    I can read a statement online have it refuted at the desk and it is always the same outcome…” I will look into that for you”… then the tumbleweeds roll by.
    The staff do keep trying, and I know their hands are not tied, they have been cut off!

    Any one who has not recently walked through the WINZ doors in need, has no fucking idea.

    • freedom 6.1

      “Any one who has not recently walked through the WINZ doors in need, has no fucking idea.”

      sorry, was angry

      Beneficiaries get a lot of support here at The Standard and I for one, solemnly appreciate it

      • McFlock 6.1.1

        I suspect it’s true, though.

        I had to deal with them years ago, and recall that they were usually abysmal.

        But I was thinking about it recently, and while I can remember them throwing me or flatmates into abject depression (or the glee with which a flattie told me Pete Hodgeson’s office had put some stick about so she had received a call from WINZ that included an apology and an assurance that the FULL entitlement would be in her account the next day), I realised that I no longer recall exactly how it felt. I’m pretty sure that if I’d had access to firearms I might well not be here today, and I can remember sitting in my room with tears running down my face as I stared into space, but I don’t actually remember the full extent of the feeling.

        Probably a good thing.

        But it might also explain a little bit of how the ladder-kickers can do what they do.

        • freedom 6.1.1.1

          anger is a healthy emotion but violence is a conscious decision

          I firmly believe violence is not a solution to any problem*

          *unless it is a mechanical device not doing what it bloody well should 🙂

          • McFlock 6.1.1.1.1

            you’ve never worked venue security then 🙂

          • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1.1.2

            “violence is a conscious decision”

            If it’s “conscious” how come it is directly proportional to income inequality?

            Are you saying that people become violent because of bad choices they made? 😈

            • freedom 6.1.1.1.2.1

              I am saying violence itself is the bad choice.

              and I reject the cover all ‘proportional to income inequality’ statement,
              the fact the MSM portrays violence that way does not constitute fact.

              Violence is an equal opportunity toxin.

              Ask the wives of drunk bankers how they feel about their unreported broken limbs and busted faces. Obviously there can be examples thrown around from now till doomsday but reality is what it is. Most violence not connected to desperate and poor people rarely gets reported or commented on, lest it highlights the distortion the MSM feeds off.

              • Tracey

                isn’t violence usually proportionately connected to the anger residing consciously or unconsciously in a human being? My experience that scratch the surface of an angry human and you will find emotional pain, no matter how deep you have to dig.

                That some people can rationalise and justify it in some way as for religion, or politics or something else like freedom, violence is still destructive for the society and the individual and their victims.

                I have yet to see a single violent conflict end violence on the planet.

                Freedom

                Your story and those of others here saddens me beyond words. And I am sure there are many who hear such stories who will say or think

                “oh yes, I agree those people should be treated better. It’s the tobacco smoking, drug taking, drinking lazy beneficiaries I object to”.

                Over 20 years ago I suffered ill health due to sexual abuse and left my legal job. In or about the mid nineties I was earning $52k per annum. I had a 2 week medical certificate. My partner was working for love and earning $12k pa.

                My law firm told me they could not keep my job open for longer than 2 weeks (against the law with a medical certificate) and I would have to take leave without pay. At the end of the 2 weeks, the medical certificate was extended to 2 months. Basically my firm encouraged me to resign. They were two men I had got on well with and performed ably for, not evil, but they took advantage of the state I was in. I had no energy to fight back. A further month into my out-of-work-ness, I took a deep breath and went to WINZ… (not that it was WINZ then). I waited, took a number, and got called. She looked at my paperwork and told me the stand down period for someone on my income was 10 weeks and so by the time the paperwork was finalized my medical certificate would have expired and would no longer be entitled.

                I was meant to have saved for such an eventuality and had not. That is my only personal experience of them. I remained out of the workforce after the certificate expired and never visited WINZ again. I convinced myself that it had been my “choice” to stop working, so I had no right to take taxpayer money from those who “really needed it”.

                My point, and I do have one, is that so many of the people who rail against beneficiaries do so from a misconceived place of smugness. They are one major illness or redundancy letter away from being reliant on the very system they pillory. They think their insurance (if they have any) will be enough, but wait til they have to fight the insurance company for it.

                I am grateful every day for the life I have, and know that with certain circumstance changes I could be in need of major assistance. I am lucky. The stories I have read here and those I know of through my own connections are terrible and as a nation if we don’t stand up and say “ENOUGH! We will not subject our neighbours to such treatment” we need to hang our heads in shame, regardless of us not having people living off garbage dump piles.

                Compassion is a hallmark of any decent society, one that can truly call itself humane. We have lost it in numbers and it is being applauded, overtly and tacitly.

                End rant

                • freedom

                  Thank you Tracey,
                  and to all who read and respond to the increasing numbers of troubling WINZ related stories that the internet is helping to share, I can safely state your words of support matter.

                  I for one do not share these details of my life easily. Although there is a transient relief that comes from telling others of dark days, the underlying motive is very clear for me. The sharing of experiences is what makes a community stronger. I share these fragments of my own story in the simple hope that lurking in the shadows of the words, something worries people enough, that they accept things have to change.

                  and btw, this is truth right here, well said Tracey.

                  My point, and I do have one, is that so many of the people who rail against beneficiaries do so from a misconceived place of smugness. They are one major illness or redundancy letter away from being reliant on the very system they pillory. They think their insurance (if they have any) will be enough, but wait til they have to fight the insurance company for it.

      • Stephanie Rodgers 6.1.2

        Thanks, freedom. Your anger is well justified.

  7. rhinocrates 7

    Along with the usual lost paperwork, long waits and more paperwork required…

    I’m going to name and shame. Camille, a first name – I don’t know her surname – working at WINZ on Willis St in Wellington (across the road from the offices of that useless self-aggrandising shit Beltway Grant), tried to conceal her identity from me by hiding her name badge (but I was able to find out her name through the complaints process), played loud talk/music on the stereo sitting on her desk, told me that I was not eligible for benefit X because of eligibility for benefit Y, but I couldn’t apply for benefit Y because I had already applied for benefit X, revealing information that she interpreted negatively – and disingenuously.

    She also threatened to add a note to my file barring be from further aid.

    I have an anxiety disorder and the environment exacerbated my vulnerability. Camille X’s attitude triggered it and I was physically ill afterwards.

    I laid a complaint and got a meaningless reply, but I haven’t seen her back there again, so hopefully she’s in the position of “client” now.

    There are good, dedicated WINZ employees and I have met them. They’re the older generation who took the job because they genuinely wanted to help people. The new ones just want to tick boxes and kiss arses.

    Go after the ones who just want to be “Good Germans”. Name them, expose them, lay complaints that will have an effect on their performance reviews. Note and record as much as you can. I know from personal experience and those of friends, nothing scares a paper-pusher more than making it clear that you’re taking notes or recording the exchange in some way. In your complaint, say that their behaviour in no way helped you find employment. If you have smartphones or better grades of iPod, you can get apps that record video and audio. Metadata verifies dates.

    Get their names and faces so that they fear us more than their suit and tie wearing managers. Make it personal so that they fear their managers for being seen to fail to do their real jobs.

    I’m not sure if Labour’s invisible welfare spokesthing will pull their thumb out of their arse, but try a Green MP.

    And that prick Shearer can go and fuck himself… or pay a beneficiary to paint his roof to make their life a little easier – as long as he gives them more than mango skins.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      +1

      Criminalise human rights abuses.

      • Aww 7.1.1

        If the standard of proof for a civil case against the ministry is not currently being met, then the criminal standard of proof could never be met.

        I understand where you are coming from OAB and of course I share your outrage, we/someone/anyone just has to come up with a solution that will impact on the frontline. The HRC is being stripped down systematically to something close to farcical so is pretty powerless in any case (I speak from experience unfortunately).

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1.1

          In cases of serious fraud, the accused must prove their innocence. So there’s a readily available solution for the problem.

          PS: Underfunding is one of the tools in the National Party toolbox. There’s an obvious solution for that, too, but I think the main thing is that they be held to global standards, retrospectively if need be. If we can buy back power companies I’m sure we can find away to destroy Tory abusers.

    • freedom 7.2

      rhinocrates, you can request the business card of any WINZ employee that you engage with and they are required to hand it over. It is always a judgement call as to whether this will help or hinder.

      • rhinocrates 7.2.1

        Thanks for that advice. I was too nervous at the time, infused with adrenaline and the fight-or-flight reflex (I chose flight). It’s amazing that WINZ staff aren’t trained in dealing with people with mental illness as they surely make a significant proportion of “clients” as they call us.

        There have been good ones and I’ve also commented to WINZ on how well they performed. If someone genuinely tries to help and is civil, they deserve praise… because they may well become the exceptions soon.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2.1.1

          That depends. Will they go against departmental and/or Ministerial policy when it breaches human rights? If not, prosecute them and let the courts sort it out.

    • Murray Olsen 7.3

      Jan Logie in particular has been taking an interest in WINZ stuff lately. There are also social security advocates associated with Mana in various cities. Labour are possibly too busy apologising for offending some delicate wee Tory sausage.

  8. weka 8

    The human rights angle should definitely be worked on. It’s something for getting a pro bono lawyer involved with. I’m guessing the people who are suggesting name and shame are not long term/permanent beneficiaries. While I appreciate the sentiment and the intention, I think that tactic should be looked at. I personally would never name and shame online/publicly any WINZ staffer I dealt with (other than via criminal proceedings). The big reason is that it would identify me and increase my vulnerability and risk significantly. There will be some beneficiaries who name and shame works for, but I think a general action of name and shame will put many more at risk.

    I also think that it runs the risk of alienating the staff that aren’t totally evil but are doing stupid shit out of pressure, lack of training, ignorance etc.

    Back in the day, feminist collectives used to run hot and cold files on doctors (these weren’t published but were available on request). Women would share experiences with doctors and these would be recorded against the doctors name. One of the things that became apparent was that for many doctors, there would be very negative stories and positive ones as well. The point being that there are other ways to address this, than damning people for specific instances. I need to be clear here, the stories shared today about specific WINZ staff don’t bother me. It’s more the general strategy that I think needs to be examined.

    OAB, while I agree that there should be consequences for staff that fail to protect their clients’ human rights, I think those consequences have to happen in conjunction with those staff being trained. I know for the medical benefits, most staff have no fucking idea. That’s the responsibility of their manager and the person who hired them, the WINZ CEO, and Paula Bennett.

    I also think it’s time to push back, but reckon that getting a lawyer willing to take a test case through the process is a better way to go.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      Yep, if WINZ doesn’t train its staff properly I’m sure a lawyer can pass that responsibility upstairs until it rests with the Tory scum that prevented them from doing so.

      And then the minimum sentence should be life imprisonment.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1

        Nope. That won’t go far enough. Any prosecution of WINZ human rights abuses must start with the minister in the dock, with life imprisonment as the starting point for sentencing. Only then will the weak truly have protection from the strong.

    • rhinocrates 8.2

      people who are suggesting name and shame are not long term

      Not the case. It’s a gesture borne of years of frustration with “Good Germans” and “I was just obeying orders” must be irrelevant as a defence right here here and right now.

      My usual rule is never be rude to the person on the phone because they’re there to shield the one making decisions, but if you meet someone who is making judgements… then let them know that they can be judged.

      pro bono lawyer

      Find one. They’re just dropping off the trees, free to everyone, right?

      I also think it’s time to push back, but reckon that getting a lawyer willing to take a test case through the process is a better way to go.

      Let’s get real. That’s simply not possible if you can’t afford one. Beneficiaries don’t have much cake in their diet either.

      • weka 8.2.1

        Missing the bigger pitcure there rhino. I agree that this is not something for a beneficiary to make happen on their own. It should be supported politically by a larger group. There are lawyers in NZ doing pro bono work for important test cases. The issue is whether activists and the left in NZ think social security is important enough.

        • rhinocrates 8.2.1.1

          When you’re starving and the rent is overdue, you can’t afford the bigger picture… or cake.

    • rhinocrates 8.3

      Just to add, in an employment matter, I did have the option of going through the court process, but such was my state, the court process, which would be very attenuated (by months at least) and combative was too much for me and something akin to blackmail was much more effective. A lot of beneficiaries are going to be in that position. I managed an out-of-court settlement precisely because my employer wanted to avoid a court case that my union told me would have got less for me anyway.

      Name and shame may be bad and desperate, but it’s cheaper and quicker for people who have neither money nor time.

      • rhinocrates 8.3.1

        Comment apparently eaten… it may appear later.

        Anyway, to add.

        I was in a position to pursue litigation against an employer (a university in the North Island that has close associations with agriculture). I was assured by my union that I would win, because their behaviour had been so awful, and so well documented by me, but that it would be immensely stressful and take months if not years. I didn’t have the resources to survive that long and we squeezed a pretty good out of court settlement from them.

        Beneficiaries don’t have the resources to pursue litigation, either temporal, financial or emotional.

        Sarah Wilson’s point is that fighting by “the rules” has been Hell for her… and in the end, she LOST because they didn’t play by the rules..

        Name and shame or the threat thereof is nasty, but quick and affordable.

        If you go to a WINZ interview, take a support person, a recording device, demand a business card and make it known that you’ll use them.

      • weka 8.3.2

        “Name and shame may be bad and desperate, but it’s cheaper and quicker for people who have neither money nor time.”

        I go back to my original point. While it may work for some individuals, for many long term/permanent beneficiaries publicly naming and shaming individual staff is very risky. I’m not suggesting the individual alternative is hiring a lawyer. On an individual level I think there are other strategies that are effective, that we have already mentioned (always take someone with you, keep copies of everything, get support to make complaints, take time to find out the best way to make a complaint and to who etc). The big issue there is that the most vulnerable beneficiaries often don’t have the resources (internal or support wise) to manage that. But I think those people would also be most at risk of naming and shaming backlash.

        Ultimately this is a collective responsibility. Advocacy agencies are woefully underfunded and understaffed (Auckland might be the exception?). We talk about how badly social security is treated now, but how much activism is actually directed at changing that?

        • rhinocrates 8.3.2.1

          The big issue there is that the most vulnerable beneficiaries often don’t have the resources (internal or support wise) to manage that.

          I’m glad that you appreciate that intellectually.

          Ultimately this is a collective responsibility.

          I agree, but you’re, in my opinion, being naively idealistic. Many beneficiaries are alienated and seriously unwell, like Sarah, not the working class heroes on the barricades you see in Soviet posters. I’m autistic myself and the idea of being in a large group exhausts me.

          And again, “ultimately” is a long way off – it’s always tomorrow or next week or next decade when you’re starving now.

          think those people would also be most at risk of naming and shaming backlash.

          Which is why transparency must be forced on WINZ.

          but how much activism is actually directed at changing that?

          Certainly fuck all by Labour. Quite the opposite under Mumblefuck.

          • rhinocrates 8.3.2.1.1

            Edit of “Certainly fuck all by Labour. Quite the opposite under Mumblefuck.”

            Certainly fuck all by Labour. Under Mumblefuck it was worse than fuck all.

    • greywarbler 8.4

      Weka
      This sounds surprising from you.
      I need to be clear here, the stories shared today about specific WINZ staff don’t bother me. It’s more the general strategy that I think needs to be examined.

  9. whatever next? 9

    and see what is coming up next if the NZ Tories get their way….

    Figures show huge rise in zero-hours contracts

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/10/rise-zero-hours-contracts

  10. risildowgtn 10

    A friend of mine recently diagnosed with diabetes applied to get the cost of his needle things covered by WINZ 7 months ago…

    7 months it took them to sort it out and only because he went in and advised them he was makiing a phone call to parliament which he had done before going in….

    lo and behold a look on their computer system showed he had most def applied 7 months ago

    It had been scanned into their system and there it sat, for 7 months…..
    but of course before finding it they called him a liar

    They were so helpful after that , have backdated the money but thing is here and this is most importantly he had been going hungry in order to pay for this diabetic medication out of his weekly benefit…. which as some of the items are not subsidized was taking a fair whack so it was buying food that suffered…..

    it was a idea of his to record this whole interview which he did.,.. he informed them anymore crap he will release the whole 45 min interview to the media….

    • North 10.1

      Seems like there are legions of examples of shit treatment and there is now an outpouring. This is brilliant ! Minister Fatso can only keep up her patronising facile shit while everyone stays silent. She’s not gonna be thanked by her boss now known nationwide as “Smile & Wave & Invoice” if she lets things attract too much attention.. Keep on fighting back !

      Please, no true lefty come back with nitpicking about the “Minister Fatso” tag. Cow deserves everything she gets. From her position of wealth and power she pariahs, demonises and vilifies poor people. Poor kids. And then expects us to respect her. Fuck Off !

      • McFlock 10.1.1

        It’s not her that you’re disrespecting, FYI.

      • Stephanie Rodgers 10.1.2

        North, I really have to object to you saying that ‘no true lefty come back’ at you about your repeated body-centred insults against Bennett. It completely devalues criticism of her. She’s done more than enough terrible, cruel things we can call her out for.

        • North 10.1.2.1

          SR – I read your comment as a reference to my engaging unhelpful distraction. Point taken.

          • Stephanie Rodgers 10.1.2.1.1

            The other point is that playground attacks on how people look is shabby and immature.

            • North 10.1.2.1.1.1

              Further point taken.

            • finbar 10.1.2.1.1.2

              I like the one,when the state does not accept voluntary work as a commitment for State support.The present State, rules from a capitalist dogma of ,no free rides here,and punish those doing voluntary work within our community, with the not threat but fact,your voluntary work does not fit in our rules of our and your contractual rules of entitlement.Your voluntary work does not meet our requirements,as it hinders your contract to seek work,and that requires five noted job applications per day.

      • Tracey 10.1.3

        Stop with the name calling based on wgat someone looks like. It is an unnecessary distraction from important real stories

  11. North 11

    I can see a time where not too far off perhaps something really wicked happens in a WINZ office.

    • McFlock 11.1

      why do you think they have security?
      Make sure the “something really wicked” happens anywhere other than the office.

      • weka 11.1.1

        The something wicked already happened, quite some years ago.

      • North 11.1.2

        I’m talking about some poor bugger driven to self harm. Some poor bugger who in his/her self wouldn’t hurt a fly. That’s what I’m talking about.

        • Zorr 11.1.2.1

          Happens more often than you might think North. Just doesn’t get reported in the papers often…

      • finbar. 11.1.3

        They used to have hard line lookers on their doors,these days, just over minimum wage security staff,well over getting into a serious barny.The power of a uniform Eh!.

    • rhinocrates 11.2

      Idiots and arselickers deserve to lose their jobs, not be shot, if that’s what you’re implying… but I suppose that you mean that someone else might not be so restrained.

  12. rhinocrates 12

    A further note… I knew someone who worked as a debt collector and he employed a few, shall we say, “dodgy” tactics. He knew that he’d be challenged by some people and lose now and again, but only a tiny proportion of the time, so on the whole, the equation of dodginess worked very well indeed and he knew that.

    A lawyer might successfully challenge one dubious WINZ decision, after months or years of litigation (meanwhile the client slits their wrists or overdoses), but nine times out of ten, they intimidate or exhaust them into silence..

    Find out where you can hurt someone and hit them there. Go for the case managers and remind them if that they screw up and it gets publicity, the department will sacrifice THEM.

    • North 12.1

      Exactly what I suggested above Rhino. There’s a war on the poor going in WINZ offices around New Zealand. Time to fight back. We are all New Zealanders. This smarmy shit by which Minister Fatso expresses such mother’s love for everybody is a complete fraud. She and Smile & Wave & Invoice must be called out on it.

      • weka 12.1.1

        Sickness beneficiaries aren’t in a good position to engage in a war with the department. Other beneficiaries too.

        Better to box clever.

  13. freedom 13

    There was one comment on writehandedgirl’s post that says it all really

    “Michael Joseph Savage would be spinning in his grave….”

  14. Kaye 14

    I”ve been on Invalids benefit since 1990 (with a bit of p/t work when I still could) so I’ve had a 20 year front row view of what been happening to us.
    I think for long-termers, the beginning of this mess was getting rid of the case managers. Personally I never had any problems when I could see the same person every time. They knew me, I knew them and knew what to expect from them in how I was treated (consistently well), and more importantly they knew about my medical condition and the associated complications which sometimes means I need extra help from them.

    It’s been a nightmare since then. Someone different everytime, having to explain my very complex situation everytime. Too scared to go near them because I don’t know who I’ll be dealing with. I know I’m entitled to more money but there’s no way I’m going through all the paperwork because I’d rather just stay on what I’m getting than the stress of dealing with them.

    As it is, every time I have to go near the office I have a tonic clonic seizure that night. That’s right, WINZ are now a seizure trigger for me and have even landed me in hospital a few times. Even just a stay in A&E costs the hard-working taxpayer MUCH more than a weeks benefit…And that scenario is anecdotally happening a lot- people with chronic health conditions suffering acute attacks/relapses triggered as a direct result of the stress we’re being put under by WINZ.

    • xtasy 14.1

      Maybe I should not comment here, as I had a breakdown the other night, but I know full well, where you come from, I have been there, a few times!

      I have struggled to cope and survice, and to me every day is more like another one in hell, than on earth.

      So with some other enlightenend and experienced folk we put together some useful info, that should help people to understand what is going on, and what is behind this ruthless drive by MSD and WINZ, and ideally we would like to see you all to connect with advocates, to form a new solid movement, to resist these “reforms” they talk about, like they have been doing in the UK.

      It is never too late, but the worry is, that some in NZ live in remote areas, have NO support, and even in the larger centres feel alienated and struggle to trust others and connect. What is needed though is a solid, strong, forceful advocacy move, to counter the whole new “agenda” by MSD and WINZ, and to fight them, day in and out. It is inhumane, higly dangerous, and medically irresponsible what they do, to physically and mentally impaired, not just due to intellectual handicaps, but mental illness and of course diverse physical challenges.

      It must compel them to work WITH disability groups and disabled, and to treat people with RESPECT, and not constantly question and challenge medical certificates, as I have experienced and heard from many others.

      The very first step MSD could take to endeavour to gain some trust again, is to SACK Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt, who is such a draconian “medical”, he should for his unscientific comments in “presentations” to the medical profession be disqualified. Also the AFOEM and other organisations must rethink what they are doing, as their policy statement on the “health benefits of work” is totally reliant on one research institute and their dubious leader, a Prof. Mansel Aylward.

      That man has virtually “blood” at his hands, as he was responsible for welfare reforms in the UK for many years, and voluntarily signed up with a corrupt and convicted insurance corparation called UNUM, from the US. They did all to introduce into the UK the US style “welfare” that they thought they need, to also enable them to earn great money from the privatisation.

      Here is stuff to read and study:

      http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/

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

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/17/epluribusunum

      http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2012/09/14/appeals-court-rules-against-disability-insurer

      http://www.racp.org.nz/page/racp-faculties/australasian-faculty-of-occupational-and-environmental-medicine/realising-the-health-benefits-of-work/may-2010-video-presentation-professor-sir-mansel-aylward/

      Study that and put it all together, and you can see the corporate business interests behind it all, tying in with corrupt and vested government and even private interests, so we get what we now have.

      Paula Bennett is a liar, and she keeps a lot secret from the public, she is a criminal, same as the many other players involved. This should never have been allowed to happen to a decent society that NZ once was.

  15. xtasy 15

    In all this I totally understand, where Natalie and others come from, so I am not sure, but, I am wondering, one day I may be prepared to carry the same kind of self-defence kind of weapon to defend and fight for justice in this rather backward society:

    I simply am NOT part of this society, where so many roll over and let all the injustice happen, that is being dished out, I am sorry, I do NOT relate to you.

    • Populuxe1 15.1

      And again, could you kindly refrain from abusing the entire population (including all of the commentors here) with your sneering generalisations. It disinclines people to empathy.

      • Tracey 15.1.1

        Thats what struck you most about this thread?

        • Populuxe1 15.1.1.1

          I thought the rest of the thread was self-evident – I doubt I could add to what has already been said. WINZ is in desperate need of an overhaul and a left wing government that won’t use the vulnerable as a whipping boy. I can consider more than one thing at a time

          • Arfamo 15.1.1.1.1

            Me too. I’ve worked myself up to to seven things at a time now. Unfortunately this one’s number 8 and I’m starting to struggle.

  16. Gyn_Nag 16

    I didn’t find it too bad. Not that humiliating.

    Walked out of University with two degrees last year, couldn’t find a real job, have been taking whatever I can, wherever I can.

    I was a little unimpressed that WINZ wouldn’t support my transition to a casual job washing dishes because it was not “sustainable employment”. Surely it’s good that I’m trying to work?

    It feels as though I was being punished for being quite highly qualified and unable to find a job.

    • Aww 16.1

      ?? I’ve heard Work and Income pushing students who are studying full time to look for work(instead of continuing their paid for via loan course of study). Work and Income actually considered their full time study to be an obstruction to their availability to work in one of those WTF moments.

      I have to say that your experience is an outlier and something that anyone posting here would be pleasantly surprised to have.

    • just saying 16.2

      Washing dishes?
      Commercial premises have been legally obliged to use a dishwaher for ages.

      edit: Damn, this is supposed to be a response to Gyn Nag below

      • Gyn_Nag 16.2.1

        Washing dishes with a dishwasher.

      • freedom 16.2.2

        Just saying, you are thinking of a sterilizer. That is a piece of equipment that sprays hot water
        and a finishing chemical over washed dishes. A common mistake expressed from many people who have little experience of hospitality work.

        • just saying 16.2.2.1

          Lol
          Done loads, for my sins, including loading dishwashers. I was told that the old human dishwasher job had become redundant due to H&S regs. Never used a sterisliser, just dishwashers. Is that a newer regulation?

          • freedom 16.2.2.1.1

            good to know you have slaved away like the rest of us
            -wasn’t sure if you had or not, hence the ambiguous ‘many people’ statement 😉

            Lots of folk, including owners, often fail to see that the lowly dishwasher is the most important person in a kitchen. A good chef understands though. Without clean gear you have no grub. The modern gear is little changed from that used back in the 80’s.

            The big steel box that you slide the trays of dishes and glassware into, then lower the box over, is a sterilizer/finisher not a dishwasher. The dishes are meant to be washed before being put into the unit, not just rinsed like many do. But as with many things in life some people just do what is easiest and load dirty dishes in, then wonder why a: their machine is breaking down all the time and b: the glassware in particular looks like crap.

            Anyway, sterilizers, which until the 80’s were only found in hotels, found wider use during that wonderful era when OSH began their ludicrous over reaction to pretty much everything. Take for example the guidelines they released in 1991/2 for dealing with the disposal of deep fryer contents, such as chefade (which is a dripping type substance).

            The regulations for cleaning the deep fryers began :
            ” When cool, remove contents ….” from there on it got even funnier 🙂

  17. Gyn_Nag 17

    I didn’t find it too bad. Not that humiliating.

    Walked out of University with two degrees last year, couldn’t find a real job, have been taking whatever I can, wherever I can.

    I was a little unimpressed that WINZ wouldn’t support my transition to a casual job washing dishes because it was not “sustainable employment”. Surely it’s good that I’m trying to work?

    It feels as though I was being punished for being quite highly qualified and unable to find a job.

    Much of NZ’s state sector is run too much like a business. The efficiencies need to be in Govt operation more, rather than Govt handouts.

  18. big bruv 18

    Gosh!, how horrible.

    Imagine finding work, imagine having to leave home everyday to go and earn a living. I can see why this person is so upset at the prospect of being a contributing member of our society.

    Has she not heard of the DPB?, you can stay on that for years and years no questions asked.

    • Lanthanide 18.1

      Have you not heard that the DPB no longer exists?

      Guess not.

      Idiot.

    • Stephanie Rodgers 18.2

      Maybe you should actually try reading Sarah’s blog, big bruv. She has a job. She has a very understanding boss who has supported her through her sickness and who has kept her job open for a year now, ready for her to take it up once she’s better. She’s not better.

      I understand it’s a lot easier to diagnose people from your keyboard, but I trust Sarah, her employer, and her doctors a lot more than I trust your gross, judgemental assumptions.

    • freedom 18.3

      Hi baby brain, wondered when you would show up with your cliches

      “Imagine finding work,”

      Yeah, imagine finding work, because guess what? That is what everyone on a Jobseeker allowance is forced to do. Imagine finding work, because there just isn’t the work out there.
      What about that are you having such a hard time comprehending?

      ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

      I just deleted six paragraphs of information and examples about what is and is not out there. About how job listings are largely fictitious and a fair bit about the costs involved in finding work today. I mentioned the lack of real support and services, including a couple of really good lines about resource wasting but you know what baby brain? upon reading it back I realised two somethings ( three if you count reminding myself to not feed trolls)

      One is you are never going to accept that there is a job drought.
      The second is you are never going to accept that there is a job drought.

    • Tracey 18.4

      You can enrol in classes to help with reading comprehension. Your lack of compassion is harder to address.

    • Aww 18.5

      “No questions asked”

      Clearly you have no understanding of the welfare system and how it is applied. Idiot.

  19. Bill 19

    Okay, a wee bit surprised that no-one has mentioned the fact that advocates dealing in WINZ cases cannot legally claim payment for their advocacy. In ACC cases, expenses can be claimed. In employment cases, expenses can be claimed. Not WINZ cases though.

    Go figure.

    • Aww 19.1

      That’s right! And it is a time consuming thing to advocate for someone within the Work and Income system. Advocates face the same problems, but usually for multiple clients.

  20. one of the strongest arguments for a universal basic-income..

    ..is that we would largely be able to do away with that revenue-guzzling behemoth that is work and income..

    ..that major plus has to be factored into any cost-benefit analysis..of a u.b.i..

    …(after an exorcism..the offices can be reconfigured as community-service-centres..)

    ..and of course the returning of basic dignity to all..

    ..cannot be underestimated..

    ..not forcing people to go thru the horrors detailed above..

  21. Brian 21

    What can you expect from a bunch of heartless bastards such as is the National party and its supporters. They demonise and vilify the very people their policies create and go on to treat them as less than human. Their actions are disgusting and so are they.
    John Key is a coward that does not have the courage to face up to the misery his govt is creating. Blinded by avarice and bigotry. In other words a typical Natctzi.

  22. Mary 22

    Bennett needs to be held account to explain exactly where people are going who make up the reduction in benefit numbers. That information isn’t currently kept because Bennett doesn’t want to know. A good chunk of this so-called reduction comes from receptionists preventing applications being made and telephone call centre staff telling people it’s a waste of time applying. This has been happening for a long time but has really been stepped up since National’s “reforms”. Bennett is hell-bent on producing statistics that make everything look like there isn’t a problem. This is more than irresponsible.

    • Stephanie Rodgers 22.1

      It’s irresponsible, but unfortunately it works: the arguments in Parliament and the media end up being about whether numbers are down, whether numbers are just down as a natural seasonal variation, or whether the Minister keeps numbers at all. I agree, I wish we had more people asking the pointed questions about where people are going who are no longer claiming benefits.

      • freedom 22.1.1

        that is where the 90 day right to fire is so brilliant in its subtle machinations

        Someone hires a kid, works them 89 days, fires them with no necessary reason. The kid faces a stand down period before receiving assistance from the MSD – which can be up to six months. So the kid is not receiving a benefit, the fact the kid is unemployed is not counted because of the stand down and without the MSD doing a thing, the employment figures get rosier already because the employer has cycled another two kids through the 90 day mincer before the first kid is signed back onto assistance.

        As an artist, I sometimes sit back and do appreciate the simple harmonies of capitalism’s horrors.
        Luckily though my brain is still engaged and the reality of what they are doing is at the fore.

      • Tracey 22.1.2

        Its supposedly why we have a 4th estate.

        • Mary 22.1.2.1

          It’s beyond our Fourth Estate to understand the importance of this issue therefore beyond it to know to ask the question properly and if it does ask the question to know when the answers it gets back are bullshit therefore Bennett stays off the hook and it’s business as usual.

          • Tracey 22.1.2.1.1

            It shouldn’t be, and it wasn’t beyond them 40 years ago. As they have been commandeered they find it harder to drill deep. ONE reason is the appalling streamlining of journalists that ahs gone on in newsrooms and all departments. Workloads have risen and resources have shrunk. I suspect the staff turnover below headliners is quite high, recent grads are probably much cheaper than ten year journos. This is, afterall about satisfying shareholder dividends, not a desire to disseminate and elucidate. There are glimpses but they tend to come from outside the main TV radio and newspapers, so you find people who work outside those areas doing the real investigation. I dont know how they survive but they are heroes.

            • Mary 22.1.2.1.1.1

              I think it’s simpler than that. The reason is that we’re talking about beneficiaries. Part of the thinking that the Right has generated since the early 1990s says that beneficiaries are a worthless cost that needs to be eradicated. Government does not want to know about beneficiaries because they are lazy and worthless therefore beneficiaries must be maligned as lazy and worthless human beings. That thinking has pervaded the wider climate of opinion therefore the general public now has not the slightest bit of interest in the welfare of this group. Many people now truly believe that it’s moral and just to let anyone who is unemployed starve on the street. It’s at this point where your reference to “satisfying shareholder dividends” becomes relevant.

  23. Kaye 23

    “passive euthanasia” is a term being thrown around a lot in the UK in relation to their welfare “reforms”. That I can believe. And in the case of said reforms literally driving disabled people to suicide (many reported cases now), well that solves a lot of problems for the Tories, doesn’t it? The words “Germany, eugenics, 1930s are mentioned a lot.

  24. Peter Bradley 24

    We need more then a critique of WINZ operations and instead need to start thinking about the welfare system as a whole and then redesign it’s premise. Welfare services were established to alleviate short term hardship for unemployed and working people in the 1930’s. It must have made a huge impact to Kiwi’s at the time. So what is it doing now? Now a days it’s focus is on getting people back in to work and haranguing those to ill to hold down a job.
    The entire focus of the system is around trying to force round pegs into square holes. A percentage of our population will always live in poverty – under-educated and difficult to employ. No amount of well intentioned case managers are going to change that fact. Neither will a strong economy or ‘good’ jobs.
    We need a culture shift and a change in our view of poverty and unemployment. For some individuals these are facts of life and they will live and die with them regardless of educational and employment opportunities.
    If we accept this and instead of focusing on someone’s eligibility for assistance we establish a minimum income that is universally applied then unemployment and sickness benefits, state pensions and family tax credits will all go. Economist Garyth Morgan came up with the idea and called it the Big Kahuna. You simply set a minimum income for each adult in NZ – for example $15,000 per year – and this is paid to everyone regardless of their circumstance.
    There is no claw back for people who work intermittently or part time and those who are wealthy and receive it will be taxed appropriately.
    Such an approach would not require people to go crawling into WINZ to justify their need to survive. It would cover all possible scenarios where poverty is an issue – the elderly, the mentally unwell, the simply lazy, young single moms, workers in low paid jobs etc.
    It’s a radical shift in that it says to recipients that we trust you to take care of yourself and your family, we are providing you with the minimum to get by and therefore contribute to the local economy.
    There are risks to this approach – taking away the dependency of the unemployed may make things harder for employers as workers will not feel the same level of desperation and this could have inflationary consequences for wages.
    Universal application of this approach would be incredibly expensive – but this could be offset by reductions in administration by government agencies.
    Our current system is based on the idea that everyone can and should work when in reality our economy depends on unemployment to control inflation.
    Our education and our culture does not consider unemployment as valid. What if we taught unemployment in schools as well as all the career focused academic stuff and let people accept it for the reality it is and not just something that’s used to “scare the shit out of the middle class” to quote George Carlin.

    • RedBaronCV 24.1

      Treating people as the responsible adults that they are.

      And just maybe when a taxpayer reaches an income of say $150,000 (10x) they are taxed at 100% on the next $15,000 so they pay it all back.

    • freedom 24.2

      It is called a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and can be paid for many times over, even in a small country like New Zealand, if we impose a .1% Financial Transaction Tax with no exemptions.

      There are libraries of information out there discussing it but reality and common sense are all you need listen to. It would work, but it would mean the very few don’t get to steal quite so much, so of course it will never be properly looked at or a diluted and dishonest variant will be delivered once the troughers have engineered their out clauses.

      yeah cynicism is winning today 🙁

    • finbar 24.3

      Im am old enough to remember my education,not in a good light.But do remember a cat saying that all this new technology is here for our betterment.It will ensure that your life will not be exploited bone broke like your parents and gran parents.Our new technology is here to replace our old human slavery and will reward us all with freedom of time to spend it with your children and your families and the State shall care for yous.

      That speech given by a insightful teacher to a class of 15 year old students back in 1968.

  25. captain hook 25

    In the 1980’s the then Labour Department was the actual job market. Thats where you went.When the muldoon government realised that unemployment was going to be a permanent feature of the economy then they re-organised it to be staffed by lowbrows to deliberately browbeat the unemployed. Thats how it works with wINZ totally distanced from reality and those in need. WINZ workers are now like slaves who have been recruited as slavers.

  26. freedom 26

    Over the nine years they held power, Labour’s tacit acceptance of bene bashing and the steadfast refusal to wind back the clock were the biggest factors in my cessation of giving them my vote. On that point I know I am not alone. Add their blatant lack of will to address the long standing and ever increasing need for real socio-economic change and it was not really that difficult a choice.

    Their piecemeal panderings to the few, so as not to upset the many, was wrong.

    Not reversing the Richardson cuts, not removing student fees, not making banks et al pay their tax, not building functioning employment programmes, not removing secondary employment tax, not encouraging the widespread return of apprenticeships, not building thousands more state houses, not fixing the junkyard mess of abatement issues, not letting green energy get a proper look in, but mostly, not wanting to piss off middle NZ is what cost them more votes than they ever would honestly admit to.

    Now we have an election date, now that Cunliffe has admitted the thirty year trickle-down experiment is an abject failure, now we know that they are willing to make changes there are no more excuses. What is Labour’s plan?

    What is Labour going to do to help the growing number of New Zealanders who are desperate for a chance to enjoy their slice of the 1/2 gallon quarter acre pavlova paradise?

    • Tracey 26.1

      Labour has a long way to go to convinve me that labour is not just going to be nat lite on beneficiaries. Look back to shearers beneficiary doing roof work dig. Hes still there and so are a few who share that view.

      Greens say people first.

      I want to see them in govt so the public can see what that looks like.

      • freedom 26.1.1

        Labour and National were both first term governments once!

        Has New Zealand forgotten how to be brave?

        Has New Zealand lost its nerve?

  27. captain hook 27

    of course the whole country has lost its nerve. any dissent is put on the computer and the person effectively blacklisted for life.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 27.1

      That sword has two edges.

      • weka 27.1.1

        How so?

        • felix 27.1.1.1

          Seriously weka? You can’t imagine how the same tool used for storing and sharing information about blacklisted winz clients could also be used to illuminate the nefarious activities of abusive winz staff?

          You’re soaking in it.

          • McFlock 27.1.1.1.1

            One tool might be called “the list of clients that have to use a phone instead of see case workers face-to-face because they’ve exhibited threatening tendencies towards staff or other clients” (i.e. showed signs of frustration at being fucked over).

            Another might be called “the list of clients who have been flagged for irregularities in client-supplied supporting information” (i.e. they repeatedly claimed to give WINZ evidence of their entitlements when there’s nothing in the system to confirm it).

            If we’re really lucky, they might have a “list of people we’ve decided to deny their legal entitlements, and generally harass to the point of emotional breakdown”, but the chances aren’t so hot.

          • weka 27.1.1.1.2

            “could also be used to illuminate the nefarious activities of abusive winz staff”

            Good luck with getting into WINZ and making that happen felix.

            • felix 27.1.1.1.2.1

              I’m going to 1. assume you’re not actually that dense and 2. assume you have some good reason of your own for posting these utterly dense comments and 3. walk away before I get sucked into your dense black hole of willful and faux ignorance.

              • weka

                Stop being such a nasty shit felix. OAB posted something that I didn’t understand and I asked a very simple clarification. Why you are deciding this means a whole bunch of negative things about me is about your own self and has nothing to do with me. And why you feel the need to be a nasty shit out of the blue is also nothing to do with me. Pretty hard to see what the motivation is, and it’s probably better for me not to think about that.

                It is curious seeing how difficult it is in this thread for people who should be allies to discuss strategy and tactics for dealing with WINZ.

                It’s also interesting that as one of the people who is hugely adversely affected by WINZ, and who has a lot of experience dealing with individual staff and within the communities of people that are beneficiaries, I’ve just been told that I’m presenting a dense black hole of willful and faux ignorance.

                I’m actually unwell, and pretty stressed (and irony is that this week part of that stress is having to deal with WINZ). I largely appreciate the rough and tumble of the standard, but I’m calling bullshit in this thread. If the point of this discussion is to look at how sickness beneficiaries in particular are treated and respected within our society, then that must include creating spaces where people who are unwell can speak. I can tell you categorically that there will be people not commenting in this thread based on what they have read so far. If they’re having difficulty dealing with being vulnerable in the WINZ system, why on earth would they want to come here and be abused?

                These are people who can bring experience and knowledge and good ideas. They might not be as clever as you felix, but they will be much more emotionally intelligent. We need emotional intelligence in this conversation, for reasons that are pretty damn obvious.

                The other thing that bothers me about this thread is that some of the strategies and tactics being discussed have significant rammifications for beneficiaries. It’s gobsmacking that we can’t talk about the risks of what is being proposed, nor look at how those strategies might play out for good or ill.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  When “we” “get into WINZ” to “make that happen”, that will be on account of us forming a government, not some sort of Felix-led paramilitary hacking collective (although that sounds like pretty good fun).

                  • weka

                    Of course. It was throw away comment because felix was being a dick, and because solutions are being presented that strike me as being limited to some future where the Labour party finally gets its shit together. In the meantime, beneficiaries are still there in that system.

                    btw, I appreciate that not everyone has the time to write much here. But short comments such as the sword edge one aren’t always clear and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to ask for clarification.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Felix and McFlock clarified it pretty well.

                      As for government human right abuse, once it’s a criminal offence then it can be investigated and prosecuted. There are mechanisms available to do this, viz. the European Court of Human Rights.

                      As for defending beneficiaries against this government in the short term, getting the stories out matters.

                    • freedom

                      Few topics on the agenda of New Zealand politics expose such a volatile mish-mash of personal viewpoints than that of WINZ and the associated realities of dealing with them. Individual circumstances vary, as do the experiences related from them. As far as how to fix it all? Suffice to say, removing infrastructure rarely makes a community stronger.

                      I don’t believe felix was being a dick highlighting that OAB’s statement was crystal clear. I also don’t think it warranted such a defensive reaction. Sure, it could have been worded a little more softly. It was from felix though! Felix has never been one to offer a gilt edged hand engraved welcome card when it is simpler to grab an old cornflake packet and hastily scrawl hi there, stay real!

                      I am confident felix would agree when I say Why waste the gold when honesty is cheaper?

                      Felix has a quick brain, a big heart and imho throwing malicious abuse about is just not his style. Weka, you strike me as tough enough to not let it worry you. I really don’t see felix as the focal point for your anger. Like so many who have to deal with WINZ, you are staring at a never-ending stream of stress and want a viable realistic solution to help you and the hundreds of thousands like you. Reality is, there isn’t one. WINZ is broken.

                      Our governments of the last three decades have progressively destroyed every vital component of the support structure that had made NZ the incredible community so many of us were brought up in. I have never known wealth, and in general do not begrudge those that do, (some though would do well to live with a little less) but the modern poverty is so widespread and is at such a level, I never thought I would witness it in Aotearoa.

                      When the social support is removed from a social support service the result is that structure collapses. The rubble is occupied by divisive groups of stressed out people behaving more like adversaries, when they should be allies. Look at Labour and Mana and the Green Party, a better example we could not hope for. Instead of combining forces for the good of New Zealand and sacrificing a few [possible] seats to help secure the foxholes of the other, they seem intent on battling every seat tooth and claw. We all know where that leads… busted limbs gashed egos and a third term for National. What is so fucking difficult about stitching together a one off agreement? That at least would get the left back in power!

                      Grab a poll, distribute the left % per party as seats they won’t challenge, then divvy up the rights’ seats or just battle hard on those. Not on each other. In the front of your mind I can hear the screams freedom has lost the plot

                      Let the idea settle though… is it really so difficult? Is it risking anything but the egos? Would it not at least let NZ know the left is serious about helping us all out of the shit we are drowning in? Make no mistake, NZ is drowning. Drowning in overflowing lakes of festering socio-economic horse shit. Instead of taking the shit away and using it to help new growth, we import fertilizer.

                      Not becoming true political allies is acting without reason… except the obvious reason of course … the grabbing at power and getting all of it. A solid left government, once in power, is playing with an open hand and in the next election the voters will let them know who they thought played well. Chances are the left would get even stronger, it sure as hell cannot get any weaker than it is right now. Back to WINZ though.

                      As pointed out in the comments above, a sword has two distinct edges, and both edges have the potential for real harm. What most seem to forget is a sword also has a hilt, and more importantly, the public never get their hands on that crucial form. Welfare Ministers understand one thing very well, like any one wielding a sword knows, the hilt can be a bloody good hammer. It is politicians who wield the power and they must be made to realise that real change does not mean going forward with some new hi-tech super tool.

                      Each term the government of the day brings in new and ever more ridiculous schemes designed by people who haven’t got a fucking clue about daily life as a poor person and then when the schemes fail to radically alter the situation of that poor person they consistently find ways to blame the poor person who their scheme failed. That failure is even easier to achieve if the operational structure is so overly complex that failure is engineered into it. Much the same way modern consumers face designed obsolescence in their products.

                      These failures are usually assessed by one set of poverty experts and any fix it widgit is always designed by another group of poverty experts. Later, all the poverty experts sit in the restaurant congratulating themselves on how brilliant they are. Back in the war room however, the new scheme gets ticked into existence, with just a few tweaks, and another ten thousand fall in collateral damage. The reduced numbers of bludgers are announced loudly to the voracious public and the corpses get dumped into mass graves covered with layers of statistical skulduggery.

                      These decisions and the harm they produce are always decided upon by only one type of person, by a politician. The only persons with any real control over where that hilt swings, are the politicians responsible for that Ministry.

                      There is no simple answer to the complexities of welfare reform that is required. What is required though is what has never happened. A real attempt to listen to those most affected.

                      There are so many common stories of WINZ failures, not to see them as anything but warning shots across the bow is to be left mouth agape in disbelief as you hear of increasingly desperate acts by increasingly desperate people. Luckily there is a fully compliant MSM who will hide any grisly details of what realities created the event. As I wrote at the beginning, the one common element is these dialogues can actually occur in a country that, for now, is fortunate enough to still have such a necessary service. The future of that service rests squarely on the shoulders of the voters.

                      The voters will only help in the battle if they see some benefit from winning the war. The biggest problem facing the voter, on any issue, is we are using paper blades in a carbon steel knife fight.

                    • RedLogix

                      Thank you freedom.

                      That’s the kind of head/heart comment that has kept me coming back to TS.

                      When the social support is removed from a social support service the result is that structure collapses. The rubble is occupied by divisive groups of stressed out people behaving more like adversaries, when they should be allies. Look at Labour and Mana and the Green Party, a better example we could not hope for.

                      QFT. And what’s more the electorate knows it instinctively.

                • Weka I think you’re expecting too much from these threads. Those that know struggle to be heard above the noise of those that like the sound of their own thoughts and ideas imo and there isn’t much exchange, rather very obviously it comes across as, ‘yeah, yeah, but this is what I think’. The big part missing is the listening. All the best to you personally – hope things improve. Kia kaha.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Marty, we need a lot more than short-term solutions to this problem. The fifth Labour government didn’t even reverse Ruthenasia, let alone look for ways to deter future abuse such as this government’s.

                  • weka

                    Thanks marty 🙂 That’s a good reminder.

                    Disappointing, and I think back to the painter on the roof saga and how there seemed to be much understanding here on ts. Not so much today… this thread is one of the more depressing things I’ve seen politically recently. If we can’t do this well here in ts, how can we expect something like the Labour party to get it. Anyhoo, kia kaha, and kia tupato perhaps.

          • Bill 27.1.1.1.3

            Felix, your comment would seem to be based on the assumption that the problem is ‘a few bad apples’, rather than something systemic both backed by and promoting a certain culture. Thing is, it’s not ‘a few bad apples’.

            And the culture within WINZ does not exist in isolation from the rest of society. But sure, weed out a few ‘bad uns’, dust off your hands and go home after a ‘job well done’.

            • felix 27.1.1.1.3.1

              If you have ideas for destroying the systemic cultural values of winz without addressing the individuals enacting them I’m all ears.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Spot on. That’s why we need to go after the individuals. As part of a wider discourse, because this problem isn’t confined to WINZ.

                Bill, crime is systemic, but we still imprison criminals.

                • weka

                  “Bill, crime is systemic, but we still imprison criminals.”

                  Yeah and look how that works out.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Oh, are you determined to be obtuse? I’ll rephrase.

                    Norway, despite its low crime rate and generally enlightened approach to such matters, still locks up criminals. Just because our penal system is the embodiment of the National Party doesn’t mean all penal systems must be abandoned.

                    There’s a lot of defeatism here, all because the National Party’s war on New Zealand is organised and systematic and therefore a difficult problem:.

                    • weka

                      wtf? I’m not being obtuse. How the hell woud I know you were thinking about Norway, given we are talking about NZ. Sorry mate, but there is some weird shit communication happening in this thread.

                      For some time now I’ve appreciated the angle you ahve taken with the topic, esp the human rights stuff. But what concerns me is taht when I try and join the conversation and bring in some other aspects I get told I”m being thick. So either it’s ok for others to engage, or people just want to use this thread to graffiti their slogans and everyone else be damned.

                      I have some concerns about what is bring proposed. It seems bloody strange that it’s so hard to talk about that.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I wasn’t talking about Norway, I’m just using them as an example.

                      My concern is that despite other countries successfully negotiating this issue – I’ve already mentioned the European Court of Human Rights for example – lots of commenters here seem to regard any prospect of binding New Zealand to these minimum standards as being in the too hard basket.

                      The fact is, the stories that have come to light, come to light over and over again with monotonous and depressing regularity, and the reason nothing ever changes is that WINZ are not bound by human rights legislation.

                      Attach consequences to their behaviour and watch it change.

              • Bill

                Did I say that the individuals shouldn’t be addressed? No.

                What I did say was that, that, in and of itself, is not, and will not be enough and (to add to my point) if that is all that is done, nothing at all will change. Systemic cultures have this nasty little habit of reasserting themselves regardless of individuals having been weeded out.

                • felix

                  And likewise, I didn’t suggest that addressing the actions of individuals was in and of itself enough.

                • RedLogix

                  If I recall one of the few things that can be credited to Rodney Hide (and saying anything positive about that particular carbuncle does not come easily) – is how he tackled a similarly abusive culture in IRD during the 1990’s.

                  Those bastards were taking delight in driving small business owners to suicide.

                  Hide took it on and beat the system into shape. And by and large things got much better. Most people in an organisation take their cues from the people at the top, emulating their tone and agenda.

                  My take is with some lprent said a while back, that most (not all) WINZ staff are just ordinary people doing their best to be reasonable in an unreasonable system.

                  Which is not to say that make an example of the nastiest shits should be ruled out.

  28. finbar. 28

    The Labour lack lustre,is that they are reaching for a compromise player,the gnats point it out every turn,your only true friends are the union ones,and Labour is trying to steal the middle voter, the gnats play ground of lost and won elections.

    • finbar. 28.1

      Then again, the battle for self assured victory lays in a class who!s political care is what taxes their credit card number the least,you think that that sort of ground would be to a Laboured politician, Autumn leaf fall for the spring garden.Not so it seems,as their wage and future outlook overrides those lesser valued who!s belief they sacrifice for their way of control and ego.

  29. captain hook 29

    the real problem is that New Zealand is overpopulated and still an economic area of ‘recent development’.
    There will always be unemployment as humans wont stop procreating. National is supposed to be the party of business but that just means they suck up to the cost cutters. In the meantime they appeal to the basest instincts of the rest of the population by bashing those who are least able to do anything about it.
    The tension between normative and positive thinking just creates red herrings and noise when there is no real possible resolution without measures that are not acceptable to the proletariat as they pay the most taxes.

  30. aerobubble 30

    Citizens have the right to a job, choice, to a living. Government has a duty to citizens to provide a market place where citizens can get a suitable and rewarding job.

    However, that duty has been turned on its head, its now the unemployed responsibility to get work and as has been pointed out WINZ hasn’t the tools to assist. Or rather heavy bonuses when it can get citizens into any job possible no matter how inappropriate, temporary, or under paid.

    WINZ should not exist, a basic negative income tax for all is the most efficient means to insure that government delivers its duty to citizens. Then where there is still systemic barriers to work for the disabled, etc, hire disabled peopled to deliver them, etc, etc.

    Just as politician have absorbed the neo-liberal economic cool aid, so they have taken up beating up on the most marginalized and powerless.

  31. rhinocrates 31

    I’ve let Shearer know of Sarah’s blog. No reply of course. Arsehole.

  32. A VOTER 32

    The only thing that will change this country is if all the opposition parties agree before the election to unite in one aim to over throw the present govt and then sort out a new direction that will redress the inequalities that have have arisen during the last five years and do not strangle the democratic rights of all NZers to a decent life that has a govt that deals with NZ and not the egocentric aspirations of a privileged class who bully and denigrate people in order to have their needs driven by a lobbyist govt, like a pile of greedy rats consuming all and climb to the top of the heap of those who cant keep up or who will always be just ordinary people who would be satisfied to have a real job that pays a decent wage instead of being on a benefit which only gives power to the powerful to manipulate the lives of those who have the least in society

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