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NRT: Policy of fear

Written By: - Date published: 3:58 pm, November 20th, 2014 - 17 comments
Categories: national, same old national, Social issues - Tags: , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn

Community groups have a vital role in New Zealand. In addition to speaking out on social problems such as poverty, mental illness and addiction, they also often have a direct role in fixing them via government funding. Unfortunately there’s an obvious tension between those two roles – and one National is exploiting to stifle criticism of its agenda:

Community groups are being muzzled by fears that speaking out against Government policies will result in funding cuts.

One organisation, which wished to remain anonymous, told Radio New Zealand about subtle threats from a cabinet minister it refused to name, and said the fear of being punished financially for speaking out had worsened over the past three years.


Those fears were backed by a recent survey by Victoria University senior lecturer Sandra Grey and teaching associate Charles Sedgwick.

The pair conducted two surveys into advocacy at non-Government organisations with the same 93 community groups.

Dr Grey said in the latest survey, conducted over the past year, about half of respondents said if they spoke out their funding would be cut, compared with about 25 percent in 2008.

What changed in 2008? We switched from a Labour to a National government.

Naturally, the organisation which controls the purse strings, MSD, sees no problems here. But they wouldn’t, would they? After all, they and the politicians who give the orders are the prime beneficiaries of this policy of fear. But terrorising and intimidating community groups doesn’t exactly seem democratic, does it?

17 comments on “NRT: Policy of fear”

  1. weka 1

    MSD? Does Internal Affairs not adminster community group funding? Or are we talking about contracted services?

    • adam 1.1

      “poverty, mental illness and addiction”on these issues, MSD holds the purse strings. For most disability, or human development (god I hate that term) issues it’s MDS. They also have a few other funding oversite roles they perform, again predominantly in the areas of disability funding. The exception is Workbridge – which is an odd fish – don’t start me on how odd – as it is an organisation which gives me the heeby jeebies.

      Internal affairs, is the fluff stuff these days – Sports, clubs, non-political focused community groups etc…

      • Tracey 1.1.1

        Peter dunne… Fluff stuff?


      • weka 1.1.2

        adam, are you talking about NGOs that have contracts to provide services? As opposed to organisations like Rape Crisis or Women’s Refuge who apply for govt funding but aren’t contracted.

        • adam

          Yes mainly, but with the new super ministries – more and more is being overseen by MSD.

          Shine Auckland work on funding, and again they run on the smell of an oily rag. See the Lottery commision was the only central government support they got http://www.2shine.org.nz/recent-funders-

          I should also have said more and more is being pushed out to local government.

          And charities – I wish the rich would just pay their bloody taxes – rather than be motivated by a whim to be charitable.

  2. McFlock 2

    There is no corruption in New Zea-land /
    There is no cowshit in our waterways…

  3. Tracey 3

    My concern is reduced funding to Community Law, for any reason. We keep being told if employees have their rights breached by employers get a lawyer. Well, reduced funding of Community Law and changes to legal aid it is getting harder and harder for low income to get decent advice.

    • adam 3.1

      Virtually impossible in Auckland now, unless you single and have no income.

      I know community law do a great job, with what limited resources they have – but they have gone from running on the smell of an oily rag, to the rag has flown out the window and a hint of a whiff, is all that’s left.

      Does make a mockery of John Keys statements about his labour law changes – I wonder if people noticed John Key and Company hates them having any money yet?

      • Tracey 3.1.1

        Yes, all those saying if a layer breaches you have rights… But many cant afford their rights.

        I come from a household of $100k annual income and

        Leaky home claim cost us 135k in unrecoverable costs in a 330k award.
        My partner was made redundant from a position that was never removed. Mediation cost us unrecoverable 5k
        Had a defamation case, not pursued cos maximum award would be 10k, but unrecoverable costs 30k.

        And we are in a comfortable position.

        Too many people have to take the creeping erosion of their rights cos they need the job just to pay the bills. God forbid anyone in the family gets sick, or grows out of shoes and clothes.

        • adam

          I’m one of the sick ones Tracey – it’s why I growl quite hard. And have a revolutionary bent. You may have noticed I’m away from this site for days on end as well 🙂 The neo-liberal revolution has been very hard on us disabled – actually it’s been a bloody nightmare.

          I know enough law, to defend myself when I have to – but the reality is most disabled and sick – have not the time, patience or the inclination to do so. And in the field of employment, disabled are better off being their own bosses. I see many disable community groups are feeling that way too. It was the only way I was able to get away from winz and be sane. I was lucky I have a great partner who supported me to do it. (That comment is in line with the Workbridge comment above – I should write a post on Workbridge and ask Iprent to publish it )

          • Tracey

            I empathise adam and more than that I advocate for folks like you whenever I can.

            You could @ workbridge. I am glad you had some support. Those with disabilities without support are cast adrift and totalky reliant on the beneficence of our state service

            I have a mentally and physically disabled bro in law with cerebal palsy. Ruth dyson in her wisdome made thousands of people get retested to see if they could work afterall. I went to her office in chchch and asked her to point me to the cure for cerebal palsy discovered on her watch. She said she appreciated our distress blah blah… In the end her govt wanted to be seen as hard on beneficiaries, instead of putting filters in their systems to exempt people like my bro in law they put he and his elderly mother/carer through worry…

            He is in residential care. We supplement his living but most in that facility have poor family… They subsist.

            My partner works for a charity working in the disability sector.

            This is why my questions to folks in the lp leadership q and a here.

        • BassGuy

          Good grief.

          I just noticed another couple of hours have disappeared from my time sheet (on top of a pre-existing two dozen hours). What you’ve said makes it look like I’ll have no way to recover that from my employer without going into debt – and I’m already in debt because of the mysteriously vanishing hours. I haven’t really investigated what I can do about it as yet, but I’m bordering on resigning.

          • Shrubbery

            The .pdf guides on the right hand side at this page of MBIE’s website: http://www.dol.govt.nz/er/solvingproblems/ are a good place to start. I would recommend contacting the Employment Relations Authority for advice on how to go about recovering lost wages. In the meantime, rigorously record all time worked in a diary with full details, so you can use that against what they are paying you for – it will be important evidence later on if you take them to the ERA.

            • McFlock

              definitely support all shrubbery’s advice, especially the diary and keep all documentation. And write down whatever the boss says as soon as is practical after the conversation (taking notes while the boss is talking is a bit confrontational, but hiding a tape recorder might be bad faith/dodgy – just make a note afterwards).

              • Tracey

                If you are in a city there ought to be a Community Law Centre which dispenses free advice. Call them or visit them.

                Ask your employer to meet. Ask your employer if you can record the meeting and then offer him a copy so that you are both happy with the formal record of the meeting. He/She cannot stop you taking notes, so if the recording is refused, take notes, begin with “Boss declined to allow the meeting to be recorded”

                You called your boss your employer. Are you an employee or a contractor? If you are an employee find the union that covers your sector and call them immediately as long as you join up they will represent you for free.

                IF you do all this and over the next few weeks the employers attitude changes and it seems they might be trying to get you to resign or move you on, your written records may be useful for a claim of constructive dismissal and damages. In many instances when an employer realizes the employee has kept good records (and they haven’t) their lawyer will advise them to settle (unless the lawyer is a fee farmer).

                General tips

                Employees, contractors, anyone

                If you dont have a hard copy diary buy one (dont rely on electronic only because sometimes you can write down your recollection on paper sooner than you can get to advice). Use it to note meetings, hours worked and to write down conversations/agreements make orally after the meeting has finished. Always record times if you can.

                People under estimate the value of this in ALL aspects of their lives. If you never ned it, so what. It stays in boxes in the garage. If you do need it, it will be an invaluable, contemporaneous record of what went on.

  4. lefty 4

    This is nothing new.

    I worked in the community sector for many years.

    The Clark government colonised and controlled the community sector to an extent never seen before.

    It sapped the will and courage of many organisations and turned them from advocates of citizens rights to unquestioning and passive service delivery vehicles for government policy.

    It also made them sitting ducks for the incoming National government.

    The problem is not just about this National government, it is about an agenda that seeks to narrow down democracy and exclude as many people as possible from exercising their rights and participating in society so that capital can do as it chooses without contest.

    Labour and National are equally guilty of this mindset.

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