web analytics

Security: social, financial, personal, digital

Written By: - Date published: 9:05 am, April 10th, 2013 - 17 comments
Categories: accountability, benefits, child welfare, class war, david cunliffe, democracy under attack, families, jobs, Judith Collins, labour, paula bennett, poverty, public services, unemployment - Tags: ,

Yesterday more planks in the NAct raft of small changes, were before the House.  These small changes add up to major changes that whittle away the rights of individuals, undermine democracy, and increase hardship and insecurity for those on low incomes.  Meanwhile the government is failing to fulfill it’s responsibilities, and gaining more dubious powers over people’s lives.

In the debate on the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill, Third Reading,* Jacinda Adern began by saying that this year was the 75th anniversary of NZ Social Security.  Ardern’s speech highlights the main problems with Bennett’s punitive investment approach, in which all the responsibility is on the claimant.  Ardern then goes on to outline Labour’s vision for the re-instating of Social Security as it was originally intended; a system that does not divide people into the deserving and undeserving poor; a system based on the social contract, in which the state also has responsibilities.

She said that the Social Security system needs to be changed, but not in the way this Bill is doing.  Ardern argued, that if we want to rebuild it so that it is,

… one that acts as a dignified transition for those who need it for a short time; and a dignified support system for those, for reasons of terminal illness or significant disability, will need it for a longer period of time, we no longer need to have the political games that are ocurring around welfare.  It is Labour’s vision that we rebuild the foundations of what we built 35 years ago.  We first must start by remembering the social contract and that is that the state has a responsibility too.

Ardern goes on to identify ways in which the current government is failing to meet it’s responsibilities for instant by not ensuring there are sufficient jobs available.  She argues that this government have produced “these punitive welfare reforms” at a time of high unemployment, and “massive job losses”.  Ardern then outlines all the hurdles of appointments people need to go through to get some support, all without limited individual support from a case manager.

“This  is the investment approach that the minister speaks of.  This Bill tears up the idea of a social contract.

… The government’s job is simply to sanction you when to fail.

Then Ardern outlines Labour’s vision of a proactive system for the 76th year of social security.  It is one that will recognise the major and tough job of case managers, who must be supported.  Labour’s vision will incorporate returning dignity to the system.  Labour will take a long term view, for instance through provision of genuine investments in decent training and employment opportunities.

It may not be glamorous or something the minister can stick a ribbon on and sell to the media. But these are the families that need long term intervention, and not just by a work broker.

This is a significant and important promise on the part of Labour, and many of us will be watching to see that they do not deviate from such a vision.

Another Bill before the House yesterday was Peter Dunne’s Child Support Amendment Bill Third Reading.  In this Cunliffe explained why Labour would not be supporting it.  he describes it as a missed opportunity, by (Dunne) “the little engine that couldn’t”.  He asks why the minister didn’t write into the Bill that the interests of the child come first. This is also the best for society, because it is more likely to produce people that grow up to be productive members of society.

Around the time the government changed, in 2008,

… there was $1.3 Billion of uncollected child support debt and penalties. 4 years later, under this ministers watch, this has doubled to $2.7 Bilion of  unpaid child – it’s doubled in 4 years.

Cunliffe quotes Judith Collins who said, “Writing off debts gives the worst possible message to absent parents.” However, in contrast, this Bill rightly writes down penalties. But why did it take the government 4 years to do it?  There is an inflexible, non-transparent “formula change”, with limited range at the heart of the Bill.  It is likely that it will result in less money going to the mothers, who are usually the main carers.  Meanwhile, the costs of administering these provisions will rise “$1000 million of red tape, to wrap a bow around a debt mountain that’s doubled on its watch.” This is fiddling with the system, not fixing it.  This Bill needs to go back to the drawing board.

Labour is also concerned that the strengthening of IRD’s ability to make automatic deductions without consent.  Cunliffe notes that today, on the same day as this reading, Dunne has “issued a press release suggesting that IRD should be able to share for the first time, personal and private taxpayer information with other government agencies, for the purposes of crime fighting.”  This when there is a poor record of emailing private information to the wrong individuals.

And Cunliffe concludes his speech by needling the government benches on issues of privacy, PM shoulder tapping, and general lack of trust.

These Bills are all part of the way that our current government is whittling away democracy, government responsibility and trust, and increasingly taking away people’s rights to privacy, social security, and access to fair and transparent systems.

* I have previously posted about the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill – here, and here.


17 comments on “Security: social, financial, personal, digital”

  1. dpalenski 1

    Arden speech brought tears of hope to my eyes is Labour fighting for history now that Thatcher is dead I hope so

    • Colonial Weka 1.1

      Here’s the problem though. Adern sounds good, until you start listening for the detail. The feeling and intent is good, but Labour still haven’t fronted up with policy that will make much of a difference to welfare recipients.


      It is one that will recognise the major and tough job of case managers, who must be supported.

      Nice, but WINZ doesn’t use a case management system at the moment. If a beneficiary wants to talk with someone about their benefit etc, they make an appointment, and then they see the first available staff. ie someone who may never have met the beneficiary before, and probably doesn’t know anything about their situation or benefit entitlements. This is an incredibly inefficient way of working, and it is demeaning to beneficiaries because it puts them in the position of having to fight for their entitlements every time they engage with WINZ. It is such a poor way for WINZ to be working (and it’s been done before this way), that I can’t believe that NACT are doing this for any other reason than to undermine beneficiaries and the system in general (most likely to prepare it for privatisation).

      Even before this round of fucking with case management, back when beneficiaries did have an actual case manager, the system was pretty dysfunctional. Including under Labour.

      What I want to see from Labour is a statement that outlines how they will expect WINZ to run case management effectively, including how the new case management system will support beneficiaries and frontline staff, and the ways in which frontline staff will be trained in different benefit areas (eg Medical, DPB etc) so that staff understand the specific issues involved.

      Until Labour start putting policy detail on the table, it’s all just emotionally satisfying rhetoric. Sorry, but given Labour’s history, they just can’t be trusted until they say what they will actually do.

      • karol 1.1.1

        The context of Ardern’s quoted statement was that she was critical of the way, at the moment, people are put through loads of hurdles without any contact with a case manager – they are just sent through processes with a large group of others (eg job training workshops).

        I am pleased that Ardern has shifted away from a Shearer type focus on the “undeserving” poor. She is no longer just focusing on work readiness, but the importance of supporting those who need long term support for whom paid work may be inappropriate.

        However, I agree, weka, that pressure needs to be kept up on Labour to honour, and flesh out the vision Ardern outlined yesterday.

        • Olwyn

          I agree Karol, that speech did have a tone of commitment. Adrern did call National to account for vilifying the people one social welfare while at the same time asking people to employ them. She also made the distinction between welfare and social security.And I agree that the pressure needs to remain on Labour not to renege in this area, especially while it remains under Shearer’s leadership.

      • NickS 1.1.2

        Until Labour start putting policy detail on the table, it’s all just emotionally satisfying rhetoric. Sorry, but given Labour’s history, they just can’t be trusted until they say what they will actually do.

        And under Shearer I get the feeling that it will not happen :/

        Mainly because PR hacks will claim it wont attract “the centre” away while Labour bleeds support from it grass roots.

  2. Dr Terry 2

    God for Ardern! Cunliffe may not in fact be the Leader, but he sure acts as the Leader should!

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    there was $1.3 Billion of uncollected child support debt and penalties. 4 years later, under this ministers watch, this has doubled to $2.7 Bilion of unpaid child – it’s doubled in 4 years.

    Yeah and there’s probably a good reason for that and it’s probably the legislation. Anecdotal story:

    My nephew is a building contractor (otherwise known as a carpenter) and before the GFC was on good money. After the GFC he wasn’t with his gross income dropping from 130k+ to less than 30k. In the first year after the GFC he got a large bill from ACC – something like $5k. After some discussions with ACC it turns out that ACC base a contractors present ACC levy on what the persons income was two years ago.

    I suspect that child support payments from absent parents is the same – and we’ve had a lot of people become unemployed over the last few years and then getting charged with child support payments far in excess of what they can pay due to the system being far out of date.

    • Rogue Trooper 3.1

      when I was paying support for my daughter (in addition to informal contributions),the same approach applied; liability assessments based on previous years earnings and for a review to be permitted the change in income had to be greater than a certain %; anyway, when one goes from 70K to part-time gardening, or has time off for illness or study mid financial year, on and on it goes and the penalties were certainly cumulative back then.

    • RedBaronCV 3.2

      Er No. Wage and salary earners have their income based on the 10 months ending Dec 12 for the assessments that go out in Mar 13. The self employed have their’s based on the last tax return filed plus I think a CPI %. Self employed can file up to 12 mths later if they have a tax agent. Mar 12 has to be filed by Mar 13 so if they hurry up and file their income is more recent.

      At $130,000 your nephew had about $40,000 that was not included in any calculation so he would have been paying for say 2 kids, around $17,000, about 10% of his gross salary and for that he gets the free childcare and all the kid’s bills paid. She’s probably using all her income.

      The taxpayer stumps up the rest by way of DPB and WFF even though he could afford more.
      Catastrophic drops are catered for – a current earning level can be used.

      With that income why wasn’t he saving for a rainy day and why was he not paying more to let the taxpayer off the hook?

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        You did see the bit where I mentioned that my nephew was dealing with ACC didn’t you?

        With that income why wasn’t he saving for a rainy day…

        He was – it was wiped out pretty quickly after the GFC hit. Several months without an income will do that to people.

  4. RedBaronCV 4

    Yes, no income does wipe people out like – umm women on benefits and their kids that live in poverty but somehow we have systems that do not cut them any slack. Like the Legislation passed today.

    So yes I feel for anybody who takes a large hit in their income but is it permanent, or somewhat temporary as there was quite a lot of slack given by IRD etc around the GFC and Child support can be brought down quickly. Also are these people pulling there weight in good times? $130000 is about um $75000 in the hand for a single male after tax and child support.

    • felix 4.1

      How are you calculating that, RB?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      So yes I feel for anybody who takes a large hit in their income but is it permanent, or somewhat temporary as there was quite a lot of slack given by IRD etc around the GFC and Child support can be brought down quickly.

      Would you please read what I’m writing?

      I said that my nephew was dealing with ACC. It had nothing to do with child support as my nephew doesn’t have any children.

      I was using it as a story to show how legislation could be the cause of the blowout in unpaid child support.

    • Dr Dan 4.3

      You have obviously never been involved with child support. Draco is right, the IRD are usually intransigent and will not usually allow re-estimation if they can help it, The excuses are things like there is no proof (although there are penalties to catch out false estimates) and the old crock of “potential earnings” (even if you have no income you could potentially earn $200k).
      Why do you feel it is fine for men paying child support to be wiped out, what effect do you think it has on their children when they top themselves as hundreds do?
      This is a vile piece of legislation and it’s about time it was rewritten with an eye to fairness and achieving the best outcomes for all parties. Dunne Nothing unfortunately is not the man for the job.

  5. Michael 5

    I think Ardern’s speech was empty window dressing – designed to pander to middle class sensitivities about increasing poverty (and growing risk of downward social mobility) but without actually telling them they will have to pay more tax to restore the welfare state. With Labour, the devil is always in the details, compared to NACT, which is upfront about its desire to shaft the poor. There was a noticeable lack of support for Ardern from Labour’s heavies, with supporting speeches left to the backbenchers. I see no commitment from Labour to repeal the provisions in this Bill, if it ever forms a government again; neither do I see a commitment to enact decent social welfare legislation appropriate for the needs of New Zealanders in the 21st century. This should be an absolute priority of any “Labour” party worth the name, IMHO.

    • karol 5.1

      I agree that Ardern’s statements seem out of step with the basic values of Team Shearer. However, I think it’s interesting that Ardern has moved from Shearer apologist and implicitly supporting his undeserving poor line, to explicit support for a full reinstatement of social security as it was intended in the 1930s.

      This is a bit of Kremlinology on my part. But I will be watching with interest to see where it (and Ardern’s politics, lead.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • Time for Paula Bennett to front up on HNZ P Fiasco
      Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett needs to rein in Housing NZ and sort out the mess that’s been created by the organisation’s misuse of methamphetamine testing procedures, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.   ...
    1 hour ago
  • A charge on plastic bags – debunking some myths
    The launch of my Members’ Bill last week, which would introduce a 15 cent charge on single-use plastic bags at the check-out, has generated a lot of comment on mainstream and social media. From The Paul Henry Show at the ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 days ago
  • National’s $1trillion property sandcastle
    The National government's failure to fix the housing crisis has seen the ballooning and unsustainable property market touch the $1 trillion mark, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. "Labour wants an economy that creates high wage work that is based ...
    2 days ago
  • Government failure on housing crisis drives Reserve Bank to add tools
    If the Government was delivering a comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis, it is unlikely that the Reserve Bank would be continuing to pursue debt to income limits for lending for housing, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    3 days ago
  • International embarrassment for NZ likely over National’s failure to protect Maui dolphin
    New Zealanders who care about Maui dolphin should prepare to feel embarrassed: the Government is about to be put to shame on the international stage for its lack of action to protect Maui’s dolphin. The International Whaling Commissions’ 66th Biennial ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    5 days ago
  • Why don’t we spend $1b to keep people out of jail, rather than spending it on keeping them in?
    Earlier this week, Corrections Minister Judith Collins announced the government’s ‘solution’ to our burgeoning prison population. It seems that most, if not all, of Bill English’s hard-won surplus is going to disappear into another round of prison-building.  That must be ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    7 days ago
  • PKE Ship Sent Packing – Not Too Soon
    It is appropriate that the palm kernel expeller (PKE) ship off Tauranga has been sent packing. For weeks I have been saying this ship needed to be sent away, but it seems as if MPI has been trying to find ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    7 days ago
  • Do you #LoveSnow?
    I was a lucky kid. When I was about five or six my mum and auntie took me up to Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu and taught me to ski. As a young kid I thought there was no bigger ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    7 days ago
  • Awa Kairangi/Hutt River – Swimmable?
    On Thursday night I hosted a great swimmable rivers meeting organised by the local Greens in Heretaunga (Hutt Valley). It was great to see about 70 people attend and engage in the topic. We were welcomed by Te Atiawa representative ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    7 days ago
  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    7 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    7 days ago
  • Barry Coates on his first weeks in Parliament
    Week one in Parliament has been quite an occasion. I would like to share the experience. I had given up on the prospect of getting into Parliament before the election and had been enjoying the diverse work I was doing ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    7 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    1 week ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    1 week ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    1 week ago
  • Vote Sooty Shearwater/Tītī for Bird of the Year
    Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) are amazing and deserve your vote in Forest and Bird’s Bird of the Year competition.  They make one of the longest known bird migrations, flying an annual round trip of 64,000 kms across the entire Pacific ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    1 week ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    1 week ago
  • Energy use going in the wrong direction
    New data out this week from Statistics NZ paints a concerning picture of energy use across the economy under this National Government. You won’t be surprised to hear that there is some seriously worrying information here about how dirty our ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    1 week ago
  • Junior Doctors go on Strike
    Thousands of junior doctors took strike action for 24 hours this week for better working conditions and safer working hours.  The Green Party supports their cause, and particularly their claims to reduce the number of days worked from up to ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Strengthening our relationship with the Rātana movement
    It was a privilege to visit Rātana Pā last week with fellow Greens’ Co-leader James Shaw, our Māori Caucus and senior staff to meet with the leaders of te iwi mōrehu, to strengthen the ties between the Green Party and ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    2 weeks ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disconnected thinking dirties the water
    Iain Rabbitts’ belief that drinking water quality, charging for water use and the land use that leads to water quality degradation should be treated separately is part of the problem we have right now in this country. The connection is ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Report back from Hands Off Our Tamariki hui
    This week I attended a hui in Otaki organised by Hands Off Our Tamariki about the proposed reforms to the Child Young Persons and their Families Act. Moana Jackson and Paora Moyle spoke.  They expressed deep, profound concern about the proposed ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s visionless immigration policy
    National’s recent immigration announcement is a continuation of the visionless approach to government that it has displayed in the last three terms. Rather than using the levers of government to implement a sustainable immigration policy that benefits new and current ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seclusion rooms in schools
    Schools are undoubtedly stretched and underfunded to cope with students with high learning support needs. But this cannot justify the use of rooms (or cupboards) as spaces to forcibly isolate children. It has emerged via media that this practice continues ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Public should get a say on new Waikato power station
    I had an opinion piece published in the Waikato Times about a controversial proposal to build a new gas-fired power station. It’s not on their website yet, so here it is: If you think the public would get a say ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • MSD and their investment approach
    The Government talks about investment but there is no investment. It is not investment if it isn’t over the whole of life and if there is no new money  — Shamubeel Eaqub   Investment sounds like adequate resourcing but this ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Certainty needed for community services
    A couple of months ago I was at a seminar where three community organisations were presenting. Two of the three presenters were waiting to find out if their organisation would get a contract renewed with MSD. Not knowing if their ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Domestic Violence – some advice for the media
    For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to use Domestic Violence (DV) as a proxy for intimate partner violence. DV is not isolated to physical abuse in a relationship between people with the same power. DV is a pattern of ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 weeks ago
  • Leroy’s New Paw Prints
    Leroy, an Auckland great dane recently received a new 3D printed bionic leg after cancer was discovered. I think this is a fantastic story and highlights the real potential of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing Leroy’s prosthetic was printed in titanium and was ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    3 weeks ago