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.

      eg

      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 1.1.1.1

          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.

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    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long
    Dum-de-doo. Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils. But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: 22 BLOGGERS WITH ADVICE FOR RESEARCHERS AND EVALUATORS, ILLUSTRATED I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago

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