Shameful tactics on beneficiaries

Written By: - Date published: 7:40 am, April 8th, 2016 - 43 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, poverty, welfare - Tags: , , , ,

Why does it take a volunteer organisation like Auckland Action Against Poverty to help people get the benefits that they are entitled to? Yesterday:

Beneficiaries line up for help

A crew of more than 100 volunteers are helping people access the benefits they’re entitled to at Mangere Work and Income this week, with large queues forming outside the premises from 6.30am. … Spokeswoman Sue Bradford said even the group’s most seasoned advocates were surprised at the number of people waiting when they arrived to start work on Tuesday.

“This week our crew of over a hundred volunteers are doing everything possible to help people access the assistance to which they’re entitled,” Ms Bradford said.

“Ideally people should be receiving their full entitlements from Work and Income as a matter of course. “Instead we are seeing hundreds of people in desperate need, often with no food in the house, and not even the most basic of household equipment like beds, a washing machine or a fridge.”

She said many people were not getting the full amount of assistance they were entitled to, in situations where $30 to $50 a week more would make a huge difference. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

By lunchtime on Tuesday the group had to turn people away, as so many were already waiting.

It is shameful that people are not getting the support they need. Bravo and thanks to the volunteers for doing a job that should not be necessary.


Sue Bradford (along with CEO of the Mangere Budgeting Service Darryl Evans, Child Poverty Action Group Economy Spokesperson Susan St John) were interviewed by Waatea 5th Estate on this – see the video here (ht Maui).

On poverty see also the talk “Hearing The Voices Of Our children” by National Advocacy Manager at UNICEF NZ, Deborah Russel, in Wellington. Video here.


Update:

43 comments on “Shameful tactics on beneficiaries”

  1. Incognito 1

    Make it as hard as possible, and even harder. That would be Paula Bennett, wouldn’t it? While John Key has a different edict for an ever-so-slightly different group of people: make it as easy as possible, and then even easier.

    It is obvious that Key, Bennett, and National have only the best interests of all New Zealanders at heart.

  2. Jono 2

    Hey some good coverage on this watch Bomber Bradbury over on the Daily Blog. He did three shows on this on the ‘Fifth Estate’ was very good.I don’t have a link. But if you go to the Daily Blog you can find it easy.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    The reason human rights crims can get away with these abuses is they never get prosecuted for them. All history shows that the Right has to be forced to behave ethically.

  4. Astata G 4

    The work of volunteers is commendable but they should be also fighting to make the system more accessible – easier forms, more transparent information at the WINZ website. I looked at the WINZ website trying to work out how much I would be entitled to in a hypothetical situation and it was impossible. The website ‘benefits A-Z’ lists a few dozen benefits. Main benefits have more information about them but it is distributed over several sub-sites in short bits, confusing to navigate. Add-on benefits do not have detailed information about entitlements, just very basic information and ‘contact us for more’. This is ridiculous, everyone should be able to just go to the website and work out their entitlements there, and it would save WINZ workers’ time too.

    • weka 4.1

      I agree all that is very hard to access and one of the things that WINZ should be sorting out. Not holding my breath 😉

      The pages you want to get to are the MAP ones (Manuals and Proceedures). These are the rules and guidelines that WINZ staff themselves have to work with. The easiest way to find them for any benefit is to look at the bottom of every page you open.

      eg, here’s the main Accommodation Supplement page,

      http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/a-z-benefits/accommodation-supplement.html

      Near the bottom of that page is a link Manuals and Proceedures,

      http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/map/income-support/extra-help/accommodation-supplement/introduction.html

      You are now in the part of the site that has all the qualifications and should have the formulas they use to calculate payments. It’s still a lot of links and back and forth, but it’s better than the front end of the site which says little and directs people to phone WINZ for an appt.

    • adam 4.2

      A little off the mark Astata G.

      It’s hard to occupy a web page, crash it maybe – not occupy it. The plan was to show the flaws in the system, and help who we could.

      As for fixing the web page, I hope you can take the led on that Astata G as you seem to see the faults there.

      My focus was not the web page because I was personally aware, some people have English as second language. Others are not computer literate, and others had disabilities which meant that using a web page was not possible. All of which I was able to advocate for, over the impact.

      Also the need is dire, as Sue said, people were camping out. My experience was getting beds for people and getting them off the floor, was the number one need.

      Also another personal observation, was the amount of extra suffering that disabled in our community had to endure, because of the systems put in place by this national government.

      NOTE!!! I’m only talking for myself and my experience. I’m not talking for, nor on behalf of any of the other volunteers. Nor do I speak for the Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) in any way. If you want any comments from AAAP then you need to ask them directly. I am a private individual who volunteered to help with the impact. My comments are as a private individual who volunteered to help with the impact.

      • Astata G 4.2.1

        adam,

        I did not say that you should be doing something about the webpage instead of helping people the way you do. I just think doing both would make sense. You said yourself that there were more people than you could help. You can’t help everybody, and helping people deal with the system without challenging the system can legitimise the system. I know you are fighting for a increase in benefits but in the current political climate this is unlikely. Accessible info on the website (in several languages, like some other govt pages do) is a very reasonable request that would, I imagine, get public support and put WINZ in a difficult situation. Getting help with using a computer form is much easier (go to any CAB, library) than getting help with the esoteric knowledge about benefit entitlements.

        • adam 4.2.1.1

          Astata G

          We were challenging the system, and that was one of the aims. The system is broken, myself, and I’m sure others who volunteered, plus AAAP will be saying more about the impact in the coming days and weeks.

          Please take my challenge up – and take the lead on changing the income support web page. I was not criticising you for what you said, I agree with what you wrote and how you have responded. I just don’t have the time, and have many other projects on the go.

          I’d love for it to change, and I think you have the skill set, plus the foresight to see it changed for the better.

          So take the bull by the horns, you have my support.

          Kia Kaha

  5. Sabine 5

    Unless it is clear what type of benefit and how much is available for people in need, the WINZ drones can lord over the poor masses and hand out what they deem any person is deserving of it.

    Again, in Germany or France for that matter, one can go online and actually calculate what they can get at a minimum.
    Newly unemployed in Germany? Once your application is lodged and it is approved (i.e. one has to have worked for a certain time) one can expect 60% of their last net pay.
    No fear of fronting up to some worker, who may have poured coffee over her new frock, or got stuck in traffic for several hours or did not get laid last night, who may just simply be of foul humor and who thinks the applicant is not submissive, obedient and downtrodden enough to deserve a generous hand out.
    The fact that WINZ employees can literally decide what one receives in itself should be abolished. Clear guidelines as to what is available, how much is available in what circumstances should be made public on the WINZ webpage.
    While the benefits in many cases may still not be enough in certain times, it would relieve stress on both the applicant and the case worker.

    And for me this is why a UBI is attractive. It takes away the shroud of secrecy and the power individual Winz drones have over people. No bullying, here is your UBI. Here are the forms for top ups if needed.

  6. maui 6

    Maybe its best to couch this in economic terms, because the persecutory right doesn’t seem to understand much else. This is costing us greatly, the stress put on this section of our society, and the associated health problems, depression, obesity, dietary probs, etc. The crime, vandalism, assault, theft, etc that emanates out from these communites. WTF are we doing? WTF have we created here?

    Meanwhile the middle classes don’t seem to understand, here they are busily forming groups to paint over any graffiti that sprouts up. This somehow fixes everything. Laughable.

  7. weka 7

    “Why does it take a volunteer organisation like Auckland Action Against Poverty to help people get the benefits that they are entitled to?”

    1. because starting in the 1980s, successive governments have taken increasingly punitive approaches to Social Security. They’ve run the economy with a permanent unemployment rate, they’ve undercut workers rights, kept wages low and transformed employment making it much less secure and creating both an underclass and a precariat class. There aren’t enough jobs to go around and in the minds of the political class, in order to still have people willing to work under those conditions they have to be forced. Hence the punitive approach.

    2. concurrent with and consequent to that, NZ as a society has increasingly villified people on benefits as lazy, bludgers, people ripping off the system etc. People who create policy and people who staff WINZ are part of that society and there has been an increase within the departments of these attitudes.

    3. multiple piecemeal semi-restructuring within WINZ that has been designed to reduce costs and to allow more coersion of beneficiaries rather than creating effiency in teh system alongside supporting people in need, has created a system that is hugely complex, that many people don’t understand (including WINZ workers), and that is probably impossible to fix.

    4. WINZ is understaffed.

    5. there is a long history of Work and Income and its predecessors not informing clients of their entitlements. So people in need could get entitlements if they knew what to ask for, but if they didn’t WINZ staff often wouldn’t tell them. Back in the 1990s WINZ (or whatever it was called then) got taken to the High Court over this and lost. Since then it has had an onus to provide the information up front, but that has been applied very unevenly. People who know how to navigate the system and have the capacity to self-advocate do far better than those that don’t.

    6. benefit cuts (1990 and then the later removal of the hardship grant Special Benefit) mean that there really isn’t enough money to meet people’s needs, so people are having to keep reingaging with the dysfunctional system. The more this happens the more the government reacts by trying to tinker with the broken system and the worse it gets.

    7. All of the above applies to NZ governments irrespective of which party is in power.

    8. Since 2008, National have taken all this to a whole new level, far worse than anything that was going on before. They are actively changing the culture (“welfare is an addiction”) and backing that up with legislation that is not only punitive but also is creating a class of people who are treated separately from other NZ citizens.

    9. asking for help from WINZ is often a humiliating experience. It’s usually frustrating, often extremely so. It’s not unusual for people to be reduced to tears, have panic attacks and anxiety, and occasionally resort to violence (there’s some research to be done there on domestic violence following engagement with WINZ). As a consequence many people avoid WINZ until they are desparate, often using up any existing cash or assets so that by the time they ask for help they are in crisis. That makes their situation more complex, and because of all the things above, it gets harder to resolve.

    10. The humiliation from WINZ and the wider society makes it much harder for people to ask for help that they are entitled to.

    11. under the neoliberal and then more recent proto-fascist revolutions, it’s been increasingly hard for benefit advocacy groups to survive. They do very important work and need far more support than they are getting. Yes we need government to change and make changes, but tbh I don’t see Labour or probably even the GP making this a priority for a while. In the meantime beneficiares desparately need independent advocacy services funded well enough to be doing what AAAP are doing. We also need grass roots activism and political lobbying.

    Just in case you wanted the question answered 😉 That’s not a comprehensive list.

    • r0b 7.1

      Maybe not a complete list, but it is both comprehensive and compelling.

    • aidan 7.2

      with respect to your assertion that these problems were present regardless of which party was in power, i have had experiences with winz, both under jenny siplys government and helen clarks. the culture within winz during shipleys reign was perceptably toxic. both my partner and i, on graduating from tertiary study applied for the emergency benefit and were confronted with condescension and outright hostility, our caseworker was reluctant to help and actually suggested we were lazy bludgers. she made my partner cry on our first appointment. later i had to apply again when deciding to take up post grad study and had to find part time employment to support my self. i was apprehensive. however i found the culture had changed and i now had a sympathetic and dedicated case worker who made an effort to understand my situation and ensured that i had access to all the entitlements that i qualified for. this was in the clark years.

      • weka 7.2.1

        Hi aidan, I tend to agree with that and it matches my experience, although I would qualify it.

        Labour cut the hardship grant Special Benefit. That’s as bad as the Shipley cuts in the early 90s.

        I also find that the culture improves under Labour, but I’m one of the people how knows how to negotiate the system. I’m not sure how much the culture change benefits people who are far worse off than I am, the truly vulnerable, and those who for whatever reason are unable to self-advocate. Even of those that are there are still people who don’t know their entitlements and don’t get told. I’ve heard it described as National stab you in the front, Labour stab you in the back. It doesn’t surprise me that improvements happen to education and creative self-employment entitlements and support under Labour but that people who are at the really desperate end of the spectrum are still falling through the gaps.

        There is a huge variation in service across the country and depending on who you get in any office.

        So in general I’d say definitely we are better off with Labour, no doubt, but that doesn’t mean that Labour don’t create huge problems alongside the good things they do.

        I don’t see Labour being inclusive of beneficiary wellbeing in their policies currently, although Little will sometimes make statements about how their initiatives about about the wellbeing of ALL NZers. Much of Labour and GP policy is focussed on child welfare. Neither will talk openly about beneficiary rights. That doesn’t bode well.

        Labour voted for a piece of punitive National legislation last year. David Shearer as Labour Leader engaged in direct and overt beneficiary bashing and cultural reinforcement of bludger memes in 2012. I’ve not seen Labour do anything to correct that.

        • Sabine 7.2.1.1

          one of the big things for me that stand out in the difference between Labour and National are the ads during the Labour years about accessing benefits and going back to school/work programmes.
          They were positive, up-beat, and again maybe not for all people, but suitable for some.
          They were constantly on TV. Advertising for Adult Education evening education, and so on.

          I have invited a job broker last year to my shop to talk about a full time position this year. That was the most surreal thing in my life ever. It was as if i were speaking to an alien. All was well, there are no record number of jobless, or beneficiaries, all the Winz staff wants is to find ‘careers’ for their staff paying at least 18 – 20 $ per hour – as she explained we don’t want to just get them jobs we want them to get of the benefit – and what nots.
          End of the discussion, she never came back to me until the new year, several month had past, to tell me glibly that she went on holiday for 6 weeks and misplaced her notes about our discussion and are you still looking for someone?

          I just laughed at her, and essentially told her that if this is the best Winz can do i feel sorry for anyone needing her services.

          In the meantime i had split my full time position between my two part timers that were more then happy for the extra hours.

          Just fucking pathetic, and I do believe that the WINZ drones themselves have no reason to make it easy on themselves or their ‘clients’ lest they loose their own jobs, and suddenly they too are ‘clients’ in search of a benefit.

    • aidan 7.3

      in addition the clark government innitiated programmes and grants to encourage and support people in becoming successfully self employed, especially in creative industry (design/ art/music) these were later gutted and made more or less inaccessable to many when bennet became minister. i went to winz to make enquieries agout programmes i knew existed and was stonewalled at reception when i tried to make an appointment. to find out more. once again as soon as set foot in the door i was met whith an adversarial, hostile reception.

    • Olwyn 7.4

      Thanks for that list Weka. Number 8 on your list is worth highlighting, because the vilification of beneficiaries under this government exceeds anything that came before it – they have picked up on a minor prejudice and nurtured it to become a major one. When you put this together with the lack of clarity around beneficiaries’ rights, you end up with a group that everyone is free to vilify, but who is not free to defend itself for fear of sanctions.

      • Rosie 7.4.1

        “they have picked up on a minor prejudice and nurtured it to become a major one.”

        Yes, the media have run with it and spoon fed this growing prejudice by indulging haters in the comments sections of various online news media. It’s been free rein with the kick em when they’re down group, which has surely contributed to normalising a feeling of public contempt towards anyone on a any form of benefit regardless of their circumstances.

      • greywarshark 7.4.2

        Olwyn I hadn’t read this originally but was catching up on Mary’s story and gosh it is bad to read about every time.

        In about 1990 I noted a Polytechnic tutor who was one of those bright, go ahead types who had skills, had worked hard and done well, and very self satisfied and full of aspirational approach, run down beneficiaries to the class. I was surprised at the depth of disgust in the young people I met from this class back in 1990. The scapegoating was well under way then, while the economy was being dismantled for a brave new world of neo liberal business that would lift us into new jobs and a new way of doing things = better. Dizzney story.

        One beneficiary had got into the news for paying too much for something and her name was mud. But wealthy people can take others criminally for millions. They aren’t so easy to villify somehow. Better to pick on some little person not doing well. It is as if financial criminals are admired because they are aiming high, not like those low petty shoplifters and unemployed.

    • Rosie 7.5

      weka, a new government should hire you to sort WINZ out.

      I feel saddened by your review of how WINZ operates but particularly saddened by your point at 9.

      It is wrong that advocacy groups need to exist in the first place. It’s all back to front. As well as appropriate and timely financial support clients also should be provided with personal support so they are encouraged to use WINZ, and made to feel welcome and safe. This is a first line duty to it’s people that a government should be responsible for. It’s says a lot about winz’s service that there needs to be an army of volunteers to do their work for them.

      (This may sound naive but what ever happened to the notion of equality? We all need to be respected, treated with compassion and served equally no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, in life).

      Am just dealing with WINZ at the moment. Acting as my mothers agent due to her Huntingtons Disease related dementia and her deafness I have applied for a residential subsidy for her hospital care. My brother is her power of attorney and helped with the paperwork but was so overwhelmed by it, and I’ve no head for numbers, that he handed the application over to his accountant to deal with.

      The application was sent off with all the relevant items of verification but I’ve just had a letter back saying they have declined her application because there was no verification, among a few other points that contradict her documented reality.

      So back to square one.

      • joe90 7.5.1

        So back to square one.

        Been there, done that, Rosie, and the only advice I can offer is take good care of yourself and that means being unashamed about using respite services too, contact and make use of Age Concern and the Alzheimer Association, get to know and be able to name names – from the gerontologist and their aged care team, your mum’s GP and care staff through to individual WINZ staff, wheedle direct dial numbers out of all those you deal with, communicate with and, and I can’t stress this enough, share the load with family members and be persistent.

        • Rosie 7.5.1.1

          Thank you joe90.

          It is a bit overwhelming but we do have some good supports. It’s a relief that Mum is finally, permanently in hospital. (It’s an Arron Bhatnager Palace for the Aged). I had been pleading with the geriatrician for months to refer Mum to hospital due to Mum’s inability to care for herself in her unit, her frequent falls and the fact that her daily care from Enliven was inadequate but it took one terrible fall, after days of falls before any one did anything.

          There is also a field worker from the Huntingtons Disease Association that has been remarkable. She has provided us with useful contacts and has advocated on Mum’s behalf. As for sharing the load, I’m afraid I’ve been dragging the chain. I live in a different town from Mum, am too unwell to drive long distance at the moment and don’t have the $$$ for petrol anyway, so the others are very grumpy with me.

          I can at least be persistent with WINZ, as Mum’s agent.

          I hope that you were well supported during your time caring for an unwell elder.

    • The Other Mike 7.6

      “long history of Work and Income … not informing clients of their entitlements”

      100% correct. I was made redundant in 2010 (at the age of 60) with no redundancy pay as the firm went bust. I was not fully paid in the three months prior to that. WINZ told me I was entitled to an Accommodation Supplement (like, that’s all), even though I had 3 kids at home under 18 and my wife worked about 15 hours a week.

      This was the first time I have had as interaction with WINZ and I did not know the score (then!). Fortunately I met an old friend who had actually worked there many years ago and he advocated for me and, lo and behold – Unemployment Benefit – 2 YEARS LATER!

      I had been paying taxes since I was 16 and totally unimpressed.

    • adam 7.7

      And stop calling it WINZ for the love of God. It is work and income.

      I know it is the popular name for the ministry of social developments office. But we need to name it for the beast that it is.

      Otherwise *Hugs* weka spot on. I’d also add, it is much worse than I thought out there, and I work on the front lines.

      I got a wee bit of a shock, at the level of fear of the people in need. Not to mention confusion and despair at having to deal with work and income, without a support person.

    • left for dead 7.8

      Very thoughtful comment their weka, thank you

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    Time to go to a generous UBI per week.

    • weka 8.1

      There will still be people who need topups, so the culture and structural issues will still need to be solved even with a decent UBI.

  9. UncookedSelachimorpha 9

    The inaccessibility, humiliation of applicants and paucity of publicly-available information at WINZ is not caused by a lack of resources or incompetence. I believe it is instead a completely deliberate strategy to minimise payments using extralegal means.

  10. weka 10

    Fuck. I’ve just watched that video in the update. That should be compulsory viewing for anyone who holds an opinion about welfare.

    Donations can be made to AAAP,

    One offs https://aaap.nationbuilder.com/one-off

    Ongoing donation https://aaap.nationbuilder.com/donate

    • Sabine 10.1

      it is a sad video to watch.
      Reminds me of the documentaries from the US when they have the Medical Teams go to poor areas to offer free dental care and the likes and people start camping out days ahead just to get their teeth removed.

    • Rosie 10.2

      Shameful was the right word to use in the post title. That video made me feel so sadly outraged I felt a bit teary.

      The volunteers are true angels. The young guy seemed, understandably, a little overwhelmed. Witnessing such hardship on such a large scale will have an impact. How sad it is that his generation know nothing of the more equal society we once had.

      • Gangnam Style 10.2.1

        “How sad it is that his generation know nothing of the more equal society we once had.” – How true!

  11. dave 12

    work income capped the amount people you can help what kind of rubbish is that
    winz need to be subjected to some aggressive protest action. i can see why tully had to use a shot gun to get help winz are totally ineffective
    and this is in the twilight of the rock star economy what going happen when the economic bubbles burst and hit main street winz just aren’t up to the job
    winz are there to act as a road block

    the faster we move to a UBI the better a software dot that can cope and remove the the barriers to assistance

    • Mel 12.1

      I don’t think anyone needed to die for doing their job. It easy for you to say that, but what that those days did was put our beneficiaries still into debt.

      My cousin was happy to get the help but hello, she still has to pay has to pay back all the things she got from WINZ.

  12. Mary 13

    Winz is a degrading & abusive institution. It drags thousands through the courts every year, I was unfortunate to be one of them.
    I am not saying i did everything perfect at winz, but I did not deserve to be dragged through the hell that I did by this barbaric and cruel system.
    I believe I was one of their victims as I own my own home & the investigator must of thought I was easy game to fatten her wallet, as they get a commission for the amount of debt they create for beneficiaries.
    This investigator interegated me for six months, then dumped a huge ‘overpayment’ of which i was absolutely shocked. By principle I decided I was not paying this unfair amount, she then proceeded to prosecute me knowing it would have a huge stressful influence and may even mean the end of my profession.
    When I asked for a review of this debt, as a bully tactic she added another $5000 to her already large debt, therefore I withdrew the review & it changed back.
    I regularly suspended my U.benefit when I had enough casual work to survive. I even asked winz to cancel my benefit once & they said ‘No’, as you dont have a stable income & how will you cover your mortgage & rates etc?
    Winz prosecuted me with 4 charges stating I deceived them saying i was ‘not working’.
    Not working?, I declared this many many times & it was on all my U.B applications I had casual work only, and all my case managers knew it and knew me personally?
    I now also have to pay back several thousands for a lawyer to defend this in court.
    In court both the investigator & MSD prosecuter both lied and exagerated the amount I had earned, – I could not believe it, Is this really how low beurocrats go to do their job?
    I hope the wheels of cruelty begin to turn back on some of these nasty individuals, and they get a good taste of their own poisonous medicine.
    God help all who get targeted by Winz. Many are just pawns in this evil & corrupt system. I am so glad to be totally free from their so called assistance. Even the case managers refused to just tell the truth of what I told them & help me. One I saw smiling in delight when they saw me in trouble, and they joined the others in court.
    BTW, I am now doing well by Gods grace. After a two year major negative assault on my health and wellbeing. I still find days difficult to get my head around this nightmare, but choose to focus on the good that is ahead of me & be thankful this experience will only make me stronger.

  13. Every WINZ client has an annual review, set of forms, sent to them.
    Every one of those sent set of forms, doesn’t include a post paid return envelope that we typically see with other government agencies.

    This is a simple sign of how WINZ makes it their objective to make it difficult for even a beneficiary who is disabled to have their benefit cancelled because they can’t put a form in an envelope and put a stamp on it.

    When you need a degree in office management to have the skills to interact with a government department … then the writing is clearly on the wall.

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    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    3 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    4 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    4 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    4 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    5 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    5 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    6 days ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    6 days ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    6 days ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    7 days ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    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
    2 weeks 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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