Written By: - Date published: 11:14 am, April 25th, 2018 - 94 comments
Categories: benefits, class, class war, cost of living, culture, discrimination, Economy, Metiria Turei, poverty, Social issues, unemployment, welfare - Tags: Budget, movement, poverty, social security
When Metiria Turei laid bare the jagged hell of New Zealand’s social insecurity system, many of those who have been subjected to its downright aggressive culture of denial and persecution were hopeful that a newly elected government would make huge compassionate strides in the area. But then the media got started, and by and by, Metiria was “taken out”.
It seems her passion, understanding and honesty, though incredibly detrimental to herself, have not been in vain.
Newshub is reporting that “big changes are coming“.
Removing “excessive sanctions” (as reported) is….well, let’s think about this for a second. When you have less money than what you need to get through from week to week, surely any financial sanction is excessive? Unfortunately, it seems that that the agreement between the Green Party and NZ Labour doesn’t quite acknowledge that. If it did, then all financial sanctions would be scrapped forthwith. Still. It’s a start.
So against a backdrop of a 50% increase over two years in the numbers of people successfully securing a food grant from WINZ (143 900 in just the last 3 months), some sanctions will be dropped. To spell it out, that figure of 143 900 obviously doesn’t account for those applications that are rejected (and yes, people are turned away) and it doesn’t take into account those bypassing WINZ altogether and accessing food banks (itself a problematic endeavour).
Apparently, the government is also going to take another look at “Working for Families”. Currently, people with children who do not satisfy a paid employment threshold (ie – who spend below a given number of hours in paid employment) are ineligible for “Working for Families” payments.
Again, from Newshub, it’s being suggested that some announcements will be made in the upcoming budget.
In the meantime, what has caught my eye is the initial framing of these possible improvements to the lives of thousands upon thousands of people in New Zealand.
Instead of looking at what is likely or possibly on the table and comparing that to what people like Metiria, welfare advocates and recipients of entitlements are saying is necessary, media seems to to be setting off down a track that would set possible improvements to peoples’ circumstances against the recalcitrant and cruel attitudes of former National Party ministers.
In other words, the expectation being generated in the general populace is that (worthy?) WINZ clients will be dutifully grateful for whatever level of security is finally offered. And that’s bullshit. To me, that’s just yet another iteration of the tired old “you don’t know how lucky you are, you could be in Somalia” argument that would have us always looking to the lowest bar of expectation as a thing to be avoided, rather than to the highest bar as a thing to be attained. And with that mind set, rides all the condemnation and dismissal of those who might seek higher, more humane social outcomes.
New Zealand, in line with a fair few other countries, has sailed upon a shameful recent history in terms of providing social security to all people in New Zealand. It’s a long row back.