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The Centrelink fiasco

Written By: - Date published: 11:07 am, January 6th, 2017 - 29 comments
Categories: australian politics, benefits, International, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, welfare, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

I recently followed Asher Woolf on twitter. I understand that is a nom de plumb. She is a Green Activist based in Melbourne, Australia and her profile says that she is a founder of the Cryptoparty. Wikipedia confirms this and states that the Cryptoparty is “a grassroots global endeavour to introduce the basics of practical cryptography such as the Tor anonymity network, key signing parties, disk encryption and virtual private networks to the general public. The project primarily consists of a series of free public workshops.”

She has a prolific twitter presence with 68.5k likes and has sent over 435k tweets.

She has a clear interest in the rights of citizens against the misuse of big data and recent policy changes at Australia’s Centrelink has attracted her attention and subsequently filled my twitter feed. Her activism is impressive to see and I recommend you have a look at her feed. It is a compelling mix of individual tales of terror over the stress caused and scathing comments about the totally inadequate data matching that has occurred and the complete indifference the Government has so far shown to the issue.

The background is that in pursuit of savings of $4.6 billion the conservative Government in Australia has mandated the use of data matching of Centrelink information with that held by the Australian Taxation Office. Screeds of letters have been sent to previous recipients demanding they justify receiving benefits in the past otherwise repayment will be sought.

The data match is crude, embarrassingly so. And there are lots of false positives. Whereas previously 20,000 letters were sent out a year the number is now 20,000 per week.  And the Government concedes that at least 20% of these are unwarranted.

There is a fundamental flaw in the process. It is matching years that an individual earned a benefit with years they paid income tax, dividing the total taxable earnings by 26 and then presuming that this amount was earned each and every fortnight.  If someone received a benefit for a short period that they were entitled to the data match still says there is a problem if the average earnings are over the permitted amount and a demand letter is issued. If no response is forthcoming within a limited time then the person is deemed to owe the debt and further steps are taken.

There are other identified problems.  The system is flagging cases where employer names and other information have inconsistent spelling across records, and is assuming recipients have more than one job and haven’t declared income

And so people are expected to go through their records up to six years ago to rejustify the receipt of a benefit they had already persuaded Centrelink they were entitled to.

The Government concedes that one in five letters of demand is unjustified. It makes you wonder what the actual figure is. To put that into context if the policy is not changed at least 200,000 Australias will be unjustly terrified in the first 12 months because of faulty data mapping.

It has caused consternation to many including those most susceptible to pressure. In an ironic and cruel twist Centrelink has been tweeting responses to complaints expressing suicidal thoughts with the number for the Australian Lifeline, a service which recently had its funding cut by the Government.

And the infrastructure in place to handle responses is inadequate. Waiting times of over two hours for a response from the telephone system have been reported. The website is incapable of handling a proper response to the letters. Huge cues have been reported at offices. The system is not capable of handling the work generated by the letters. And those that either give up or do not respond through ignorance of the claim will be deemed to owe the money.

To make matters even worse the Government with the assistance of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation recently repealed provisions of the Social Security Act which provided a six year time limit for the collection of these debts.  They could be using older and older and more unreliable data.

See what happens when big data meets right wing belligerence?

Meanwhile in other news …

Update: Thanks Draco

29 comments on “The Centrelink fiasco”

  1. Siobhan 1

    Meantime back in NZ

    “Monthly quotas were imposed at the Ministry of Social Development to prosecute beneficiaries, an inquest into the death of a woman accused of benefit fraud has heard.

    “We had to get one prosecution per month. We had to get $30,000 of debt to be recovered per month,” a former MSD investigator told the inquest into the death of Wendy Shoebridge. “Four cases had to be cleared per month.””

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/87347930/Aggressive-prosecution-focus-at-MSD-preceded-womans-death-inquest-told

    A statement from Labour on new policies for the radical improved in the treatment of Beneficiaries of all types would certainly be a step in winning over some votes from ‘The Disenfranchised Class’ and those of us that actually give a damn.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      It’s amazing how many right-wing policies around the world that are inducing suicide and it’s disturbing that they’re not being held to account for them.

      • simbit 1.1.1

        Coroner found one post-disaster suicide in Chch caused by insurance co. belligerence.

      • aerobubble 1.1.2

        Police road speed rules are the cause of increased accidents, people have this persinal tick, damn lifestylers, they cant or wont obey lots of onerous rules, or worse, do, and take their time watching the speedometer. lol. Its a disgrace that people fear phoning police because they dont want their neighbours to become criminalized by the university of crime. Its not just the right wing governing classes, its te media-corporate alliance that want profits and need eyeballs to spin populations to put favored legislator and legislation, aka ttp went too far lol. How can anyone not have noticed, Trump only becomes President if he kept his ugly mug in the tv lens for months on end, and the media manufactured tolerance for him. Sure, the oil industry should be given a chance to retreat as climate change is so obvious, they broke it. It aint left or right, its the nonsense factory that has gotten tied up in all its self serving lying that it has to contort itself backwards upside down inside out to pass off crappy power whose self delusions are so misrepresentative, profit driven, mostly noe to pay off debt addiction with more debt.

        We need a return to freedom, that a life lived reflecting, time with family, income to resource living, etc.

    • Jenny Kirk 1.2

      Siobhan – you cannot expect Labour to announce all its policies yet – because that then gives the govt the ability to say “me too” with its policies.

      However, Labour has an extensive Policy Platform – agreed by the Party members a couple or so years ago – and this does spell out in detail how Labour expects to treat people . It can be found on the Labour website

      https://www.labourparty.org.nz/sites/default/files/New%20Zealand%20%20Labour%20Party%20Policy%20Platform.pdf

      Here is an extract from it – which should reassure you that Labour will be treating people much more differently from the way the neo-lib rightwing govts do.

      5.13 Labour policies across portfolios will generate greater security and fairness with all parts of the community playing their part, and everyone benefitting from a fairer and more cohesive society.
      5.14 Labour recognises that there are New Zealanders whose disability, illness, or age is such that they are not expected to be in paid work, and that these people have a right to dignity and security. People who are temporarily out of the work force should be supported and enabled to re-enter the labour market. We recognise the care of people as work, whether paid or unpaid.

      • Siobhan 1.2.1

        I do truly understand that. And I realise I may come across as a Labour basher at a time when we need a positive and radical change of Government.
        However it is hard to generate any energy around a Political Party when ‘The Vision’ must be hidden from the voters.
        I’m not sure ‘nice words’ are enough. It’s important to treat people with respect, and I acknowledge that Labour is ‘nicer’, but what is actually going to change??
        No one has a very good track record..we’ve only just had an increase in benefits, the 1st real increase in core benefit rates for 44 years. 44 years!!!

        “People who are temporarily out of the work force should be supported and enabled to re-enter the labour market.”…my own memory of the early 2000’s was that this change of focus, ‘enabling’ workers back to work, while sounding very good, was the start of some very dubious policies and attitudes at ‘The Dole Office’.

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/415592/Beneficiaries-worse-off-under-Labour-report-reveals

        That article is from 2008, the same year Labour declined to increase the Accommodation supplement. (And worth a read for a nice quote from Judith Collins, expressing concern over growing beneficiary debt)

        • Jenny Kirk 1.2.1.1

          Yes Siobahn – I agree that to outsiders it might look like not much as changed, but there were huge arguments and discussion within the Party for months while that Policy Platform was formulated – because so many of us were fed-up with the rightwing neo-libs lousy attitude towards people.
          And not all of those people are yet gone from Labour, but they are in a much greater minority than ever before, and “times they are a-changin’ ” . We have a new Leader who is gradually getting those changes happening – I just hope he gets sufficient media space to show he’ll be a good NZ-proud Leader and not just one who talks big, but doesn’t deliver.

      • Depends if the policies are a means or an end.

        If they’re an end, announcing early and having them copied is a good thing, because that means you’ve built consensus around your ideas. This is why the Greens provide a fair amount of their policy ahead of time.

        I understand that at least some in Labour do view their policy as a means to getting elected instead, which I would suggest is the wrong way to go about things, as it betrays a level of insincerity to a party’s politics. We should be electing representatives who have goals they want to meet in office, and whose policies are their best idea for reaching those goals. If they somehow achieve all their goals, that’s a good indication it’s their time to retire.

        Besides, if your friends copy your policy you can say “see, our ideas are so good all our coalition partners already want them too” And if your enemies copy your policies, even better, because you can not only claim your ideas are winners with consensus, you can also attack them for being slow and/or bereft of their own ideas. 😉 Really, having your policies copied is only a loss if you think novel policies are what wins elections, which they clearly aren’t. Don’t get me wrong, policy is important, but only wonks like us vote based off it to any large degree.

        Releasing early does potentially give the other side more time to figure out attack lines, but it also projects confidence in your ideas and a consistent vision, which have been two key areas that voters haven’t felt Labour has done well in. The other flipside is that having policies out earlier lets you discuss specifics way earlier and gives the party and the campaign a sense of consistency and vision. Besides, National will just focus-group attack lines on the policies pretty fast anyway, so I don’t think there’s as much advantage to Labour holding their cards close as you seem to imply, and that it is at least a tradeoff, if not an inappropriate strategy for them in this particular election.

        • Craig H 1.2.2.1

          If National implemented the policies in full, sure, but they don’t, they only do the bare minimum, and often not even that.

          • Matthew Whitehead 1.2.2.1.1

            Right, which is an even bigger political win when they’re copying your policy, because they’ve effectively admitted your idea is right, but haven’t taken it far enough to work. It’s much harder to argue against having more of a good thing than to simply insist it won’t work at all.

            Debating whose policies are better works a lot like that old adage about debating idiots on their own terms. Once you’ve conceded the terms of a policy debate to the other side, you’ve already lost.

        • The Chairman 1.2.2.2

          +1, Matthew.

      • The Chairman 1.2.3

        “You cannot expect Labour to announce all its policies yet – because that then gives the govt the ability to say “me too” with its policies.”

        That rationale is illogical.

        The opposition can decide to adopt all or part of Labour’s policy at any given time.

        • Craig H 1.2.3.1

          If National want to keep Labour out by adopting all their policies, so be it, but if they do the bare minimum, or less, that’s annoying, and if they then claim the policies are failures because of that, that could be disastrous for election chances.

          Also, Labour has some potential policies which require government resources to develop, so they can’t exactly release them fully-formed, and need to get elected for those.

          • The Chairman 1.2.3.1.1

            Unable to fully formulate policy outside of Government is extremely problematic for Labour. They lack the trust and confidence required for voters to blindly elect them.

            Vote us into office and we’ll formulate our tax policy once in power won’t resonate well with many voters.

            If National adopt Labour policy and poorly implement it or weaken its effectiveness, it advantages Labour in highlighting their incompetence.

  2. Ethica 2

    This is already happening in NZ as Work and Income centralises its information at its Central Processing Unit in Auckland. Unfortunately, it is full or errors. With Bill English’s Social Investment fund all government agencies are starting to share all information – so Work and Income and IRD are already doing it. Beneficiaries have to consent to such data sharing to get a benefit. What is even more scary is that from next year under Bill’s policy people’s names, addresses and family members’ names and other identifiable personal information will also be shared with more government agencies. NGOs which provide services from the Community Investment fund (our public support money) will have to share the personal data of their clients. There will be a basic consent process but no consent, no public money for the service. So more and more identifiable personal data is going to be being collected and shared across government agencies and NGOs, and available for any spiteful cabinet minister to use against anyone who complains. This is how a government does surveillance on its less powerful citizens.

    • Henry Filth 2.1

      For a look at surveillance, you could do worse than look at China’s “Social Credit” system.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    Wow, that an impressive stuff up.

    The good news is that NZers have managed to avoid being subjected to this due to the fact they never qualified in the first place, unless of course they were on Invalids Benefit and shifted over to Australia for a better life. (IB now SLP is the only benefit where this is possible, but I hear the assessments are even tougher than they are here). Hope there is still someone left in Australia to assist our expats.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    *Nom de plume. Literally “name of pen”.

    As for the Centrelink data matching, it’s yet another example of the inevitable consequences of right wing hate speech.

  5. RedBaronCV 5

    I knew it was happening but not so much or so soon. I also understand that they have back loaded details for some birth years. (or is it all?)
    However, we can rest assured it will not flag potential overseas tax haven cheats, tax dodgers except at the very bottom of the pile, dodgy employer tactics or any other right wing policies that cause social distress.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    It has caused consternation to many including those most susceptible to pressure. In an ironic and cruel twist Centrelink has been tweeting responses to complaints expressing suicidal thoughts with the number for the Australian Lifeline, a service which recently had its funding cut by the Government.

    Ah, so that would be another RWNJ government that should be charged with murder.

    And somebody embed this:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C1XKOLTUQAA19o6.jpg

  7. greywarshark 7

    The tags at the top say it all. It would have been unbelievable once, but the oppression of the people becomes more obvious each year. Australia should be a pariah, but in the generic rich man’s stratosphere (and women’s) there is a conformity of minds and what passes as thinking. And in NZ the spending over Christmas is up. All we need to know or think about.

  8. Henry Filth 8

    Big data meets small minds.

    • greywarshark 8.1

      That’s catchy Henery. What does it mean?

      • Henry Filth 8.1.1

        That the people involved have no idea how to make any positive or creative use of the data that they have, but are determined to tinker with it anyway, irrespective of the results.

        Not unlike the recent letter from Westpac NZ to a customer “Dear Asian”.

        Lots of data. Insufficient imagination to use that data.

  9. dukeofurl 9

    Is it so hard for a proper computer matching to match each 26 week period ( strange as I thought the benefits system was weekly like here) to a weekly pay period ?

    It should be even easier as most on benefits wouldnt getting an income at the same time.
    Sounds like Novapay, someone gets a contract to to a historic check and does it in a shortcut way to comply with the broad terms of the deal knowing they will win out in the end as any settlement is political.
    They recently had a disaster with online submissions for their census, which showed even with a big name like IBM the solution provided was amateurish.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      They recently had a disaster with online submissions for their census, which showed even with a big name like IBM the solution provided was amateurish.

      One of those things that I’ve come to learn over the decades is that big names does not automatically equate to quality. In fact, the bigger the organisation can often equate to worse quality as they cut costs and don’t communicate well across departments.

    • Craig H 9.2

      IRD currently only holds monthly data as that’s how often PAYE returns are filed, so can’t break it down beyond that.

      Dividing by 26 is such a lazy, inaccurate kludge, it could only be invented by an Australian…

  10. nzsage 10

    It was an $880K “impulse buy”…the sort of thing we all do, right?

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    Last month, Greenpeace head Russel Norman surrendered his speaking slot at an EPA conference to student climate activist Sorcha Carr, who told the EPA exactly what she thought of them. It was a bold move, which confronted both regulators and polluters (or, as the EPA calls them, "stakeholders") with the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • NZ First’s dodgy loans
    The core principle supposedly underlying New Zealand's electoral finance regime is transparency: parties can accept large donations from rich people wanting to buy policy, but only if they tell the public they've been bought. Most parties abide by this, so we know that TOP was wholly-owned by Gareth Morgan, and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: The choice on End of Life Choice
    Today is a Member's Day, probably the second-to-last one of the year, and its a big one, with the Third Reading of David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill. last Member's Day it was reported back from committee, after MPs voted narrowly to make it subject to a (rules TBA) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How growth in population and consumption drives planetary change
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz The growth of the human population over the last 70 ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • The disappearing Women …
    by The Council of Disobedient Women In her excellent oral submission to the Abortion reform select committee on 31st October on behalf of Otago University’s Department of Public Health, historian and public health researcher Hera Cook stated: “We would ask that the committee not use the term ‘pregnant persons’ and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • “A Passage to India”: enduring art in changing times
    by Don Franks In 1957, E M Forster wrote, of his greatest work: “The India described in ‘A Passage to India’ no longer exists either politically or socially. Change had begun even at the time the book was published ( 1924) and during the following quarter of a century it ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Contemptuous
    The Referendums Framework Bill was due back from select committee today. But there's no report on it. Instead, the bill has been bounced back to the House under Standing order 29593) because the Committee didn't bother to produce one. They probably tried. But given the membership of the committee (which ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Zero Carbon: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law
    Two years into New Zealand’s Labour-led government, the long-delayed Zero Carbon Bill became law on 7 November. Passed essentially unanimously, the lengthy public debates and political manoeuvring faded away until the final passage was even anticlimactic: Flipping through the @nzstuff @DomPost I was starting to wonder if I’d dreamt ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: What happens next?
    Now the Zero Carbon Bill is law, what's next? Obviously, the ETS changes currently before select committee are going to be the next battleground. But we're also going to get a good idea of where we're going, and if the progress the Zero Carbon Act promises is good enough, during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate change will fuel bush fires
    Grant Pearce The effects of the current Australian bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland (and also again in California) are devastating and far-reaching. To date, the fires have resulted in several lives being lost and many homes and properties destroyed. Here in New Zealand, the impacts have been only ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Participation rates
    A passing comment in a post the other day about the labour force participation rates of older people prompted me to pull down the fuller data and see what we could see about various participation rates over the decades since the HLFS began in 1986.   As it happens, the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Reddell
    1 week ago
  • Not So Much “OK Boomer” As “OK Ruling Class”.
    Distract And Divert: The rise of what we have come to call “Identity Politics” represents the ideological manifestation of the ruling class’s objective need to destroy class politics, and of the middle-class’s subjective need to justify their participation in the process.THE RELIEF of the ruling class can only be imagined. ...
    1 week ago
  • Asking for it …
    "I saw a newspaper picture,From the political campaignA woman was kissing a child,Who was obviously in pain.She spills with compassion,As that young child'sFace in her hands she gripsCan you imagine all that greed and avariceComing down on that child's lips?" ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Poor Pandemic Preparedness According to the Global Health Security Index
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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Thank Winston
    The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Illicit markets and Bali Booze
    The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They’d consumed a toxic cocktail ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    1 week ago
  • This is not what armed police are for
    Last month, the police announced a trial of specialist roaming armed units, which would drive round (poor, brown) areas in armoured SUVs, armed to the teeth. When they announced the trial, they told us it was about having armed police "ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed". ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Spain’s failed electoral gamble
    Spain went to the polls today in the second elections this year, after the Socialists (who had come to power in a confidence vote, then gone to the polls in April) rejected the offer of a coalition with the left-wing PoDemos, and instead decided to gamble n a better outcome ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The astroturf party
    National has finally rolled out its "BlueGreen" astroturf party, fronted by an array of former nats and people who were dumped by the Greens for not being Green enough. Its initial pitch is described by Stuff as "very business-friendly", and its priorities are what you'd expect: conservation, predator-free funding, a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How to cheat at university
    A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    1 week ago
  • How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury
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    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    1 week ago
  • Georgina Beyer: We need to be able to talk without being offended
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
    If FFNZ really put their faith in “Top Medical Journals” they would now be amending their billboards to recognise new research results. Image from FFNZ but updated to agree with the latest research. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Chosen To Rule? What Sort Of Christian Is Chris Luxon?
    National Messiah? Chris Luxon identifies himself as an evangelical Christian. If he is genuine in this self-characterisation, then he will take every opportunity his public office provides to proselytise on behalf of his faith. He will also feel obliged to bear witness against beliefs and practices he believes to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • War of the worms
    I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.In fact, we might just be seeing the start of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Marvelly shows us how to be a feminist without feminism
    by The Council of Disobedient Women Lizzie Marvelly: “I may have missed this… has @afterellen gone all terf-y? Or am I reading something incorrectly? “ https://twitter.com/LizzieMarvelly/status/1191840059105742849 After Ellen is a lesbian website that is unashamedly pro-lesbian, as you’d expect. So why is Ms Marvelly so bothered about lesbians having their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of the past – Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century
    Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1000 of these now
    Some days I sit and think, “what will I write…?” What do you say when you get to 1000 posts? Maybe you just start where you are, diverge to where this all began, then offer a collection of reader’s favourite posts, and a few of your own? (And throw in ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Shane Jones Just Saved NZ First?
    Counter-Puncher: The “activists” and “radicals” (his own words) from the Indian community who took such strong exception to Shane Jones’ remarks about Immigration NZ’s treatment of arranged marriages, may end up bitterly regretting their intervention. Jones is not the sort of person who turns the other cheek to his critics.SHANE ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: As predicted
    Yesterday, when National voted for the Zero Carbon Bill, I predicted they'd gut it the moment they regained power, just as they had done to the ETS. And indeed, they have explicitly promised to do exactly that within their first hundred days in office. What would their amendments do? Abandon ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Let this never be forgot
    In the spirit of Remember, remember the fifth of November, let's keep this in mind FOREVER.
    Oh dear. Extraordinary interview on PM with Andrew Bridgen and @EvanHD just now. Bridgen was defending Jacob Rees Mogg’s Grenfell comments. Evan asked him if JRM had meant to say he would have left ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too Late To Change Capitalism’s Flightpath?
    Collision Course? In conditions of ideological white-out, the international bankers’ “Woop-Woop! Pull Up!” warning may have come too late to save global capitalism.WHAT DOES IT MEAN when international bankers are more willing to embrace radical solutions than our politicians and their electors? At both the International Monetary Fund and the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Whooping cough vaccine works well despite its imperfections
    Pertussis (whooping cough) is a conundrum. It is a disease that was described hundreds of years ago and the bacteria that causes it (Bordetella pertussis) isolated in 1906. We have had vaccines for about 80 years but this disease is defiant in the face of human immunity. I wanted to ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Passed
    The Zero Carbon Bill has just passed its third reading, uanimously. In the end, National supported it - but we all know they'll turn around and gut it the moment they regain power. Meanwhile, I guess ACT's David Seymour didn't even bother to show up. I am on record as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Retailing of vaping products – New NZ Research
    Dr Lindsay Robertson, Dr Jerram Bateman, Professor Janet Hoek Members of the public health community hold divergent views on how access to vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products should be arranged. Some believe ENDS should be as widely available as smoked tobacco and argue for liberal ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Justice for Bomber
    When the Police were trying to cover up for the National Party over Dirty Politics, they went all-in with their abuses of power. They illegally search Nicky Hager's house, violating his journalistic privilege and invading his privacy. They unlawfully acquired Hager's bank records. They did the same to left-wing blogger ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Britain’s climate tyranny was unlawful
    Last month, in response to a wave of protests by Extinction Rebellion, the British government purported to ban their protests from the whole of London. It was a significant interference with the freedoms of expression and assembly, and another sign of the country's decline into tyranny. But now, a court ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • Cowboy clampers will be stymied
    Clayton Mitchell, Spokesperson for Consumer Affairs The ‘wheel clamping’ Bill that will cap clamper fees to $100 passed its third reading in Parliament today. New Zealand First welcomes The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill to combat predatory wheel clamping behaviour in what is currently a largely unregulated business. Cowboy clampers are: gouging ...
    15 hours ago
  • Mental Health Commission back on track
    Jenny Marcroft, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First welcomes the passage of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill through its first reading in Parliament. “Today’s progress takes serious action on the mental health and addiction crisis the country is facing,” says New Zealand First Health Spokesperson Jenny Marcroft. “The re-establishment ...
    16 hours ago
  • New Zealand’s key assets are not for sale: national interest test delivered
    Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries Today the Government announced the delivery of the promise to protect New Zealand interests by applying a new National Interest Test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. This further strengthening of the Overseas Investment Act will ...
    1 day ago
  • National interest test added to protect New Zealanders’ interests
    The Coalition Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high-risk assets to overseas buyers. Under current Overseas Investment Act (OIA) rules, assets such as ports and airports, telecommunications infrastructure, electricity and ...
    1 day ago
  • Electoral law breach allegations
    Rt Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First Allegations raised this morning by Stuff Limited / Fairfax concern a party matter but I am confident that New Zealand First has operated within electoral laws, now and for the last 27 years. Declarable donations were declared to the Electoral Commission. Our ...
    1 day ago
  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    2 days ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    3 days ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    7 days ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    1 week ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First is proud to have brought common sense to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament today. Party Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says months of hard work went into negotiating a balanced ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
    We began the week by commemorating the New Zealand Wars and celebrating a major increase in the number of teachers. Then, we were busy supporting offenders into work and getting our rail back on track after years of underinvestment. And that's just the start! ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
    In October I was sworn in as the Mayor of Lower Hutt. It’s the privilege of my life to serve Hutt people as their Mayor. There is something really special to be able to serve the community where I was raised, and where I live.   ...
    3 weeks ago

  • APEC 2021 Bill passes first reading
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the first reading of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation 2021 (APEC 2021) Bill in Parliament today. The temporary bill supports New Zealand’s security preparations for hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in 2021. “APEC is the leading economic and trade forum ...
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    8 hours ago
  • Making progress for our kids
    The Government is making progress on improving the wellbeing of the one million New Zealanders under the age of 18,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on World Children’s Day. The Government has today recommitted to the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history – the United Nation’s Convention on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Māori women in business contribute to our economy, whānau and communities
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has released a new report celebrating the contribution of Māori women in business across Aotearoa New Zealand. “Māori women are leaders in our communities, they employ many people and support our economy and our communities,” Julie Anne Genter said. The report, Ngā wāhine kaipakihi: ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Two schools on the way for Omokoroa
    Four parcels of land have been bought in Omokoroa, in the Western Bay of Plenty District, for an education facility that will accommodate both a primary and secondary school on a campus-like facility, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Two parcels were acquired from private land owners and two were ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Families Package helps over 1 million New Zealanders in first year
    1 million New Zealanders warmed by the Winter Energy Payment 36,000 families bank the Best Start Payment in first year 6,000 more families received the Family Tax Credit, 220,600 in total   They receive an increase too – from an average of $117 to $157 a week for Inland Revenue clients, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Clamp down on wheel clamping passes third reading
    New rules to clamp down on overzealous wheel clamping and extortionate fees charged in order to release a vehicle have passed their final stage in Parliament today. The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill has now passed its third reading. “These changes mean $100 will be the maximum wheel clamping ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill passes first hurdle
    An independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is a step closer after it unanimously passed its first vote in Parliament today.  The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill lays the groundwork for establishing the Commission as a fully independent crown entity – delivering on a key recommendation of He Ara ...
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    1 day ago
  • Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued
    We’ve improved border security with the NZeTA, New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which helps us to screen travellers for border and immigration risks off-shore before they travel to New Zealand. It was launched in August and became mandatory on 1 October 2019. More than 500,000 NZeTAs have been issued since ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Plan of action to protect seabirds
    A proposed national plan of action to reduce the number of seabirds caught in fisheries is being circulated for public feedback. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage say New Zealand is a global centre of seabird diversity with about 145 species in our waters. It has more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • National interest test added to overseas investment rules
    The Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker said under current Overseas Investment Act rules, assets such as ports and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New housing part of support for Kaumātua
    The Government is building special housing to accommodate one of Aotearoa’s greatest taonga- our kaumātua, says the Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Speaking at a National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference in Rotorua today, the Minister reinforced the importance kaumātua play in maintaining and passing on mātauranga Māori, knowledge, ...
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    2 days ago
  • Forestry helps prisoners into jobs
    Eleven men from a pilot forestry training programme for prisoners in Northland now have full time jobs or job offers upon release, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced today. The ‘release to work’ programme was a collaboration between Te Uru Rākau and the Department of Corrections, ...
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    2 days ago
  • Reform of public service a step closer
    Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins today introduced into Parliament a Bill that will make it easier for the public service to tackle the biggest challenges facing Governments. The Bill represents the most significant change in the public service in 30 years. The State Sector Act 1988 will be repealed ...
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    2 days ago
  • Donations scheme to relieve pressure on families
    The families of more than 416,000 students will be better off next year as their schools have signed up to the Government’s donations scheme, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. The scheme will see almost $62.5 million in additional Government funding go to schools nationwide next year. “I’m really pleased ...
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    2 days ago
  • Further support for Samoan measles outbreak
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced further support as the Government of Samoa responds to a serious measles outbreak. “New Zealand will deploy a further 18 vaccination nurses, bringing the total to 30 working in Samoa over the next four weeks,” Mr Peters said. “A New Zealand Medical Assistance ...
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    2 days ago
  • Speech to the Child Poverty Action Group 2019 Summit
      Fa’atalofa atu, malo e lelei, Kia ora koutou katoa Thank you to the Child Poverty Action Group for asking me to be here today to provide an update on some of the things that have been happening across my the social development portfolio.  Can I firstly acknowledge the vast ...
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    3 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Annual Conference
    ***Please check against delivery*** Good morning everyone. It is a pleasure to be with you this morning to open this year’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Conference and AGM. Firstly, thank you Dr Alan Jackson, NZTR Chair for your introduction. And let us acknowledge also: The NZTR Board; Dean McKenzie, Chair ...
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    3 days ago
  • Fairer rules for tenants and landlords
    The Government has delivered on its promise to the over one million New Zealanders who now rent to make it fairer and more secure, Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi has announced today. Both renters and landlords will benefit from the suite of practical changes to the Residential ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Two decades of marine protection celebrated at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako in Tairawhiti
    A marine conservation milestone - the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve - is being celebrated today at a community event in Tairāwhiti/East Coast attended by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “The creation of this marine reserve in November 1999 was a game ...
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    5 days ago
  • Food industry asked to step up fight against obesity
         The Government is asking the food industry to step up work to tackle obesity including reducing sugar, fat and salt in their products, better information for consumers, and tighter restrictions on advertising to children. Health Minister David Clark and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor have responded to a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Modern emergency care for Queenstown area
    ew, modern emergency department and outpatient facilities at Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital mean better emergency care for the growing tourist mecca’s visitors and locals, says Health Minister David Clark. Today Dr Clark officially opened the hospital’s redeveloped Emergency Department and Outpatient facilities. The new facilities include: •    An extended Emergency Department ...
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    5 days ago
  • Contraception important for New Zealanders
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter says today’s release of sexual and reproductive health data reinforces the significance of the Government’s commitment to providing free or very low-cost contraception. The Ministry of Health today published statistics from the Ministry of Health’s 2014/15 Health Survey. “It is important people can make ...
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    6 days ago
  • NZ medical staff and measles vaccines going to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced that at the request of the Samoan Government, New Zealand will be providing further support to Samoa as it faces a worsening measles outbreak. “In response to a request from the people of Samoa, New Zealand is providing 3000 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) ...
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    6 days ago
  • Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2023
    “The new Disability Action Plan 2019–2023 moves us towards the inclusive and accessible New Zealand that this government has committed to,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today.  “The Action Plan was designed by disabled people, their family and supporters, the disability sector and government agencies. It will ensure ...
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    6 days ago
  • Joint Statement – Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting
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    6 days ago
  • Sexual Violence Legislation Bill has its first reading
    A Bill to improve the court system’s response to sexual violence has passed its first reading in Parliament today. Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill will reduce the trauma sexual violence complainants experience in court, while maintaining defendants’ fundamental rights and making sure the trial process ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
    Streamlined payment practices are a step closer for Kiwi businesses with the formal launch of New Zealand’s e-Invoicing framework. Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says the government has now established the structure to enable automated and direct data exchange between the accounting systems of buyers and sellers. “The move to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
    Another 51 quarantine officers and four new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “The Government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system and support our valuable primary sector “New Zealand’s flora, fauna ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ space economy worth $1.69 billion
    A new report has found New Zealand’s space sector contributed $1.69 billion to the economy in the last financial year and employs 12,000 people, Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford announced today. The report by Deloitte was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and shows New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Chair for Royal Commission into Abuse
    Judge Coral Shaw has been appointed as the new Chair of the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today. "Judge Shaw, who is currently one of the inquiry commissioners, is extremely well qualified for the ...
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    7 days ago
  • Better mental health facilities for Palmerston North
    The Government has confirmed its third major mental health facility upgrade since the Budget, this time at Palmerston North Hospital. The Prime Minister and Health Minister today visited MidCentral DHB to announce that $30 million has been allocated to upgrade its acute mental health facility. It follows earlier announcements in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Bowel Screening hits halfway point
    The roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme has reached the halfway mark, with 10 out of 20 District Health Boards now part of the programme. MidCentral DHB, which covers Palmerston North, Manawatu and surrounding districts, this week became the latest to DHB to offer free bowel screening to ...
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