The media and two child poverty policy releases

Written By: - Date published: 9:24 am, May 24th, 2015 - 60 comments
Categories: budget 2015, david cunliffe, john key, labour, Media, national, same old national, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

poor child

The media treatment of National’s $25 a week increase in payments for beneficiary families made me think back to the treatment of Labour’s Best Start policy announced in January of last year.  The proposal was for an additional payment of $60 per week to all families earning less than quite a high threshold until their child was aged three.  There would also be an increase in free early childhood education from 20 to 25 hours.  This included beneficiary families and was and still is the most significant proposed increase for beneficiary families made in decades.

The policy was announced by David Cunliffe in these terms:

Today I am proud to launch Best Start – Labour’s plan to give every Kiwi kid the best start in life, from before born, through early childhood and into education.

There is no year more critical than the first. That’s why today, I am announcing that for 59,000 families with new-born babies, they will all receive a Best Start payment of $60 per week, for the first year of their child’s life.

The usual suspects climbed into it.  The numbers breeding for a business would apparently explode because of this state largesse.  Then the media started to attack because although $60 per week was promised the figure would actually abate for those also receiving paid parental leave.

Paddy Gower attacked and gave John Key the perfect opportunity to go on the offensive.  According to Key:

When I read the speech and looked at it, I thought absolutely you got it for the entire year your child was under one year of age.  I think David Cunliffe is being very tricky. I think he’s actually trying to mislead the New Zealand public.”

Both of Labour’s policies involved significant improvements to existing state provision.  Paid parental leave payments were greater so First Start would apply after paid parental leave was finished.  This detail was in the policy and was part of the costing.  David Cunliffe also said that the fine print had to be worked through and obviously Departmental advice would be required.

Cunliffe predictively said:

When the left put good policy in the public domain the right says it is bribery and fiscal ruin and when they do it it is suddenly prudent.

If you want to get a tenor of the reporting at the time you could watch this stand up from David Cunliffe which took 9 minutes and 20 seconds and during which he answered a variety of questions on the topic.  You can then read this Paddy Gower article where he said that during the stand up Cunliffe had “buckled under the pressure” and had “thrown his toys out of the cot” when he “walked out” of the stand up conference.

Fast forward to 2015.  In the Budget Speech English said

On 1 April next year, benefit rates for families with children will rise by $25 a week after tax.

It will be the first time core benefit rates have been increased – apart from inflation adjustments – since 1972.

Around 110,000 families, with 190,000 children, will be better off as a result.

This increase to benefit rates comes after widespread reform of the welfare system, so we’re confident it will have a positive impact on the lives of beneficiary families and children, rather than contribute to further dependence.

What was missing from English’s speech was the acknowledgement that the actual increase would almost inevitably be less and in some cases families would not see any increase at all.  As noted by Gordon Campbell:

That headline figure for the increase in benefits was misleading. No-one will get an extra $25. The real figure is a maximum of $23 in the hand when the simultaneous (and miserly) deductions in income-related rents and other forms of assistance is factored in. By late last night, Work and Income were clarifying that these abatement rules meant that many beneficiary families would receive an increase more in the nature of $18, and some families would receive nothing extra at all. Moreover, the figures seemed plucked out of the air, rather than based on any research into existing levels of need. Plus, the relief is deemed to be so urgently needed it won’t actually arrive for another eleven months.

Get that?  Apart from the delay in implementation which rather belies the claimed urgency National’s headline figure is greater than it will be in reality in most cases.

Instead of media questioning of the bona fides of the policy we have been fed a never ending stream of comments on how the policy is “smart politics” even though the provision is limited, will be smaller than the headline figure in most cases and is accompanied by ridiculous work requirements which will cause hardship.

Talk about tricky.

60 comments on “The media and two child poverty policy releases ”

  1. Andrew R 1

    Simon Collins, in the NZ Herald, questions the first time since 1972 story. He says a $25 increase also happened in April 2005 when Labour increased a child allowance.

    Why are (a) other reporters not looking into this, and (b) Labour mps silent on this?

    • Colonial Rawshark 1.1

      If it happened in April 2005 it will be searchable in news stories.

      • red-blooded 1.1.1

        This boost to child support was announced as part of the restructuring aligned with Working for Families. As far as I can tell (or remember) there was an increase to the Child Tax Credit that applied to both beneficiaries and working parents, and over time the CTC was changed to a Family Tax Credit. There were various reports about this, but here’s the speech in which it was announced: http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/debates/debates/47HansD_20040527_00000175/future-directions-working-for-families-bill-%E2%80%94-first-reading

        Cullen says “the bill increases the rates of family support substantially. Next year family support rates for the first child increase by $25 a week, and by $15 a week for other children. Two years later these rates will increase by a further $10. The orphans benefit, the unsupported child’s benefit, and the foster care allowance rates also increase next year by $15 a week” and “The child component of main benefits and student allowances will become part of the family support system. All support for children will be paid primarily through one payment—family support. This makes the assistance readily transferable between benefit and work. The removal of the child component will coincide with family support increases early next year, providing a significant boost for families with children.”

        The tax changes did more for people who were working than for those relying on benefits, but there were still real increases for beneficiaries: “A domestic purposes benefit recipient with two children, living in Christchurch, will be better off by about $36 a week. An equivalent sole parent working, earning $30,000 per year, will be $128 better off in April 2007 than now.”

        • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1.1

          OK thanks. So Labour structured their moves as tax reductions. Yet I saw the stats and it was never able to come close to reversing the massive increases in child poverty which occurred through the 1990s.

          • Tracey 1.1.1.1.1

            and Cunliffe’s $60 a week? You have been lambasting Labour for not doing whatever they should do in Opposition up against the Nats $25 bucks, so what of the $60 announcement by Cunliffe?

            • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1.1

              yeah, where did that $60/wk go. Have you heard Labour mention it at all this week? i haven’t.

              • Saarbo

                Yep, Little should have been firing the $60 p/week back to the media. I understand that all policy announcements made for election 2014 stand unless they have been clearly revoked by the Labour Party i.e CGT…haven’t heard anything about this $60 p/week being revoked so it is Labour Policy…beats Nat’s $25 hands down.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Then its doubly interesting that Labour’s Best Start policy has fallen into the memory hole.

  2. Bearded Git 2

    Brilliant comparison/analysis Mickey. Now what do Labour do about it? Is there a better way to release policy?

    Are Labour doing focus group sessions where the inevitable MSM attacks on policy are anticipated or do they just release and hope for fair treatment?

    • Sable 2.1

      We need to get to the place Greece is at where distrust of the MSM is almost universal.

      • Colonial Rawshark 2.1.1

        uh lets not do it that way

        • adam 2.1.1.1

          With this lot as economic stewards we may not have a choice Colonial Rawshark.

          • Stuart Munro 2.1.1.1.1

            Iceland is better – crooks go to jail. Best place for most of the Gnats.

            Thing’d be to write to Iceland & get the skinny on how it’s done.

            No need to reinvent the wheel.

    • ankerawshark 2.2

      bearded Git, imho no matter how Labour (especially Cunliffe) released or said anything last year, the media would spin it as a negative. We are all familiar with the Dong Liu letter, “I am sorry for being a man”. There is no question, the msm were in overdrive trying to discreet DC.

      I believe that the degree of anti DC spin last year was so automatic and ruthless from the msm, no matter what or how he said it it would have been shot down in flames.

      • Bearded Git 2.2.1

        @ ankeraswshark
        Agreed, but they are starting on Little now. What, if anything, can we do about it?

        • Rodel 2.2.1.1

          Tell it over and over and over to everybody- Paddy–Duncan…Paul…John…Bill…Gerry… Simon…’Cut the Crap!

  3. tc 3

    Yeah as expected mickey with the usual CT process steps the NACT have down pat by now.

    With another occasional dissenting voice now silenced their media strategy is simple and effective.

    dirty politics complements this nicely to cover off the new media, associated interest groups, academics, scientists and anyone else getting in the way.

  4. Incognito 4

    Apologies for the double-posting to OM but this topic is too important and cannot be publicised often enough:

    Debunking the child poverty myths by Rob Stock is an excellent read, in fact a must read.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Thanks Incognito. The article really reinforces how the Government’s measure is aimed at addressing a political problem and not the problem of child poverty.

      • Incognito 4.1.1

        You’re welcome. Of course, it was a political stunt that was squarely aimed at the MSM to create the desired perception. And it worked like a breeze! It was textbook politics/PR and, as usual, the populace swallowed it hook, line & sinker. So, now many (more?) firmly believe that National does care, that it does have a ‘soul’, that it is indeed working for all New Zealanders. Well, call me a cynic, but I am not swayed by any of it. For a very long (i.e. ever) National didn’t even want to admit that child poverty was an issue; it refused and still refuses to measure child poverty. So, how can National determine whether its policies have the desired effect or any effect, for that matter? National cannot because it doesn’t want to and that’s because it has no real interest in this issue. Interestingly, John Key said that 500,000 New Zealand children would benefit from the Budget in some way. That’s a rather large (and round) number and other large numbers have been tossed around in the MSM but the reality is that nobody really knows and National prefers it this way. National does not give a toss is the only conclusion that I can come to; nothing has changed substantially and National is most definitely not moving to the left!

        • Incognito 4.1.1.1

          To support my earlier assertions re. National I can now rest my case:

          Bill English does not understand the measures of poverty.

          For crying out loud, he is the Minister of Finance!

        • Gosman 4.1.1.2

          Call you a biased left winger you mean. National doesn’t need to convince people like you. they only need to convince the average swing voter.

          • Incognito 4.1.1.2.1

            You’re 100% correct; National really convinced those “swing voters” in Northland, didn’t it?

            And once it has convinced those voters it can sit back and feel “relaxed and comfortable” about it.

            “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”

  5. Peter 5

    …… moral(s) of the story …… the media win elections on behalf of the PR consultants and media owners …….. the general public are manipulated on behalf of controlling interests …… manage perceptions and you control the agenda

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      +1

      That’s been true for some time. Joseph Goebbels understood that:

      “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

      Something that National and the MSM, in service to its owners, excel at.

      • Peter 5.1.1

        …….. Goebbels clearly understood a thing or two ……. when Dirty Politics broke the orchestrated repetitive strategy centred on a fictional “orchestrated left wing conspiracy”. You have to give credit where credit is due.

  6. b waghorn 6

    I wonder if Gower is aware of how unbalanced his attertude is to the different sides of the house .

    • Macro 6.1

      Oh! I’m sure he is. As are all his mates.
      It’s a requirement to hold their job, and they know now, after Campbell, just how precarious that contract they have is. Don’t rock the boat – or we throw you overboard.

      • James 6.1.1

        Its not so much Dont Rock the boat, but dont lose your audience.

        • Richard Christie 6.1.1.1

          Nah, CL rates well, giving the lie to Mediawork’s mendacious excuses, it is not about the audience, it is all about (not) asking awkward questions.

          • Macro 6.1.1.1.1

            Even In a sleepy little hollow such as Thames – I can assure you that the local journo’s know only too well that they must give Scott – the encumbant Nat here – full coverage of him holding a kitten, while other Parties with far more social justice issues struggle to get even 2″s of copy.

  7. Sable 7

    Ask who owns the MSM and you have an answer as to which parties and policies will get a thumbs up. That said, what does shock and disgust is the degree to which public access TV has also been corrupted.

  8. Colonial Rawshark 8

    After the mass union movement and mass Labour Party membership was destroyed (by Labour) Labour, it lost its direct line into local communities. It was therefore left relying almost solely on corporatised commercial TV (which it set up, i.e. for profit SOE TVNZ + private TV3) to get its messages out to households.

    Going well so far.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      Yep, it was Labour that destroyed its base and they don’t seem to have figured that out yet.

      • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1

        Even activists seem a bit confused as to how the current day adverse media situation has evolved directly from longstanding structural changes that Labour itself instituted.

        Cullen wanted his surplus, he wanted TVNZ to be a cash cow for that purpose, so he kept running it as a for-profit commercial corporatised MSM outlet. It had a little codpiece of a public broadcasting charter of course, but that was always uselessly weak and easily guttable. Which of course National did using all the effort of waving a pen.

        • RedLogix 8.1.1.1

          Well CV this is why from time to time I re-state my expectation that John Key will remain PM just as long as he can be bothered.

          National ( or more accurately — the establishment which it fronts) totally own the propaganda channels. Against which no left-wing Opposition can ever hope to both win AND sustain government.

          Oddly enough it was Michael Cullen who told me this some years back.

          Personally I still believe that the only non-violent path through this is to teach people how to become resistant to propaganda without becoming cynical and shutting down altogether. Not easy.

          • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1.1.1

            Strong minds and strong mindfulness…

            With the intellectual left discarding religion and spirituality nowadays in favour of academic materialism it is more difficult.

            Well, Cullen was not a silly man, but him and Clark did not leave Labour a legacy that it could build on.

          • Clemgeopin 8.1.1.1.2

            Three points:

            (1) I can understand your point (and Cullen’s) as far as, say the major big business owned newspapers and the media works (which is directly beholden to Steven Joyce and his government for bailing them out of debt). I also suspect that their management appointments, like personal friend, Mark Weldon, former NZX boss, etc has been due to the plan/influence executed by this government behind the scenes. Same trick was played for country’s spy chief for GCSB with Key’s childhood friend, Ian Fletcher. The push to get John Campbell out, the country’s ONLY journalistic voice for the voiceless who was holding this crooked government for the wealthy to account was uncomfortable for the National Government’s untrustworthy ‘leaders’. Have you ever noticed or wondered that in the time that Paul Henry has been on the morning breakfast show, Key has gone on his show regularly, probably a half a dozen times or so (I am not sure about the exact number, as I don’t watch it, but from anecdotal or cross news accounts) while Key has not gone to Campbell Live for a very LONG time in spite of many invites to front up! I wonder why not! A coward or does he think John Campbell is a bad journalist or does he think that his government is just not answerable to tough questions?

            (2) I am not sure why the independent blogs as well as the publicly owned TVNZ, RNZ can not hold this dodgy government to account more strenuously? Surely, they need not be afraid?

            (3) Don’t we have any very wealthy but ethical straight up good and honourable fair minded individuals in the country who can start or own some MSM to allow a parallel pro-progressive voice for the common people and the country in competition to the myriad of primarily one sided pro wealthy RW rogue outfits running as media but really constantly playing dirty politics against the progressive parties and their leaders? Time to take the country back from the RW rogues.

  9. Charles 9

    Why do 75% of NZders hate kids so much? All day every day we hear about how some local hero “…just did it for the kids…” but if those same communities could also get away with not feeding or housing the kids, that’d be just peachy.
    Which popular virtue is transgressed by making sure kids don’t die of ill health and starvation – whoever they might be? At what point does the death or permanent stunting of a human become “more fair” than letting them live and thrive?
    Only 75% of the population know why, and they ain’t saying. I’m stumped as to how NZ society has become sociopathic so quickly. It’s like, the last ten years, the increase was exponential. Seems you can’t teach good sense or compassion, and once someone lets those things go they’re gone forever. Presumeably once the local poor are dead, the sociopaths will start in on their own children. We should start warning immgrants and refugees about what’s in store for them.

    • Facetious 9.1

      I reject your comments. You cannot tar the whole of NZ society with your biased and tainted brush. Go away, study and inform yourself before making silly accusations, such as 75%…

      • RedLogix 9.1.1

        Well ok – 55%. National’s supporters are just peachy with the appearance of action on Child Poverty.

        Nothing akshually need be done.

    • miravox 9.2

      “Why do 75% of NZders hate kids so much?”

      I think your next sentence gives the clue, Charles. NZers are very responsive, outraged even, when given news of individual issues/events that affect the well-being of children, but are loathe to accept there are structural failings.

      This is where Campbell (and likewise Helen Kelly with worker safety) has been so successful in getting public support, imo.

      • Tracey 9.2.1

        In the SST today they had an article about Brian Tamaki screwing over his parishioners to the tune of about half a million just from their annual conference. Cleverly, the article under that one as about raising money for ids to get pyjamas. It was a clever way to show Tamaki up without actually writing what a crook he is.

    • Lloyd 9.3

      Really interesting that the NZ Herald is running a “Buy some pyjamas to keep a poor kid warm” campaign today. Made me spit sparks, They have spent years slagging off beneficiaries and supporting Gnat policies which have ground down incomes and benefits – Now they want to be seen as supporting poor kids!

      Its like Scrooge running a fancy Christmas party.

  10. coaster 10

    going forward, is there going to be a main stream media?.

    with the number of people not watching main stream tv, not purchasing newspapers, having the ability to avoid watching adds altogether if they watch main stream tv, using social media for whats happening, i can see a time coming soon when the corporate media will have done its job so well in turing off the disinfrancised that none of there spin will work because no one is listening.

    i stopped watching tv 3 when they coontinually canned programmes after 1 season, with campbell live gone i will now intentionally stop watching tv3 as i can source any programmes they have that i like elsewhere.

    the right are very good short term strategis but not good at long term stategy, and they cant get they fact that most people are not motivated primarily by money.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Without a common public service media I think we’ll see NZ society start to fracture even faster than it is already.

      • Macro 10.1.1

        I saw just how much we have lost here with the commercialization of public broadcasting when staying in Australia for the beginning of this year. I’m sure you will be noticing it too Red. The public funding of the ABC allows for quality broadcasting at all levels. Even ABC Kids. 🙂
        Yes Abbot is attempting even now to trash it – I hope the Australian public can resist this threat.

        • Tracey 10.1.1.1

          I was over there in 2014 for ANZAC Day and that as prior to their budget and the Melbourne Age was really taking it to the Government.

          • RedLogix 10.1.1.1.1

            Absolutely this is correct Macro & Tracey. There is a much wider balance of political reporting here in Aus – which makes our sneering, snide and shallow right-wing media bias even more obvious from afar.

            The difference is extraordinary. Which is why Abbot made it a priority to start gutting ABC funding as soon as he got into power.

            • Tracey 10.1.1.1.1.1

              I watched a section of John Oliver last night. Say what we will about the USA but I haven’t seen anyone in NZ taking it to the government like he does.

  11. Mike the Savage One 11

    Quoting Gordan Campbell, the highly respected commentator and writer (see above):
    “That headline figure for the increase in benefits was misleading. No-one will get an extra $25. The real figure is a maximum of $23 in the hand when the simultaneous (and miserly) deductions in income-related rents and other forms of assistance is factored in. By late last night, Work and Income were clarifying that these abatement rules meant that many beneficiary families would receive an increase more in the nature of $18, and some families would receive nothing extra at all. Moreover, the figures seemed plucked out of the air, rather than based on any research into existing levels of need. Plus, the relief is deemed to be so urgently needed it won’t actually arrive for another eleven months.”

    So in a sense I was right after all, with my sincere reservations and suspicions about the supposedly so “generous” Key led, English manipulated government. This is a massive political trick played by the Nats, and Labour and Greens and NZ First better heed the loud warning sirens ringing in the air!

    Wait, for the coming two years, leading up to election 2017, the Nats will chant this mantra day in and day out, to every reporter, in Parliament, outside Parliament, in front of TV cameras and microphones, in public meetings, “we are the government that raised benefits”!

    They have NO intention to offer any more help for the poor, certainly not the poor on benefits, not so next year, not so in coming years, and this morsel thrown from their high stools at the well served tables they dine on, is all that parents on benefits can expect. But as Labour was until last election too afraid to offer anything similar, and even then only to parents with kids, the Nats can impress the largely misinformed public, that they are to “good guys” and deserve their votes again, come 2017.

    Time to rethink, time to regroup, time to prepare a counter attack, in full swing, also with a formidable media campaign, with firm alternative social and other policies by the more progressive forces.

  12. Mike the Savage One 12

    MSM – example ‘Radio Live’, Duncan Garner, “Drive Show”, Friday, 22 May 2015:

    Check out the audio – from 03:15 pm onwards, and listen to him calling the Auckland Action Against Poverty protestors “thugs”:

    http://www.radiolive.co.nz/Audio.aspx

    While the actions of some protestors may have been a bit questionable, I think the media is totally biased, at times full of contempt towards people, who dare to challenge the status quo we have, and who raise issues with social and other policy.

    Once upon a time it used to be professional conduct, to at least attempt to report in an objective manner, without spouting off personal, emotive comments and views. With such a “media” as we have it now, you do not need to run much in the way of political campaigns, if you pursue neoliberal, right of centre political ambitions and agendas.

    • Tracey 12.1

      How dare the poverty action group show Garner up… I presume those who just swallow and regurgitate Nats lies and deceptions (eg the decetive $25 per week increase for beneficiaries) such as Garner, Hosking, Plunkett, Smith feel foolish when those they despise (poverty action group) work it out quicker than they did?

    • stever 12.2

      Yeah we’re so “nice” and “polite” in this country…as the whole place goes down the gurgler.

      Having the (pretended) vapours at these rough, rude types…we’d rather be comfy than fair.

  13. linda 13

    lets not forget the minimum wage wound have went to 16 dollars hour under labor all govt and local body contracts wound have required the living wage changes to employment laws would have driven up wages ,NZ power policy would have stopped the rampant power profiteering ,kiwi insure would helped stop the money leaving these shores and changes to reserve bank act would have helped kiwi saver instead paying higher interest rates to the Aussie banks.and the Cullen fund would have been restarted ,Christchurch would have been used as a training ground for apprentices to help mop up the young unemployed ,David parker had a sound plan for the future !
    but we just love pony tail pervert lieing fucker john key .

  14. Mike the Savage One 14

    Perhaps the media should spend a little time examining the Designated Doctor racket that goes on, all funded generously be Work and Income NZ (WINZ) now:

    http://www.nbph.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Work-Income-DD-Flyer-V3.pdf

    So NBPH and WINZ are (in Nelson/Tasman) looking, or have been looking, for new Designated Doctors, commissioned by MSD to examine beneficiaries for their health conditions and work capabilities, and there has been plenty anecdotal evidence that these “doctors”, trained by MSD’s Principal Health Advisor Dr Bratt (the one who likens “benefit dependence” to “drug dependence”), are hardly as “independent” as they claim they are.

    They now get paid $ 250 PLUS GST a “hit”, that is for examining or re-examining WINZ clients with health conditions, and often they only run them through a range of questions, and a brief physical check-up, taking no more than 15 minutes. It used to be only around $ 140 a couple of years ago.

    Some may take a little longer, but hardly more than 20 to 30 minutes. On top of the $ 250 for that “service”, they can claim another $ 25 plus GST for a “host doctor report”, and also a travel allowance of $ 1.32 per km, should they need to travel to an agreed place.

    That puts the $ 25 (gross, before abatement / claw-backs) per beneficiary family with kids into a new perspective, I’d say.

    Lest we forget what is behind all that:
    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/designated-doctors-used-by-work-and-income-some-also-used-by-acc-the-truth-about-them/

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