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WINZ and Super Scandals

Written By: - Date published: 11:40 am, August 28th, 2017 - 138 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, activism, benefits, capitalism, class, class war, community democracy, cost of living, discrimination, Economy, journalism, Media, political alternatives, Politics, poverty, Propaganda, Social issues, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , ,

If a solo parent fills in a WINZ form and “mistakenly” claims they are single (the state presumes to decide the status of their relationships and may arrive at a conclusion the solo parent disagrees with), then they are prosecuted for the entire monetary value of their claim. They can even be sent to jail. And still the entire monetary value of their claim is owed.  And if they reach retirement age and the monies have not been fully recovered, deductions are made from their pension payments..

If a solo pensioner fills in a WINZ form and “mistakenly” claims they are single, then it would seem from the Winston Peter’s situation, that only the overpayment is pursued.

The second scenario is fair enough. The first is state violence being visited on the poor.

Don’t expect NZ media to shine a light on the discrepancy of treatment meted out by the same department to different people, depending on their perceived social standing. They, if the hounding of Metiria Turei and her family is anything to go by, are very much a part and parcel of the apparatus of state violence I mentioned above.

So what, if anything, can we do about all of this? Metiria Turei has been flung into the political wilderness, the Green Party has apologised and sat down, and neither the media nor any political party is prepared to speak out vociferously for the poor.

But there are thousands upon thousands of us who have been ostracised and badgered to these outer fringes of society. And the prospect of us all searching one another out and collectively saying “hey, just a sec” is probably very high up on the list of fears of those currently wielding power.

So maybe we should do that then. Maybe we should simply set dates and times and places throughout New Zealand main population centres and just come together en masse to say “Hey, just a sec”. And then start moving.

Now, that would be a scandal!

138 comments on “WINZ and Super Scandals ”

  1. popexplosion 1

    Greens rise in the poll after Meteria… ..Little would not be returned… …in D unnes seat they had withdrawn theircandidate, now D unnes gone… …Meteria gone… …now Peters ability to be a minister in question…. Greens in Oz percipitated the current deputy pm mess…

    • Treetop 1.1

      …. rewind, forward and rewind.

      What did Peters say about Turei and her W&I situation?

      Look how Peters executed his W&I situation. Peters has Turei to thank for, you cannot teach anyone anything, you can only teach a person how to think.

      Turei was attacked, her party was attacked. Turei made a huge sacrifice, I just hope that the final decision made by W&I re Turei reaches the right decision.

      Time to stop bashing beneficiaries when they are/were vulnerable.

      There is a lot of on the line stuff that W&I need to make the right call on. Turei offered to pay back what she may of not been entitled to, case closed.

      Interesting comment on being a minister re Peters.

      • popexplosion 1.1.1

        I dont see Peters as Ministerial material, and he’ll have more impact and a enhanced legacy, tipping his hat and letting Shane takeover. Which explains Shane Jones blessing the Winston tuft everytime he gets on TV recently.

  2. Macro 2

    So maybe we should do that then. Maybe we should simply set dates and times and places throughout New Zealand main population centres and just come together en masse to say “Hey, just a sec”. And then start moving.

    Yep I’ve been thinking that too Bill.

    That is the real scandal.

    But it’s not just a scandal – it’s obscene. The way we treat the most vulnerable in our society is utterly despicable and needs to be shown for what it is.

    I was thinking of a Hikoi. But it would need to be after the 23 rd obviously but pressure needs to be brought to bear on whoever holds the govt purse strings.

    • weka 2.1

      I’ve been thinking about vulnerability a lot, and how deep in the NZ psyche it is now to kick people when they’re having a hard time. We’ve just seen it with this Peters thing, which the push to treat him as badly as Turei as if that treatment is justified now.

      The expectation that everyone needs to toughen up. That’s not new of course, it can be traced back to the some of the masculinist threads in NZ culture from colonial days – beating back the bush, man alone myths, the push to assimilate Māori who were deemed lesser etc. But now coupled with neoliberal morality, it’s deadly.

      So how does a pan-movement come into being? I like Bill’s idea of picking some dates and places, and it also needs organisational resources. I’d like to see people of means and conscience stepping up and offering to put their resources into something genuine. A hikoi would be good.

  3. Siobhan 3

    Yet again my thoughts are with Wendy Shoebridge and her friends and family, and all those nameless and unknown individuals who have faced these injustices.


    Though, of course, in Wendys case not only could she not casually write a cheque to make the problem go away…..there was no overpayment.

  4. solkta 4

    What have the Greens apologised for?

    • weka 4.1

      Shaw apologised for the Greens being not together for a few weeks and letting people down. In reference to what happened with the 2 disaffected MPs as much as anything.

      • solkta 4.1.1

        That seems to be a long way from what Bill is implying above. Marama Davidson is just as strong on poverty as Metiria but hasn’t had the scandal to cut through the media.

        I think it is those two MPs however who need to do the apologising.

        • weka

          Yes, I agree the Greens are still working hard on those issues including welfare. I see it differently than Bill although I understand his rationale. If I have got it right, he believes that the Greens should have stood their ground at that point and that apologising lessened their momentum and ability to work to end poverty or build a movement or represent the underclasses (that’s me paraphrasing).

          • solkta

            James was effectively apologising for the disgusting behaviour of the two MPs who resigned, not for the Party going strong on welfare reform. If Bill thinks otherwise he should put up a link to back up his assertions.

            • weka

              I heard Shaw apologising for more than that.

              (btw, there’s a general rule of thumb here about not telling authors what to write. You can request things, but there’s a line).

            • greywarshark

              I do not find the behaviour of the two MPs who resigned “disgusting” but you using this description makes the word relevant to you. If we are to get a principled, fair NZ it will have to come from the Greens, and people who are willing to be disgusted by the Greens revealing the hard reality for the real people better join some other Party.

              You don’t like the approach adopted by ‘the Party going strong on welfare reform’. Okay, don’t just attack and denigrate, suggest your own ideas.

              But then I wonder how kind a person you are, how practical, how reasonable and what sort of ‘welfare reform’ you have in your mind? You should spell it out after this disgraceful attempt of yours to run down the Party that is holding up the sick body of NZ welfare clearly so we have to look at it. The phrase for the times is drawn from the bible ‘If I ask you
              for bread, do you give me a stone?’

              • solkta

                I’ve got no idea what you are saying here. I am a staunch supporter of Metiria and was behind her all the way. I think in the current climate the Mending the Safety Net policy is the best response, though I look forward to the day when society is ready for a UBI.

                The two MPs who resigned stabbed the Party in the back, that disgusts me. I have no problem with them feeling the need to resign, but the way they did it inflicted maximum damage to the Party and they completely disregarded the code of conduct that they had agreed to abide by.

                • the pigman

                  It was pretty clear what and who you were talking about solkta — not your fault.

                  There is a tendency, on this blog (and the blogosophere more widely) for people to see red / jump to conclusions.

                  Kennedy Graham and David Clendon indulged in an especially puerile footshot / gunmouth and really, really fucked this election campaign for the Greens. Disgusting (emotive though it is) is apt.

                • greywarshark

                  Okay solkta
                  The two MPs who resigned and were too precious to come down off their high horses I think are contemptible, rather than disgusting. And I don’t feel that is just a differing word for the same thing. But going on about them is backward. I am more concerned about Metiria, about bringing our brutal welfare system under the spotlight and that it stay there despite Metiria having moved away from DL.

                  Could you agree with that line, I have already given the Greens my opinion on this. The latest from Marama Davidson is about the environment. But poverty and doing something from the environment can work together.

                  Why can’t the Greens talk about short fast courses in working on environmental matters for those who aren’t too worn down by poverty? Those who give a shit about improving their own conditions, learning new skills, getting environmental jobs where there is much need for human work = together the needs of both policies can be met with a happier NZ.

                  That’s my idea for a positive outcome. Do you like that? If so write or get in touch with someone influential and ask for some hasty additions to their spiel over the next four weeks. I have started doing this. A lot of people only decide in the last week about who to vote for. There is time – Let’s Do It the real Greens way not just act the trendy middle class environmentalists who don’t really like plain people, the hoi polloi.

            • popexplosion

              Two MPs should have known better than to voice their concerns during a election. They were cleanly cut from the ticket. Nothing to do with what they right or wrong about, it was just a excellent opportunity to show leadership. The puzzle for me is how Greens are failing to connect the obvious, that environmental goals are unachievable without equity societal economic. The national leaning MSM in NZ immediately cast the false dichotomy that fairness and environment were separate. Everything says the reverse is true.
              In order to save the planet, sorry, ourselves coz the planet ain’t about caring, we all need to be onboard else it’s easier to pollute to achieve economic wealth advantage. As we come to the end of the chemical era, where few made make trillions polluting, it’s no surprise MSM are paid up members of the polluter class.

        • Bill

          I’ve said before that my take is that Shaw, on behalf of the Green Party, “bottled it” at the Green Party re-launch when he should have been signalling an intent to burn the place down.

          That’s no reflection on Marama Davidson or any other mp, nor even of Shaw. It was, (this is just my perspective) a political decision and an incorrect one.

          I’m aware others don’t share that view (of what the apology was about or what it was taken to mean in the grander scheme of things) and that’s fine. Opinions are opinions.

          • tracey

            Thanks for the post Bill. I agree that Shaw backed down and crawled away with his tail between his legs. instead of standing tall he allowed the MSM to pat themselves on the back for being “right”.

            I am amazed at how many media and others think they can can reshape Green party by making incorrect statements about thwat they represent rather than gooing to their website, archives and words to find out what they have always stand for. No coverage to Fitsimmons swinging in behind the Greens by heading many of their emails and some press releases. It’s like the MSM couldn’t wait to put the upstarts back in their place (hugging trees).

            The Green party has always understood the humans are part of the eco system, therefore the environment. A fight for the environment is a fight for humans to thrive too, and vice versa. It really isn’t so hard.

            • weka

              I’ve been watching quite a lot of video of Shaw in the past month. He hasn’t backed down. There are more options that bottling it and burning the place down. I thought the relaunch was uninspiring but everything else I’ve seen from them makes sense with green politics kaupapa (relationship is central).

              • Karen

                I agree, Weka. I had already started to warm to James Shaw having been rather unsure about him for some time, but I have become a fan because of his support of Metiria, which has been exemplary I think.

                It was Metiria’s decision to stand down because of the pressure on her family. If she had decided to stick it out I have no doubt that James would have supported her decision. I see no evidence that he has backed down at all.

                I find the call for some kind of revolution shows a complete lack of knowledge about how most people in NZ view politics, how the media in NZ operates and how political parties function. There is no question that the Green Party has been hurt by this, and it is not surprising to me that their relaunch was a bit uninspiring. I am sure they will recover because they have some great candidates.

                • tracey

                  “shows a complete lack of knowledge about how most people in NZ view politics, how the media in NZ operates and how political parties function.”

                  Understanding that and knowing the relaunch was the last time they would get a spotlight is what frustrated me. However the Greens have always wanted a different type of politics and I get that. I support them with donations and they have my party vote.

                  So many non Green voters have been expressing their views on what the Greens should and should not be, I thought I might provide my own, as a supporter.

                  We need more mature politics in NZ and that includes how we disagree with each other.

                • weka

                  I think also that that whole thing went down while Labour’s popularity was dramatically increasing. There is a bitter sweet irony here that hasn’t been talked about much. It’s possible that it was Turei’s speech and the next poll increase for the Greens that pushed Labour to finally sort its shit out. Which I am pleased about, because Ardern seems good enough to me despite my problem with significant Labour policy. But hard on the Greens, and there’s no way to know what would have happened to the GP vote had Labour not changed leaders at that time.

                  And more variables than that even. My disappointment is how many lefties are still willing to stick the boot into the Greens (not anyone in the conversation, which seems honest enough). The left needs both Labour and the Greens and we need to be supporting them both if we want a change of govt.

              • tracey

                I have not said he should burn the place down. BUT he had a platform at his relaunch and history told him that would be one of the last times he would be in the spotlight. i watched it from beginning to end. It was pretty limp. At some point (and this, I think was Turei’s stance) you have to make a noise to break through the silence that allows the status quo to continue.

                I remain a Green voter. That has not changed.

                • weka

                  “history told him that would be one of the last times he would be in the spotlight”

                  How so?

                  yes, limp. But I took that as the Greens being rushed and not having their shit together as much as anything. It was disappointing. But when I look at what Shaw has said since then it’s hard to see him as having backed down.

                  And let’s not forget that while the co-leader does have sway, he doesn’t determine what the party does, there is still a group process to go through. So did the Greens crawl away with their tail between their legs? I’m not seeing it.

                  • tracey

                    “How so?

                    One of the reasons Turei spoke out as she did, imo, is because campaigns never allow small parties to get their policies highlighted. This is true during normal term too. The Greens got a lot more media during the Turei issue than i can ever recall them getting for policy announcements. If I knew that the relaunch would be the last chance to have the spotlight before the MSM turned to other scandals or the 2 main parties, surely the Greens knew?

                    Crawled away may have been unfair and I concede that. It was my frustration showing.

            • marty mars

              He never backed down – let alone crawled away – what a load of shit and really just poor analysis based on your own stuff from both you and Bill. Fucking disappointing attitude too I might add imo

              • tracey

                So we perceive things differently marty mars? If you cannot take a differing perspective without resorting to invective that says more about you than me.

                • Yep scant weeks out from the election – keep the positive vibes for a change of government coming eh – yeah nah.

                  Don’t worry I’ll just crawl away

              • weka

                I have to agree with tracey there marty, we’re all natural allies here, it’s ok to disagree even where we find that challenging. I find the general characterisation of the Greens, and Shaw in particular, hard going atm, so I understand your frustration, but the green kaupapa is about relationship, here as much as anywhere 🙂 (glad you are here too!).

                • Natural allies don’t shit on people for NO reason – those people are called other descriptors. Frankly some of the Green supporters who hate on labour are really convincing me to change my vote. It was bad enough with Mama and even worse now with the Greens. I’m going now because I really want to say what I think

        • tracey

          Greens have had no policy traction in the MSM since Turei resigned leadership. Proving another of their points. The MSM is not as interested in shining the light on policy and then analysing it as they are on beat ups.

          I wonder, genuine question, do the Press Gallery pretty much surround themselves with the politicians they cover? If that is the case they live in the same bubble we accuse some pollies of?

          • weka

            I’ve been seeing some positive coverage, but let’s not forget that at the same time the whole Ardern thing happened. Very hard to tease out which factors were responsible for what effect.

            Having said that, it’s been interesting writing on TS lately and seeing where people’s attention is focussed. It’s still on the drama 😉 and solid policy can’t compete with that.

            • Carolyn_nth

              At this stage, I’m not so interested in policies being rolled out. I looked a lot at that, and parties’ performances over recent time.

              Policies being rolled out now look more like strategic electioneering, targeting voters, rather than produced from matters of party principles and priorities.

              And it’s all a bit wearying – each party trying to outdo others, with new policies daily.

              • tracey

                and wriggle room to back out later…

              • patricia bremner

                Imo, Many of Labour’s policies look inter-related.

                More to come yet, and don’t despair, many in Labour think if we get to 40+ in the final polls, that Green may be getting some our party vote for insurance.

                Some of Winnie’s followers may change …. remains to be seen.

                Remember National is losing partners at a stunning rate. We would not have believed it only a month back!!!

                This is a volatile election, as many people have homeless living in garages and vehicles near them, more and more are questioning the “Rockstar” bit.

                Too many things tell the public that the “Surplus” should have been spent elsewhere, and a road and a second language are not their priorities.

                Stress causes tension and we are all “edgy” Hoping, yes hoping.

                Personally I have decided there is a method in Jacinda’s “relentless positivity” as it doesn’t give the opponents an opening. The conversation is on her terms.

                Yesterday , at Christchurch, after a successful rally, she laughed and sat for a selfie with Miss Piggy. Not what Top hoped!! She is socially adept, and carefully picks her battles.

                May we get our wish, a Labour Green Government.

                I have a bottle of NZ inexpensive gold medal winning “sparkling wine ” ready.
                Norm will drink the single malt.

  5. Richard Christie 5

    very high up on the list of fears of those yielding power.

    don’t you mean wielding?

    [Yup. Fixed. One of those odd turns of phrase I’ve been using for years and never getting quite right. Currently wielding and soon to be yielding? 😉 ] – Bill

  6. weka 6

    I suspect that if a poor, brown, pensioner with no status in NZ politics had had this happen that similar might have happened to them as to younger beneficiaries. Been hearing some bad stories about pensioners and WINZ in recent years too, although obvious differences from benefits like Jobseekers.


    • tracey 6.1

      Remember Peters met with a “Senior MSD Official” to finalise the process. That is a privilege afforded no ordinary citizen.

      • Anne 6.1.1

        Actually no tracey. It may not happen now but 8 plus years ago it was common practice for people only a month or so away from turning 65 to receive a letter requesting they make an appointment with their local MSD to sort out their superannuation entitlement. It was usually short and for the most part they merely had you there to confirm what they already knew.

        • tracey

          I took “senior MSD Official” to mean someone in MSD not a WINZ office per se?

        • Blackcap

          Happened to my father not that long ago. Got a letter 2 months out to go and make an appointment.

  7. RedLogix 7

    Thank you Bill. Expressed very concisely. That such a piquant comparison with Peters should arise in such a timely fashion only highlights Turei’s shameful treatment.

    Said it before, but the entire episode has parallels with the take down of Colin Moyle. While Muldoon’s mob chortled and cackled, many of the rest of NZ quietly noticed the iniquity and I believe it was the beginning of the end for Muldoon.

    And a mere years later the Moyle affair was widely regarded as a shameful blot.

    Edit: A bloody great snake just slithered into my room!! It’s a gorgeous yellow creature and I’m told they’re harmless … but I’m up on the bed all the same until it leaves.

    • Anne 7.1

      Shit!!!!!! God almighty where are you!! 😮

      • tracey 7.1.1

        Horse Tailor (Australia)

      • RedLogix 7.1.2

        A tiny place on a river in Columbia, South America. I love the people. Nothing about this place is what I expected.

        The snake had a good look around, realised it had company and left after about 10 minutes. Very beautiful, but I couldn’t bring myself to snuggle it. 🙂

        • Anne

          I couldn’t bring myself to snuggle it.


          • mary_a

            @ Anne ( … I challenged myself in Queensland once. Although somewhat apprehensive, feeling somewhat like you obviously do about reptiles, I did stroke a snake in a controlled situation and was amazed how warm they are. Off topic I know. Sorry.

        • tracey

          Awesome. When did you go there? What took you there?

    • Treetop 7.2

      On mentioning Colin Moyle.

      I hope in my life time that I get to see the full police evidence re Moyle which was locked in the attorney generals safe for 25 years in December 1976, (overdue and what the ex cop boyfriend did to me (cop involved in the incident June 1975) is still unresolved). The police have a lot to answer for as well.

      I also think that the commissioner of police owes Moyle a public apology. Moyle is 88 years old, so the commissioner needs to hurry up the apology. I don’t think an apology will ever happen, what was done to Thomas (planting of cartridge case) has never been fully acknowledged by the police.

      English’s career is in the hands of Dickson and the texts, to a point the police investigation.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2.1

        If Tim Murphy is correct/telling the truth, Dickson no longer has them.

      • Anne 7.2.2

        I also think that the commissioner of police owes Moyle a public apology.

        Very much so. That whole affair was started by a hoax telephone call to Moyle claiming to have knowledge of a ‘rort’ of some sort inside the Defence Force. The hoaxer arranged to meet him in a part of town known to be frequented by homosexuals (what they were called at the time) which was against the law. The hoaxer never turned up but the police did.

        Colin Moyle did not reveal the truth about what happened until years later and he was right not to do so because no-one would have believed him. I am certain I know the identity of the [two] culprits because in subsequent years I learnt directly from one of them about the numerous political hoaxes they carried out between mid -1970 through to mid-1980. They all followed exactly the same pattern as the Moyle hoax.

        No, I didn’t pass the info. on to the police because a) it was too long after the event and b) I no longer trusted the police to do the right thing by the information.

        • Jenny Kirk

          Sort – of like the Sutch affair, Anne. Reeks of the same tactics. Dirty politics.

  8. Darth smith 8

    There should be mass invasions of winz offices to.demand answers and get justice

    • tracey 8.1

      Or to see a “senior MSD Official” immediately. But bennett showed us what happens to beneficiaries who challenge the system… they get silenced and publically humiliated.

      • weka 8.1.1

        Actually that’s not a bad tactic (seeing a senior person in WINZ at least). But it requires support and advocacy to be safe and effective. I keep arguing for lefties of means to start putting resources in advocacy services for beneficiaries. Building movements there will have many good flow on effects but it does require resources.

        • tracey

          Absolutely. That people don’t even see the privilege and “other world” living in Peters having direct access to such a person and being treated differently to other people is sad…

          I am increasingly finding NZ to be a sad and nasty place when it comes to our fellow kiwis. I do not understand it and I won’t vote for its perpetuation

          • RedLogix

            I am increasingly finding NZ to be a sad and nasty place when it comes to our fellow kiwis

            And the more I’m exposed to other countries and cultures around the world these past few years, the more I’m convinced of exactly the same thing. I never thought I’d say this, but right now the only thing I really miss about NZ is family and the bush and mountains.

            Thirty plus years of extreme neo-liberalism really has damaged us.

            • marty mars

              Lol seems like everyone’s happy eh red. Your attitude of scarcity and putting the boot into people living here is sad. I hope you improve it before trying to come back. But it seems a few think like you – I hope you have plenty of spare rooms lol.

              [I see any more snide and/or personal bullshit from you marty and you’re taking a very long skite from the site.] – Bill

              • RedLogix

                @ mm

                I’ve indulged your sad, nasty toxic stalking and unremitting personal attacks on me for many years now. It’s also exactly the type of mean minded negativity that I was thinking of when I wrote that comment above.

                Here is something to think about mm. I actually have met you a few times in person, many years ago. You will not remember me but I do. You have the power, the mana to inspire and lead, but not when it’s turned inwards like this.

                The Bay is a special place to visit, a refuge of sorts, but you can stay too long I think.

                • I just dont agree with you is all. And haven’t since you crossed lines a while ago.

                  Pretty dirty going for the I know who you are line. I use a pseudonym don’t I? Did you stalk me because I used my real name in the real world in the past.

                  Different rules eh

                  • RedLogix

                    You’ve been going for me for years. And until tonight I never mentioned this. Not once. But I do remember that at the time (and it was decades ago) I felt a bit in awe of you. Do you imagine I’ve never been hurt by what you’ve dished out over the years?

                    Last night my colleague and I were invited to a party. One good thing about not speaking any of the local language (Spanish) is that you literally ‘hear no evil’ which is a nice freedom. But you can read a lot from people’s body language and tone. All I want to say is for a few hours I felt more at home, more accepted, more happy than I ever did in New Zealand.

                    In the past four years I’ve worked in nine different countries for weeks or months at a time. Working in a place is not like travelling; while you see a much narrower slice of the country, living and working alongside people in their normal lives exposes a much deeper view of the culture.

                    While no place is perfect, and diversity is the rule not the exception, I cannot help but feel saddened by the comparisons I inevitably make with home. In one sentence I’ll miss it; but it comes to mind that we’ve become a nation of emotional cripples.

                    • Sorry that I’ve hurt you today and in the past. It is not the way I like to interact and I’ll try to improve the way I communicate with you and others.

                      Decades ago I was not me really, compared to me now. I think you may be mixing me up with someone else tbh.

                    • Ad

                      Really nicely put Red.
                      Great to hear meanness called out.

                      Also great to hear that you are successful, have means, and mobility, and are accepted for your skill and your openness. I don’t always agree with you, but at least you think.

                      Probably the best kind of New Zealander is one who is sufficiently free to never come back. Suicide, depression, violence, narrowed debate, and accelerated decline of the middle class – they are here in such extremity that it marks us out.

                      You are free, and it’s good.

            • OncewasTim

              I’m praying for change and if it does’t come and if I can swing it, like you, i’m off to the 3rd World

  9. alwyn 9

    I don’t know the full details of the DPB etc but isn’t what the department doing exactly the same in the two cases you talk about?
    Aren’t they, both times, claiming the amount you were paid that you were not entitled to?
    In the case of a solo parents benefit I imagine you are only entitled to it if you are a solo parent. If you are in a relationship wouldn’t you not be entitled to any money at all and that is what they would be wanting repaid?
    If you claim New Zealand Super at the single rate when you were only entitled to the married rate it is only the extra amount you are entitled to and it is that they are trying to reclaim.
    You should still be considered to be defrauding the taxpayer but the amount of the fraud differs in each case.
    I repeat. I don’t know anything about the DPB, or Solo Parents benefit so this may all be wrong.

    • weka 9.1

      The whole ‘fraud’ thing after Turei’s speech was very badly handled by the MSM. An overpayment becomes fraud if it can be demonstrated that a beneficiary lied intentionally. Which sounds black and white, but benefits are complicated and mistakes get made (quite a lot by WINZ). I’ve had changes made to my payments with zero communication from WINZ about why. Who is responsible in that situation?

      Beneficiaries are routinely treated badly and the ethos is punitive. What this means is that whereas tax fraud or Super overpayments might be treated leniently, if it’s other benefits the state can come down very hard. They don’t have to, there is the discretion to sort these things out in other ways, and WINZ sometimes does do that, but often it doesn’t because of the ethos.

      That’s the different Bill is pointing to. It’s classist, and it’s institutional violence.

      • Treetop 9.1.1

        Look at the seating arrangement at W&I, NZ Super have their own area.

        I have noticed all the other seating is near the automatic doors. Automatic doors and children under 5 can cause children to be banged. Wait time can be 30 minutes or more.

        I spoke to a woman a few months ago who had a scarf around her face.
        I asked her if she had a cold.
        She said all her teeth had been taken out the day before and had to show, unless her payment would be reduced.

        • weka

          I think OAB’s comment below sums up the situation perfectly. Department for Human Rights Violations. I’ve been arguing for a long time that NZ treats beneficiaries as third class citizens precisely because of this shit. It happened on ‘middle NZ’s’ watch.

          • tracey

            I want to understand because I have been “middle NZ” and I do not get the nasty disdain toward beneficiaries. I guess like all “advertising” if you are bombarded with messages that they are all thieves and bludgers you can be forgiven believing it? except that plenty of “facts are out there to show it for myth. Is it that middle NZ is also struggling a bit and hey need a group to feel superior to?

            • weka

              I think ignorance is a big part of it. Remember how much of Pākehā NZ used to be anti-treaty settlements until lots of education was done about NZ’s colonial history? Seems similar to me, lots of people making judgements based on inaccurate information. Plus a core number of bigots, probably can’t do much about them. Then the whole putting working class people against beneficiaries, that probably can’t be addressed well until working class poor are taken care of too.

              • tracey

                That is why I feel it is important for some folks to move to voting Green to show they do not support vilification of the vulnerable. Otherwise the deliberate misinformation by Politicians in power will continue. Just as the ridiculous build more prisons and lock em up mentality thrives despite so much contrary evidence.

                • weka

                  This has been my disappointment. Seeing lefties switching to Labour, because this issue underpins all the others like suicide rates, broken Health system etc.

                  • tracey

                    Yes. My other frustration is Labour supporters getting upset if a Green supporter criticises Labour while Labour steals the Greens triple 3 tag line, does nothing to support Green votes in electorates and so on.

                    If Labour gets in without Greens then people need to understand that it is likely that they will enjoy power and seek to hold it, which means pandering and old style political stuff. The lobbyists will still have swipe cards to the 9th floor while beneficiaries and others have to queue at their local MPs office.

                    • Ad

                      Just relax.
                      Don’t do that anxious thing until election night.

                      Meantime just get out there and support your Green party and your Green candidate with everything you have.

                    • Jenny Kirk

                      Yes – don’t get too worried. The Greens have quite a backbone of support out there – I think they should get back in. And I’ve seen a few Labour supporters on FB saying they’ll Party vote Green and vote for their own Labour candidate. (Not that I agree with doing that – being totally biased towards L) but I’m not sure, you need to be too worried. I can’t believe former Green voters have abandoned you.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.2

      Yep, it’s pretty much all wrong.

      Here’s some educational material.

      The amount of harassment, misinformation and outright lying from employees of the Department for Human Rights Violations would bother you if it were any department but this one.

    • Bill 9.3

      I’ve personal knowledge of a case where a woman was “done” for claiming the DPB when the Department claimed she was in a relationship with an unemployed person.

      There was no attempt to calculate what her and her alleged partner would have received as a couple in order to calculate what monies were actually owing. They took her for the entire worth of her claim even though she wasn’t in a relationship (the joy of threatening jail time) and she’s still paying it back 20 years later.

  10. Siobhan 10

    I’ve been waiting all day to hear the details, but it hasn’t come up…. was he charged interest?

    14% interest for overpayments of Working for Families, or is that only if you are having to take time repaying because, you know, you’re poor and can’t just whip out the checkbook….


    • tracey 10.1

      I have been wondering if he repaid less than 18k, cos he negotiated a settlement 😉

  11. Adrian 11

    I’m not a Peters supporter by any means but I think hes fun to have around and his acolytes seem to be single issue dipsticks, but something smells funny.
    First, he doesn’t need the extra money.
    Second, it looks like he made sure that his application was done correctly, just in case.
    Thirdly, why now, 4 weeks out.
    Is this the creme de la creme of Dirty Tricks, a little time bomb all ready to be activated when nessecary.
    When it comes to cock-up or conspiracy its almost always cock-up by 10 to 1.
    But why now? And who benefits?.

    • tracey 11.1

      Which Party has recent history leaking citizens private details? That would be national. They are trying ot bleed NZF below 5% and over to them. A ploy to rule alone?

    • ianmac 11.2

      Wondering about that as well Adrian. Could someone have “planted” the Super bomb and waited until about now to attempt an “explosion?”
      Have to be someone in the Super office or IRD to be able to “whistle-blow” Winston.
      But surely not.

      Mind you I think that a canny Winston will wait a week or two before proving innocence.
      And do we think that Winston would take the risk of discovery for the sake of such a few dollars. Yes, if he was broke, but no, since he must have a life-time of investments.

    • OncewasTim 11.3

      Plus his reluctance to divulge the info media seem to be demanding is understandable if he intends taking any sort of legal action or having a go at IRD in future. Lloyd Burr apparently told him his source was IRD.

  12. Adrian 12

    I”ve re-read the Newsroom report and there is something bloody funny going on here,
    the fact that neither party can identify when the fuck-up happened reads like the original Peters application was correct and somebody changed it or incorrectly logged it in before it was activated.
    Stranger and stranger.
    But a perfect sleeper trap.

    • tracey 12.1

      They seemed pretty clear he was told before Turei made her announcement, something he seems to have denied today.

    • Anne 12.2

      It happens a lot in the Public Service. Well, to be more correct it used to happen and probably still does. Years ago, in an effort to get rid of me for a transgression I never committed, some important computations of mine were changed. Unfortunately for them they only changed the copy held in the Auckland office and forgot about the copy I sent to Wellington which was still correct. Suddenly all went quiet and was not heard of again.

      • tracey 12.2.1

        Why isn’t the Minister of Revenue (Peter Dunne) in the media demanding an immediate hunt for the leaker?

      • OncewasTim 12.2.2

        See above @Anne. Ditto here. I’m not particularly a Winnie fan either way. I do know that the best policy in circumstances like this (for technical and legal reasons) is to STFU when its obvious there’s a fishy smell (such as an IRD employee breaching privacy, or a WINZ employee on the back foot)
        Already WP has come out and stated that for some reason he was put on a aingle rate.
        WP is doing EXACTLY the right thing.
        As any cop (corrupt or genuine will tell you), crims fuck themselves up by bleating.
        The same goes for gotcha journalists, public servants who’ve probably only given their Codes of Conduct a cursory glance, lobbyists et al.
        My suspicions are that WP has already learned a bit more over the past 24/36 hrs.

        Pass the popcorn someone!
        As Rache used to say, it wont happen overnight, but it WILL happen.

    • ianmac 12.3

      Stuff has similar questions Adrian. If NZF was knocked out altogether wouldn’t that leave National with even fewer options?

      “…But that still leaves some very big unanswered questions about how details of Peters’ confidential tax records made it into the public arena. The last election was dominated by allegations of dirty politics. Is this shaping up as dirty politics the sequel?…”

      • tracey 12.3.1

        IF NZF was knocked out, no seat win and below 5% and same with Greens, Nats could govern alone if they got around 45%?

  13. ianmac 13

    Just checked my Super entitlement against what I receive. And it is wrong in the same way as Winston’s was. I am in deep trouble.

    • weka 13.1

      Not if it’s a genuine mistake on your part. Check in with your local Community Law Centre first.

    • Anne 13.2

      Lie low ianmac and all will be well. 😈

      I wouldn’t have a clue what mine should be so if its wrong they can get stuffed. Its up to them to fix their own mistakes.

      • ianmac 13.2.1

        I am too scared to not deal with it.
        If someone down the track notices then my ability to pay back is a big problem. Always been so careful to act according to the rules.

        • Pete

          In handling it use the Key mantra: “Dishonesty is the best policy.”

        • tracey

          Where in NZ are you?

        • Bill

          So, go in and (rightly or wrongly) cop it. And then inform them you’ll repay whatever the amount owing is at the rate of $1 per week.

          And that’ll draw a line under the whole thing for you.

          • ianmac

            I phoned them. According to the Super online rate I should have been being paid $15pw less. Amanda at W&I assures me that my rate is correct. So that is a huge relief, but baffling as well.
            Anyway they will record my concern and their response.
            Thanks those here for your support.

            • tracey

              did you record the call? If not, may a written/typed record of it now.

              • weka

                Glad to hear that ian!

                At the very least write down the date and time of the call in case you need to reference this later. Sorry, just speaking from long experience of myself and others (conflicting advice, letters that don’t arrive).

                • weka

                  btw, did they explain the discrepancy between their advice and what is one the website? I bet there are others checking today.

            • AsleepWhileWalking

              If its a mistake by the ministry you are fine.

        • weka

          Now that you know about it, dealing with it is good for you and for the sake of dealing with the state. But get some advice first. Going in prepared with WINZ and knowing what your rights are makes a huge difference. Also, if you can, take someone with you, preferably someone who can support you in the meeting if needs be. This changes the dynamics of how they might treat you (if there is a witness they will treat you better).

          CLC can give you free legal advice.

    • tracey 13.3

      I am pretty sure, but not certain, that they will allow a pay back plan.

      • weka 13.3.1

        Depends on whose mistake it is. If Ian genuinely thought he was entitled to what he was receiving and the mistake was theirs (e.g. clerical error), would he have to pay it back? This is why he needs to see a lawyer *first, WINZ may be willing to write the debt off.

    • DoublePlusGood 13.4

      I recommend getting elected as soon as possible, so you can avail yourself of the services of IRD’s senior management.

  14. Ed1 14

    I haven’t seen evidence that the wrong payments were the result of Winston filling out a form wrongly, and that it was not a simple error by WINZ. I don’t know the rules in detail, but in these days of a wide variety of personal relationships it must be quite complex, especially if, as must be common, a person make application for themselves at a different time that their partner / wife / casual boarder / flatmate / houseguest/ tenant in the garage / etc makes an application (and the relationship may have changed between two applications). With housing shortages, the proportion of people really living alone must have reduced; is the border between a couple and a single person clear any more? I know someone that applied and was told that he should not include details of his partner as she was not eligible for some time later – when she applied she was asked why her application had not been included with her husband’s!

    The dicussion abovbe also shows that it is difficult for many to determine just whatthey should be receiving.

    Winston may well be playing it cutely in the hope that some will over-reach in accusing him of benefit fraud – but I also suspect that WINZ may well have referred this client file to the Minister under “no surprises” (does that Trump privacy rules?) before a letter was sent to Winston, but we may never know how it was “leaked”. . .

    • tracey 14.1

      Who leaked? Tracy Watkins says the source of tge link doesnt matter. Really?

      She suggests Seymour, Dunne and Tax Payers Union knew in advance…

      The source of the leak does matter. Why isnt the Minister of Revenue and MSD telling us investigations begun.

      • OncewasTim 14.1.1

        Why aren’t they telling us an investigation has begun?
        Because they’re too busy working out if they can be liable in any way, risk managing, and all the usual rituals. None of which woyld be necessary if they just acted ethically and with a smidgeon of integrity.
        But….it’ll keep

  15. adam 15

    We live in a truly odd country.

    Metiria Turei could not be held up as a saint, so the made her out to be a whore.

    Odd indeed.

    Both Maori.

    Well at least we keep it on a even keel – white supremacist till the end.

  16. Michael 16

    MSD make lots of mistakes administering pensions and benefits but it’s very hard for people to prove it, thanks to changes made to the law over the years by successive governments. AFAICS, no one contending for political office wants to change the status quo.

    • weka 16.1

      The Greens definitely want to transform WINZ.

    • tracey 16.2

      The Greens have been really clear they have plans to change the status quo. Visit gheir website to read more

      • Michael 16.2.1

        Labour says the same thing too but no one believes a word of it. As for the Greens, with Metiria’s defenestration, social justice is now firmly off their agenda. Oddly, that probably makes them a more reliable coalition partner for National-lite. One thing is sure: unchecked abuses of bureaucratic power will grow, not diminish, under the next government, regardless of which bunch of political actors think they’re in power.

  17. carlite 17

    WINZ are pulling $20 a week out of my wages and nobody there can actually explain why.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 17.1

      Lodge a review.

      • Michael 17.1.1

        Why? Carlite has no chance of winning, as Benefit Review Committees are merely rubber stamps for the bureaucratic decision-makers. As for the Social Security Appeal Authority (the next tier in the judicial food chain), odds of success are slightly better than they were under the previous (Labour-appointed) chair, but only outside the top-half of the North Island (where most of the people live, coincidentally).

  18. xanthe 18

    This is complete crap!
    every year we end up with a “debt” which WINZ take out at some tens of dollars per payment. there is never any satisfactory explanation.


    thats how it usually happens and there is nothing disclosed so far to show it was not so in this case.

    • xanthe 18.1

      As for met , the MSM dumped on her because she comes across as a dishonest bully. The greens are well rid of her , They have made more real progress in the last week than the previous decade…. IMHO. I could seriously consider rejoining them in 2020 if they continue as they presently are.

      • solkta 18.1.1

        What has changed? Nothing that i can see?

        • Xanthe

          Well i can see some good policy for a sustainiable future that is common ground with most new zealanders , from where I stand thats a substantive change

          • solkta

            There has been no change in policy. The Mending the Safety Net policy still stands just as it did. Clean water, ending poverty, climate action – same difference.

    • solkta 18.2

      If that is the case then why doesn’t Winston just release the correspondence? Why leave us all guessing?

      • Xanthe 18.2.1

        1 if WINZ hasnt a clue how can winston?
        2 none of our business

        “Overpayments” by WINZ are normal, they just happen and no good explanation is given, this i know from personal experience. if “winston was overpaid” is all there is… and despite the newshub bluster that is all there is! Then there is no winston story, any person who deals with WINZ knows shit happens regularly and satisfactory explanations are usually not forthcoming. Now that, (headless chookery at WINZ) should be the story here, not winston.

      • North 18.2.2

        If Winston’s not been dishonest there is no story…….except in the minds of Winston haters and excited media types. In that case he couldn’t be blamed for hanging on to the goods for now and giving them enough rope to hang themselves. The one thing I’ve always appreciated about Winston is his longstanding preparedness to tell the sucky incumbency lovers in the media to FO. Self satisfied cafe society dorks most of them.

  19. repateet 19

    tracey @ 5:34 pm said that Tracy Watkins says the source of the leak doesn’t matter.

    I just found out that Tracy Watkins works for Stuff. She is described on Linked in as “Political Editor and Parliamentary Bureau Chief, Fairfax Media NZ.”

    If Tracy Watkins did say the source of the leak doesn’t matter, I am surprised that she could get any job let alone work for a media company. Someone so out of touch and being a non-thinking simpleton would struggle to get a job emptying the rubbish bins at most places.

    Who are the people who know the Winston Peters situation regarding his dealings with the IRD and WINZ? Who has access enough to detail, apparently specifically, to Newsroom things like “$18,000”?

    I thought that those in places like the IRD and WINZ had to sign papers about confidentiality. If Tracy Watkins doesn’t think private information should be private from Government ministries she is an idiot.

    Tracy Watkins if you see this and I am wrong about your view I am sorry.

    In the not too distant past I remember Anne Tolley assuring us about the privacy of very sensitive information. If we accept that information being leaked from places like the IRD and WINZ ‘doesn’t matter’ we must assume that no information is safe.

  20. feijoa 20

    The name David Seymour has popped up with both the MT and WP “scandals”
    Mr high and mighty Seymour has been all too happy to lambast their dishonesty.
    Is he doing the Nats dirty work for them?

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