National MPs and ministers have been busy this year with more botch-ups, scandals, an attempted smear campaign, and spinning bullshit to cover their arses with multiple policy failures in health, education, the environment, child poverty, etc, etc, etc…
The fact that National still appears to be riding high in political polls speaks more for a population heavily sedated by trivia and superficial “news” reporting, and for mind-numbingly inane mass-entertainment – rather than any actual success.
Some of the more mind-blowing comments that have recently been made by National ministers have flown below the radar.
Our so-called “Environment” Minister, Amy Adams, recently dismissed Dr Mike Joy’s criticisms of National’s new water standards.
But Dr Mike Joy, an environmental ecologist at Massey university, says the new standards are a “backwards step for fresh water”.
“You could just drive a truck through it,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.
“There’s so many gaps, so many things we’ve been measuring up until now that they’ve dropped.”
The changes put limits on the amount of toxins and bacteria that can be present in water, which the Government says will require some communities and farms to improve their waste-disposal systems.
But the weakening of other limits were essentially a “licence to pollute,” Joy said, and would allow for a big increase in the amount of pollution in rivers.
“We’ve got a decline going on,” he said.
“Rivers are getting worse, lakes are getting worse. This should be something that puts the brakes on, but instead it’s an opening-up. It’s like lifting the speed limit from 50kmh to 500kmh – that’s the kind of level of change around nitrate pollution.”
Joy said more than 90 per cent of rivers in lowland areas – those coming from urban areas and farms – were already too dangerous to swim in.
To which Adams responded;
Ms Adams also corrected the Green Party’s and Dr Joy’s comparison of nitrogen levels in New Zealand’s lakes and rivers to those in the Yangtzee River.
“Although the Yangtze River indeed has serious pollution issues, nitrogen is not the core pollutant there.
In fact, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the primary issue for the Yangtze River is industrial and sewage waste and the management of sediments, rather than nitrogen.”
What the World Wide Fund for Nature (which Adams mis-quoted) really stated was;
“The major pollutants in the Yangtze mainstem are suspended substances, oxidizing organic and inorganic compounds, and ammonia nitrogen. This has severely reduced drinking water quality and contributed to dramatic eutrophication.”
And from the Science Daily;
“For the first time, a team including foreign scientists was authorized by the Chinese government to study water quality on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River…
For example, nitrogen concentrations have approximately doubled over the past 20 years. In Shanghai, concentrations of dissolved nitrogen were twice as high as at the Three Gorges Dam, reflecting the increasing use of mineral fertilizers in agriculture…
However, where the river enters the East China Sea, the huge pollutant loads are expected to have devastating effects: each day, 1500 tonnes of nitrogen is discharged, causing eutrophication and growth of blue-green algae in the coastal waters…
In the Yangtze, concentrations of nitrogen, metals and organic compounds are increasing, as shown by comparisons with earlier measurements in the literature.“
As usual with right-wingers, it pays to check their “facts”. They’re usually bullshit. (As well as batshit crazy.)
Dr Mike Joy – 1
Amy Adams – 0
Bennett seems not to know where she stands on the problem of New Zealand’s hidden rape culture.
On 10 July, on TV3’s Third Degree, Bennett accepted the reality of our rape culture;
“And you can see it in the language that is used by some people. You can certainly see it in pretty much a pub or a nightclub in New Zealand on most weekends to be quite frank. So we have a lot of education to do there, I think.”
Two days later, she changed her mind, this time on TV3’s The Nation;
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve got a rape culture or a sexual violence culture in New Zealand…
I think what we do in New Zealand is we report more [sexual violence] than any other country. So actually some of those that are being reported are incidences that haven’t even led to violence.”
On 10 July, on Third Degree, Bennett accepted that her government had failed Tania Billingsley;
“Could things have been handled differently? We’re the first ones that have said yes it should have been. But for her I feel incredibly sad that the incident has happened in the beginning. And that’s where most of her hurt and anger is.”
Again, after two days, Bennett’s views seemed to have changed, as this exchange on The Nation showed;
Lisa Owen: “Ok, so how do you think that your male colleagues handled the alleged assault on Tania Billingsley and the departure of the Malaysian diplomat? Did they lose sight of the victim? Did they trivialise that?”
Paula Bennett: “Well look I’m not prepared to go into what has happened in that case. But my short answer to that would be no.”
Paula Bennett (2.0)
On TV’s The Nation, Lisa Owen took Paula Bennett to task on our growing endemic rate of child poverty. Owen pointed out to Bennett;
“…people like Jonathan Boston say that eradicating poverty is a political choice. Is it just that you’re not making a big enough political choice? A billion dollars, an extra billion dollars a year he said will make an enormous dent in this.”
Because, as we all know, “throwing money” at the poorest in our society apparently doesn’t work to pull children out of poverty.
Or “throwing money” at people by way of tax cuts works to “stimulate the economy“.
Strangely, “throwing money” at welfare beneficiaries – by way of a Training Incentive Allowance – helped former solo-mother, Paula Bennett, obtain a free tertiary education and she is currently (until 20 September) a highly-remunerated Minister of the Crown.
So why is “throwing money” by way of corporate welfare; tax-cuts; Charter school subsidies, etc, a ‘good‘ thing – but “throwing money” at poverty to eliminate this scourge from 21st century New Zealand – is a ‘bad‘ thing?!
National ministers have yet to answer this question.
God knows we “throw enough money” at them with their generous salaries.
This was one of National’s election platforms in 2011;
“Staying strong on crime“.
Except when National decides that a particular law is “inconvenient”. Then it will instruct it’s ministeries not to prosecute offenders. As Minister Simon Bridges recently instructed the Labour Inspectorate;
Radio New Zealand has obtained documents under the Official Information Act which show the Labour Inspectorate has moved away from the proactive approach to enforcement and has redistributed its efforts to crack down on illegial migrant workers.
Traditionally labour inspectors have been out on the streets at Easter, catching out shop owners who open illegally, but will now wait for members of the public to complain about shops being open and will follow those up with warning letters.
Special briefing notes from the Labour Inspectorate General Manager George Mason to the minister show the inspectorate has questioned the effectiveness of the shop trading act, which allows for a $1,000 penalty for breaches of the law.
In many cases the judicial system was reluctant to impose the maximum fine, Mr Mason told the minister.
He said in recent years not many complaints from the public were received and this year not a single shop was prosecuted for opening at Easter.
But Simon Bridges said shops can still be prosecuted and will be if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary.
The law will be upheld – if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary?!
When a government will not uphold the law because it conflicts with their own ideological stance – then why have laws at all?
And can the rest of us pick and choose which laws are convenient to uphold, and which we can break?
It appears so…
Mr Bridges is showing us the way.
After the debacle of the Malaysian diplomat, accused of burglary and attempted rape, and the question over why Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully failed to keep track over events in his own ministry, an inquiry was launched on 11 July.
“A thorough and transparent inquiry is important, as those managing diplomatic immunity issues for the Government need to enjoy the full, unfettered confidence of the New Zealand public.”
Although one wonders just how “ thorough and transparent” any inquiry will be when,
- The terms of reference do not include Murray McCully’s actions. This effectively gives the minister an ‘escape clause’ from the fiasco.
- John Key has already pre-determined who the guilty party is, within the Ministry, when he stated on 4 July; “If that person doesn’t have clarity about that position then they need to think very strongly about whether they’re in the right job.”
- Rob Hosking from the National Business Review suggested that the Inquiry will “not likely to be [completed] before the September 20 election”. How ‘convenient’.
On 8 June 2012, as National’s planned to increase class-room sizes blew up in their faces with a combined teacher-parent revolt, I wrote;
Parata’s Plan to cut teaching staff and increase classroom sizes was dressed up as “improving teaching quality and professional leadership” – which was exposed as patent bollocks when she stated,
“The changes to teacher:student funding ratios were to have saved the Government around $174 million over four years, of which $60 million was going to be invested in improving teaching quality and professional leadership.”
Sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged.
That is the real crux of the matter; an ongoing programme of reduction in social services because of two tax cuts we could ill afford, and which National was irresponsible in making.
Two years later: On 7 July, Radio NZ’s Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson, spoke to National’s accident-prone Hekia Parata and put it to her that Labour’s plans to reduce class-room sizes by 2018 were proving very popular with parents. Ferguson pointed out that Labour’s policy was in direct opposition with Parata’s humiliating failure to increase class-room sizes.
At 3.05 into the interview, Parata replied,
“And at the time we were in a different fiscal environment and we were focusing right then on how did we find the money to invest in quality. And now we’re in a better fiscal environment, we can do both,both more teachers and more quality...”
Which is confirmation, if any was needed, that National’s plans to reduce teacher numbers and increase class-room sizes was nothing more than an outrageous cost-cutting exercise. Happily, it failed as New Zealanders stood up, en masse, and told National,
New Zealanders were not prepared to sacrifice their children’s learning and future on the alter to National’s cost-cutting. If Key and his cronies were foolish enough to cut taxes as part of their 2008 election bribes, it was most certainly not going to be paid for by the children of the middle classes.
So far, #Teamkey seems to be going ‘swimmingly’ well.
Fairfax media: Water rule changes seen as ‘licence to pollute’
World Wildlife Fund: Threat of Pollution in the Yangtze
Science Daily: First-ever Precise Data On Yangtze Water Quality
NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto
Scoop media: Warner Brothers Hobbit Deal a $67 Milllion Farce
Beehive.govt.nz: Government delivers April 1 tax cuts, SME changes
Radio NZ: Govt defends trading law enforcement
Dominion Post: Malaysian diplomat case inquiry head named
NZ Herald: Diplomat case: Court file released
Interest.co.nz: Key suggests mid-level MFAT diplomat “considers career options”
Scoop media: Teacher funding ratios to remain the same
Radio NZ: Listen Hekia Parata on Morning Report
Radio NZ: Labour pledges to reduce class sizes
Previous related blogposts
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 July 2014.
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One of the most enduring, irrational, and hateful myths constantly spat our by various right-wingers is that solo-mothers (but never solo-dads) are “breeding for business“. It is a cliche that rolls of the tongue easily; requires no evidence; and ignores simple realities of life such as women who escape violent relationships or are deserted by their partners for the blonde office-colleague.
Whether it is John Key referring to women as “breeding for business“, or anonymous redneck bigots parroting their cliches via on-line fora – solo-mums (but never solo-fathers) make for easy targets. As one ignorant, right-wing bigot said on his blog,
“It seems like a good start but incentives really need to be focused on making it harder for Mums to pop out kids on the DPB and easier if one chooses to be honest with others and themselves and work for a living to support themselves and their family.”
Prejudice requires no justification. It just panders to negative emotion rather than critical thought.
The myth of the “breeding solo mum” (but never “breeding solo dads”) is based on misogyny and enduring patriarchal punitive attitudes.
After all, when is the last time solo-fathers were targeted by right wing bloggers; beneficiariary bashers; or this government. Answer – practically never. If ever.
Equally pernicious is the right wing blogger, commentator, or self-proclaimed “expert”, who mis-uses statistics to prove their point, but which, upon closer analysis, debunks their case entirely.
The rationale for prejudice is fairly simple.
It absolves right-wing governments from adopting constructive, but costly policies such as the Training Incentive Allowance, which allow solo-parents (mums and dads) to gain an education and re-enter the workforce when family committments allow. This is how the current Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, obtained her university degree – the Training Incentive Allowance.
In July 2009, Bennett scrapped the allowance altogether. And when two solo-mothers criticised Bennett’s actions, the Social Welfare Minister reacted with the full power of the State at her finger-tips, and released their personal details to the media. It was a frightening, sickening, display of abuse of State power unseen since Rob Muldoon’s reign of fear.
Three years later, despite the Director of the Office of Human Rights Proceedings, Robert Hesketh, upholding a complaint again Bennett, the Minister was unrepentant and said she would do the same thing again after “taking advice”.
Two years ago, as the economy stagnated and unemployment soared to 7.3%, National ramped up it’s brutal and destructive campaign against those on welfare. Key and his cronies needed a scapegoat to deflect public attention from daily bad headlines, and welfare beneficiaries were targetted.
Bennett launched a public campaign advocating that solo-mothers and their daughters should be “encouraged” to take contraception. National and ACT both supported this draconian, Daddy State policy.
For two erstwhile liberal parties committed to getting government out of peoples’ lives, they were very, very keen to get into the bedrooms of women.
But not middle-class women who were either independent via employment or a part of their (male) partner’s hegemony. This was directed at women who were single, poor, abandoned, and reliant on State support. In other words, vulnerable women.
And as we all know, bullies, rapists, misogynists, etc, prefer their intended targets to be as vulnerable as possible.
That allows their bodies to be owned and controlled.
So National and it’s lap-dogs, in the form of serial-liar, John Banks, and “Mr Sensible”, Peter Dunne, supported moves to control women’s bodies.
All of which was carried out with the sub-text that solo-mothers (but never solo-fathers, remember) were reckless breeders. “Breeding for business” as John Key put it.
As unemployment skyrocketed to 7.3%, and awkward questions were being asked of National’s economic plans for growth, Bennett was lighting the torches for the mob to ferret out; hunt down; and deal to, women who were “breeding for business“.
Of course Bennett denied that women would be coerced to take contraception;
“It’s not compulsory, it’s just something to add to them trying to plan their family so they’ve got choices. It’s completely reasonable.”
Of course it was not compulsory. It was not meant to be. That was never the point of National’s on-going demonisation of beneficiaries – especially solo-mums (but never…) as a multitude of anti-welfare headlines hit the media in 2012, courtesy of National.
It was all part of National’s covert strategy to divert public, media, and political attention from economic problems confronting this country. National’s hands-off ideology was not working, and a very dramatic distraction was needed. A distraction that jerked all the right visceral responses. A distraction that National’s rightwing sycophants, cronies, and malcontents could pick up and promote.
A distraction that was too much for the powerless to fight back.
Solo-mothers… Reckless “breeders for business“… Young sluts… Dropping babies for cash…
The National Government would sort out these wanton women of loose morals.
Cue; two years later, this recent editorial in the Dominion Post. As far as editorials in a conservative newspaper went, it was quite extraordinary, as it exposed and laid bare National’s manipulative, self-serving policy of vilification against those on welfare. I repost the entire editorial, rather than just the headline and first couple of paragraphs, as I usually do;
The Dominion Post – not normally renowned as the champion of the underdog when it comes to social welfare issues. So for the un-named writer to denounce National with such vehemence speaks volumes that the media was no longer buying into the “bene-bashing” narrative.
What is more, ACT’s latest leader, Philosopher/Libertarian, Jamie Whyte – in response to a point made by Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman – let slip on TV3’s The Nation on 10 May;
“Do you really think people only have children because you flick them a few bucks?”
.Oh, really, Mr Whyte?
So people do not have children just “because you flick them a few bucks”?
Money is not a motivator?
Well, bugger me. Who’d’ve thought?!
Of course not. “Breeding for business” is a fiction.
But for certain right-wing politicians, it suits their agendas to demonise the poor; the powerless; and the marginalised.
Fortunately, though, every so often the truth will out.
Thank you, Mr Whyte, for going on the record.
NZ Herald: National takes aim at solo parents on DPB
Political Animal: National’s Welfare “Reform” : Is that it?
Waikato Times: Furious mum rejects ‘bludger’ tag
NZ Herald: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high
Fairfax media: Beneficiary contraception plan ‘intrusive’
NZ Herald: Business NZ sees no economic plan
Dominion Post: Editorial – Dole scheme redundant from start
Previous related blogposts
Above image (slightly altered) acknowledgment: Kirk
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 May 2014.
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FROM: "f.macskasy" SUBJECT: National's cunning $3000 plan for the unemployed DATE: Wed, 07 May 2014 10:02:39 +1200 TO: Kathryn Ryan <email@example.com>
Kathryn Ryan Nine to Noon Show, Radio NZ . After three years the best that the Nats can come up with is Bennett's plan to pay unemployed $3,000 to relocate to Christchurch to find work. The only problem is; 1. There is no guaranteed work, as Select Recruitment managing director Karen Bardwell has stated "the rebuild had yet to kick into high gear and the demand for low to medium skilled workers simply wasn't there". http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/243602/agency-questions-jobless-incentive 2. There is a critical housing shortage with astronomical rents being demanded/paid. Where will 1,000 workers find a place to live? Bennett doesn't say. 3. The $3,000 grant is predicated on; 3A. The job being for 30 hours per week or more, 3B. The job lasting 91 days or more htt p://beehive.govt.nz/release/budget-2014-%E2%80%983k-christchurch%E2%80%99-help-job-se ekers Item 3A and 3B are the fish-hooks. If an employer decides to cut back a worker's hours or, initiates the 90 Trial Period law - the workers has to repay the $3,000. The implications of this are obvious. Not only is a worker in a precarious position to keep his/her job - but has a potential $3,000 debt hanging over their head. The potential for abuse by manipulative, exploitative employers is obvious. The risk is all on the unemployed, and very few people would be willing to put themselves into such a vulnerable situation. Pity. It was the 'germ' of a fairly good idea. But as usual, National hasn't thought it through. Or was it designed to fail by making it so unattractive that no one in their right mind would take it up, and Bennett could once again bang on about "lazy benes"? It wouldn't be the first time. -Frank Macskasy [address & phone number supplied]
Beehive.govt.nz: Budget 2014: ‘$3k to Christchurch’ to help job seekers
Radio NZ: Agency questions jobless incentive
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes
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6 May, 2014
The Government is providing further support for the Canterbury rebuild with $3.5 million of new operating funding for 2014/15 in Budget 2014 to assist beneficiaries to take up work in Christchurch.
“We’re offering up to 1,000 beneficiaries a one-off payment of $3,000 each if they have a full-time job offer in Canterbury and are ready and willing to move there,” Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says.
“The rebuild is creating thousands of jobs in Christchurch, and there are people around New Zealand ready to take them up, but who don’t currently have the means to get there.
“With an unemployment rate in Canterbury of 3.4 per cent – lower than the 6 per cent rate nationally – there are plenty of opportunities. There is demand not only in construction, but in hospitality, retail and many other industries too.
“Work and Income will be working closely with employers to connect them with beneficiaries who’d be suited to work for them, and I’m confident this incentive will provide a boost for the rebuild, and for the employment prospects of beneficiaries,” Mrs Bennett says.
The $3,000 payment will help beneficiaries with the move to Canterbury, sorting accommodation, clothing, tools and any other purchases they might need to make when getting settled.
This offer will be open to beneficiaries of all ages, but a particular focus will be placed on young people aged 18-24 years, as the rebuild provides the opportunity for them to gain employment skills that will set them up for life.
To qualify, the job offered must be for over 30 hours a week, and for longer than 91 days. The payment will be non-taxable, and exempt from an income and asset test.
If the recipient goes back on benefit within three months of the payment without a sufficient reason, then the payment must be repaid.
This initiative will cover jobs within the geographical areas of Ashburton, Hurunui, Selwyn, and Waimakariri District Councils, and the Christchurch City Council.
An interesting idea… until one read the second-to-last line. Which prompted this response from me;
FROM: "f.macskasy" SUBJECT: Letters to the editor DATE: Wed, 07 May 2014 00:52:23 +1200 TO: "The Press" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
.The Editor THE PRESS . When I first heard that National's Paula Bennett was offering $3000 for unemployed to relocate to Christchurch to find work, I thought it was an interesting idea with merit. Though one wonders why it took three years for National to come up with it. An election year bribe?. Upon closer inspection there are two fish-hooks in this plan. A job has to be over 30 hours a week, and longer than ninetyone days, or else the $3000 must be re-paid. Should an employer reduce those thirty hours, or use the government's own Ninety Day Trial Period to sack the worker - that $3000 must be repaid. The unemployed person takes the risk in taking up the $3000 grant, but their fate is in the hands of the employer, whose decisions can result in the worker having to repay the money. The plan's sheer inherent contradictions undermines any potential effectiveness. In fact, it seems designed to fail. -Frank Macskasy [address & phone number supplied]
Beehive.govt.nz: Budget 2014: ‘$3k to Christchurch’ to help job seekers
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes
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A recent Roy Morgan poll had some very disturbing news for National and it’s shrinking support-base;
The poll results;
National: 43% (down 2.5%)
Maori Party: 1.5% (down 0.5%)
ACT NZ: (0.5%, unchanged)
United Future: 0.5% (unchanged)
Conservative Party of NZ: 2.5% (up 1%)
Labour Party: 32% (up 0.5%)
Greens: 13% (down 1%)
Mana Party: 0.5% (up 0.5%)
Internet Party: (0.5%, up 0.5%)
New Zealand First: 5.5% (up 2%)
The polling – which includes phoning respondents on cellphones – shows party/bloc support much more evenly divided than other polls. Any election night result is simply too close to call, and will depend on “wild cards” such as NZ First; how many Maori electorate seats will be won by Mana, at the expense of the Maori Party; and will the Nats cede an electorate seat to the CCCP (Colin Craig’s Conservative Party).
(Despite the closeness of the Left/Right bloc, this blogger still maintains that we will see a change in government post 20 September.)
No doubt all this information was already available to National’s own party strategists, and, rather predictably, they were prepared to distract public attention with Default Strategy #2;
Note the dates on the two stories above; 3 April. Coincidence? Not very likely. All political parties are aware of when Roy Morgan polling results are made public and this particular result would have come as no surprise to National’s back room strategists and spin doctors.
National and Labour both conduct their own internal polling and are acutely aware that public opinion of decided voters is evenly balanced between the Left and Right blocs.
To rebuild flagging public support, the Nats are focused on reclaiming “soft”, low-information, swing voters – especially those susceptible to dog-whistle politics. And you can’t get more “dog whistle” than beating up on welfare beneficiaries, as Bennett did;
“The new rules recognise beneficiaries should be ready and available for work – not prioritising travel. Every day we hear stories of how people cannot live on the benefit. Today you’re hearing that literally thousands can not only live on it but can afford to travel overseas as well.”
This is precisely the despicable tactic used by ex-National leader, Don Brash, during his infamous Orewa Rotary Club Speech in 2004, when he railed against a “government-funded culture of welfare dependency“, “racial separatism in New Zealand“, and the “development of the now entrenched Treaty grievance industry“.
Considering that the Maori Party is one of National’s few remaining coalition partners, and rely on their support for Supply and Confidence, slagging of at Maori and the “entrenched Treaty grievance industry” is a no-go area.
Which leave… beneficiaries. They are the “New Jews” of 21st Century New Zealand – blamed for an alleged “poor work-ethic”; “wasting tax-dollars”; and living the “high life” whilst the rest of us have to work for a crust.
It is noteworthy that, in the main, the mainstream media published Bennett’s media release without question. There was no in-depth analysis by journos wanting to know who these “21,000 beneficiaries” were, or their circumstances. No questions were asked. No delving behind the reported statistics was carried out.
In fact, not one single journalist, newspaper, TV current affairs programme, etc, actually even bothered to report what the unemployment benefit was ($210 per week, net).
Instead, the Herald – which seemed to be the main media outlet for this “story” – published an editorial five days later, supporting and endorsing the official Party Line.
Never since the days of the Soviet state-organs, Pravda, Izveztia, etc, have news media been so utterly and completely compliant as mouth-pieces for government policies, statements, and naked propaganda.
If this is what the msm such as the NZ Herald call “freedom of the press“, then I suggest to them that their much-vaunted independence is a fiction. When government ministers’ media releases are reported almost verbatim, then any pretence of media independence , press freedom, and investigative journalism flies out the window.
Interestingly, when James Coleman on RadioLive interviewed Labour’s Sue Moroney on this issue, he started of by asking;
“Well I wonder how you can afford to travel overseas while on a benefit?”
Unfortunately, except for Julie Moffett on NewstalkZB, who made some effort to present an alternative to the official “Party line”, that line of questioning was not followed through.
Ms Moroney did, however, make this interesting point;
“I think that people will have questions about why there so many people travelling overseas. And I think it tells us a story about how bad the job market is in New Zealand. I think that quite a number of these people, and many of them are travelling to Australia in desperation, because they’ve run out of the opportunity in New Zealand to get a job. They’re sick of sitting on the scrap heap here, and getting rejection letter after rejection letter after rejection letter and are going to Australia and are trying their luck over there instead.”
Ms Moroney’s assertion would seem to be confirmed by Paula Bennett, when she stated,
“Since the changes 4,880 peoples’ benefits were cancelled because they failed to reconnect with Work and Income eight weeks after their departure from New Zealand.”
If someone on an unemployment benefit (now referred to as “Jobseeker”) has left New Zealand for longer than eight weeks, that implies they have left this country for reasons other than a so-called “holiday” or family bereavement. As Sue Moroney suggested, they have left this country for good.
So why not phone WINZ’s 0800 number to inform them that they are travelling overseas?
Anyone who has recently had cause to phone WINZ (0800 559 009) will have their question provided. Waiting to speak to an operator on that line can take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. Sometimes longer. And there is no guarantee that the information provided by a welfare recipient will be accurately recorded or passed on to the relevant WINZ Branch, or acted on.
This blogger is aware of at least one beneficiary who followed proper procedures to advise WINZ of a change in his/her circumstances – only to have that information disregarded and their benefit cut. Only when WINZ was contacted on subsequent occassions and questions asked why that information (earning an income through a casual job) was not accepted, was the recipient’s benefit eventually reinstated. S/he had done everything right; carried out their obligations; made full disclosures – and was still penalised.
How often is this happening to others?
And if a beneficiary is leaving New Zealand (often paid by loans, friends, or family) to seek work in Australia – why should someone utterly frustrated with the system bother to contact WINZ, which is time-consuming, stressful, and when that information is not always passed on?
Who would bother?
I submit to the reader that most would simply give the one or two fingered salute to this country as they departed.
However, such questionable “statistics” serve this government’s interests very well. They have a ready-made scape-goat to point the finger at – meanwhile distracting the public from the very obvious fact that there are simply not enough jobs to go around for everyone. Certainly not the 170,000 new jobs promised by National in 2011;
In turn, the media has ready-made, simplistic, tabloid-style headlines provided to it on a plate, to sell their advertising.
Whilst the majority (hopefully) of New Zealanders understand that this is red-neck, dog-whistle politicking in action, National need only appeal to one or two percentage points of voters who unquestioningly digest this kind of prejudice – and John Key is assured of a third term in office.
Unemployment is working – for National’s re-election.
A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…
- Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
- Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
- All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
- Paula Bennet was a recipient of the WINZ Training Incentive Allowance, which she scrapped in 2009
- Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA – a taxpayer-funded benefit
Perhaps I spoke too soon. There appears one journalist willing to buck the National Party Line, it seems. Colin Espiner stands out from the maddened crowd of media sycophants…
NZ Herald: Travelling beneficiaries’ payments cut
Roy Morgan: 3 April 2014 Poll
NZ Herald: National down as NZ First gains
Scoop media: “Nationhood – Don Brash Speech Orewa Rotary Club”
National Party: Benefits cut for 21,000 overseas travellers
Fairfax media: Beneficiary bashing just too easy
Previous related blogposts
Against The Current: Mike Hosking says Bash A Beneficiary Day!
The Daily Blog: Paula Bennett’s racist beneficiary flying hatefest
The Little Pakeha: Wrestling with the narrative
The Standard: Poverty denial – NZ Herald editorial
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 April 2014.
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The latest bout of bene-bashing from Bennett and the rotten National government;
“The new rules recognise beneficiaries should be ready and available for work – not prioritising travel.
Every day we hear stories of how people cannot live on the benefit. Today you’re hearing that literally thousands can not only live on it but can afford to travel overseas as well.”
.FROM: Frank Macskasy SUBJECT: Letters to the editor DATE: Sun, 06 Apr 2014 23:16:21 +1200 TO: NZ Herald <email@example.com>
.The Editor NZ Herald . Paula Bennett's recent attack on welfare beneficiaries, where she claimed that "21,000 beneficiaries have had their benefits cut for going on unapproved overseas trips in the last nine months" is simply too fantastical to be believed. For one thing, how on earth does one fund a trip overseas on an unemployment benefit of $210 a week (net) and pay rent, power, food, clothing, medical expenses, school fees, transport, phone, etc, etc? This doesn't make sense. The arithmetic simply doesn't add up. One thing is for certain; National must be in trouble. They have defaulted to Deflection #2; 1. Blame previous Labour government 2. Release story on ‘welfare abuse’ 3. Blame Global Financial Crisis or similar overseas event Perhaps National's own internal polling has them falling in public support and Labour/Greens doing better than public polling is suggesting? How else would one explain Bennett's latest foray into Fairytale Land? -Frank Macskasy [address & phone number supplied]
It is interesting to note that the Herald story, written by
Not. One. Word.
I remember that this is what the media looked like when I lived briefly in Eastern Europe in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
This is what a media mouthpiece for an autocratic government looks like; faithful; reliable; committed to the Party (in this case, National); and unquestioning.
This is what our media has become. They have been tamed.
NZ Herald: National down as NZ First gains
NZ Herald: Travelling beneficiaries’ payments cut
Previous related blogposts
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FROM: "f.macskasy" SUBJECT: Letters to the editor DATE: Tue, 18 Feb 2014 13:24:12 +1300 TO: "Dominion Post" firstname.lastname@example.org
.The Editor Dominion Post . The witch-hunt against former TVNZ presenter, Shane Taurima, can best be described as hypocrisy on a National scale. It is a bit rich for the likes of National MPs, Tau Henare, Judith Collins, and Paula Bennett to be crying into their beersies and alleging bias in Taurima's interviews when amongst them sits their colleague, former radio presenter, MP Maggie Barry. On 5 March 2011 she stood as an unsuccessful National Party candidate in the Botany Bay by-election. That was only three months after leaving her position as radio host at Radio Live. For six years prior to that, Barry worked as a host and interviewer at Radio NZ, interviewing many left-wing politicians, political figures, activists, etc. In 2011, she became a National Party member of Parliament. There are other examples of journalists, television and radio hosts, and other media personalities entering politics - many working for the National Party. Did anyone complain of undue bias from Maggie Barry or indeed Richard Griffin - one time Radio NZ political editor, and subsequent Chief Press Officer and Media Adviser to Prime Minister and National Party leader, Jim Bolger? Not a squeak. The stench of hypocrisy is over-powering. -Frank Macskasy (address & phone number supplied)
Dominion Post: Labour links at TVNZ revealed
Wikipedia: Maggie Barry
Radio NZ: Richard Griffin
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen
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FROM: "f.macskasy" SUBJECT: Letter to the ed DATE: Sun, 12 Jan 2014 15:56:11 +1300 TO: NZ Herald <email@example.com>
.The Editor NZ Herald . Only 22 people have drug tested positive out of the thousands sent to 8,001 job vacancies which required drug testing, reported David Fisher in his story, "Minister claims low drug result as victory" (11 January). Social Welfare minister, Paula Bennett, says that "It's great so few people failed tests in the first six months of this new policy, that's partly due to the strong signalling effect of this policy where many people reported quitting marijuana use before it was even implemented, but we're also giving people the opportunity get clean before they're tested." Or, as is most likely the case, those who are unemployed are ordinary fellow New Zealanders who've been made redundant since 2008 and the on-going recession, and are no more likely to be using drugs than their fellow workers who've not been made redundant. Redundancy does not automatically lead to drug taking. It seems that National's demand for drug testing welfare beneficiaries stands revealed for what it is - a waste of taxpayer's money that does not create jobs (except in the drug-testing industry, maybe). The policy achieves nothing except cater to the ill-informed - those who are prejudiced against the unemployed and other welfare recipients as a matter of course. It is a form of scape-goating those who cannot fight back against such character slurs. Tellingly, Bennett's office cannot answer simple questions such as how much the drug testing costs; how much it has saved the taxpayer; how many of all the unemployed sent to those 8,001 vacancies were drug tested; nor whether in fact the policy is indeed affecting drug usage at all. Her office simply has no information on these questions. But I have a question for the Minister; when she was on the DPB herself as a solo-mother, how can we - the taxpayer - be reassured that she was not a drug-user and smoked the odd joint or three? Can she reassure us that she did not take drugs? Was she drug tested at the time? If not, why not? . -Frank Macskasy (address & phone number supplied)
NZ Herald: Minister claims low drug result as victory
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Continued from: Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session
On 27 march, Karl Du Fresne had a bit of a public melt-down over Radio NZ, complaining,
Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – RNZ’s bias needs to be tackled
He accused Radio NZ on being a left wing organisation;
But on some programmes, a stubborn Left-wing bias persists.
Kim Hill is the worst offender. This is a problem for whoever runs RNZ, because she’s also its biggest name.
Chris Laidlaw lists to the Left too, as does Jeremy Rose, a journalist who frequently crops up on Laidlaw’s Sunday morning show. Rose appears to be on a lifelong mission to convince people that there are humane alternatives to nasty, heartless capitalism.
Part of the problem is that National Ministers regularly refuse to front on Radio NZ to explain government policy. An example this morning was typical of National ministers ducking for cover whenever negative stories hit the media.
The Salvation Army will be closing services and making staff redundant, as government funding is cut for critical social services;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Salvation Army warns of cuts to budgeting services
Cuts to services – such as provided by the Salvation Army – will hit the poorest; most down-trodden; people and their families, in our society. It would be like stealing coins from a blind beggar on the footpath.
All the while, National spends-up large on Tim Groser’s job-hunt at the WTO;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – NZ First calls on Groser to refund travel costs
And National’s colossal spend-up on consultants and witch-hunts is now legendary;
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – ‘Consultancy culture’ cost $525m last year – Labour
Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – PM defends money spent on MFAT leak
The above stories all reflect badly on National. But is it the fault of state-owned, Radio NZ? Is the broadcaster “left-leaning”, as Du Fresne charges?
Or, is the reason somewhat more prosaic?
So, Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett, was invited to appear on Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint” this morning (29 April) to explain why funding for social services for organisations such as the Salvation Army, will be cut.
When Bennett was invited to front on “Checkpoint” – she refused. Instead she provided a written statement. (Well, wasn’t that ‘big’ of her?)
Hear: Radio NZ – Checkpoint – Labour speaks out against recession funding cuts
This is not the first (nor last) time that National Ministers have refused to front on Radio NZ. It happens with annoying regularity (with Dear Leader John Key being the worst offender).
On the other hand, Labour’s spokesperson on social issues, Jacinda Ardern, accepted an invitation to take part in the story.
If Ministers like Bennett, Ket, et al, – whose salaries are paid by taxpayers – do not have the courage of their convictions to appear on TV, radio, or other media to explain their policies – then they are not worthy of our electoral support nor attention. They are a waste of space.
And right wing munters like Karl Du Fresne should have nothing to whinge about.
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