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Archive for December, 2013

According to David Farrar, John Key must resign!

26 December 2013 3 comments

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"He's a witch! Burn him! Burn him!" "How do you know he's a witch, peasants?" "Cos the EY Report said so!" "No it didn't peasants. It only said he got free hotel room upgrades." "Close enough!!  Burn him!"

“He’s a witch! Burn him! Burn him!”
“How do you know he’s a witch, peasants?”
“Cos the EY Report said so!”
“No, it didn’t, peasants. It only said he got free hotel room upgrades.”
“Close enough!! Burn him!”

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With the release of the Ernst Young  Independent report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, National Party pollster and one-time employee, David Farrar, has (unsurprisingly) called for Auckland mayor Len Brown’s immediate resignation.

As Farrar wrote in the NBR* on 13 December,

Having now read the EY report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland. I only formed this view after reading the report, and did not believe what had previously been disclosed was substantial enough to warrant resignation.

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public, and also that there were ratepayer resources used for his affair.”

Taking the last point (using ratepayer resources) as a rationale – Farrar is referring to the 1,375 phone calls and txt messages (Point #1)  between Len Brown and Bevan Chuang.

The report acknowledges that “Personal use of mobile phones is permitted by the Elected Members Technology Policy and Guidelines” (but must be reimbursed by the elected member).

Brown made a reimbursement payment of $263 last year (2012).

The report referred to Ms Chuang “attending several functions as the mayor’s translator” (point #2). No ratepayer funds were paid to her.

There is mention made of the mayor receiving an iPad as a gift. That was later auctioned for charity (point #7)

There is mention of a dinner with a personal friend (point #8) – in 2011 – paid by Council.

2011?! The Review went trawling that far back into the past?

Indeed, the report made several findings, some of which I repost in full;

9. We have not identified any instances where council funds were used to pay for gifts given by the mayor to Ms Chuang.
10.The content of council emails we reviewed between the mayor and Ms Chuang were of a council related business nature.
11. Our review of Mayoral Office expenditure did not identify any expenses incurred by council (either directly by the mayor or his immediate support team) that related to the mayor’srelationship with Ms Chuang.
12. We did not identify any improper preferential treatment by the mayor in relation to Ms Chuang’s appointment to the EPAP, New Lynn Night market, Howick Local Board contractsand Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (“ATEED”) services.      
13. We did not identify any instances where Ms Chuang accompanied the mayor on any domestic or international travel.
14. We have not identified any private use of hotels by the mayor that were paid for using council resource.

That’s an awful lot of  “we did not identify blah-blahs“…

The  report referred to free hotel room upgrades – none of which actually cost the rate-payer a single cent (despite what Campbell Live inferred on 17 December).

The word that springs to mind for most of this report is – a witch hunt.

And it appears that even right-wing commentator, Matthew Hooton came to the same conclusion on Radio NZ on 16 December (listen:  Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams )

Hooton understands the nasty implications of this witch hunt and dodgy report; the same standard of nit-picking and guilt-by-innuendo can be levelled at every single political figure, of whatever political hue.

We should understand one simple fact; not one human being is perfect. Everyone – everyone – will stuff up, eventually. It is a given.

Don’t expect flawless actions from our elected representatives. We will  be disappointed.

However, I referred to most of this report  being a witch hunt.

There is an exception. Brown’s acceptance of free hotel upgrades from SkyCity was most unwise. In fact, I call it downright dumb.

Is it a “hanging offence” though? No, not quite.

But to accept freebies from a corporation that is currently attempting to gain financial and legislative benefits from central government, in a dodgy deal involving promises of  a “free” convention centre, suggests to me that Brown’s political acumen is badly lacking.

It suggests to me that he will keep screwing up because he has little concept of consequences.

Returning to right-wing blogger; National Party activist*; and one-time employee for various National ministers*, David Farrar – where does he get off demanding,

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public […]  I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland…

If the standard for resignation is now set at “publicly [lying] to the media and the public“, then we should start at the top: John Key.

Let’s look at his most latest blatant lie.

On 13 December, Fairfax media reported this statement from Dear Leader Key,

“… I can assure [Labour leader David] Cunliffe the books are in tip-top condition – that is the polar opposite position to what they were in when we became the Government. But in the last five years we’ve worked hard to turn them around… “

Source

That was a lie.

When National took office in 2008, Labour had paid down this country’s debt, as this simple Treasury graph shows quite clearly,

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Source

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Net debt was reduced from 20% of GDP to 5.6% by 2008.

Even Key admitted this in July 2012,

The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008.  It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016….”

Source

And on 9 December on TVNZ’s ‘Breakfast’ programme, when he was interviewed on the problem of growing child poverty in New Zealand, he said this (at 2.45);

If you go back to 2005, when the previous government were in office, they had a number, you know, a little bit less than ours, but not a lot less, there was a 180,000 children in poverty, I think this shows 240,000 on that measure.

Back then, New Zealand recorded the biggest surplus in New Zealand’s history...”

Source

Not only did the previous Labour government pay down our debt (which had been created by National in the 1990s), but then Finance Minister Michael Cullen posted some fairly impressive surpluses,

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Source

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For more information on the state of the economy under Labour’s watch, refer to this previous blogpost.

So Key and his National mates inherited a pretty well-run economy by November 2008 – just as the Global Financial Crisis was beginning to be felt in this country.

Comments such as  “under the last Labour Government the economy got way out of balance” are patently dishonest and a downright lie (source).

We have heard many such throwaway lines from Key, English, and other National ministers as they (a) try to discredit the former Labour Government’s creditable performance (b) blame their own fiscal mismanagement and shortcomings on their predecessor.

So when will Farrar be calling on Key to resign for lying to the media and public?

Short answer: never.

National doesn’t do Taking Responsibility very well. But oh boy, don’t they expect it from the rest of us?!

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(* Interestingly, the NBR makes no reference whatsoever to Farrar’s close National Party links.)

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 December 2013.

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Sources

John Key: Statement to Parliament 2011

Treasury: Debt

Trading Economics: Cash surplus/deficit (% of GDP) in New Zealand

TVNZ: Breakfast Show (9 Dec 2013)

National Business Review:  OPINION – Brown must resign (13 Dec 2013)

Fairfax:  Two-thirds of voters oppose asset sales (13 Dec 2013)

Previous related blogpost

Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

National’s disdain for taking responsibility

Taking responsibility, National-style

Hat-tip

Martyn Bradbury: Why I don’t care about Len Brown’s audit (13 Dec 2013)

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Jordan Williams from Taxpayers Union caught out fibbing to the public and media!

25 December 2013 3 comments

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When-I-grow-up-I-want-to-be-a-commentator-like-Jordan
Jordan Williams – lawyer; right wing commentator; anti-MMP activist; National/ACT apparatchik
Acknowledgement of image: frontpage.co.nz, via thepaepae.com

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For those who are not aware of Jordan Williams, he is a lawyer working in Wellington.

He is also a right wing commentator/activist; anti-MMP campaigner; and party apparatchik for National and ACT. He was closely involved in the Brash coup against ACT-leader Rodney Hide in 2011.

Williams is also a known associate of rightwing blogger and National Party worker, David Farrar; rightwing activist/campaigner Simon Lusk; and convicted criminal (and occassional blogger), Cameron Slater.

Peter Aranyi, of thepaepae blog described Williams thusly, in this well-written piece,

Based on his track record (fronting the Peter Shirtcliffe/Simon Lusk anti-MMP campaign and Don Brash’s ACT Party leadership coup) I personally see Jordan as a paid political mouthpiece — nothing more, nothing less. He is, it seems to me, merely another lobbyist who, it appears, works for ‘right wing’ figures or interest groups.”

Source

Recently, Williams set up the so-called “Taxpayers Union”, a group which he  explained on Radio NZ as being based on a UK version. His group’s objectives  include;

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is a non-partisan activist group, dedicated to being the voice for Kiwi taxpayers in the corridors of power. We’re here to fight government waste and make sure New Zealanders get value for money from their tax dollar.”

Source

The rest of the group’s aims & objectives reads pretty much like the Act Party’s manifesto (see: What we stand for) – a party that Williams is closely associated with. (Perhaps this is the next neo-liberal Party in the wings…?)

Just recently, under the banner of the “Taxpayer’s Union”, Williams launched an attack on Hone Harawira’s trip to South Africa to attend Mandela’s funeral.

William wrote,

Reacting to confirmation from Hone Harawira’s office that taxpayers will be footing the bill for the Mana Party leader’s trip to the Mandela service*, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union Jordan Williams said:

“This trip is a slap in the face to taxpayers and particularly Mr Harawira’s electorate, who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of his parliamentary funding.

Mr Harawira already spends more than any other non-ministerial member of Parliament. Earlier in the year the public found out he spent even more than the then Leader of the Opposition.

Source

Interestingly, Williams  made no comment on the fact that Key’s “official” attendance at the funeral included a photographer. Far be it for Dear Leader to attend an event without the obligatory photo-op.

Maybe Mr Williams considers a photographer’s presence more valid than an attendance by someone who was an actual anti-apartheid campaigner – like Hone Harawira?

Williams’ 11 December press release, though, went on to state,

Originally Mr Harawira told the public that he was footing the bill himself. Now we know that he’s treating the taxpayer funded Parliamentary budget as a travel slush fund.”

This is where Williams’ begins to spin a lie.

A casual check of media reports at the time Harawira announced his plan to attend reveals something closer to the truth;

Mr Harawira said his trip is coming out of his parliamentary leadership fund.

TV3, 10 December

A Mana Party spokeswoman confirmed this morning the trip would be paid for out of Harawira’s leader’s budget.

Fairfax, 10 December

Mr Harawira hopes to have his trip paid for out of his parliamentary budget but if he can’t, he will fund it himself.

TV3, 10 December

Nowhere does Hone Harawira promise that he will be “footing the bill himself“.

What he does say is that he wants the trip funded from his own Parliamentary Budget,  but if he can’t, he will fund it himself.

Not exactly an auspicious start for a political lobby group (or nascent political party) that it has to resort to fabrication to push it’s agenda.

But if the so-called “Taxpayers Union” is to be ACT v.2, then it is par-for-course.

Postscript #1

When criticisms were made public regarding the make-up of John Key’s party to South Africa, there were cries of condemnation that not a single anti-apartheid activist had been invited to attend.

Indeed, right wing commentators were quick to point out,

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger says people questioning the make-up of the NZ delegation going to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral should learn from the former South African president.

[…]

Mr Mandela could have been the most bitter man in the world when he came out of prison, but he wasn’t, Mr Bolger said.

“The challenge is whether the world will pick up and try to advance the cause which Mandela pursued the whole of his life – greater fairness and equity within society,” Mr Bolger told Breakfast from Pretoria this morning.

And on “Frankly Speaking“, on 7 December, Roger Gascoigne left this comment,

Whatever strange lens you look at the world through Frank, it’s the ‘office’ of the Prime Minister that will attend. Try a little of Mandela’s concept of forgiving and moving on yourself.
Given 1981 was pretty much a 50/50 split…what would be a grand gesture is if the PM’s office decided to take John Minto to represent the other half of NZ from 81. Then you might think we’ve ALL learned something.”

Source

None of which has stopped Jordan Williams from  blatant fibbing, and five days later,  John Key joined in with this outrageous comment,

This is a guy that went to South Africa on a jolly and shouldn’t be billing the taxpayer for it. The bottom line is we took a delegation – whether he likes it or not – that represented, in our view, the right mix. I personally don’t believe there was a role for him to go to South Africa.”

Source

(Were the two public comments related? Considering that Williams is closely connected to the National Party, did Key’s media spin-doctors take their cue from Williams’ 11 December media release?)

Then of course, we had Justice Minister Judith Collin with her infamous Twitter comments, where she ‘tweeted’ that Labour Leader David  Cunliffe and Springbok tour protest leader John Minto were “numpties with bells on“.

Source

So much for understanding and tolerance from the Right.

They should just stick to  bullshitting. They’re far better at it ( it’s in their DNA).

Postscript #2

So Jordan Williams has been caught out lying to the media and public? Does that mean he should resign from the “Taxpayers Union”, as David Farrar recently called for Len Brown’s ‘lying’?

I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland […] But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public.

Source

Lying to the media and public?! Terrible that!

Perhaps Len and Jordan can make it a double-act resignation?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 December 2013.

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References

National Business Review:  OPINION – Brown must resign

Fairfax media:  Collins in Twitter war

The Paepae: Left and Right: useful when doing the hokey cokey, but past its use-by date for politics?

Scoop media: Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Harawira’s Mandela Trip

Fairfax media: Hone Harawira heading to Mandela funeral

TV3: Hone Harawira to travel to Mandela’s funeral

TV1 News: Learn from Mandela, says Bolger over delegation debate

Radio NZ: PM criticises Harawira’s Mandela trip

Previous related blogpost

Letter to the Editor: Should Key attend Mandela’s funeral?

Other blogs

The Daily Blog: The audacity of Key’s Hone Harawira dog whistle

The Daily Blog: We did what John Key should have done

International Embarrassment

Huffington Post: New Zealand’s Leader Questioned Over Apartheid Amnesia

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 23 December 2013

23 December 2013 Leave a comment

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 23 December 2013 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams ( 25′ 22″  )

This week:

Looking back on the year that was in politics…

  • Party polls
  • David Shearer
  • Economic growth
  • Smaller political parties
  • Kim Dotcom
  • Asset sales
  • Peter Dunne, Andrea Vance
  • Len Brown
  • GCSB
  • John Banks
  • Corporate welfare, Tiwai Point, film industry, “Muldoonery”, Commerce Commission, Meridian
  • Solid Energy, Auditor General investigation
  • NZ Power
  • Labour, David Cunliffe
  • Year of the Women

en Brow.

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Letter to the editor: Brewer refuses to accept responsibility

23 December 2013 1 comment

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:     "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:      Mon, 23 Dec 2013 10:44:06 +1300
TO:       NZ Herald ,<letters@herald.co.nz>

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The Editor
NZ Herald

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Right wing Auckland Councillor, Cameron Brewer seems to be
squirming, as his own "lapse" in not declaring freebies from
SkyCity and a free trip to Australia, is made public.

Brewer's latest  excuse, that councillors have been "poorly
advised about the rules"; demanding that the code of conduct
rules on declaring gifts and interests is "cleared up"; and
blaming council staff for "not making declarations easily
accessible to ratepayers" - is simply a pathetic attempt at
buck-passing.

Oh, of course, it's someone else' fault.

As per course, Right Wing politicians do not accept
responsibility. Ever. Just ask the Prime Minister, who is
reknowned - now internationally - for his regular bouts of
memory lapses and "brain fades".

-Frank Macskasy
(Address & phone number supplied)

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References

Radio NZ: Brewer defends actions over trip

Huffington Post: New Zealand’s Leader Questioned Over Apartheid Amnesia

 

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags:

2013 – Ongoing jobless tally

23 December 2013 23 comments

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Unemployment logo

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Continued from: 2013 – More redundancies…

So by the numbers, for this year,

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

See also

Reported Job Losses

(Nice to see Interest.Co.Nz following my lead in recording job losses around the country!)

Current unemployment statistics

June 2013 Quarter

June 2013 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
(000) (Percent)
Employed 2,242 +0.4 +0.7
Unemployed 153 +3.7 -5.1
Not in the labour force 1,127 0.0 +2.2
Working-age population 3,523 +0.4 +0.9
(Percent) (Percentage points)
Employment rate 63.6 -0.1 -0.2
Unemployment rate 6.4 +0.2 -0.4
Labour force participation rate 68.0 +0.1 -0.4

All figures are seasonally adjusted.  Source: Statistics New Zealand

September 2013 Quarter

September 2013 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
(000) (Percent)
Employed 2,272 +1.2 +2.4
Unemployed 150 -2.6 -13.1
Not in the labour force 1,109 -1.5 +0.5
Working-age population 3,531 +0.2 +1.1
(Percent) (Percentage points)
Employment rate 64.4 +0.7 +0.9
Unemployment rate 6.2 -0.2 -1.0
Labour force participation rate 68.6 +0.5 +0.2

All figures are seasonally adjusted.  Source: Statistics New Zealand

 

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The REAL reason for the drop in welfare numbers

22 December 2013 23 comments

There is an underlying reason for this headline,

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Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed - 16.7.2013

Source

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In the above July 2013 article, Social welfare Minister, Paula Bennett proudly asserted,

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today there are now 309,782 people on a benefit compared with 320,041 last year.

[…]

That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5600 of them are sole parents.”

IBID

Nowhere in the article does it state where those 10,000 welfare beneficiaries ended up.

Was it in paid work?

Did they go back into full-time education or other courses?

Or were they simply dumped from WINZ’s books?  Like the recipient of these letters that were recently provided to me? (We will call him/her “Citizen X” – all identifying details have been redacted to respect his/her privacy and protect him/her from possible reprisals by Bennett, her office, or MSD official. Same for the WINZ officials whose names appear on the letters.)

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WINZ letter dec 2013 (1)WINZ letter dec 2013 (2)

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A few days later, “Citizen X” received this letter. Adding insult to injury, they were demanding that an outstanding amount (an amount between $200 to $300) be repaid;

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WINZ letter dec 2013 (3)

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This was despite that “Citizen X” had had her/his unemployment benefit cancelled – not because s/he had found paid employment (s/he hadn’t) – but because s/he had fallen foul of National’s harsh new welfare laws.

In part, the MSD website states,

On Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months

If you still require Jobseeker Support after 52 weeks you’ll have to re-apply for your benefit. We’ll let you know when you have to re-apply and tell you what you need to do.

When you re-apply, you’ll also need to complete a Comprehensive Work Assessment. This will identify what steps you’ve taken to find work and what help you might need from us to be more successful in getting a job.

Source

In effect, National has placed a one year time limit on all unemployment benefits. They haven’t advertised it as such – they refer to it as “re-applying”.

As Simon Collins reported in the NZ Herald back in January (2013),

The Council of Christian Social Services pointed yesterday to “a growing gap between those who receive a benefit and those in genuine need who are either losing or unable to obtain social welfare assistance”.

Unemployment increased in the two years to last September from 144,500 to 170,000, but those on unemployment benefit dropped by almost a quarter from 65,281 to 50,390.

Sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit have also dropped in the past year. Rules for both benefits were tightened in September 2010, when unemployment beneficiaries had their benefits cancelled if they failed to reapply after a year.

Sole parents were required to look for part-time work when their youngest child turned 6, an age reduced to 5 last October.

Christian Social Services executive officer Trevor McGlinchey said his members were reporting increases in demand for their services as people found benefits harder to get.

[…]

Ironically, the tighter welfare rules may also partly explain the rise in unemployment, as beneficiaries are counted as unemployed only if they are actively looking for work. Employment slipped only slightly from 63.6 per cent to 63.2 per cent of adults in the two years to last September, but the “jobless” rose from 7.1 per cent to 8.4 per cent because those not looking for work fell from 29.3 per cent to a record low of 28.4 per cent.

Source

What this  means is that eventually a significant number of people simply give up re-applying for the minimal amount that the dole pays ($206.21 per week).

Constant, repetitive, incessant demands for information and a less than helpful attitude created by MSD policy create an atmosphere of naked hostility.

The complexity of applying, with the multitude of 73 pages of WINZ  forms and other bits of paper, may also prove to be a dis-incentive for many – especially those for whom English, reading ability, and general low education is a real problem.

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73 pages of WINZ forms

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The massive number of WINZ forms and other documents handed out to applicants has been covered in this previous blogpost; WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers

These are some of the bureacratic barriers which National and MSD have created for the most vulnerable and dispossessed people in our country.

All done to “massage” beneficiary statistics.

As Bennett said, back in July,

That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5600 of them are sole parents.”

No doubt, National will use this “success” at the next election and a sizeable portion of the voting population will be sufficiently uninformed and  gullible enough to accept this without question.

It will be up to those who oppose National and it’s virulent brand of right-wing politics to spread the truth; under this party, poverty and inequality will continue to worsen.

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Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

Source

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Because even the Prime Minister has had to reluctantly concede the enormity of what we are facing,

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Key admits underclass still growing

Source

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Pushing people off welfare, regardless of whether or not they have jobs to go to, just to massage welfare statistics, is a vile obscenity.

This will not “lift people out of poverty”, as Key has promised.

It is increasing poverty.

How long will it be before this growing poverty, sense of hopelessness, and constant attacks by National and MSD results in the inevitable outbreak of violent civil disturbance? Desperate people tend not to care – especially for the empty promises of well-fed, well-housed, comfortable politicians.

Is this really what New Zealanders want for their country?

The clock is ticking…

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clock.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 December 2013.

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Sources

NZ Herald: Welfare rules force people to struggle on without benefits

Fairfax media:  Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed

Fairfax media: Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

References

Work and Income:  Jobseeker Support

Additional

Gordon Campbell: Ten Myths About Welfare -The politics behind the government’s welfare reform process

Previous related blogposts

Class act, National – taking money of widows?!

How Paula Bennett and National are wasting our taxdollars

National ramps up attack on unemployed and solo-mums

Random Thoughts on Random Things #4…

OIA Request points to beneficiary beat-up by Minister Chester Borrows

The REAL level of unemployment

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Letter to the Editor: Will Cameron Brewer Resign?

21 December 2013 3 comments

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Sat, 21 Dec 2013 10:14:20 +1300
TO:      NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz >

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The Editor
NZ Herald

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Revelations that Cr Cameron Brewer has also failed to
declare his free air travel and free accomodation  on a
junket to Australia (gifted by MediaWorks) raises more
questions,

1. Will he resign as he has been calling for Mayor Len Brown
to step down? Or is this an example of  separate rules?

2. What other gifts has he accepted that he has not
disclosed? Will their be an Inquiry into this matter and
will he pay for it?

3. Why has Cr Dick Quax not completed his 2012 Declaration
of Interests, as all Councillors are required to do so? What
free gifts has he received that he has not disclosed?

That's the thing with witch hunts - they take on a life of
their own, and there's no way of telling where they'll end
up.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

 

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References

Radio NZ: Auckland Mayor Len Brown censured in council meeting

Radio NZ: Mayor’s critic didn’t declare trip

Ernst & Young: Independent Review Commissioned by the Auckland Chief Executive

Previous Related Blogposts

The Daily Blog:  An Open Letter to Len Brown’s Council Critics

The Daily Blog: According to David Farrar, John Key must resign!

Counterpoint View

The Daily Blog: Len Old Friend: This Is Why You Must Stand Down

The Dim Post: Thinking my way through the whole Len Brown thing

Additional

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship!

 

 

 

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