Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Welfare: Back to the Future?

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  • Grant McDougall,

    Key's just said that the reforms will be unlikely to be introduced before the election, surprise, surprise.

    As an aside, it'll be interesting to see if Bennett holds on to Waitakere and if there's a backlash from beneficiaries in her electorate voting against her.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    But on the specific matter this thread is about, I might get my rage on when I've read and properly digested the actual report.

    You do realise however that the published information is going to be in it, right? That's why it was leaked to the media. So whilst I also look forward to reading the report, and you can rest assured that I will, I think it's legitimate to comment on what we know about it already.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7349 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It was also expected to recommend that women who had more children when they were already on a benefit be required to go back to work when the baby was 14 weeks old.

    That 14 weeks has to be a bluff. I used to work with a woman who went back to work after 12 weeks. She was a hardcore workaholic and had the added bonus of her husband being able to work from home, and had plenty of local family at hand to help with (paid) childcare.

    Not only that, but it was a very friendly office where it was quite all right for her to sit at her desk with a breast pump attached, squirting out milk while making phone calls and working at her computer.

    It was something she wanted to do - and it worked well for her. But imagine how much harder it would be for someone with no partner, no local family and with a less sympathetic office.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1851 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    It's a pretty typical tactic of this government to float ideas to see how the public will react and then not do anything if its to negative. That way they keepy thier poll ratings by not pissing to many people off at once.

    I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand it gives people to have thier say on the other unless you make a big song and dance about eveything you don't like they take silence as consent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 194 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    That 14 weeks has to be a bluff.

    I really don't think so - they chose it because its the duration of the paid parental leave. They're economists and they think they're solving the problem of long term benefit dependency by sending signals to influence behaviour.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 899 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    And despite what some folks will assert, I don’t think you could fairly say the Fifth Labour Government appointed nothing more than cronies and sycophantic arse-lickers who were handed a script and told any ideological deviationism would be looked upon most unkindly.

    Agreed, but I got a totally different sense of what the Labour government was trying to achieve. There seemed, in general (although not always, F&S and all that), to be a genuine attempt to bring the major players and stakeholders together and to work on a plan together.

    Contrast that with the Welfare Working Group's ability to create "extreme" proposals. When you have long-time coal-face players such as the Methodist Mission issuing media releases like the following, you have a problem:

    Mary Richardson, Executive Director of the Christchurch Methodist Mission says “I am concerned the Prime Minister is suggesting the adoption of the report’s recommendations even before there is the opportunity for public scrutiny. Welfare reform is always a hotly debated topic. But it is a debate often centred around misleading or speculative data”.

    “In that debate” Richardson says “the convenient caricature of benefit dependency and welfare costs is often built on little more than urban myth.

    And that problem is one of doctrinaire ideology. Spite for beneficiaries runs deep on the National Party. Last time they were in power, they cut benefit levels and oversaw a massive increase in poverty. I fail to see how anyone can support such cynical vote-mongering, given the human cost.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 453 posts Report Reply

  • Lew Stoddart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    A competent Labour response would absolutely hammer that suggestion and the people who have made it.

    … and the people who appointed the people who made it.

    This is fundamentally the point about bait-and-switch: the govt has no input into the WWG’s findings, so it didn’t issue an instruction to Rebstock to issue a recommendation to set the bar at 14 weeks and dingoes take the hindmost. That would be stupid. Instead, the government appointed people whom it knew would make recommendations somewhat crazier than the eventual policy track. The extremity of the recommendations, and the likelihood that they will render the WWG a laughing-stock -- much like the Brash taskforce – reflects that this is a strategy not without risk. They overcooked it, and might have done better appointing a less ideological panel.

    Nevertheless, I think it’ll still work as a bait-and-switch. To backfire would require considerable opposition intervention to tie the moral and ethical character of the WWG to the moral and ethical character of the government. The fact is we haven’t seen a coordinated response to anything from Labour this year, and given the opportunities they’ve squandered I seen no reason to expect they won’t squander this one. You know the Nats, ACT and every crazy from Lindsay Mitchell to Trevor Loudon would be screaming ideological conspiracy if a Labour government had dared appoint people like Kim Workman and Susan St John to such a panel as this.

    L

    Wellington, NZ • Since Aug 2010 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I think it’s legitimate to comment on what we know about it already.

    Sure. I don’t have Net Nanny privileges around here, so everyone can talk about what the hell they want until Russell brings out the moderation mallet. (I’ve also long lost the naive idea that folks around here are going to coo and kiss my arse any time soon.)

    I just thought Danyl’s bitch was out of order and unfair. A presumption of good faith would be nice.

    I've also learned the hard way to be careful about either squeeing or going nuclear on (selective?) leaks, and the more or less predictable spin and counter-spin that follows -- especially when it appears in media outlets like the NZ Herald whose reliability is... shall we say, not something you'd bet your life on. Especially when the primary source is not in the public sphere.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11857 posts Report Reply

  • Whoops, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Russell I thought you’d know this trick.

    Get something waaaay to extreme injected into the report so you can say it’s a step too far (hinting; look at me, I’m a nice guy) and go for the ‘middle’ ground —- which happens to be exactly where you wanted to go in the first place.

    Helen did it all the time, IMHO this is no different.


    edit - just read your later reply... carry on, but I do think it is bait and switch.

    Also... wtf about the pensioners whose bill is (I think) larger than dpb'ers

    here • Since Apr 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    As an aside, it’ll be interesting to see if Bennett holds on to Waitakere

    Her win was pretty slim in '08, and the West is heavily populated with the working classes who've been hit hard by the recession. Voting for a stroppy Westie chick who lays claim to her beneficiary roots is great if you're sending a message to an unpopular government, but if that stroppy Westie chick turns out to be a ladder-kicker to all the other beneficiaries, well, yeah.
    I don't like Bennett's chances, TBH, or National's chances in the other swing seats that they won in '08 given that they're mostly traditionally Labour and have had their aspirations for greatness punched in the teeth by the economic climate.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I just thought Danyl’s bitch was out of order and unfair. A presumption of good faith would be nice.

    I think good faith has to be earned, and it's not as if National doesn't have a track record in these matters.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7349 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Aaaaaaaaand, it's out. Fundamental change signalled (Scoop).

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2130 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Whoops,

    wtf about the pensioners whose bill is (I think) larger than dpb’ers

    Much, much bigger. Super is, by over 100% (nearly $8b vs somewhere around $3b), the largest single part of the overall welfare bill. WFF is next. But since those two are ruled out of the WWG's terms of reference, the DPB just has to be tackled since it's the largest portion of the less-than-half-of-the-total that remains of the welfare spend that can be scrutinised.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Herald story:

    Its key recommendation is scrapping all existing benefits, including the Domestic Purposes and Sickness Benefits, and replacing them with a single Jobseeker Support payment.

    That payment would be administered by a single Crown Agency - Employment and Support New Zealand - standing at "arms length" from the Government.

    Under the new system, a vast majority of beneficiaries would be required to apply for jobs regardless of difficult family circumstances, long term illness or disability.

    Mothers would be forced to look for work once their first child turns three.

    But that age limit would be reduced to 14 weeks if a mother had a second child while on the benefit, in the only recommendation not unanimously endorsed by the working group.

    I haven't had a chance to look at what sort of jobs the authors think the disabled and long-term sick will be applying for.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18666 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Recommendation 11: Addressing incentives for parents to have additional children while on welfare

    a) The Welfare Working Group recommends that ready access to free long-acting reversible contraception be provided for parents who are receiving welfare.

    Fair dos, I wasn't expecting that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Fair dos, I wasn’t expecting that.

    Yes. Credit where due. Free contraception is good.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18666 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    a) The Welfare Working Group recommends that ready access to free long-acting reversible contraception be provided for parents who are receiving welfare.

    Look no one is suggesting this be made compulsory...yet...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 194 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I think good faith has to be earned, and it’s not as if National doesn’t have a track record in these matters.

    And if everything I say on threads like this is going to be dismissed as lying partisan "CraigBot" hackery, I'll stick to chuntering on about arty-farty crap. Oh, well... at least I don't have to bother reading the WWG report (since anything I say is tainted) and instead settle in with the review copy of Ant Sang's Shaolin Burning that arrived this morning.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11857 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yes. Credit where due. Free contraception is good.

    Free contraception for everyone is better, and de facto sterilizing the poor/beneficiaries may be well-intentioned but still creepy. Seriously, Russell, how do you think you and Fiona would take being asked by a WINZ caseworker if you'd like a chit for subsidised contraception along with your child support?

    OK, now I'm done.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11857 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yes. Credit where due. Free contraception is good.

    There goes my global population control conspiracy.

    You said 'light', right?

    Methinks this topic almost precludes that by definition. I was looking for the irony tag at the bottom of your post. Think I'll sit this one out.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Reduction in beneficiary numbers by 100,000 by 2021. Big. Fucking. Whoop. That'll happen without a single policy change, assuming the economy manages to recover of its own devices. The number of people who're on the dole and the DPB as a result of the recession is considerably greater than 100k, and the vast majority will transition to the workforce as soon as jobs are available.

    About the only policy shift I can agree with wholeheartedly is free access to (I presume) IUDs. Assuming it's not made something on which the benefit becomes contingent, though with these fascist anything's possible.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    The Welfare Working Group recommends that ready access to free long-acting reversible contraception be provided for parents who are receiving welfare.

    Holy fuck! Let's just control people's fertility. Those stupid poor people - they shouldn't be breeding, at all. And while we're about it, I wonder if we can get around to licensing parents, so that only the right sort of people have kids. /sarc

    As you can see, I'm reading this quite a different way to some of the people commenting up-thread.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1300 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Voting for a stroppy Westie chick who lays claim to her beneficiary roots is great if you're sending a message to an unpopular government, but if that stroppy Westie chick turns out to be a ladder-kicker to all the other beneficiaries, well, yeah.

    The sad fact is, ladder-kicking is in danger of becoming the new tall poppy syndrome. If anything, they're not all that different to each other - I liken it to the ultra-Marxist youth who becomes the middle-aged neo-con later in life. The ideology might have changed, but the delusional zealotry remains the same.

    Yes. Credit where due. Free contraception is good.

    So long as it remains voluntary and accessible. Any further than that, and the slippery slope is self-explanatory. Colour-coded triangles methinks?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4141 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Reduction in beneficiary numbers by 100,000 by 2021. Big. Fucking. Whoop. That'll happen without a single policy change, assuming the economy manages to recover of its own devices.

    No, as far as I can tell they mean all beneficiaries, including sickness, DPB, disability, and unemployment. IIRC unemployment alone is 70,000 right now.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2130 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    de facto sterilizing the poor/beneficiaries may be well-intentioned but still creepy

    agreed. If implemented the next thing we will see is incentives...get an IUD and will pay you 500 bucks. Then get stealised for 1000 bucks.... Meddling with peoples furtillity to save money is very very creepy

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 194 posts Report Reply

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