Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quaranting Income in Australia

From the latest StandUp! News in Australia

Quarantining our income: it’s still on the agenda

What changes will the new government make? Not many. The independents call the tune and the Gillard will not rock the boat. This will mean whilst no new serious attacks will be introduced, things will remain the same and that’s bad. We will still have work for the dole , breaching, private job network agencies and we are forced to live in poverty.

Something still on the agenda is quarantining. This was introduced for Black people in the Northern Territory as part of the Intervention. It has been extended to all unemployed and those on benefits throughout Northern Territory as a trial for its introduction throughout Australia.

What it means is that our income is divided into two. A portion is placed on a special card and can only be used at the food section of Coles and Woolworths. The rest we get to spend as we please.

This seriously limits our spending. There are many more essentials apart from food. Many of us need a car in order to take the kids to school or to get work as many employers demand you have one. It will be difficult to pay for license, registration or maintenance. Many of us need a telephone, mobile or landline. This will be more difficult to afford. As a large portion of our benefits will be tied up, this will be more difficult to afford. You also need money for your children’s expenses at school and elsewhere. There will be less to spend on entertainment.

Some from different cultures only find a limited number of their ethnic foods at Coles or Woolies. By quarantining, their cultures are affectively discriminated against. You also cannot spend your quarantined money at a food co-op even though the food is cheaper and healthy.

They think that unemployed cannot budget our meagre subsistence. On the contrary, the dole makes you more disciplined. There are plenty employed or unemployed who cannot manage their incomes. They need help with special programmes. But most of us who do know should not be punished. Incidentally, you can still buy plenty of junk food at Coles or Woolies food sections. So quarantining is not a solution to a bad diet.

Of course it does assist these two greedy monopolies gain a strangle hold over the food market. Small corner stores will suffer as unemployed customers will often have to travel many kilometers to spend on basic food items.

We don’t get much. But the meagre amount we do get should be ours, to spend as we please. We therefore oppose quarantining, unconditionally.

The government plans to introduce quarantining throughout Australia in 2011 or 2012. That is , if they consider the trial introduction in the northern Territory to be successful. We need to fight this oppressive measure. StandUp is committed to building a fighting organisation to resist this and other attacks. We’re not going to take it!

Unemployment is a health hazard.

A paper to a South Australian conference about Workcover, paints a grim picture for long term unemployed meaning those unemployed for more than six months. Firstly we are six times more likely to commit suicide. Also we are far more likely to suffer from heart disease respiratory problems or mental illness. Especially vulnerable are young unemployed males. There are probably many other illnesses which are exacerbated such as alcoholism, drug addiction malnutrition and diabetes. Unemployment is a health hazard. We are under immense pressure. Surviving on so little money puts pressure on us. We are under pressure to look for work. We are under social pressures due to stigmas. There is often the threat of, and reality of homelessness. Relationships often break up and so on.

What we must tell the government is they are not dealing with statistics but human lives They say that giving us more or solving the unemployment crisis will mean higher interest rates. Their cavalier approach is forcing us to suffer. It’s time to put our lives and health before their economy. We need to fight unemployment. Our lives are at stake.

In the Northern Territory Work for the dole is not working.

For decades Black people in townships have had to endure te CDEP. This was effectively the Black work for the dole. Black people on CDEP built roads, houses and community centres for a bit more than the dole. It was abolished by the Rudd Government. The reasons for its abolition were in no way honourable. For some reason CDEP was classified as work and couldn’t be quarantined. They can quarantine the pay of those on Newstart doing work for the dole. So now Black workers do the same work for the dole as unemployed elsewhere. They get less pay. And as their pay is quarantined they are effectively working for rations. This has been convenient for government. But in no way is it an incentive for Black unemployed to re-enter the workforce. On the contrary! Black workers hate their new form of slave labour! They come to work late and are more likely to be absent. One worker whoo previously worked on the Adellaide to Darwin railway complains that he now works thirty hours per week constructing a community centre for $250 per week pay. Jenny Macklin suggests he only should be working a twenty five hour week. This is slavery. There have been a few angry demos in the Territory against this. We share their anger. No one should be forced to work for next to nothing.

Fight back with StandUp!

Standup! Phone 95164486 e-mail standup_@hotmail,com

Grandmothers to go on strike in Spain

The world's economy could not function without the unpaid caring work that so many of us do.

Here are some people who know what their work is worth:

Union tells Spanish grandparents to down tools if they're tired of caring for their grandchildren for days on end

Work Testing Mothers and Sick Starts October

Work Testing for Mothers on the DPB and those of us on the Invalids Benefits begins in October, with WINZ selecting a forty three thousand of us to start off with.
The cruelty and absurdity of this new law can be seen in the following story where a single mother is already absolutely overwhelmed with caring for her family, and cannot possibly take on a paid job without seriously hurting that family. But does the government care?

Manurewa mother Lisa Bowden wants to work but she faces the classic solo parent's problem - who will look after the children?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rethinking welfare for the twenty-first century

Rethinking welfare for the twenty-first century

Here are links to the presentations made at the recent forum on welfare

Welfare forum co-hosted by The University of Auckland's Retirement Policy and Research Centre, Public Policy

Group and Departments of Economics and Sociology, and by Child Poverty Action Group.

Date:Friday 10 September 2010
Venue: The University of Auckland Business School, Room OGGB5, Level 0, Owen G Glenn Building,
12 Grafton Road, Auckland


The Government appointed a Welfare Working Group in April 2010 to conduct a wide-ranging and fundamental

review of New Zealand's welfare system, and make practical recommendations to improve the economic and

social outcomes for beneficiaries and New Zealand as a whole. The first report of the Welfare Working Group

is available here. The aim of this Welfare Forum is to move beyond the narrow terms of reference of the Welfare

Working Group, and make recommendations that recognise the current economic climate, and foreground the needs of children.


Short biographies of presenters and abstracts of presentations are available here (224KB).

Forum presentations

Susan St John (Associate Professor, The University of Auckland)Welcome and context (800KB)
Paula Rebstock (Chair, Welfare Working Group)Where has the WWG got to? (435KB)
Paul Smyth (Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne)Reframing the social inclusion debate for the 21st century (351KB)
Peter Saunders (Professor, University of New South Wales)Child deprivation in Australia: Findings and implications for welfare reform (315KB)
Eva Bodsworth (Research Officer, Brotherhood of St Laurence)Listening to sole parents - lessons from Australia's "welfare to work" reforms (897KB)
Mike O'Brien (Associate Professor, Massey University)New Zealand context
Paul Callister (Associate Professor, Victoria University of Wellington)General labour market picture in New Zealand(517KB)
Cindy Kiro (Associate Professor, Massey University)Issues and implications for Māori in the reform process (411KB)
Kay Brereton (Advocacy Coordinator, Wellington People's Centre)Reflections form the "coalface"
Keith Rankin (Lecturer, Unitec)Welfare reform: Changing the way we account for taxes and benefits (193KB)
Open discussion
Chaired by M Claire Dale (Research Fellow, The University of Auckland)
Panel discussion: Towards welfare solutions
Louise Humpage (Senior Lecturer, The University of Auckland)Public attitudes and how we should "frame" the debate (1.3MB)
Sue Bradford (Former MP, Alternative Welfare Working Group)Political realities and strategies
Manuka Henare (Associate Dean Māori & Pacific Development, The University of Auckland)Whanau Ora
Susan St John (Associate Professor, The University of Auckland)Summary of the proceedings




Friday, September 3, 2010

Beyond Dependency or Beyond Capitalism?

The right says the problem is dependency and the solution is work, the social democratic left says the problem is poverty and the solution is a kinder form of capitalism, but is the real problem capitalism itself which requires poverty for its profits?

Beyond Dependency or
Beyond Capitalism?
A critique of New Zealand’s drive
Towards Workfare

David Bedggood

Poverty Increases, Dunne wants welfare for the rich

MSD figures show that approximately one third (28%) of children lived in poverty in 2004, then it dropped to approximately one fifth (22%) in 2007, but the number went up to one in four again, last year.

This shows that Labour's Working for Families did help lift some families out of poverty but not the poorest, as beneficiaries could not get it. Now the economic crisis is driving families into poverty again, and National's benefit attacks will make it much worse.

Child poverty is double what it was in the eighties.. before Rogernomics began a round of attacks upon the working class.

Fifty six percent of single parents are below the poverty line. (A recent survey also estimated that 45% of single parents on a benefit have some kind of mental illness. Earlier surveys have shown that the health of single mothers is much worse than the national average for women.)

Single parents are three times as likely to be poor as the population as a whole.

Meanwhile Peter Dunne is trying to bring in Welfare for the Middle class ( for the "right kind of families") in the form of income splitting for tax purposes for married couples while doing absolutely nothing for poor single parent families..

The social contribution that mothers make at home would be recognised and supported if you are married and middle class, but not if you are single and poor.

But maybe this discriminatory practice would never happen?

See Brian Fallow's article at:

Interview, Rotorua Protest

Interview: beneficiaries burn Bennett in Rotorua, New Zealand

Just like in 1991, New Zealand's governing National Party is attacking both the waged and unwaged wings of the working class at the same time. The Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement interviewed Paul Blair of the Rotorua Welfare Action Group about their response to National’s assault on beneficiaries (for example, by cutting emergency benefits and forcing many sickness and domestic purposes beneficiaries to work). They held an incendiary protest on July 12 in Rotorua.

What is your personal and political background?

Working class Catholic grew up in Canterbury/Bankstown area of Sydney Australia. My father was a member of the Australian communist party in the early fifties when it was banned by the State. Came to NZ in 1969 basically to dodge the draft into the Vietnam war and then ended up staying. Worked as a truck driver, labourer, and in low paid jobs. Learnt lessons of unionism as a unionised driver with the Coca Cola company in Sydney in the sixties.

Benefited from free University education in Auckland in the seventies, turned on by Marxist thought, and worked as a teacher and later graduated in law from Waikato Uni and admitted to the bar in 2009. Went on first political march in 1976 against attacks on DPB’s. Politicised by the 1981 Springbok tour and lost all respect for “Law” and “State”. I describe myself as a left socialist-anarchist-atheist.

Can you give some specifics about the recent beneficiaries demonstration in Rotorua?

The rally/demonstration theme was chosen so that if only a handful turned out the demonstration could still go ahead without losing credibility. On the other hand if a good crowd turns up we could march on the road. As it turned out we had about a hundred people (see photos) turn out so we marched around to the National Party Offices with our demands. A good turn out for Rotorua in the middle of winter.

For full interview see:


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welfare Changes and Disabled People.

Welfare Changes in NZ 20101: What do they mean for disabled people?

Monday 6th September
Western Springs Garden Hall,
956 Great North Rd, Auckland
9.30 am tea and coffee for 10am start till 1pm

This is an opportunity for disabled people, whanau and people involved in the disability community to find out about the proposed changes, give feedback, and get information about how to make a submission.

The Welfare Working Group will be at the workshop to listen to disabled people.

Contact Auckland Disability Law to book your place
257 5140
text: 027 457 5140

venue is wheelchair accessible
NZSL interpreters booked-let us know if you need them
let us know re dietary requirements

Issued by Auckland Disablity Law