Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rudd Govt Cracks Down on Beneficiaries

from Kieran's

Punishing Dole Cheats

In the same week that the Australia Institute announced that the complexity of the welfare system saw welfare recipients miss out on $600 million a year, the Rudd government announced it intended to make the system more complex and demanding in a new crackdown.

The mainstream political narrative in this country seems to be that if you are unemployed, you are a cheat.

Apparently I am a cheat.

For twelve months I could not find a job. Eventually I got a job. I lied through my teeth on a resume and an interview in order to obtain a measly eight hours of back breaking humiliating and under paid labour for a supermarket chain.

There are 615 900 people looking for work in this Australia. And there are 169 000 job vacancies.

Even if every person who was unemployed had ALL the required skills, could travel to anywhere in the country at the drop of a hat, and was prepared to accept any wage, in any safety conditions, in order to perform absolutely any work available, no matter how humiliating, ill-suited or inappropriate… even then 446 900 Australians would remain dole cheats.

There is not enough damned work. And no amount of harassment from Centrelink could make nearly half a million Australians pull a job out of their arse.

So why are welfare recipients persecuted? Here are a couple of things to consider:

$600 million dollars is a lot of money. The Australia institute arrived at that figure by looking at just four welfare payments, the Parenting Payment, Carer Allowance, Disability Support Pension and Bereavement Allowance.

* Every person who does not know about a payment saves the government money.
* Every person who can’t navigate their way through the forms, saves the government money.
* Every person who loses the dole for telling Centrelink where to shove yet another humiliating interview, saves the government money.
* Every person who is taught to find welfare too humiliating, saves the government money.
* Every person who piles up the credit card debt for a few weeks before going to Centrelink, saves the government money.
* Every person forced to beg from friends, family and charities, saves the government money.
* Every person who dies an early death because of the health effects of poverty, saves the government money.

There is big money for the government in persecuting welfare recipients. There is even bigger money in welfare persecution for business.

By persecuting welfare recipients, our government forces us into jobs we would not normally accept, for wages we would not normally accept, and in conditions we would not normally accept.

A life on the dole is a life in poverty, and that in itself forces people into humiliating, underpaid and unsafe work.

But there are still underpaid, unsafe and humiliating jobs out there. They are jobs so lowly paid, so unsafe or so humiliating that even a life in poverty of the dole seems preferable.

They exist. I have tried them. I would prefer live sleep under a bridge than go back to selling Austar door to door.

And the government knows this. And that’s why the humiliation of poverty is not enough, life on $200 a week is not enough, “job seekers” have to be persecuted further.

There are, after all 169 000 vacancies, many of them will never be filled unless workers are forced into them.

And there are all those jobs that might fall empty (like nightfill), if workers aren’t reminded just how horrible the alternative is.

Next time you find yourself at the mercy of the welfare system, ask yourself, who does this process really serve?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Slum Landlords Exploit Beneficiaries



I notice (with concern) about the massive overblown reaction and newstime taken up with the credit card debacle. I have also seen that Paula Bennett has been busy but under-reported. I have misgivings about what is being attempted as a "distraction" exercise.

Claims about widespread welfare fraud are designed as an excuse to bring in a US style corporate welfare managment, including aping the US rationale for arbitrary "time limits" for benefit payments social security system, and the consequential substitution of cash payment for food stamps and rent rebates provides an new welfare industry opportunity for "charity" corporates, and their industry suppliers. Many of these organisations expect and get free labour, goods and services from beneficiaries, often funded with tax payer money.

Recently Bennett revealed the private details some beneficiaries’ incomes, implying that the beneficiaries received too much. In fact a large proportion of a benefit is often going to a landlord for inflated rent to keep a roof over their heads, or for power bills to heat a possibly poorly insulated home, unmarketable to anyone else. Some people at P.S Survivors may get a few hundred dollars per week on paper; but almost all of this goes to the landlord. In reality it can be as much as three quarters of the weekly payment.

If this bribe was not given to the real estate industry, land agents would not be able to "unload" the substandard properties they have on their books that are unattractive to wealthier clients. They seek to have any goverment over a barrel doing this. If benefits were reduced the result would be a covert lock out of beneficiaries altogether as they have already done with their secretive "bad tenants list" compiled from Baycorps book. Reality is that if you have a Baycorp debt of any kind or even a history in some cases it can be impossible to get a land agent to let you sign a lease.

Beneficiaries are shown through the properties but do not get to rent them unless they are unwanted by wealthier clients. I could write a book about the tactics used by land agents to get the benefit payout and find a way to short change tenants. For example, the use of key money, or an extra payment, sometimes as much as $100 up front for the landlord to show the tenant the property and administer and applications. This successful but legally questionable practise prevents beneficiaries from applying for properties the agent wants to make unavailable as WINZ will not provide this.

To get around the "Human Rights Act" they often drop the charge on less desirable properties (Slums). My friend was in one when her son had a terrible accident on the power lines caused by an old still live power unit from Vector hidden in the shubbery at the front of the house. He lost an arm and sustained massive internal injuries. She was also hounded by the press as a negligent parent over this.

If a WINZ client is successful they are often subject to stand-over tactics, eg; more inspections, neighbour surveillence and reporting on everyday activities, rented homes put on the market when they were told it would not be, false or inflated damage claims as excuses to cut short on the lease duration and withhold the bond Etc Etc ETC.

This is before considerations of food and living expenses. Most are on regular food parcels as a result. Giving food parcels as assistance is a first step to food stamps. Unfortunatley most recipients only feel gratitude not entitlement.

In some circumstances where in a boarding house situation the landlord applies for a maximised benefit and the individual benefit recipient may only see as little as $20 or $30 dollars a week in the hand. If a couple of "meals" are provided the individual is tied to the premises during the day if they want to eat. Forget special diets etc. Many of these people need them but are not entitled due to their living arrangements.
They often lose entitlement from WINZ for any other assistance because of this provision.

Those in private rental accommodation often paying market rent sometimes have less. An attempt was made to close some legal loopholes in this but has resulted in many of the "upgraded" accommodation being filled with a "better standard of client" and the former clients are now often homeless.

Last week I was told that a friend needed to get another flatmate for the lounge because the rent was so high they were left with $15.00 a week for a 2 bedroom dwelling after rent and needed to take in someone to provide food for the himself and his flatmate (all men). An exercise would be to count the people begging on Queen Street, not all of them are conmen and drug addicts. Many become that way through demoralisation.

Those who receive a state house can be left with as little as $50 a week after rent, which is what was meant to be left for them to live on after rent, (their benefit minus all the "add-ons" like accommodation supplement which goes to other support service providers like landlords and services) Often the "maximised" accommodation supplement makes up the rest of the benefit.

Welfare Loss is the Real Scandal

Amidst all the hoo har about politicians' credit card spending, "A significant shake-up of the welfare system is on its way and most people have not even noticed", writes Dr Dr Louise Humpage, sociology department, University of Auckland in the Readers Forum , NZ Herald, today.

The principal of helping according to need is gone: -instead the government is " shifting New Zealand towards an insurance based model of welfare funding which means a direct link between how much we pay (through taxes) and how much help we receive in times of need."
"This will leave all of us-but especially women, people dealing with disabilities or illness, and children-even more vulnerable in hard times than we are now."

The so called "wefare forum" seems to have been set up to provide the ideological justification for legislation which will massively cut entitlements to benefits including having a time limit they can be received. The groundwork for this loss of entitlements was passed in the Social Security Amendment Act 2007. See below .

Louise Humpage and Susan St John .2007. A bill the poor will pay for

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Louise Humpage and Susan St John: A bill the poor will pay for
Work, work and more work: what ever happened to social security? Most people don't know it, but social security is undergoing significant changes. These could affect any of us, if we were suddenly ... More
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Scoop Link: Louise Nicholas to Open Inaugrual Sosa NZ Summit

Hi unite,

waitemata has found something of interest to you at

Louise Nicholas to Open Inaugrual Sosa NZ Summit
Monday, 24 May 2010, 9:40 am
Press Release: Survivors of Sexual Abuse

Louise Nicholas to Open Inaugrual Sosa NZ
Into the Light

It's good to see sexual abuse survivors coming together. This helps to break the code of silence that still surrounds sexual abuse. The dreadful loss of a trusted counsellor - could give rise in its wake a sense of collective support. From this could come the strength and power to demand a re-instatement of these trusted healing relationships-and a greater sense of community amongst other survivors.

Nine months ago
the conditions under which sexual abuse survivors could gain
support under ACC, changed. In the meantime 95% of survivors
have been denied the professional help they need. Cuts
continue to be driven under the “New Clinical Pathway”
disguise, despite wide ranging protests that seem to fall on
deaf governmental ears. From this, the need arose to bring
together survivors for networking and to find alternative
ways towards recovery. This gave birth to SOSA (Survivors of
Sexual Abuse) a non-profit, bi-cultural organisation.
Like-minded volunteer survivors came together to create a
day of unity, strength and inspiration.


I thought you might be interested in checking out this news site - if you don't know it already...

From waitemata

Summit for Sexual Abuse Survivors

A hui for sexual abuse survivors and their supporters is to be held on the darkest day or the year- June 20th. ACC cuts have stopped funding for 95% of survivors, so survivors are meeting to explore alternative ways of healing, and to hold a forum from which resolutions will be passed on to the government.

Louise Nicholas and other speakers will address the hui which will be held at the Akaranga campus of AUT on the North Shore.

For further details and to register go to:

Sunday, June 13, 2010 - John Armstrong: Any ugly welfare debate would be welcome distraction for Bennett

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John Armstrong: Any ugly welfare debate would be welcome distraction for Bennett
Paula Bennett's inflammatory remarks this week about the welfare reform debate turning ugly were lost in the firestorm kindled by the exposure of former Labour ministers' rorting of their taxpayer-funded ... More
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12 year old prostitutes on Auckland streets

Reports of prostitutes as young as twelve on the streets of central Auckland are a sign of increasing poverty and social dislocation, at the same time as National wants to cut benefits and social services further.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mothering is Work that Govt gets on the cheap

National would like to force single parents of young children into work, but it's a bit of a dilemma for them as childcare and training is costly, and they have recently slashed funding for both of these. The very cheap rate (survival only) at which single mothers work for nothing on a benefit raising future workers isn't completely lost on them.

Here's the Herald article on forcing mothers into paid work:
Posted by president at 7:04 PM - Govt studies tough US policy for sole parents

unite thought you would be interested in the following item from
Govt studies tough US policy for sole parents
Tough American-style programmes to get sole parents back to work are being studied by a Government-appointed working group on New Zealand's welfare system. Act Party welfare researcher Lindsay Mitchell ... More
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Universal Basic Income?

Some people including Sue Bradford and some Greens think that a Universal Basic Income is the solution to benefit problems arguing that it guarantees a basic income for everyone with no shame involved.
But is it?
A UBI is unlikely to be introduced when the capitalists are intent in making us pay for their crisis. Even if introduced it's unlikely to be at liveable levels.

It could be used as a back up for the dreadful insurance model of welfare that National proposes where workers have to pay in advance for any times when they might be out of work-as if they aren't already under taxation and through the profits capitalists make. Under the insurance model; beneficiaries would lose all support when the insurance runs out after a year or two.

Then it would be starvation, prostitution or crime.

A UBI could soften the blow; but would be extremely unlikely to be enough to give a life of dignity or social inclusion.

The opposite trend is occuring. In the UK they are set to abolish the universal child benefit which was ditched in New Zealand decades ago.

However perhaps something like a UBI could still be worth fighting for as a principle that we could take into a socialist society.

What do people think?

Social Security in Critical Danger

Sue Bradford was another rare friend at the Government's Welfare Working Group yesterday.
She says insurance welfare ,when it runs out, will lead to begging, crime, prostitution and death.
Sue says: "We are entering a critically dangerous time for the future of our social security system."
Shifting to an insurance system would overturn a "fundamental principle of the 1938 Social Security Act that there is a community responsibility for making sure that people are helped when ...they are unable to help themselves.

h themselves."
Posted by president at 6:36 PM - Bradford blasts insurance welfare

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Bradford blasts insurance welfare
A possible shift to an insurance-based welfare system came under fierce attack at a forum organised by the Government's Welfare Working Group yesterday. Former Green MP Sue Bradford, now doing a doctorate ... More
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------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - Budget axe will push jobless total up to 3m, Govt warned

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Budget axe will push jobless total up to 3m, Govt warned
Emergency moves to cut Britain's £156 billion ($336 billion) deficit will push unemployment to almost three million with the poorest areas being hit hardest, the Government was to be warned today. The ... More
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Thursday, June 10, 2010 - Knife comes out for UK social security budget

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Knife comes out for UK social security budget
Big cuts in the £170 billion-a-year ($370 billion) social security budget will be sought by the British Government as it launches a fundamental review of all public spending to reduce the country's £156 ... More
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Monica Quessir says Child Poverty too High

Monica Quessir seems to the the only member of the Welfare Working Group-which has been set up by the Government to justify savage cuts to welfare-who actually defends the poor-much to their surprise! A link to a NZ Herald report on her findings can be seen in another article below.

In the long run, though, it is not experts who state the obvious; but united action across working class communities both paid and unpaid that is needed to change this corrupt system that steals from the poor to pay the rich.

Here's her CV:

Dr. Monika Queisser
Head of Social Policy, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs
Dr. Monika Queisser is one of the leading international experts in pension system analysis and pension reform. She has been working with governments in OECD countries advising them on pension system design and pension reform strategies since 1999.
Her publications include the reference study on the second-generation pension reforms in Latin America as well as the OECD flagship publication Pensions at a Glance of which she is the co-author.
Prior to joining the OECD, Dr. Queisser worked at the World Bank in Washington DC. She holds two masters degrees (in economics and political science) and a doctorate in economic policy from the University of Munich - Child poverty rate in NZ too high, Govt told

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Child poverty rate in NZ too high, Govt told
An international expert has upset the Government's welfare reform agenda by proposing a universal child allowance to tackle child poverty. The head of social policy for the Organisation for Economic ... More
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Savage Cuts Coming- Stand up Fight Back

Bully Bennett has been devising a much worse attack upon beneficiaries at "welfare" forum which started on Wednesday. She has been taking the advice of a right wing panel which includes an open classist / impliedly racist writer and people representing organisations who make money out of beneficiaries. No beneficiaries, or members of pro-beneficiary groups such as the Child Poverty Action group, the Green Party (which does have modest pro-beneficiary policies), or organisations who give services to beneficiaries such as the Wellington People's Centre, or who represent beneficiares, such as Waitemata Unite, were invited to this panel or this forum.

Bennett says she is looking forward to getting ugly with beneficiaries and their supporters who stand up to her attempts to savagely cut our livelihoods. In the pipeline are an insurance model for benefits and cutting long term benefits all together.

I wonder what Bennett thinks people whose jobs and benefits have been taken away; who may have spent their lives working selflessly in public service,or being exploited by their boss, or doing unpaid labour such as child rearing or caring for the sick, or have been sick themselves; are going to live on? Prostitution? Crime? Well she'll have plenty of clients ready for the first option; and plenty of prisons for the second.

Beneficiaries and Workers must unite against these save attacks upon all of our livelihoods. They are a massive attack upon the working class! Unions need to support their employed and unemployed members, and Unite should be showing the way, since it was set up in the 1990's to do just that!

Dismantling the welfare state: Education Cuts -USA and NZ

The obsession with testing combined with the laying off of teachers has led many teachers in the USA to lose their jobs and education to be without joy, hope or real learning.

The dismantling of the welfare state is happening here in Aoteroa as well, with massive cuts to social services especially in health and education.

In health, there have been closures of community mental health clinics, and savage cuts in funding to sexual abuse counselling-which has left many clients feeling abandoned and desperate.

In education the cuts have started with pre-schools and adult education. The government has cut funding to early childhood education for qualified teachers. It has cut funding to community adult education classes, and abolished the training incentive allowance which used to help beneficiaries achieve worthwhile tertiary qualifications. Money for student allowances and loans for university students is also being cut.

Next it will be primary and secondary school layoffs, probably co-inciding with a massive sell of of public assets.. Already teaching positions are becoming as rare as hen's teeth with hundreds applying for a single teaching position; at the same time as thousands are lining up for a supermarket check-out position.

Unless we fight back we can easily sink into a feeling of fear and hopelessness.
The teaching unions here are divided with the secondary teachers' union, the PPTA, not supporting the pay equity demands of the primary teachers' union the NZEI.

Unite was set up as a community union to unite the concerns of a range of workers and beneficiaries in the community, including language teachers, cinema workers, restaurant workers, mothers, students, and the unemployed. It is time for Unite to take action for its employed and unemployed members together; and to invite other unions to join it in a collective fight against the working class, our livelihoods, jobs, and services.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Saturday 12 June 2010

Suggested Time: 12 Noon - 2PM

The call has gone out for citizens and ratepayers from all over NZ to
rally outside their Town Halls in opposition to this proposed law change!

Mayors and Councillors are invited to join the citizens of their council
areas in this protest, so they can show the voting public that they, in
this election year, are prepared (literally) to stand up and be counted in
the fight against water privatisation!

For more information / posters and submissions against this Local
Government Act 2002 (Amendment) Bill



3rd June 8-9am Penny Bright Across Auckland.


GreenplanetFM104.6 Thursday 3rd June 8-9am Across Auckland.

Penny Bright is ready to tell you the truth behind the Auckland Super City.

The Auckland Super City! It's almost here. Are your excited?
Well, guess what? It's not a done deal yet and there is still time to stop it.
What the main stream media won't tell you is that the Auckland Super City
is a multi-national corporate "grab" of over 28 billion dollars' of New
Zealand assets.

Here is the scurrilous little secret that you are not being told:

A possible, 112 council services will all end up being privatised.
What does this mean? Major multi-national corporations will be running
Auckland. In fact, Auckland will expand all the way up to the Rodney
District, there will be no real accountability, nor will local people be
in charge. Profits? All going offshore.

Let's look behind the curtain shall we? Two years ago $850 million dollars
was spent with private contractors at Auckland City Council, and ratepayers cannot find out
where exactly the money was spent.

Where is the transparency in local government? Where is the accountability
in local government? Why is New Zealand doing this?

Who is Penny Bright?
Courageous 'Penny Bright' – is an anti-corruption
campaigner and 'whistle blower'.

Penny Bright has been arrested 22 times after being (unlawfully) denied
speaking rights at Auckland City Council, mainly on matters relating to
water, it is 21-1 to her (defended herself - no legal training), and 4
District Court Judges have acknowledged the "Public Watchdog' role - so
that is why she describes herself as a 'judicially recognised 'Public
Watchdog' on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.

Penny has also been described in the NZ Herald as an 'anti-corruption
campaigner' in the fight for more transparency and accountability
particularly at local government. Penny Bright helped to set up the 'Stop
the Supercity' group - which is totally opposed to the attempted corporate
takeover of the Auckland region to run it 'like a business, by business -
for business'.

Pivotal to this perceived corrupt Supercity corporate coup are Auckland
regional water services - which are being set up for privatisation.

The corporate agenda has been for years to set up 'One Big Auckland Water
Company,' then contract out (privatise) the management and operation of
Auckland regional water services to United Water, 100% owned by the
biggest water multinational in the world, Veolia!

Like a giant octopus, United Water (Veolia), who established a base in
Papakura in 1997, has been slowly extending its covetous corporate
tentacles - and now have 7 contracts in New Zealand.

United Water's corporate agenda?

To encircle, and privatise water services of the entire Auckland region,
so that the income stream flowing from the pipes citizen have already paid
for, can flow into the bank accounts of Veolia's shareholders.
Situated, we don't know where!

Proposed changes to Local Government Act 2002 (Amendment) Bill, currently
before Parliament, would make it easier for such privatised water
contracts, by extending the maximum contracting term from 15 to 35 years,
and giving more power and control to private companies over our New
Zealand water services.

Unite Director defends Benefits

Mike Treen, of the Unite Union , criticises the right's justifications for keeping wages and benefits below living levels, blaming beneficiaries for unemployment; National's budget and the assault upon the welfare state. Read his "Exposing right wing lies" at:

Workers and Beneficiaries Unite! for a living income for all!