Monday, January 24, 2011

Report to UN: Government Fails Child Poverty and Child Health

Waitemata Unite is skeptical about the ability of the United Nations to save the children of the world-indeed The UN has itself has a poor record with children. It was responsible for about a million children's deaths during the Iraq sanctions; its "peace-keepers" have engaged in rape,trafficking and prostitution of women and children in several countries ; and blue-helmeted UN soldiers are hated and feared by the local populace in Haiti.
Nevertheless the UN declaration on the Rights of the Child is a good benchmark by which to measure the status of the children of Aotearoa. New Zealand is failing badly.

Here is an excellent report from the Child Poverty Action group to the United Nations about the the poverty and health of New Zealand children:

Child Poverty and Child Health
Failing our commitments to children in New Zealand in 2010
M. Claire Dale, Susan St John, Innes Asher & Olaf Adam
on behalf of Child Poverty Action Group
Working Paper
July 2010
Published as supporting paper for the ACYA report
to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

“Children and Youth in Aotearoa 2010”
Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa Incorporated

M.Claire Dale, Susan St John, Innes Asher, & Olaf Adam.1

Executive Summary
This working paper is to form part of the report “Children and Youth in Aotearoa 2010” to the United Nations
Committee on the Rights of the Child, prepared by Action for Children and Youth Aotearo Inc. (ACYA).
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) believes that Aotearoa New Zealand fails to meet its commitments under
the convention in a number of areas, in particular income adequacy and health but also education and nondiscrimination.
The underlying issue is increasing income inequality and a consequent high number of children living in
poverty and severe hardship, in poor housing conditions, with limited access to primary health care. Our
research found that children from low income households in New Zealand are multiple times more likely to
suffer from large variety of diseases than their more affluent peers. These inequalities are most evident in
hospital admissions for relatively common diseases such as Rheumatic fever (28 times), Bronchiectasis (15
times), serious skin infection (5 times) and Tuberculosis (5 times).
Whilst these facts are well established. our evidence suggests that health inequalities are increasing rather
than decreasing, breaching Article 6 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the
convention), every child’s inherent right to life. Such inequalities also breach Article 24 of the convention
which grants children the right to “...enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health...”, where health
outcomes of least deprived children serve as benchmark.
Ethnic disparities are similarly evident, which breaches Article 2. States Parties agree to ensure children are
protected against all forms of discrimination, yet Maori and Pasifika children disproportionately suffer higher
hospitalisation rates than New Zealand European/Pakeha.
In 2005, 170,000 New Zealand children lived in families earning less than 50% of the median household
income. New Zealand is outperformed by a number of countries with a much lower GDP per capita, i.e. Czech
Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary and Korea. Widespread child poverty undermines children’s right to an
“adequate standard of living” as per Article 27 of the convention. In 2007 figures 50% of the median income
equates to $355 per week for a single parent, an amount considered insufficient to cover essential living cost.
As a direct result of poverty many children lack basics such as adequate nutrition or warm and dry housing.
New Zealand has the second worst child health and safety record amongst the 25 leading OECD countries as
measured in child deaths caused by infant deaths, immunisation rates and accidental deaths (OECD). These
measures, to a large extent related to poverty, result in a failure to meet Article 5 of the convention.
1 Dr M.Claire Dale, Research Fellow in the Department of Economics, Dr Susan St John, Associate Professor of Economics, and Dr Innes
Asher, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Auckland, are Executive Members of Child Poverty Action Group. Olaf Adam is
a Post Graduate student at the University of Auckland Business School and researcher for Child Poverty Action Group. We thank Dr Mike
O’Brien, Professor of Social Work at Massey University for his helpful critique.
CPAG asserts that child poverty in New Zealand is a consequence of political choices and inaction, not an
economic accident. As such, this breaches Article 3 of the convention, and CPAG hold successive governments
responsible for the continuing discrimination against children from low income families.
The current social welfare system is insufficient to provide for an “adequate standard of living” for many
parents, who are unable to provide it themselves and as such New Zealand fails in its responsibilities under
Article 26 and Article 27 of the convention

NZ pretends recognition of the Rights of the Child

The Child Poverty Action group has issued a press statement exposing the government's hypocrisy about the Rights of the Child.
A recently released UN report on the Rights of the Child issued a damning assessment New Zealand's record, where twenty per cent of NZ children live in poverty, children's health is worsening, and social inequality is increasing.
Sue Mackwell, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development, tried to put a positive spin on this appalling situation, with little success, as the CPAG points out:

Government Hypocrisy over child abuse

Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett made a huge deal about a recent child abuse case when it finally came to light and used it to whip up anti-beneficiary sentiment and calls for punitive solutions. Michael Laws followed suit calling for all welfare to be stopped to stop the "ferals" breeding. But in fact the (accused) mother of the child had already written a letter to the Prime Minister appealing for help; as had the child's teacher, who had been trying all year to get something done. The NZEI wants the government to be more accountable.

Inter-generational poverty causes social distress and violence. There were almost no cases like this before the 1980's economic "reforms." A decent society ensures that there is a liveable income for all, and social support for all those in need.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - Union deals sidestep Govt's 90 day law

Waitemata Unite thought you would be interested in the following item from
Union deals sidestep Govt's 90 day law
Unions are protecting thousands of new workers from the Government's 90-day trial period law by negotiating collective contracts that exempt them from it. But a battle looms in the public sector, where ... More
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91 Day Benefit Stand Down after 90 Day Employment?

We have been informed that WINZ has stated that it is their policy to give 91 Day Benefit Stand Downs to anyone who lost their job after being employed under a 90 Day Law.
This defies all natural justice, since the employer can sack anyone for no reason whatsoever.

However from the "Questions for Written Answer" in parliament last October, the Minister for Social Welfare, Paula Bennett, appears to be saying that this policy is wrong. In fact, it has to be proved that the worker who lost their job was guilty of "misconduct."

WINZ could possibly be denying thousands of people income that they are legally entitled to and need to survive.

8 OCT 2010
33437 (2010). Catherine Delahunty to the Minister for Social Development and Employment (08 Oct 2010): Have Work and Income staff have been instructed to assess applicants for the unemployment benefit who have lost their jobs under the 90 day law the same way as for any other employment arrangement, including whether or not they should be stood down?
Hon Paula Bennett (Minister for Social Development and Employment) replied: The information requested is available at the Work and Income This is also my response to written parliamentary questions 33438 and 33439 (2010).
* * *
1 DEC 2010
36825 (2010). Catherine Delahunty to the Minister for Social Development and Employment (01 Dec 2010): Can she confirm that a correct interpretation of the guidelines published on and referred to in her answer to written question 33437 (2010) is that a Work and Income client subject to a non-entitlement period from a work tested benefit under section 60H of the Social Security Act 1964 because they were fired under the 90 day trial provision and Work and Income Staff deem them to have been fired for reasons of misconduct cannot summons the employer to a Benefits Review Committee hearing.
Hon Paula Bennett (Minister for Social Development and Employment) replied: A Benefits Review Committee (BRC) is an administrative body which does not have the powers of a Court to summon witnesses. The Ministry however does have investigative powers and the investigation may include asking questions and seeking information the from an ex-employer. The Benefit Review Committee considers all the relevant information submitted from both parties in reviewing the decision.
* * *
1 DEC 2010

36822 (2010). Catherine Delahunty to the Minister for Social Development and Employment (01 Dec 2010): Can she confirm that a correct interpretation of the guidelines published on and referred to in her answer to written question 33437 (2010) is that Work and Income staff assess applicants for a work tested benefit who have lost their jobs under the 90 day trial provision the same way as for any other employment arrangement, including whether or not they receive a non-entitlement period under section 60H of the Social Security Act 1964?
Hon Paula Bennett (Minister for Social Development and Employment) replied: Work and Income staff treat any application for Unemployment Benefit in the same way, whether a client is applying because of a dismissal under the 90 day employment trial or not. A voluntary unemployment stand-down can be considered where there is evidence of misconduct. However, the only difference under the 90 day employment trial, is if an employer alleges misconduct but does not provide proof, and the employee disputes the allegation, then a voluntary unemployment stand-down should not be considered. This reflects the fact that the employee does not have the right to take a personal grievance against the employer or challenge the dismissal in court with some exceptions, where a 90 day employment trial is operating. This is also my response for written parliamentary questions 36823 and 36824 (2010)..

Monday, January 10, 2011

What Work Counts

What Work Counts. Document published by the Child Poverty Action Group critiquing the work-focused welfare policies of both the Labour and National Governments.

Hateful Speech Prepares Way for Welfare Cuts

Michael Laws calls beneficiaries "ferals", "disproportionately Maori", implies that sole parents are by definition incapable, and advocates sterilisation to stop us "breeding", taking children from their parents, (stolen generation anyone?), abolishing all welfare, state housing, legal aid, to solve the social problems caused by poverty, colonisation, unemployment and the right wing economic reforms.
Here is some of his poisonous hate filled abuse:

"The irony though is that it is state policy to encourage ferals to multiply. First, we keep their children within their family/whanau. We even legislate that this is the appropriate setting even if the parent – because they are usually sole – is unable to parent properly. Secondly, we provide the welfare system to deliver the subsistence they need not to work but to drink, drug and procreate. In fact, again, we provide the incentive. Have a child and have an income – state guaranteed. And that's a viable option if you left school at 15 with no qualifications and no show of ever getting any. Thirdly, we provide a state house, and, if they get in trouble with the law, state-funded legal aid.

This is racist sexist hate speech . He treats us as less than animals, with less rights to life. Rather than valuing all human life he wants to eradicate us. Rather than appreciating the work and contribution that single mothers make, raising the next generation; he would rather starve us out, and take our children off us. What exactly is the difference between the views of Laws and those of a nazi , a fascist, or an ethnic cleanser?

The climate being created by Michael Laws, the Business Round table- influenced Welfare Razor Gang , and Prime Minister John Key (who can flippantly gamble on whether cutting benefits would cause mass starvation or not) , one of hatred and disregard for the fundamental human rights of 338,000 New Zealanders- is setting the scene for massive cuts in benefits in the following term, if National gets in again; to pay for their tax cuts for the rich and any fallout from the international bankers' crisis.

Why beneficiaries should fear the right wing

from Tumeke:

Remember how rising GST so the rich could get a tax cut was supposed to 'turbo charge' the economy? Those were Bill English's words, apparently those words don't matter, because alongside lying about rising GST and claiming that if he cut the benefit to all 330 000 beneficiaries that bugger all would die, those words don't matter because according to a poll, we all 'like' John Key, so policy doesn't matter.

Words matter, and the words English used were 'turbo charge'. Sadly it seems borrowing for tax cuts doesn't help our savings and because of the higher GST, the tax take diminished and we are left with a$2 billion deficit that Bill English intends to make up by making massive cuts into welfare .

Let's make this clear to the 338 000 beneficiaries in NZ who at those numbers represent 14% of the 2008 electorate, if National get into power in 2011, they will destroy the Welfare State and leave you all to rot.

The ideologically stacked Welfare Razor Gang Paula Bennet concocted to do her dirty work are preparing for their blood letting.

Surprise, surprise - the former president of ACT, Catherine Isaac. A day after the Welfare Working Group first met on April 30th, Roger Kerr, the Executive Director of the Business Roundtable published an opinion piece in the Dominion Post claiming unemployment is a political choice, as in the poor choose to be poor.

Roger rages against the welfare machine by claiming if only we dumped the minimum youth wage and weaken unions, then employers like him would hire and Ayn Rand would come back from the grave with Adam Smith and they will lay the foundations of a pure free market city state (with a weirdly overt militaristic Police force).

The kicker is, Roger Kerr is married to Catherine Isaac, he’s writing hard right send-the-kids-down-the-mine-to-work-social-policy the day after his wife’s first meeting for the Welfare Working Group.

And what about Adrian Roberts and Enid Ratahi Pryor who are current corporate welfare contractors to the Government, what possible advice are they going to give beyond 'more corporate contracts in social welfare'??? It's like having Pig Farmers set the legal welfare conditions for their pigs!

Take the ideologically stacked Welfare Razor gangs views, combine them with English's comments on making the $2billion deficit up from his failed turbo-charged-GST-tax-rise-to-fund-a-tax-cut-for-the-rich in cuts to welfare alongside Key's own comment that no one would starve if he slashed all the benefits and they all add up to growing realization that societies most vulnerable are about to get the bash.

If that doesn't frighten beneficiaries, Cactus Kate should, in her most racist casual fascist way, she spells out that Maori solo mothers (she calls them 'breeders') should be either paid not to breed or sterilized, here's Kate at her most ugly...

Kate is considered a leading light by the right wing blogosphere and her venomous anonymous posters lick up her social pus as if it is mana from heaven. Beneficiaries should read the pure hatred of these racist rednecks and understand that people like Kate and her leeches represent the real mentality of the right towards those less well off.

I find it the most disgusting of ethical molestations that the weakest and most vulnerable in society are being asked to do with less because the global economy was crashed by the greedy and corrupt, yet that is exactly what the ideologically stacked Welfare Razor Gang are proposing with their despicable bennie bashing attack on the welfare state.

If you are not angry, you haven't been paying attention. A new left conference is being planned for February.
full article at: