Posts Tagged ‘David Farrar’

Nasty Nats bash beneficiaries!

August 11, 2008

John Key has announced National party ‘Social Services’ policy, and unsurprisingly, given it was announced to the most unthinking, bigotted bunch of cranks you can find – the RSA, it is a ‘bash the beneficiary’ policy. Blithering pensioners ranted on about ‘giving beneficiaries respect’ and ‘making them feel good about themselves’, despite it mostly being a policy that lets WINZ staff cut benefits if you don’t get enough work once your kids hit 6 years old.

National party activist David Farrar (on his blog and National Radio this afternoon) nicely summarised the policy, as:

  • Paid work is the best way to reduce child poverty
  • A part-time work obligation on DPB recipients whose youngest child is six or older
  • A part-time work obligation on those (5,600) sickness and invalids beneficiaries who have been assessed as capable of working part-time
  • No work for the dole
  • Any long-term unemployed (one year or more) will have to reapply for the benefit and undergo a comprehensive work assessment
  • Case Managers to be given more options rather than just stopping benefit payments, such as a graduated reduction as an interim sanction
  • Increase in the earnings threshold before abatement from $80 a week to $100 a week
  • Anyone on the sickness benefit for more than a year will be sent to a designated doctor for an assessment
  • CPI adjustments to benefits to be enshrined in law (as it is for Super) rather than merely being convention
  • Those who frequently need benefit advances to attend (at taxpayer expense) a budget advisory service to help them manage
  • In my view, there are two positive points – increasing the abatement threshold from $80 to $100, and inflation (CPI) adjusting benefits in law – with one neutral point – budget advice (depending on how it is handled) – and the rest are 6 negative points (I ignore the claimed ‘no work for dole’ as it is contradicted by the following point, where unemployed have to reapply and get assessed – these are the first steps to work for dole). So an overall fail mark.

    Naturally, the Greens are baffled, Labour must be gleeful at their main opponents blundering like this and swiftly pointed out the old Nats ‘dob in a bludger’ campaign, and the other minor parties will struggle to find time to even comment (please media – don’t ask Peter Dunne what he thinks; if he had any policy he would have told you already).

    In my view, yes, there are people who are content to live on benefits when they could get ‘some’ paid work, but that is a very badly paid life that would not be very pleasant to live. The real focus should be on helping people into well-paid work (not just minimum wage) that fits in with their family commitments. And forcing invalids to work 15 hours a week or get their benefit cut is just obscene.

    The truly interesting question has been ignored by all parties of course – given beneficiary numbers have dropped substantially over the economic boom in Labour’s 9 years as government, why haven’t WINZ staff been better able to give individual attention to the smaller numbers on the benefit?

    I know of at least one person on the dole who used to work until an accident, but when his health returned, the WINZ staff stupidly tried getting him into computing courses. Given his very evident low academic potential, they should have been helping him into a supervised labouring job, but….? Over ten years later, no change in circumstances. The beneficiary should not be blamed if the government (both Nat and Labour for this guy) have not helped him into work.  But better for him to be on a benefit than have the Nats cut his benefit because he hadn’t fixed things, when he is clearly not capable of doing so.

    Better policy needed National – by far!!!

    One good option would be for the state to offer guaranteed full-time work (at the $12 an hour minimum wage or higher) for anyone who wants it – beneficiaries or others. This allows beneficiaries to choose to step up if they want and are capable, while still providing benefits for those unable to work in these tasks (say DoC tree planting, etc). The obvious danger though, is that people will view those still on the (lower paid) benefits as ‘undeserving’, and demand the benefits get eliminated, in which case the guaranteed work opportunity becomes ‘work for the dole’ (though at least at minimum wage – a big boost from current benefit levels).


    S59 & Citizen’s Initiated Referenda

    April 29, 2008

    Grrr – the S59 Citizen’s Initiated Referendum petition on Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking law (that tightened Section 59 of the Crimes Act to remove parental ability to use physical force to discipline children except in very limited circumstances) has fallen short on numbers.

    This is not the cause of my Grrr – that stems from the appalling methodology of the beauracrats who ‘counted’ the petition. This issue has been commented on by bloggers from the left (No Right Turn) and right (David Farrar), the latter noting the ‘valid signatures’ count came from a “large random sample” of the signatures delivered.

    This seems sound enough technique, so long as the estimated signature count is either well over or well under the required threshold of 10% of eligible voters (285,027 valid signatures).

    When the claimed valid tally (269,500) is close to the margins of error of any such sampling though, closer inspection is required. This petition fell short by 15,527 or 5.4% of the requisite total. When you get this close to the error (typically around 3%), I would be more comfortable if such petitions had a fuller count.

    Of course, the petition organisers may just collect another 15-20,000 signatures over the allowed next 2 months, but it may not be necessary if a closer check finds the original sampling was an underestimate. Point being, when the gap is that close, the officials need to check their methods more closely (which does not imply anything wrong with their methods, just that their ‘microscope’ can’t distinguish between actually tally and required threshold accurately enough).

    Hence, the grrrr!

    Petty politics – poverty comes from the rich!

    April 29, 2008

    National party blogger David Farrar posts on the recent media reports about poverty. Farrar claims if the top 50% of taxpayers declared bankruptcy, then because the poverty threshold is defined as 60% of the median wage, this would drop the poverty threshold to zero, and hence eliminate poverty!


    Petty Politics – immigrants & free speech

    April 3, 2008

    Hehe – blogger David Farrar correctly has a go at the Asian students apparently responsible for stealing 800 copies of Auckland University student mag Craccum (which featured a Falun Gong ad the students disagreed with), then Farrar castigates NZ First (for attacking Asian immigration levels).

    While I agree with Farrar – Peter Brown of NZ First was borderline racist in implying Asian migration is bad while European migration is fine – we all know this is just NZ First dogwhistling (saying something acceptable, while meaning something unacceptable if publically said) in election year.

    However, Farrar does not seem to have noticed the irony in lambasting NZ First for their asian immigration views, while highlighting the very concerns that NZ First sometimes express about Asian immigration.

    That is, the socially conservative NZ First has concerns that widespread migration of people from non-pakeha/Pacific background will result in a big chunk of the NZ population who do not value and respect traditional ‘Kiwi’ values, like freedom of speech (say, the freedom to run a Falun Gong ad).

    While Farrar critiques NZ First’s hidden message to pakeha voters (vote for NZ First, because we won’t let in people of other cultures), he fails to notice the validity in the ‘overt’ message NZ First sent in his previous post. Namely, that there is a real concern that some migrants have little regard for liberal western values like freedom to speak, assemble, dissent, protest, etc as shown by the Craccum theft.

    I suppose it is too much to expect Labour or National to properly fund migrant training in classic liberal values?

    Crystal night?

    February 8, 2008

    Minor political events are taking a concerning turn. There have been calls from the National Party to have the requirement that political party ads list their financial agents home address changed to a business address or party HQ address.

    Pro-National blogger David Farrar reiterates the party call for this, citing safety concerns.

    Almost simultaneously, the Green Party Auckland office has it’s window smashed by a brick thrown by the group ‘People Power’. Given Farrar decried the previous ‘People Power’ attack on Helen Clark’s electorate office window, and is apparently in India at the time, it seems exceptionally unlikely he has anything to do with this 😉 Nor is it likely that anyone ‘officially’ in the National party would be so foolish.

    However, there is a danger these attacks will allow a chipping away of the Electoral Finance Act provisions. Already Green co-leader Russel Norman has empathised with what seem to be weak concerns of home attacks on those listed on party propoganda. He should resist moves to change things for political parties. Why?

    1. There should be one law for all – wasn’t that National party policy?
    2. The risk of party agents being targetted is very low – real activists know they are not normally involved in the politics of the party.
    3. There is a danger that it will allow the return of mythical addresses being used by parties, as the Exclusive Brethren did in their pro-National campaign.

    Let’s hope this isn’t a start of worse behaviour in election year.

    Electoral Finance Bill Passed

    December 19, 2007

    So Labour have rammed through the Electoral Finance Bill (EFB) by 63 to 57 votes, despite the last minute defection of Peter Dunne’s support.

    Keith Ng has an interesting take on the EFB, suggesting third parties wanting to campaign could register as political parties to bypass the $120,000 spending cap:

    “Political parties” is not a predefined group of privileged elites, it’s a status that isn’t very hard to obtain. More fundamentally, if a group is trying to spend more than $120,000 on influencing an election, then they are clearly parties interested in politics, hence the term “political parties”. If you want to set up a shop, you start a company. If you want to run a election campaign, you start a political party. It’s not a fence to keep groups out, it’s barely a hurdle, it’s an insistence that these groups carry a label that is consistent with their intentions.

    However, the Electoral Commission rules for registering as a political party require parties to have “intent to contest elections”, something many groups (think Exclusive Brethren, who explicitly repudiate involvement in politics…err, sometimes; maybe think of Save Happy Valley Coalition instead) would not satisfy, and would not want to satisfy. It would also give what are really political lobby groups the ability to nominate scrutineers, etc, which could open the process up to petty filibusters.

    National supporters like David Farrar manage to quote themselves in their hurry to condemn the law.

    Overall, I’m glad the EFB passed, but it should have been done with better process and there are many improvements that should be made (most importantly cutting the loopholes round anonymous donations).