National’s Plan B: Strip-mine the poor

A printed copy of this email turned up at my lilypad very early this morning.  Or was it just a nightmare?


—– Original Message —–

From: Paula Bennett

To: Paula Rebstock

Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 3:17 PM

Subject: Welfare Workign Group Terms of Refrence

Hi Paula
Thanks for agreeing to chair the Welfare Workign Group.  A breif has been signed of today.  I will go to cabinet mon next and John has said itll be aproved.

Dont wurry about wot is in the breif – all I wont you to do is come up with some copyand paste shit from the Business Rowndtable and maybe Nationals and Acts manifestos, use the tame right wing academics Ive put on on hte group to make it look good with sum stuff from the OECD and selected overseas welfare stuff from people on our side and all will be good.

BTW, dont wurry about where the jobs come fromn.  Wot we wont to do is get wages down to help the peeple who fund us so making benefitiaries compete for jobs that arent there isnt a problem.

Sorry I coudnt pay you more for doing this.  Id like to have dun but The oPPOSITION pARTIES are alreadty looking at stuff like that.

Paula (the big Cuddly Cat)
Minsiter of Social Development and Employment


Seriously though, where do the jobs come from if John Key, Paula Bennett, Paula Rebstock, and their Welfare Working Group are determined to shunt lots more beneficiaries into low-paid employment?

In the absence of any credible Government plan for creating employment and better wages and employment conditions – the tax cuts have now been offset by GST and ACC levy increases, and Gerry Brownlee’s proposal to strip mine the land has now (thankfully) gone down the gurgler – National must be desperate.  They are devoid of any ideas to stimulate the economy.

So I guess if you can’t strip-mine the land, National’s Plan B must be to strip-mine the poor.

More low-income people moving more frequently between low-paid work and even lower paid benefit isn’t going to solve any macro-economic issue.  Instead, it will further enrich the already rich, and further demonise and consign to poverty those who are already struggling to pay their rent every week. Mind you, with enough spin, it could still win National the next election and enable them to unleash the privatisation agenda to further aggrandise their wealthy supporters.

And the extension of the Fire at Will legislation to all employees in their first 90 days of work will hasten the labour market churn in and out of employment among people with low income earning potential.  That’s bad for productivity, bad for forcing down wage rates, and ultimately bad for business. 

Let us hope that good employers, and everyone else, recognise this and submit accordingly to the Welfare Working Group.

There is already some good analysis out there from Gordon Campbell and Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn to help with submissions.

32 Comments Posted

  1. drakula,

    couldn’t say whether over her head or, more likely for a committee-head type person, past it, but can say I’m unlucky for afternoon radio listening hence wouldn’t have taken in the ripost refered to..

    yet an idea springs forth from what you were saying these two gents(?) were saying anyway.. ie the presumably voluntary uptake of an alternative benefit.. well if capable doing one such voluntary action then surely these volunteers can capably be developed for additional voluntary credits — e.g. go plant trees/plants or spray weeds in and around their respective carriageways and communities.. we might term this working for the sick bay credit scheme…

    … or if you will allow me to stretch my take on the vernacular I’d call it the most tactful redaction* trip around..

    * thanking YOU.. bcos I fink I kno wot ya mean 🙂 Have a good one on me for that..

  2. Tomfarmer: yes I heard Paula Rebstock on the National Radio early this week on Mike Mora’s afternoon show and thanks to Garry McCormack (Tim Shadbolts mate)who was vigorously defending socialism pointed out to her that the reason why people on the dole were going on sickness benefit was very obvious because there were no jobs and the dole didn’t pay enough money!
    The joke was subtle, I think it went over her head.

  3. Kerry,

    concerning those pesky greens.. hope the folks here don’t mind my adding that used car salesmen in Q/land want to ban the Greens – per a clip heard on rnz earlier today – like this guy has to vote libs to keep them out, otherwise according to him, “we’re buggered!”

    used cars reputation running on I guess one could say.. heh-heh

  4. In addition to drakula’s “surprise” I’d like put in a moment for Rebstock who, as heard by me on radio earlier this week (mebbe last week..) sounded like she was driving a lemon committee of hardcases..

  5. Kevin – so you’d be happy with the new 90 day trial law, if one simple change was made so employers were required to give a reason for any dismissal?

    (it’s actaully been argued that they DO have to do this under current law which legally requires good communication for all employer-employee relations)

  6. I can’t believe that is from Paula Bennett; Frog what school did she attend?

    I find it amazing that someone like Paula who is a minister of government, making decisions about my life, can’t even spell!

    I am also suprised that nobody has commented on it, or am I just nit picking.

    I think I should be kind and help with her primary school work. OK the words she had problems with were: –
    working, brief, approved, worry (with an ‘o’ not a ‘u’ ), what, some, from, people, beneficiaries(with a ‘c’not a ‘t’) and done (not dun.

    How can she impart instructions that can be accurately interpreted? let alone assimilate government policy into practice?

  7. @ photonz – The thing is that the law already provided for trial periods, and for dismissal within 90 days if the person proved unable to do the job satisfactorily. All the 90 day-fire at will law added was the ability to fire someone without giving a reason. Well that very substantially alters the balance between employer and employee, leaving the threat of dismissal without reason a form of blackmail open to unscrupulous employers. One example is the employer who sexually harrasses a new employee, using the threat of dismissal as a means of preventing disclosure. Or how about the employer who sacks someone because they’re gay – all they need do is not give a reason for the dismissal.

    And the upside is? The upside is that employers don’t have all the hassle involved in due process. Should have alarm bells ringing all over the place. I’m sure most employers would be like you and me – fair and sensible in our use of the law (which actually means the old law was just fine for us). But it’s the minority of cases where employees end up very badly treated with no remedy that should send a shiver down the spine.

  8. The Green MPs are working hard to promote the Green New Deal and Mind the Gap and every now and then the media quotes our many positive statements about job creation. I am speaking on this tomorrow in Whanganui with the Disabilty Resource Centre and Peoples Centre – people want work that is appropriate not sanctions which cut benefits and hurt their families! Every recession bashing the poor gets media when we need to be talking about creating real jobs that last – go and read “Mind the Gap” – because a fair society is better for everyone!

  9. topad says “If spending a small amount of taxpayers’ money short-term on programmes to educate, upskill, and overcome the disadvantage certain groups have in obtaining employment saves a large amount of taxpayers’ money longer term in welfare benefits, supplementary assistance, and Working for Families subsidies, then surely that is a good thing.”

    It depends if it makes any difference. Clearly there is a group of highly qualified immigrants who are not getting jobs despite ALREADY being highly qualified – you said so yourself.

    Clearly courses will make little difference to these people. What they need is a chance – not a course.

    And you want to deny them a job trial.

    Gerrit – doom, gloom, put downs and negativity is their fuel – their lifebood.

  10. Kerry

    Many times.

    Question is why arent the Greens pushing the policies in there instead of this negative and destructive (to themselves) commentary.

    Push the positives instead of moaning what the current government is doing.

    Have a look at the last 8 postings on this blog and ask

    Where are the Green alternative to solve the problems?

    Not pushed at ALL.

  11. toad,

    You must really be in an agitated state.

    But I guess like most Tories you can’t see past the next election.

    And most politicians in opposition they are looking at which election?

    Oh, I know 2014 or 2017 or 2020?

    What a silly statement. How about being an effective opposition that comes up with strategically good policies that the populace can buy into.

    Currently the opposition (including the Greens) is all about sour grapes (as your comments suggest) but nothing about viable alternative policies and strategies.

  12. @photonz1 10:29 AM

    You a being very myopic about this, photonz1. If spending a small amount of taxpayers’ money short-term on programmes to educate, upskill, and overcome the disadvantage certain groups have in obtaining employment saves a large amount of taxpayers’ money longer term in welfare benefits, supplementary assistance, and Working for Families subsidies, then surely that is a good thing.

    But I guess like most Tories you can’t see past the next election.

  13. toad – so translated, the Green Party will, for #11
    1/ spend taxpayers money
    2/ spend
    3/ spend

    and for #12
    1/ spend
    2/ spend
    3/ spend
    4/ spend

    Little of which will make much difference for someone who is ALREADY perfectly capable of doing a job but just needs a chance to show that (like all your well qualified friends?).

    While spending buckets of taxpayers money with one hand, you want to take away their best chance of job trial with the other.

  14. If we are going to call for skilled immigrants we should make sure they are supported into our society.

    However skilled immigration is used by employers as a means of by-passing the supply and demand rules for skilled workers to keep wages down and also to avoid training young people. It is much more damaging to youth employment and wage growth than anything like 90 day rules.

    Some strong Unions like the Doctors and Lawyers have managed to limit the effects by requiring reasonable qualifications.

    In other professions the bean counters do not care as they just want to make up the numbers and the effects of sub standard skills do not show up until the bean counter has left for another company.

    I’ve seen it happen many times. Employers do not invest in training and then bleat to the immigration department they cannot get skilled workers.

    Or they are trying to undercut wages so they go and bleat again that they cannot get NZ’rs. I.e. New Zealanders go overseas rather than work for them for SFA.

    A recent case a firm got Immigrants to work for 30K a year in a job where a 10 year qualification is required. No NZ’r could work for that. It would not even pay the student loan. The Immigrants did it to get into courses for NZ qualifications (Theirs mostly came off cornies packets) and into Australia. None of them stayed in the job for long.

    The professions and trades are hollowed out in NZ. Have a look at the ages of people. Over 50’s and trainees. Those with young families who need to get ahead have all left.

    With rising standards of living in countries like India, Skilled people in some professions already live better there. High wages, low costs. Reliance on skilled immigrants to fill the reluctance to train by NZ companies is going to backfire. It is only our social benefits which still can attract people.

    The immigrants I know who want to come to NZ come because of the social benefits of living in NZ or Australia. No necessity to pay guards to protect them from the poor, equality, living space, recreation, free high standard education and internationally accepted qualifications.

    NZ will not be very attractive when NACT has reverted us to a primitive society.

  15. 2. Educate employers about the benefits of employing migrants and refugees

    This employer is ready for his “re-education”.

    Wonder what that entails?

    Will I be able to pick the best person for the job? Will I be sent to another “re-education” camp if I employ the best (be it a white older male) person for the job?

    Would a Green government trust my judgement or do I have to fulfill some quota, criteria and guidelines laid down by the Green government officials?


    Practical Green policy or just a sop?

  16. It was a ONE News Colmar Brunton poll, jh.

    ONE News asked voters whether they thought the 90-day trial law should be extended to cover all companies every time someone starts a new job.

    60% support with that wording doesn’t surprise me, because it doesn’t explain the effects of trial periods. I suspect if the question asked had been “Should all employers be able to sack an employee in the first 90 days of his or employment without having to give him or her a reason for the dismissal?” the outcome would be very different.

    What that poll does show is that those of us who oppose trial periods need to do more work to educate the public about their full ramifications and the number of employees potentially effected. Over at The Standard they highlighted a few days ago a position as a Senior Structural Engineer being advertised as subject to a trial period. So much for the Government rhetoric about it being designed to encourage employers to give marginal employees a go.

  17. As a rule people recognise (I imagine) super welfare system = more people on welfare and that society needs to have feedback mechanisms that represent a true situation. If that situation is “we’re rich!” (Kuwait) it is o.k but if we really do need to be careful then that is another story? The latter view seems to be prevalent here where a small % are seen as having a large % of the wealth (as though it was fungible).

  18. Having read the Issues Paper from the Government’s Welfare Working Group I am shocked. I recognise my ideology blinkers me, but if I tried to submit parts of it as an academic essay I’d be getting Ds all the way.
    Have a read folks…. They concentrate of SB, IB and DPB recipients, claiming many use this as a way to avoid the work-testing involved for those on the UB. Yet little evidence provided to back this claim.
    They cite as evidence the net movement of 1,000 from UB to SB in 2000 – less than 1% – despite acknowledging that time out of the workforce has negative physical and mental health impacts so some movement would be expected.
    Seems the GWWG should be looking at barriers to employment, such as lack of jobs.

  19. @Gerrit, August 10, 2010, 10:58 PM

    proveable or hearsay?

    Admitedly anecdotal, but that’s certainly my perception, having worked closely with migrants and refugees in the past.

    @photonz1, August 10, 2010, 11:01 PM

    Try this, photonz1:

    11. Employment

    Immigrants often find themselves victims of subtle forms of job discrimination, and many refugees have problems in finding suitable employment. Currently the main initiative in this regard is the TOPS English-language programme, which is work-oriented.

    The Green Party will:

    1. Fund specialist employment services for refugees and immigrants dedicated to finding work appropriate to their highly special situations. (This could be done either through Work And Income or through NGOs)
    2. Educate employers about the benefits of employing migrants and refugees
    3. Put employment guidelines in place to ensure that job applicants who are migrants or refugees are not discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, colour, and other prohibited grounds of discrimination as set out in the Human Rights Act 1993.

    12. Adaptation Support for Immigrant Professionals

    Many highly skilled and qualified medical practitioners and other professionals have considerable difficulty getting registered in New Zealand. Rigorous qualification is essential in many professional fields, but New Zealand would benefit if professional bodies supported immigrant professionals to reach the necessary language and professional standards to practice their professions in New Zealand. This is especially relevant where there have been skill shortages identified in particular industries. Also, given the growth of ethnic communities in New Zealand, the skills and experiences these professionals possess will be immensely beneficial — both to ethnic communities and to the wider population.
    Bridging courses, such as the one in English for Medical Professionals offered one semester per year at AUT, have been difficult for immigrant professionals to gain access to.

    The Green Party will:

    1. Provide professional bodies with incentives and funding support to help immigrants reach the standards needed to practise their professions
    2. Ensure greater availability of bridging courses for immigrants in professions for which Aotearoa/NZ has need, and of student loans for those seeking professional registration here
    3. Encourage the use of practical supervision of those with internationally recognised qualifications as an available route to registration in place of one-off pencil-and-paper tests
    4. Provide pre-employment and ongoing on-the-job language skills support for migrants.

  20. Greenfly,

    Yes I do read the posts and this one in particular is so ridden with cliches that it just screams out for a retort to focus onto the future.

    The Values party is dead and buried and the class warfare meme is long past it used by date.

  21. “The Green answer is?”
    Do you just comment here Gerrit, without reading the posts by Frog and the Green MPs? I swear they’ve mentioned an answer or 50 over the time I’ve been visiting.
    You’ve picked up on nothing at all?

  22. frog

    Instead, it will further enrich the already rich, and further demonise and consign to poverty those who are already struggling to pay their rent every week.

    Sounds like something dredged up from an old Values party press release.

    The Greens answer is?

    Would love to hear less rhetoric like you and toad are spouting and for the Greens to come up with more positive answers then regurgitated outdated Values party idioms.

    I guess you need the old tory bashing idioms to justify the struggle?

    How about some Green policy and actions to improve the poors’ conditions and situation?

    To get things done you need to be pre-emptive in ideas and responses, not spouting old Values party idioms of rubbish.

    (new word idioms——mmmm–I like it)

  23. toad says “Yet they are either on the dole, driving taxis, or working in bars or as as process workers at around $14 an hour. Go figure”

    So you want laws that will keep them there. Go figure.

  24. toad

    locked out of employment by nothing other than employer racism.

    proveable or hearsay?

    Sometimes I think you see things that are simply not true.

    As there is no way to either prove or disprove your racism claim you can freely make it.

    But it does not make it true. It only makes your perception fixed as true in your mind not in fact.

    Now if you had some facts ……………….???????????

    Then make the claim and back it up with those facts.

    Will you? nah!

  25. @photonz1 9:35 PM

    And you repeatedly FAIL to answer why immigrant groups say the extention of the trial period is a really good idea as it will give them more job opportunities…

    Ever thought it might be because vulnerable people with little job prospects or security already get sucked in by Government propaganda?

    Many immigrants who are highly skilled are locked out of employment by nothing other than employer racism. I have friends or acquaintances from each of India, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa – all of whom have post-doctoral qualifications, doctorates, or at least Masters level qualifications.

    Yet they are either on the dole, driving taxis, or working in bars or as as process workers at around $14 an hour. Go figure?

  26. Duh – you say there’s no plan to increase jobs AND criticise the trial period plan to increase jobs in the same post.

    You criticise beneficiaries having to go into low paid employment. What would you do – give all the unskilled unemployed high paying jobs?

    And you repeatedly FAIL to answer why immigrant groups say the extention of the trial period is a really good idea as it will give them more job opportunities (why do they say this if it is so bad?).

    The Green Plan to increase jobs – make it harder to employ people, more risky to employ people, and more expensive to employ people.

    And once they’ve started, even for just ten minutes, make it almost impossible to remove them and give a good worker the job of a useless one.

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