Mike Yardley on student loan bludgers

Mike Yardley lets rip on student loan bludgers.

The melange of migration-related headline grabbers in the past week brings into sharp focus what New Zealand is doing right and also badly wrong.

Inland Revenue (IRD) and our border control authorities are finally flashing their fangs against unrepentant student loan defaulters, who couldn’t give a flying fig about paying their dues to the taxpayer.

The warning bell clanged loudly before Christmas that Kiwis abroad heading home for the holidays may be arrested at the border if they’ve defaulted on their student loan. IRD starkly warned that those in “serious default” may be grounded until they have a repayment scheme in place.

Ngatokotoru Puna’s airport arrest over his $130,000 debt should serve as a potent deterrent to others, who blithely thumb their nose at their repayment obligations, don’t give a damn about their billowing debt, make no effort to contact IRD, and think they can swan in and out of New Zealand with impunity.

Read more »

Australia looking closely at our welfare reform

Welfare reform is becoming an issue in Australia.

Some have suggested that Australia should mimic the welfare reform that we have implemented.

Australia should look across the Tasman Sea for an innovative approach to deal with high youth unemployment levels.

The ratio of young Australians not in employment, education or training has substantially increased since the GFC. Currently 360,000 young people aged 15–24 are outside the workforce and full-time studies — a 25% hike since 2008 — and potentially on the route to a lifetime welfare dependence trap.

In 2012 New Zealand implemented a series of welfare reforms, including the introduction of an investment approach for the long-term management of its income support system. Through this new approach, actuarial valuation is used to determine the most effective forms of support to empower welfare recipients for a successful transition from welfare dependence to the workforce.

This is a win-win outcome for both government and jobseekers, with the disadvantaged youth prominently featuring in the program. In New Zealand, more than 70% of the total costs have gone to people who first received a benefit before reaching the age of 20.   Read more »


Lindsay Mitchell tears the Morgan Foundation a new one

Lindsay Mitchell has written to the Dominion Post but, with their poor circulation, her letter will barely get read.

So, in the interests of greater coverage and transparency, here is her blog post calling out the Morgan Foundation.

An article appeared in this morning’s DomPost from one Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw of the Morgan Foundation. Apparently the first of three.

My response by way of a letter-to-the-editor:

Dear Editor

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw of the Morgan Foundation (DomPost, Jan 1) argues that giving families cash with “no strings attached” is the best way of reducing child poverty. To support her argument she quotes from The Economist, “Unconditional Cash Transfers work better than almost anyone would have expected. They dent the stereotype of poor people as inherently feckless and ignorant”.    Read more »

Could a ‘basic income’ be a solution?

The Dutchies have hit on a possible ‘poverty’ solution…paying everyone a ‘basic income’.

It’s an idea whose adherents over the centuries have ranged from socialists to libertarians to far-right mavericks. It was first proposed by Thomas Paine in his 1797 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, as a system in which at the “age of majority” everyone would receive an equal capital grant, a “basic income” handed over by the state to each and all, no questions asked, to do with what they wanted.

It might be thought that, in these austere times, no idea could be more politically toxic: literally, a policy of the state handing over something for nothing. But in Utrecht, one of the largest cities in the Netherlands, and 19 other Dutch municipalities, a tentative step towards realising the dream of many a marginal and disappointed political theorist is being made.

The politicians, well aware of a possible backlash, are rather shy of admitting it. “We had to delete mention of basic income from all the documents to get the policy signed off by the council,” confided Lisa Westerveld, a Green councillor for the city of Nijmegen, near the Dutch-German border.

“We don’t call it a basic income in Utrecht because people have an idea about it – that it is just free money and people will sit at home and watch TV,” said Heleen de Boer, a Green councillor in that city, which is half an hour south of Amsterdam.

Read more »


Let’s talk about sex, baby. Actually, just sex, no baby.

One of the single biggest causes of poverty is having kids, and then even more kids once already in the poverty trap.

One of the unintended consequences of a generous welfare system is that it actually encourages more children…the more you have the more money the government throws at you.

New Zealanders need to talk about more actively encouraging some parents to stop having children, the Social Development Minister says.

Discussing how the State could intervene to tackle child neglect and abuse, Anne Tolley told TV One it was “very difficult” to stop negligent parents having more children but the country needed to have the discussion.

She Child, Youth and Family (CYF) was in some cases taking custody of up to seven children from some parents.   Read more »

Asking for a benefit is indeed humiliating, but it doesn’t justify going postal on WINZ staff

Good to know that WINZ are taking care of taxpayers’ money and making each applicant justify their position.

The fact that people think that somehow justifies the increase in violence against WINZ staff is sickening.

An Auckland man speaking from his own experience says he can understand why the number of eviction orders and assaults at Work and Income offices have risen significantly.

In the past year, 46 staff were seriously assaulted and 413 beneficiaries trespassed from offices for threatening behaviour.

The Government has attributed the sharp rise to copycat behaviour in the wake of last September’s fatal shooting in the agency’s Ashburton office, where Work and Income staff members Peg Noble and Leigh Cleveland were killed and another was injured when they were shot at their workplace.

Lee Oaariki said he was recently forced to apply for a benefit when he lost his job, and it was not a pleasant experience.   Read more »


Thousands of crap parents can’t hold their life together for the sake of their kids

The hand wringers call shame on the government for taking the money away, while the shame is due to the parents now being proven as incapable and irresponsible.

CYFS should consider taking the kids away, we should stick these ferals on mandatory birth control, and then we might consider giving them some of their/our money back.

Thousands of children have been affected by benefit cuts in the last two years because parents failed to meet work obligations set out by the Government.

Benefits haven’t been cut. Useless feral ratbags who don’t meet obligations have had their financial expectations adjusted.

New figures obtained by Radio New Zealand show about 43,000 sanctions have been issued against beneficiaries with children during that time, which could mean their payments were cut by as much as half.

The figures show 20,363 main benefits involving children were cut back in the year to July 2014, and another 23,066 the following year.

Each cut could involve more than one child, and some beneficiaries could have been penalised more than once.

Lisa Woolley, the president of the Council of Christian Social Services, said the numbers were shocking.   Read more »

What Labour is and isn’t focussing on

Yesterday a desperate Labour party resorted to race-baiting in order to try and gain some traction.

Unfortunately their shameless attempt to emulate Winston Peters ended up covered in Kak as it was revealed that their “statistics” were as slippery as a dock covered in duck poo.

It got me thinking.

What is Labour focussing on and why aren’t they focussing on real issues?

So, what we know is Labour thinks that people with chinky sounding surnames investing in property is bad. By extension anyone with a funny sounding surname investing in property is bad…and the logical extension from all their policies against property investment is that working hard, saving, buying property, collecting rent is all bad in their books and these property owning hard working, migrants mostly, Kiwis are stuffing the economy.

In particular they are focussing on the over representation in a highly selective data set of Asian property owners.

That is what Labour is focussing on.

What they aren’t focussing on is policies that address over representation in other statistics. Statistics New Zealand tells us that Asian make up 12% of the population. Maori are 15%, Europeans 74%, Pasifika 7% and 1% are Middle Eastern, Latin American or African.   Read more »

Will John Key have the balls to implement benefit caps?

National is tinkering at the edges with welfare, the latest news being that the government thought about making solo parents return to work earlier.

Budget papers show the Government considered making solo parents return to full time work when their youngest child was 12, instead of 14, but decided against it.

The papers also show it was former Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s idea to require solo parents to re-apply for their benefits every year “to send a strong message that benefit receipt is expected to be temporary.”

The Ministry of Social Development also advised that change would come at a cost of between $8 million and $11.5 million over four years to administer.

The papers show the Government started work on the centrepiece of its Budget last August – a month before the election.

That was a $790 million ‘child hardship’ package aimed at low income families.

It included a $25 increase to core benefit rates for parents as well as $12.50 more a week for some on Working for Families.

However, the Government also required sole parents to return to re-apply for the benefit each year and to return to part-time work when their youngest child turned three – down from 5-years-old now.

The Government also weighed up whether to require them to move into full time work when their youngest was 12 rather than 14.

However, it did not go ahead with that.

Read more »


How about a benefit cap for New Zealand?

Lindsay Mitchell discusses the merits of a benefit cap for households, like that being implemented in the UK.

A benefit cap places “a cap on the total amount of benefit that working-age households can get so that, broadly, households on out-of-work benefits will no longer get more in welfare payments than the average weekly wage for working households.”

More impending  welfare cuts in the UK include the possibility of :

– reducing the benefit cap further

– stopping under 25s claiming a housing benefit

– limiting tax credits to the first two children only

Items 2 and 3 could be implemented in NZ. The first is trickier.

The benefit cap  applies to the total amount of benefit going into one household. There is no benefit cap in NZ so it can’t be reduced.   Read more »