Home' The Wellingtonian : August 18th 2011 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, AUGUST 18, 2011
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Key's misplaced welfare emphasis
The riots in Britain lent
extra urgency to Prime
Minister John Key s speech
to the National Party conference
last weekend, during which he
unveiled a package of measures
on how the welfare system should
respond to teenagers on benefits.
The fact that the focus would be
on tightening the conditions for
offering state support for young
people -- rather than on, say, cre-
ating the jobs likely to avoid them
going on benefits in the first place
-- was revealing.
All around the world,
governments are finding it diffi-
cult to cope with an entire gener-
ation of young people who seem to
be largely surplus to require-
ments, at least within a global
economy wedded to cheap labour
and job-destroying technology.
In that respect, the speech had
an air of micro-managing the
deckchairs on the Titanic. More
details of the Government s
crackdown on welfare, Key
indicated, would follow during the
run-up to the election.
Once the necessary changes to
the Privacy and Education legis-
lation have been passed, almost
all beneficiaries aged between 16
and 18 will have their benefit
payments managed by welfare
bureaucrats, with only those on
invalids benefits being spared the
The cost of rent and power bills
will be automatically deducted
and a limited amount of dis-
cretionary income would be
allowed on a payment card, which
will be unable to be used to buy
alcohol or cigarettes.
All 18-year-old mothers would
be expected to be in work or train-
ing, Key explained, by the time
their child was one. Today, there
are about 13,000 16 and 17-year-
olds not in work, education or
Also, about 1600 sixteen and
17-year-olds live on a special ben-
efit, because it would be unsafe for
them to be living at home.
No-one knows how many of
those 13,000 young teenagers on
welfare are actively seeking work
and failing to find it.
What is known is that when
work is available, the benefit
numbers go down.
That s why the dole numbers
reduced sharply from 40,000 to
18,000 between 2006 and 2008 --
and then reached a peak of 62,000
after the global recession hit,
before declining slightly again
As even the Social Development
Ministry website concedes unem-
ployment is not due to a sudden
outbreak of irresponsibility among
today s teens, but to changes in
The welfare statistics do, how-
ever, contain an alarming trend.
Five years ago, 18 to 24-year-
olds comprised only 22.5 per cent
of those on the dole. Today, they
comprise nearly 30 per cent.
Over the same period, there has
been an almost identical rise
among those aged from 40 to 54.
If the cause was one of motiv-
ation, it surely couldn t be striking
teenagers and mature workers
alike, at the same time.
Nor, in any case, is the con-
dition particularly long-lasting.
Currently, 98.3 per cent of those
on the dole receive it for less than
four years, and 72 per cent for less
than a year.
All of which suggests that the
best way of getting people -- of all
ages -- off welfare is to manage the
economy in a way that encourages
For now, though, the Govern-
ment seems far more focused on
cracking down on teenagers out of
work than in fostering policies of
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And how can Mr Romanos suggest
abandoning the haka, one of the
highlights of a test?
It s about time other countries came
up with a celebration to perform before
the game to honour their nation s
I write with regard to the article about
the famine in Somalia (August 4).
Children there are having their teeth
pulled out by professionals owing to
malnutrition related to the famine, not
due to increased violence, as the story
Also the Somali community will most
likely raise money for several
organisations, not just the two
mentioned in the article. JAMIE BERWICK
Wellington Somali Council
Let's get into
I agree with Evan Bayly (August 4) that
we need to avoid a 19th century roading
solution for central Wellington.
The solution tried in the 20th century
was to dig a tunnel, and build bigger
However, 21st century solutions
recognise that private cars are getting
more expensive to run, that the
environment needs to be considered,
that people live in the central city and
that they don t just drive through it.
Let s all tell the Government that
Wellington wants to remain a 21st
century city, not repeat the failed
policies from the past. STEVE COSGROVE
The fallacy of
Now it s Gordon Campbell (August 11)
blindly following the mistaken authors
of the influential The Spirit Level, and
confusing the findings of equality
studies. These people are either
incompetent, or have a political agenda.
It is obvious that the world s nations
with the lowest inequality have the
lowest multiculturalism .
It s easy to have an equal and wealthy
society when almost all your society are
hard-working, thrifty Japanese Shinto
Buddhists or Scandinavian Lutherans.
It s also easy when you are the world s
biggest exporters of cars and electronics
-- Japan; or have one of the world s
biggest arms export industries --
Sweden s dirty secret.
Some of the world s other most equal
societies that could have been used as
examples have a dominant culture that
causes poverty. They therefore are
marvellously equal, and marvellously
When you have a mixture of cultures,
some of which promote poverty among
their adherents and some of which
promote success, you are going to have
The influence that idiotic studies like
the The Spirit Level have on politics
today is just another sign of our
precipitous loss of common sense.
Gordon Campbell comments (August 11)
on Ministry of Social Development
observations about poverty rates for
those aged 65 and over.
He implies that the ministry s
household incomes report presents those
over 65 as being in poverty.
I therefore suggest that Campbell
reads the summary of the report on the
ministry s website. It states that in
international poverty comparisons New
Zealand ranks well for older people
(65+) and not so well for children .
It also states that: As for other years,
poverty rates for older New Zealanders
were lower in 2010 than for any other
age group .
FROM THE WEB
Option X costs
Laura: I d be happy to take the cheapest
option, so that the funds can go to
Christchurch to rebuild their city. I hope that
Chch is granted their wish list as they
deserve it, and if we care, we make the
sacrifice, it s as simple as that. There is no
option, because Chch has to come first. They
are the priority.
James: The cheapest option is to build
nothing; saving $165m/$75m for
Christchurch infrastructure. If NZTA is
determined to build something I would rather
it not be at the expense of walkable quality.
Lindsey: About time in Churton Park, can t
David: Don t care what happens out in the
suburbs. We need a supermarket in the CBD
that will compete with New World.
Chairlifts for Wellington
Dick Ottervanger: When I read that New
Zealanders bodies are exploding in
circumference to rival those in the US, then I
think signs should be put up along the uphill
roads to encourage people to walk faster and
at every bench do six press-ups, toes on the
bench, palms on the footpath. Skip ropes
going uphill. Kilo-busters is what they need,
not pampered rides up the hills.
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