Home' The Wellingtonian : September 22nd 2011 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, SEPTEMBER 22, 2011
Why is there an 'undeserving poor'?
Given how the Rugby World
Cup is dominating the
news agenda, it was either
brave or foolhardy for the Child
Poverty Action Group to release
its child poverty report on the first
working day after the World Cup
The conclusions of the report
One in five New Zealand chil-
dren live in poverty, with sub-
sequent effects on their health,
educational achievement, and pro-
ductivity -- to the point where
early and effective intervention
could add some $2 billion to $4b to
the nation s Gross Domestic Prod-
uct and up to $1b to New Zealand
Moreover, the current situation
is being perpetuated by the policy
emphasis on paid work as the only
effective way out of poverty.
During a recession, though,
work opportunities compatible
with good parenting practices are
few and far between. Such an
emphasis, the report concluded,
was therefore bound to fail.
The reaction from Social Devel-
opment Minister Paula Bennett
was hardly her finest hour.
At first, she declined to com-
ment, saying she hadn t read the
report -- although it had been
released under embargo the day
before precisely to give the media
and politicians time to read the
executive summary at least.
(Bennett s reading pace sugg-
ests remedial help from Education
Minister Anne Tolley s national
standards policy would help.)
When Bennett finally got
around to commenting, she dis-
missed the report as a political
document and a rehash of work
the authors have done before.
Child poverty? Yawn. She d
heard it all before.
Just as predictably, Labour
leader Phil Goff sniped away at
the Key Government s reluctance
to raise the minimum wage sig-
nificantly, or to support early
childcare education and adequate
funding for childcare.
In addition, the Child Poverty
Action Group report urged free
childcare for all children under six
and better funding for lower decile
Yet the report s main rec-
ommendation -- that Working for
Families tax credits should be
made available to beneficiary fam-
ilies as well -- is opposed by
Labour and National alike.
It was the Clark Government s
decision to offer its Working for
Families programme only to those
families in paid work that first
rationalised a discrimination
against beneficiary families that
the Key Government has been
more than happy to perpetuate.
In that sense, Labour and
National seem to be agreed about
lending a helping hand only to the
children of the deserving poor (in
this case, where parents are in
paid work) while denying the
same assistance to the apparently
undeserving children whose famil-
ies rely on benefits as their main
source of income.
This distinction -- as the Child
Poverty Action Group argues -- is
perpetuating extreme hardship
among the very families most in
If Labour continues to present
itself as the champion of only that
segment of the poor who are in
paid work, it can hardly be a con-
vincing opponent of the next
round of welfare reform that
National is promising will be a
hallmark of its second term.
Regardless, Labour does not
seem willing to offer family tax
credits to the taxpayers receiving
This makes little sense.
During boom times, beneficiary
numbers decline sharply as people
readily take up the work
Under current economic con-
ditions, however, to insist on dis-
criminating against beneficiary
families seems wilfully blind to
the hardship currently facing
many New Zealand parents, and
their innocent children.
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Send your letters to P O Box 3740,
Surely a staff member at the
Wellington City Council knows
the correct crossing rule. Or
perhaps I have missed a rule
change (to what would apply in
the United States and other
countries where the traffic
proceeds along the right-hand side
of the street)?
Transport policy issues are too
deep and complex to debate in
Julie-Ann Genter tells us she is
a professional transport
planner . This means she suffers
from an education that is
marked by ideology rather than
reason and scientific method.
She certainly fails to address
how Peak Oil and induced
traffic can possibly co-exist as
arguments against roads.
If public transport was really
relevant to the requirements of
modern societies and economies, it
would suffer from induced
It is odd that for everything in
the world except transport modes,
high demand is regarded as an
indication that something is a
success and we need more of it --
like broadband -- and low demand
is regarded as an indication that
something is less relevant -- like
carrier pigeons and telexes.
Planning degree graduates
have been turned into de facto
agents of destruction against their
own societies economies.
They and the public have been
deceived into believing that
modern anti-progress fads bring
benefits at no cost.
In fact, the cure is far worse
than the disease, akin to a mercy
killing of someone you thought
might die of starvation at some
time in the future. PHIL HAYWARD
I weekly commute by cycle
through the Basin Reserve. Today
there was a notice barring me --
walkers and cyclists are
prohibited entry meantime
because of vandalism .
But the plans for the Basin
flyovers are not even decided.
Now that s what I call proactive.
In support of
With due respect, Otago
University politics lecturer Bryce
Edwards hasn t got a clue what
he s on about when he talks about
a Dunne deal in Ohariu
He s a pen-pushing academic
who doesn t live in the electorate,
who doesn t know what s going on
on the ground.
He clearly doesn t know how
sick to death locals are of Peter
Dunne and how much local
support and profile National MP
Katrina Shanks has in Ohariu.
Shanks is a fine candidate who
has been working hard in the
electorate over the past few years
and has built up a huge amount of
support for herself.
Residents won t buy in to this
Dunne deal, and they ll vote for
who they think can best represent
Two ticks National. JIM GUO
I was surprised to read in your
election countdown (September
15) some Johnsonville residents
claiming they had hardly sighted
They must be going blind!
Chauvel seems to be at every
function going in Johnsonville,
whether it s in the mall, a
children s production, a school fair
or a sports event.
He seems to have undertaken
the role of the local electorate MP
over the past three years and to
have done the job very well at
Perhaps it s time the position
Roll on November!
I very much enjoyed the story by
Chief Youth Court justice Andrew
Becroft about his son s adventures
in securing the autograph of
tennis player Rafael Nadal.
We all need heroes and
probably no-one realises this more
than Mr Becroft, given his job. It
was good to read about his efforts
in supporting his son s
As a bonus, the story was
written with a nice humorous
FROM THE WEB
Mark: Glad to see it s all the
pedestrians fault, or the drivers .
Not that the New Zealand system
of having turning traffic go at the
same time as pedestrians would
ever cause problems.
The traffic lights need to have
better protection for pedestrians
and high-volume crossings need to
have a segment when cars can
turn when people aren t crossing.
Matt: Jaywalking is part of
Wellington culture and I love it. It
feels quite strange visiting other
cities and having to wait for the
little green man.
I find most drivers are very
tolerant and used to jaywalkers,
You just have to watch out for
the lunatic bus drivers.
Sarah: The problem is the bus
drivers. I m pretty sure they
actually speed up when they see
you crossing the road.
KM: The intersections at
Taranaki and Courtenay, Tory
and Courtenay are incredibly
dangerous. I do not understand
why there aren t separate lights
for pedestrians to cross without
Would this reduce the rate
vehicle v pedestrian injuries at
Steve: All this tells me is that
bus drivers need to learn to stick
to the speed limit. I have
witnessed bus drivers actually
speeding up when they see people
in front of them. I don t think they
mean to actually hit the person,
but this is often the outcome.
Richard: Wellington streets are
no less pedestrian-friendly than
any other place in the country.
It s the idiot pedestrians who
take no notice of their
environment who are at fault.
Peter: Put up a fence along
those streets to keep the peds off
the road and have automatic gates
controlled in unison with the
lights and most of the issues will
Karl: I have seen Chauvel in the
Johnsonville Mall at least three
times in the last two months and
there were about 15 people with
him last weekend having lunch
next door to Muffin Break.
Chris asks what have any of
them done for Johnsonville. It is
hard to see why you would say
this about Chauvel and Shanks as
they are not the electorate MPs
yet. How long has Dunne been a
minister (and the electorate MP)?
fmacskasy: Why doesn t Peter
Dunne just end this charade and
simply join the National Party?
The person I feel sympathy for
is Katrina Shanks. What an
endorsement from her Dear
Leader that he asked Nat
supporters to vote for Dunne!
Bad form, John Key, bad form.
Harlington: Please create an
Excel table ranking every person
in Wellington in terms of looks,
personality and intelligence so I
can quantifiably work out who the
best human being in this city is.
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