The political reaction to National’s welfare reform measures has been more interesting than the announcement itself – see: Kate Chapman and Andrea Vance’s Welfare changes just the start. The Government revealed little that hadn’t already been flagged during the election campaign and although the policy won’t enhance John Key’s ‘nice guy’ image, there is always political mileage in ‘getting tough’ on beneficiaries – especially solo Mums and youth. This is exactly why Labour’s response has been muted – with Jacinda Ardern being pushed up front rather than David Shearer. More importantly it’s likely that Labour itself will soon take aim at welfare. John Armstrong seems to have inside information that Shearer will be delivering a major positioning speech in little over two weeks that may ‘flag the most significant reorientation of Labour thinking since the party kissed goodbye to Sir Roger Douglas’. Indications are that welfare reform will be a significant part of the speech – see: Shearer quite right to be taking his time.
In contrast to Labour, there’s been no hesitation from the Greens, New Zealand First and Mana leaders – they’ve all directly attacked the reforms – see: Welfare reform 'beneficiary bashing' and Welfare changes 'keep the poor in their place' – Peters. The common theme of all the critiques is that forcing beneficiaries to find work when unemployment is already high, and getting worse, is futile and punitive. Sue Bradford, speaking on behalf of Auckland Action Against Poverty says the policies are about the labour market in general: ‘And really what it's all about is trying to drive down the cost of labour by harassing vulnerable sole parents and young people. Are they going to be queuing up for the jobs at Affco and the Ports of Auckland? I mean really’ – see: TVNZ’s Welfare reforms just harassment – Bradford. Gordon Campbell also has a very good analysis that makes some obvious points: the cost of benefits is always high and unaffordable when there are few jobs, and over two thirds of DPB recipients receive the benefit for less than four years – see Campbell’s article On yesterday’s welfare reform announcements.
Tracy Watkins sees the announcement as evidence of a sense of urgency in National’s second term, saying that the next round of public sector reforms will involve contracting out services and involve ‘massive and fundamental change’ – see: Pace of fundamental reforms clicks up a few gears. Conspicuous by their silence is the Maori Party who will have to make a decision on whether to support their coalition partner when the legislation comes before Parliament.
Anthony Hubbard wrote in the Sunday Star Times at the weekend that Labour should be riding high given National’s fumbling management of issues this year, but has failed to take advantage. He has suggestions for which election policies Labour should dump but notes that making major cuts to its Working for Families policies, would make Labour seem more ‘moderate, less desperate to please the proletariat. But it would hurt the children of the poor.’
Labour has formally launched an election review and has called upon ‘critical friends’ to assist and take submissions for a report in July – see: Claire Trevett's Labour calls advisers to assist with review. This is more an internal, organisational review rather than on policy direction, but as Jake Quinn points out in Thoughts on Labour’s review there are some important issues particularly the processes that decide who gets to be a Labour MP. He advocates for candidates with stronger community connections rather than the typical ‘leader’s office staffer or unknown Auckland or Wellington union organiser’. Another Labour insider, Robert Winter, agrees the review is needed but expresses concern that the political result will be ‘a repackaged Blairism’, and that the current leadership is ‘safely centrist, and the rest of the caucus displays little capacity for radical thinking and debate’ – see: Labour reviews itself. Similarly, in his Press column Sitting Ducks? Chris Trotter has a good assessment of where Shearer is at and picks a move back to the centre to a ‘responsible and moderate Labour Party’ that will shore up support on the left by virtue of increased support in the polls.
Mike Moore has come under attack from both sides of the parliamentary benches, with Hone Harawira and Tariana Turia attacking him for attending a World Trade reception hosted by tobacco company Philip Morris and other oil, pharmaceutical and retail giants. While the sponsors list looks toxic to any New Zealand political audience, it’s pretty standard fare for any US political gathering. Harawira called for Moore to be sacked as US ambassador, particularly as New Zealand has a legislated aim to make the country smoke free by 2025 – see: Hayden Donnell’s Ambassador to US 'should be sacked'.
In other articles of note, Karl du Fresne weighs in on the Paul Holmes Waitangi Day controversy saying that Outrage a tactic to shut down debate, Andrea Vance notes that National has realised it can’t fight on too many fronts and has put the changes to the legal aid system on hold (Collins' olive branch), Chris Trotter takes the Sensible Sentencing Trust to task for their support of the ‘Christie’s Law’ campaign to tighten bail conditions (see: Keeping Justice's Blindfold In Place), while Scott Yorke parodies the political one-upmanship which so often characterises political debates around sentencing all over the world (see: Right Thinking: Frank's Law), and Adam Bennett reports on the latest in the Crafar farm saga – see: Maori mount legal challenge to Crafar decision.
Kate Chapman and Andrea Vance (Stuff): Welfare changes just the start
Tracy Watkins (Dom Post): Pace of fundamental reforms clicks up a few gears
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On yesterday’s welfare reform announcements
NZ Herald and APNZ: Welfare reform 'beneficiary bashing'
Derek Cheng (Herald): Welfare shake-up: Cash for class
Patrick Gower (TV3): A new era of welfare in NZ
Newswire: Welfare reforms 'not punitive' – Bennett
TV3/RadioLive: Govt insists the jobs are out there
No Right Turn: But where will the jobs come from?
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): The jobs will come: myths on the Right
The Standard: No solutions, more bashing
Naomi Arnold (Nelson Mail): Poor: a four-letter word
Claire Trevett (Herald): Labour calls advisers to assist with review
Danya Levy (Stuff): Labour to begin election review
Chris Trotter (Press): Sitting Ducks?
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): Labour reviews itself
John Armstrong (Herald): Shearer quite right to be taking his time
Jake Quinn (Life and Politics): Thoughts on Labour’s review
Anthony Hubbard (SST): What happened to action man? [Not online]
John Hartevelt (SST): Defensive-sounding Labour leader needs to get a grip [Not online]
Newswire: Labour to cast spotlight on itself
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Navel Gazing
Crafar farm saga
Adam Bennett (Herald): Maori mount legal challenge to Crafar decision
Conor O’Brien (NBR): Iwi seeking legal advice on Crafar deals
Dion Tuuta (Taranaki Daily News): A simple, elegant solution to dilemma
MFAT and McCully
Danya Levy (Stuff): Key defends Murray McCully
Southland Times: Editorial: It's not just trade
SST: Editorial – Cuts can’t be sold as a blessing [Not online]
James Zuccollo (TVHE): Cuts at MFAT need some context
Jenny Keown (Stuff): Abuse claimed in waterfront dispute
Conor O’Brien (NBR): Three-week strike latest - Ports, union ramp up insults
Jenny Keown (Stuff): Accusations fly over Auckland port strike
Andrea Fox (Stuff): Affco counting on non-union workers
No Right Turn: Another lockout
Tova O’Brien (TV3): Housing NZ call centre to replace office staff
Russell Brown (Public Address): That page doesn't exist ...
Hayden Donnell (Herald): Ambassador to US 'should be sacked'
Colin Williscroft (NBR): Ministers won't censure Moore for attending tobacco bash
Karl du Fresne (Dom Post): Outrage a tactic to shut down debate
Ben Heather (Stuff): Hundreds of red-zoned homes 'could have been worth fixing'
Andrea Vance (Stuff): Collins' olive branch
Chris Trotter (Press): Keeping Justice's Blindfold In Place
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Right Thinking: Frank's Law
Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): Tuku Morgan digs in
Anthony Hubbard (SST): One seat to rule them all [Not online]
Andrea Vance (Press): Oil and troubled waters [Not online]
Southland Times: Editorial: Ombudsmen under-funded
Colin James (ODT): Environmental and other brands -- and John Allen
Yvonne Tahana (Herald): Tamihere keen to bring charter school system to west
Rob O’Neill (SST): Slick marketing shtick unravels in legal wash [Not online]
Edward Gay (Herald): 'Amateur' skills seen in Urewera tape: Soldier
Debbie Porteous (ODT): Review suggests more part-time soldiers
Edward Gay and Teuila Fuatai (Herald): Protesters' calls on bail law will be heard, says Key
Imogen Neale (SST): Education, education, education [Not online]
John Tamihere (Sunday News): Skycity deal not good one [Not online]
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Chart of the day – wages outstripping inflation
Rob Stock (SST): Plans for new ‘super lobby’ [Not online]
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