The Labour Party Election Post Mortem

The New Zealand Labour Party, after its astounding loss in the recent 2014 Election, has launched a national post mortem to examine what they did or didn’t do that caused such a massive rejection by voters. It left Labour down, with only a 25% of the total Electoral Votes, and no hope of getting any useable Parliamentary power in the unicameral NZ Parliament. This time, in keeping with their recently updated Party Constitution, Labour have decided to canvass the Party members for their opinions though opinions have also been received from the Electorate in general.

Historically, the Party has always been one of the two top Parties in New Zealand. There are other somewhat lesser parties, some right and some left, on the political spectrum. It’s usually a two party battle between Labour, as a centre left party and the centre right party, the National Party. The National Party are presently in Government with a usable majority. The Greens are often in coalition with the Labour Party and have many parallel policies with Labour.

One of this web blog’s writers has been watching both the election and the leadership hustings for the Labour Party. In analysing the election campaign and both the policies put forward and the style of the language used by the Party’s speakers, it seemed possible that:
1. The policies offered the elections in the election were, with one or two exceptions, a little shy on what their economics (compared to the National Party) policies were and how it would benefit both the big end of town, the businesses and also the wage earners and their day to day lifestyle costs.
2. There was little discussion on topics that showed an interest in the Poverty end of town. That includes the Work & Income New Zealand (WINZ) recipients and how to afford to pay rent, buy the kids shoes, clothes and food, pay family vehicle licensing taxes and petrol for Mum’s taxi for the school aged kids’ and their often urgent visits to the doctor and hospitals etc.

Interestingly, the style of the language used by the Labour Politicians seemed to be both aspirational and inspirational in content. It was a bit far removed from their lives at the coalface for voters. The language style used was suited to the Sunday church pulpit or a professional inspirational speaker’s role in exhorting MPs and the Party to yet greater political heights. Statements keeping it down to earth and real in their discussions about real policy were noticeably absent. It should have been, at least in the election, about what’s in it for the voters, their day to day to day needs whether it concerned the capital and business investors’ security of investment or for the welfare and medical needs of the electorate.
Avoiding the usual political rhetoric of endless promises of jobs, economic success, happiness for all, Mum’s apple pie and, instead, dealing with real needs, real policy down to earth intentions would have gotten more attention from the voters.

Showing that the Party is a Can Do, Will Do Party is a good motto. No inspirational/aspirational Party rhetoric as that is not what the voters needed to hear. In short, just change the STYLE and intentions of the language used. Grant and David, try it and see!

By mindfieldnz@gmail.com

Child Abuse/Domestic Violence in New Zealand 7th Highest in OECD Countries

A work in progress….

By Robert W. Walker, J.P. (NSW) B.A. (Sydney)

New Zealand, sadly, has no Mandatory Reporting in Cases of Child Abuse/Neglect legislation. All Australian States have longstanding legislation most requiring professionals such as doctors, teachers, social workers, lawyers, residential care workers, nurses and others to report cases of suspected or known child abuse. Many New Zealand professionals, encountering suspected or real child abuse, are now left in a dichotomous quandary as to whether or not to report suspected or real child abuse and thereafter wonder about the risk to themselves or their careers if they do decide to report such cases.

Some professionals have been directed by employers to say nothing when observing, say, an infant whose body is covered with cigarette burns or who has obviously been neglected and starved, battered and bruised by a psychologically depressed mother or, sometimes, the live in boyfriend. They can get angry because the kid ties them down too much socially or because the abused, sick or neglected baby just keeps crying a lot. Post-natal Depression or other parental mental health issues can be attendant problems.In one very recent case, in New Zealand, the boyfriend and sometimes child minder for a working mother, put the infant child in the clothes dryer!

Poverty, alcohol and drugs seem to be frequent, but NOT exclusively, concurrent issues in child abuse. According to psychology textbooks, research argues a possible correlation between professed or claimed religious beliefs and religious zealotry which can sometimes accompany child sexual abuse by a molesting parent or other person. “Daddy’s little secret” time with daughter or son….. Note well that religious zealotry by a parent or other trusted person is NOT necessarily an indication on its own of pedophilia or child sexual abuse.

Given the striking prevalence of child abuse in New Zealand, this writer has wondered if something, both cultural and economic to New Zealand society, is also happening along with other precipitating factors as above.

The professionals, teachers, doctors, social workers, nurses etc, are sometimes directed by supervisors or employers to keep their mouths shut just to keep the peace. The employers/supervisors do not want to draw attention to their organisation in case it prejudices their credibility for continued funding or because it could attract litigation for defamation. The mutilated, neglected, beaten-up or abused child or their fate is never a concern to such people. Mandatory Reporting legislation makes it law that reporting cannot be avoided or fines and/or criminal dispositions will apply. The Australian States’ Acts all protect the informer against litigation or retributive action by the employers.

The policy should always be to err on the side of caution to protect the child, not the possible perpetrators until the matter can be investigated further.

New Zealand presently offers NO formal statutory Mandatory Reporting protection to either the child or to the professional who informs. There IS, under the existing circumstances, an attendant personal and career risk to the professional if they report the incidents they encounter almost daily or weekly in New Zealand.

Sadly, legislation for Mandatory Reporting in Child Abuse Cases is not adequately or immediately able to protect the lawyer, doctor, teacher or social worker (etc) from any vengeful physical threats. It can though, as it does for example, the Australian New South Wales (NSW) Children and Young Persons Care and Protection Act (1998?), protect them from repercussions to their employment and from tort law or malicious litigation. This litigation could be brought by the child’s carer/parents claiming defamation on the part of the professional and their legislated reporting obligations. The Mandatory Reporting Acts do NOT protect from litigation or prosecution any whistle-blowers or reporting persons where their motive in reporting is found to be only of malicious intention (can occur in family law and family politics matters).

In addition the NSW Act, as does other States’ legislation, also protects the professionals from disciplinary action from their professional or statutory body by alleging unprofessional conduct. Such breaches of professional discipline, can be breaches of their Ethics Codes such as, for example, breach of confidentiality, discrimination or privacy of the client/patient relationship (etc).

Sadly the present situation in New Zealand is definitely not promising for the child in remedying their plight. This is, at least within the NZ Social Work professional bodies, which have taken the view that they do NOT support Mandatory Reporting in Child Abuse Cases claiming that it might prevent abuse perpetrators from seeking medical help and support for their neglected, battered or abused child. The Social Workers in New Zealand have that concern in case the perpetrators fear they will be be reported to the law and police. Quite an understandable point of view but one of the Australian States Minister’s letters/emails specifically denies that to be the case.

One common reason for NZ politicians and workers in the field is that they claim that Mandatory reporting will make the caseload on the social worker in CYFS to hard to handle.

We believe that, using the Social Workers academic knowledge and skills at a child minding level is a waste of pay money, resources and expertise. In answer to that issue we advocate for the establishment of the former Australian Welfare Workers Certificate (Say, WFW CERT) and a Welfare Workers Diploma Welfare Workers (say, Dip. WFW). These qualifications offer lower, pay and entry levels to tertiary training at the college level. They are set to provide specific NGO caring workplace caring skills at training levels that are taught and supervised by graduate Social Workers and/or other appropriately skilled University graduates. The supervisors and teachers would be suitably qualified at BSW or MSW Staff. The WFW Cert or WFW Dip would obtain training to coalface skill levels in sociocultural concerns, sociology, law, ethics and psychology courses (etc), specifically teaching at coalface casework for NGOs child and family rather than at the more advanced Social Work skills. The advanced Social Work University trained skills could then be more targeted at social engineering and change advocacy at macro and mezzo levels. These Social Workers are aimed at political, institutional and organisational levels, policies and actions in social change for areas that can cause the victims and marginalisation that necessitate the never ending bandaid casework social workers now do. New Zealand Social Work academic training seems, by comparison with some Australian Universities, aimed more at casework rather than

    SOCIAL WORK

qua SOCIAL Work

No WFW Cert or WFW DIP training, NO JOB!

The social engineering [not exactly his nomenclature,but this writer’s] skills approach to Social Work follows on from the teachings of Professor Stuart Rees at the University of Sydney, circa 1978.

Meanwhile once the Mandatory reporting is done it is referred to Social Workers. Once some outcomes for the family and/or the child are investigated and set in motion, the ongoing casework is relegated to NGOs that are thereupon staffed by WFW Cert and WFW Dip. qualified personnel. The casework is always over looked by, and reported to, the Social Workers (etc) in Government or quasi institutional organisations operating with a more distant supervising watching brief and at a higher level.

Using a medical model parallel for the above structures, within that context, the Social Workers become the doctors or specialists and the Welfare Work trained Certificate or Diploma graduates become the skilled nurses providing ongoing caring and assistance casework for the families and, particularly for the child or children. The Diploma level, WFW Dip, could, after a predefined level of actual employment or field work, become qualified for entry to a elevated level of admission to Social Work training at a recognised University Social Work degree.

In our thinking, the WFW Cert and WFW Dip practitioners should, ideally also have some basic statutory powers, protection, almost similar to Social Workers. Professional statutory registration/licensing is also considered to be essential to ensure quality of skills, ethical practice adherence and as an incentive to want to train for personal recognition.

New Zealand jingoistic claims seem to be rife in saying New Zealand has its own experts and doesn’t need interference from other countries who already have had their Mandatory Reporting legislation in force (a New Zealand MP in 2013).

Three years ago, the writer had an interview, at their offices, with the CEO of one of the NZ Social Work professional bodies. They were naively claiming that the legislation for Mandatory Reporting in Child Abuse was probably unnecessary based on the premise that the next door neighbours or other parties would always report any incidents of suspected child abuse. There is a very famous psychology research project that, in recent years, investigated the actions taken by twelve street witnesses to a brutal murder in the USA. Out of the twelve actual witnesses, only one came forward to report their eye witnessing to the murder….. Most people just preferred to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil and walked on by trying to stay out of any possible trouble or repercussions.

The social work organisations also made the naive assumption that there would always be neighbours/teachers/professionals in the area in New Zealand who could, or even would, witness or report incidents of child abuse. This assumes that everybody had the training or insights to recognise incidents. As above, there is a risk to reporting on your neighbours or colleagues especially if there is the slightest personal doubt that child abuse has been happening.

In 2013, the authors of this post, wrote emails to all of the Australian States’ Ministers whose portfolios included child protection and welfare. Almost all Australian States have, for many years had legislation specifically requiring doctors, teachers, social workers, et al to report any suspected or real cases of child abuse and, in so doing, removes any doubts about their responsibilities. Their Mandatory Reporting in Child Abuse legislation also removes any punitive measures by employers, professional bodies and others against punitive or legal dispositions for reporting by whistle blowers and or other reporting professionals.

Four out of the six states we contacted, their States’ Ministers responded emphatically by emails and letters to us that they had very positive and rewarding results from their longstanding use of such legislation. They each thoroughly recommended Mandatory Reporting legislation to other sovereign nations or countries contemplating the use of such legislation. Unedited copies of those documents are available free of charge to any person/government interested in the topic. Apply by email to mindfieldnzl@gmail.com.

Strangely, copies were sent to a one of the two New Zealand major political Party’s MP’s who held a portfolio interest in child protection. We were told by email from that MP that New Zealand has all the experts we need, claiming also that they had been told by the Australian Governments that Mandatory Reporting didn’t work (a NZ Labour Party MP 2013). That MP’s tone in their reply was most strongly jingoistic about New Zealand’s expertise about child protection despite the obvious and ever present horror of the New Zealand OECD Record as above . It was clear that the MP had the view that their own knowledge of the topic was sufficient to want to exclude such legislation!
We wonder if that NZ MP’s claimed information, ostensibly from their visit to Australia, came from their taxi driver, Government Comm Car driver or perhaps while idly chatting to the receptionist in some Australian Government department foyer.

In the last few days of compiling this particular blog, we have seen recent figures claiming the NZ’s standing in relation to the OECD Countries was now fifth highest in the occurrence of child abuse. Formerly, it was claimed to be the seventh highest rate of child abuse.

For those interested in following up the Australian Legislation, the New South Wales (NSW) Children’s and Young Persons Care and Protection Act is presented in the Web page URL as an informed piece of legislation currently in force in NSW.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/num_act/caypapa1998n157469.pdf

Other Australian States’ legislation is also available through the
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au site though a search of the Austlii site will be necessary for each State and their applicable legislation.
We invite you to contact your NZ Government or political party MP’s and refer them to this web page. Ask that they note the need for action in the matter. Keep persistently asking them to keep you informed of their action in the matter.

Labour’s Leadership Hustings.

Reality is only for those that cannot handle Politics!

Some of the Labour Party faithful have been attending the leadership candidates’ hustings in the major New Zealand towns and cities where the leadership hopefuls endeavor to persuade the members that they are the next and best leader for their Party.

We went along to one such meeting and listened to Grant Robertson explaining his interests in becoming the Labour Party Leader.
It was a very friendly and chatty meeting. Grant fielded many questions from the floor. One member asked a question from left field about how he would negotiate homophobic discrimination from the unions’ rednecks and NZ voters. He was asked, when acting internationally, as Prime Minister, what would he do in dealing with governments of other countries who have severe homophobic death penalties or don’t have a liberal attitude concerning homosexuals.Some countries, such as South American, Asian and Middle Eastern states have jail sentences for homosexual, sodomy and lesbian offenses and one or two have, and use, the death sentence. If Grant is to representing New Zealand on the international stage how will he, the Labour Party and New Zealand fare with those homophobic views still held as serious offenses.

Grant’s answer to the question was, perhaps, a little idealistic and seemed to want to explain away or even ignore those still very prevalent rednecks, those who feel uncomfortable about homosexuality in New Zealand and overseas. Grant seemed to feel that while he was comfortable with his sexuality so others should be as well. Whilst we heartily agree with Grant, that, regrettably, is not yet the real world situation. As an example, one wonders about if religious and church organisations in NZ and elsewhere would find themselves comfortable in being obliged to deal with a country or Prime Minister who is openly gay. Sincerely, we hope the world will change for you Grant!

By way of some constructive feedback, without a mean or destructive bone in our body, the timbre of his talks and answers to questions seemed to be, although well intentioned, high-flown, highly idealistic and inspirational in content. It might have been more helpful to his purpose to have directed the talk to policies and reality, more down to earth in naming specific policies and how he proposed to ensure he could action the legislative mechanics of them. For example, how he would implement legislation for less expensive Auckland real estate, capital gains Tax, Economics and economic policies. The voter need to know what’s in it for them rather than some inspirational aspirations.

The high flown content of his address and answers to questions was a little bit like an extract from an inspirational or philosophical text, such as, say, J. Krishnamurti, Kahlil Gibran and many similar writers. Such has been, in the past few years, typical of the Labour Party public media and policy agenda: much packing and padding but few chocolates in the box. The big end of town will need to feel at ease too; they need to know that their businesses and their markets are functional and protected, their capital investments WILL return a profit and it is safe, economically, to employ staff and buy capital equipment.

Grant, with the best and friendliest intentions. lose the philosophical and inspirational speaker approach and keep it down to earth and real. John Key, despite his sometime cynical, glib and dismissive style with the media, does the keeping it real approach better. That, in our humble opinion, is why the Nat’s won… Did the Nats actually win or did Labour just lose???

David Cunliffe’s Leadership Withdrawal:

David Cunliffe’s Leadership withdrawal might help resolve some of the internal stress within the Labour Party’s Caucus. From the media and the number of mudslinging comments certain Labour MP’s have been making in the last few days, it seems clear that Team Building is not presently a major concern or priority. Without particularly blaming David, it does seem that the Party’s mullahs must try to restrain the leadership candidates and sundry MB’s from slinging very public mud through the media at each other.

David’s withdrawal, perhaps strategic (??) for the moment, might help the team building process start. He DOES seem to say what he thinks……..
For any of those MP’s slinging the mud at each other, there is a definite linear causality between their mud slinging and the difficulties they will experience in the present and long term future in their relationships with each other. And the voters….

In Psychotherapy groups, they use a special concept in teaching people to take the long term view of their behaviour and comparing that long term result with how they are behaving now; is the behavior now, constructive or destructive to relationships and goals? The short term description for that concept is called “Acting Congruently” in the here and now with what you want to achieve for yourself and your goals and relationships in the future…

The mudslinging is NOT a good look for them OR the Party! Not an encouragement to trust them as a possible PM or to attract positive votes for them.

Social Housing concerns: Nats handing over the State Houses

Hi….
We are recently informed that the National Government has arranged with a religious organisation to take over the running and administration of NZ Government’s social housing just as they did in withdrawing problem gambling care and administration from a NGO and re-allocating it to that same religious organisation. The Government withdrew the major part of the problem gambling from the non-religious NZ Problem Gambling Assn, a NGO for problem gambling support. It was to be handed over to the same religious Church as Social Housing.

Again, this is classical neoliberal economics and philosophy in action where Government seeks to divest itself of its involvement in the lives and what it perceives as needless contacts with the citizens. Some of our schools and child education is also being given over to religious organisations as Charter Schools.

Is Creationism now to be on the required curriculum for those Church administered schools possibly excluding or downgrading the importance of, say, Evolutionary Theory and Science)?

This divestment is in accordance with the Nats’ Neoliberal agenda and theories, some early foundations of which date back to the early Greek times of Democrates. More recently, advocates for that approach were Adam Smith (1723-1790) and, in the mid nineteenth century UK, of John Mill, John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) (John Stuart was his son), their contemporary and friend, Jeremy Bentham. Even more recently, another prominent protagonist of those theories was Austrian, Frederich Hayek (1899-1992). Classical economics and its Neoliberal derivatives, goes hand in hand with the philosophy of Utilitarianism or (a.k.a.), the greatest good for the greatest number but, unfortunately those in poverty are not represented in the greatest number in a population and can often be perceived as “dole bludgers” which in effect, is blaming the victim.

For more information about the economic and political philosophies of those Neoliberalist people, you could Google or consult their Wikipedia listings.

The (Neo) Liberal political theory (capital ‘L’ Liberal), in effect, was to give people as much freedom as possible by withdrawing or minimizing Government involvement in the citizens’ lives and, thereafter, to just manage the money and economy. This is not as nice and idealistic in practice as it sounds because of some unfortunate side effects in the lives of the people, a.k.a. the voters.

Though, perhaps, with well meaning intentions Neo Liberalism historically, socially and economically, has had some unfortunate side effects better described at greater length by other writers and academics in social welfare and economics writings on the topic. One of the side effects is that in selling off the State’s assets is that it tends to dismantle the government and its former functions.The National Party in handing formerly administered NZ Government agencies and resources over to churches and NGOs and selling State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) is implementing that Liberalist political theory in activist action.

We have two major concerns: The first is that the slogan; “Greed is good” will apply just as well in the policy area of privatised social housing.
What if a smarter than the average bear and privatised social housing landlord/land developer decides after his or her purchase of NZ Housing houses that his Housing NZ tenants are a bit superfluous to requirements? How quickly will the landlords’ wallets lobby MP’s to negate it or to find work around hacks to circumvent any legislation about it?

If they want to make more money on the open tenancy rental or property development market, how quickly can they legitimately dump the social housing tenants? Secondly, that implies that the National Party will need to become involved in some rent control legislation. Rent control is diametrically opposed to the National’s born again ideology of free market Neo Classical economics in leaving the money and capital market to run the economy and not to unnecessarily interfere with it. What a quandary for the Nats; on one hand they must live up to the Neoliberal gospel to their ideology and, on the other, they must implement both tenant protection and rent control legislation for the unfortunate economic and side effects to victims of their ideology…… Or be forced to do some back tracking on their free market gospel.

One incident with that above NGO church organisation, as cited above, occurred recently to a New Zealand university Social Work student (straight, NOT gay) who was reportedly failed for their University drug and alcohol coursework internship/placement. The student was failed by that organisation and the University by adding defensively supportive allegations?) claims alleging that the student helped a gay man after being assigned that client and instructed by the Church Social Worker supervisor to help the client person.

Sounds incredible, doesn’t it, it is true that such discrimination does still occur in New Zealand and, variously, on religious, homophobic, ageist and physical disability grounds. One NZ sixty five year old Masters degree Social Work student, with hip and spine osteoarthritis but otherwise quite mobile with a walking cane, was told by a Social Work supervisor that they were not healthy enough to be training for Social Work. That student was assigned a special needs school placement that required the student to participate in sporting activities…….

One also hopes and wonders, in the privatised NZ social housing schema, that, say, gay/lesbian couples and their children, non-Christians or those with disabilities, and with any other religious beliefs will not receive any such unfortunate discrimination. Whether covert or overt, when it comes to the allocation and administration of that social housing by religious organisations or others charged with administering and allocating former NZ Government resources and agencies, one hopes that the tennants will be selected on the basis of their need only.

A letter to the international head office overseas of that Church enquiring about their official policy on helping homosexual people was not given the dignity of an acknowledgement of the enquiry directed to them. One suspects they they did not wish to disclose or discuss the existence (at that recent time, of course) of any such homophobic discrimination policy.

The authors of those post have some concerns, perhaps unfounded, that a born-again, card carrying and religious or homophobic zealot staffer, with their fundamentalist Christian or with other beliefs, might believe they must discriminate against those whom they perceive as homosexual, non-Christians or those whom might be, (currently newsworthy and is topical, Islam) as Moslems, Jewish or many other faiths. Any non NZ cultural mainstream faiths might be perceived as unsuitable tenants. Islam, for example, is a wonderful, caring, religion sharing MANY exactly similar historical and biblical beliefs as with Christian doctrine.

The point of all of the above (supportive outside source report documents are available) is there is a risk that organisations or their staffer zealots might want to obfuscate, or covertly prevent, access to the available social housing? Is discrimination by those whom they, or their religious organisation, perceives as not suitable on the above personal, religious, ethnicity or sexuality criteria likely to restrict entry as desirable and suitable tenants?

Labour’s internal leadership issues.

We’ve had an inside tip that the Labour Party are clamping down, internally, to close up shop on the hype  generated in the media by some Labour MP’s with aspirations of leadership of the Party.  Great, because there was a risk that the media and voters would remember it all comes the 2017 election and, thereby, project an image of an internally unstable Party. We believe the Labour Party , like some other political parties, do have some interesting policies to offer New Zealanders but Labour needed to ride through this period a little more unscathed than at present…

Hello, welcome to New Zealand’s independant political website blog

This blog site will, it is intended, occasionally offer critical, topical and political comment but its special purposes are mostly educational and, perhaps, with a slightly academic bent. Some theoretical discussion on the various political parties in New Zealand (NZ) will also be presented from time to time. Particularly, we hope to allow the NZ voter an opportunity to look behind the scenes of those political parties and open the door to what political philosophies are really driving their policy making decisions  and (sometimes great but, ofttimes, not so bright!) ideas. Frequently, one cannot always be sure just what agenda is being engaged as they bring their ideas into the law, social welfare and social justice arenas.