• I’m no political commentator – I’m gonna keep this short.I was really pleased to see the Herald feature a couple who were being penalised due to the stupid Work and Income rules about benefits for couples. And then today the shit hit the fan when it was revealed he was a landlord with three properties, dismantling the image of him as a regular honest bloke just trying to get by.

    Labour really have not treated this well at all, calling for universal benefits. They should have known National would pick up on the angle of “partners of six figure earners taking advantage of the system” and run with it. They should have discussed some sort of limit, which they’ve done now – far too late.

    You know what I think of the welfare rules for couples. I can honestly say that day, finding myself standing in front of the old lady at WINZ reception crying because I was frankly at the end of my rope, and didn’t know what the hell else to do because our country had failed us, was quite possibly the lowest point in my life. Being told that working and studying disqualified T from any assistance – didn’t matter if I quit my job, or dropped out. That I was expected to be able to support two people on less than one fulltime minimum wage. Dismissing the thought of applying for him as a single, because not only would that be lying, it would be damn hard to manage given our shared bank account. Considering the possibility of having to break our lease and millions of subsequent hassles, on top of a full, third year class schedule.

    Seriously, the paper could have found tons more deserving people who DON’T own multiple houses to feature. Just check out the TradeMe message boards. There are always stressed, worried people in there wondering if they will be able to get any assistance with their partner working. (One of the reasons I stopped visiting the employment board). Not people with high earning spouses. Just ordinary people on low to middle incomes trying to get by amid rising food, utility and petrol costs.

    Even if Burgess’ rental properties are mortgaged, he still has more options than some other people. I’m not saying it’s easy for him, or that owning property should disqualify him, or means he should be rolling in it or anything. Home ownership is expensive. But ideologically he certainly is not a good illustration for this debate, as we’ve already seen in the backlash. Poor guy.

  • Small L libertarian, big D Democrat


    It’s rare that I ever go to talks/guest speeches/events on campus; I’m usually either in class or at work (if not just plain uninterested in what’s on offer). But I did go to listen to Terry Michael last week when he came to AUT. Not a whole lot of people turned up. Maybe about 15, which was just as well seeing as we were shunted into one of the tiniest classrooms in WT tower. One of our Grad Dip students mustered up enough interest to get him to come and speak at AUT (he’s currently on some sort of tour downunder…does he do the same speech every time? Or does he shake it up quite a bit? Surely it would get old delivering similar versions of the same spiel over and over, but I’m sure he’s giving talks at many places, not just universities, so he’d be tailoring accordingly).

    He’s head of a programme that teaches journalism students about politics in Washington, an ex press secretary and reporter. So he talked about the history of American media and touched briefly on party politics. But what was most interesting was how he described his own stance. Small L libertarian, big D Democrat. Something I thought was kind of contradictory at first – aren’t those two at odds? – until he explained it a little bit more. Here’s another quote:

    “Government: out of my bank account and my bedroom, away from my body, and out of the backyards of the rest of the world”

    The good stuff came after he finished speaking, and engaged in debate with a few of our lecturers – true blue lefties, the pro-welfare kind that Michael eschews. Sadly, I had to leave to go sit my media law test and missed most of it.

  • Puzzled

    by two things.

    On John Boscawen’s billboards, ACT advertise themselves as putting Mt Albert (taxpayers) first.

    So they don’t support stay-home parents? Children?

    But apparently they would support beneficiaries, given that beneficiaries pay tax on their benefits.

    Seems odd for a right of centre party.

    And secondly, the sign above the doors in buses that state “Read doors cannot be used while buses are on school services. Please exit via the front door.”


  • Hikoi

    Knocked off fairly early today, given that I didn’t have my 3pm lecture! I went to the Recycle Boutique to try on this dress I had my eye on for a friend’s party. Unfortunately, it was a gorgeous colour and everything, but size 14. I tried everything I could to make it fit but it was NOT gonna happen!

    I also watched the hikoi on Queen St for a bit. People on foot, waving flags and banners, people with loudspeakers, in cars and trucks and vans and utes, little kids in yellow raincoats.

    I think it’s amazing that people can come together for a cause like that, and be so committed as to walk for hours in the wet. Should have taken some photos, but I didn’t have my camera, and my phone camera is as shite as it gets. Yay democracy!

  • Political blunders

    Dear oh dear, Melissa Lee’s gone and done it again.  lee_2301

    First the whole brouhaha about her saying the overground Waterview motorway would stop crims from South Auckland coming to Mt Albert (really? Makes zero sense to me), and last night’s unapologetic comment at the candidates meeting at Auckland University. “You guys are obviously students and do not watch television. I did actually say I made a mistake and I was sorry.”

    When will she learn? I can’t help but admire her feistiness and her speaking her own mind. But she’s obviously very fresh as a politician. Why would you want to alienate a massive group of students like that? The Mt Albert electorate includes Kingsland, Western Springs, Waterview, Avondale… suburbs with high student populations, with lots of flatting situations including students, recent grads and young workers.

    Not a smart move.

  • Should political journos vote?

    Should political journalists vote?

    TVNZ politics reporter Guyon Espiner doesn’t.

    And I guess I can see why. I understand they need to maintain their objectivity as much as they can. And simply not voting is one way to do that.

    I just find it hard to swallow – these are some of the most politically aware and informed people in the COUNTRY. And everyone has the right to vote (and you might say RESPONSIBILITY to vote). Shouldn’t they cast a vote? It seems a waste not to, considering how many people out there simply rock up to the booth,  tick a box more or less at random, and carry on happy as Larry.

    (And here’s a random link to a really interesting informal survey on Kiwiblog on how some MPs rate various media outlets. Really, it’s fascinating! National go pretty much the other way from everyone else.)

  • You know what’s crap?

    Building a cycleway the length of the country. (For tourism? Really? You trot that one out for whose benefit, exactly? I sure wouldn’t go anywhere to cycle down a strip of concrete in NZ, let alone overseas).

    Not boosting Work and Income eligibility. (If now isn’t the time, well, WHEN is? People need support now, more than ever.)

    Cutting tertiary funding. (You don’t wanna support us, and you don’t want us to further our education to improve our future prospects. Brilliant.)

    I feel totally vindicated by how I voted in the election, and stand by my decision.

    /end rant

  • To a Mr Bitter from Titirangi

    I was merrily eating my lunch yesterday at work and flicking through the paper. I landed on the letters page – which is always good for a bit of a giggle – and lo! a submission entitled Recession victims!

    According to this writer, the members of the “debt embracing, profligate generation X and Y still have their jobs by and large, so their income is intact. With interest rates dropping as a result of the recession, their financial situation has improved significantly.”

    Wahey! Wow. Something I might expect to see from the mouth of an American, but here?

    I think this person is just a LITTLE out of touch. It’s Gen Yers who are (among others, although not exclusively) being laid off. Last in, first out. Unemployment is climbing, and those with less experience and fewer qualifications are more likely to be let go, and to find it much harder to secure any kind of new job.

    By no means is the income of my household intact. And sure, interest rates are dropping, but this only affects savers and mortgage holders. My savings rate has dropped like a rock and is hovering somewhere around inflation level. But you know what? Credit interest rates are exactly where they were before the recession began, if not higher. Prime does not seem to affect unsecured credit, for whatever reason. I don’t know if this is a Downunder phenomenon, and quite frankly I don’t care to find out. I just know that’s the way it is.

    So please, KL Matthews, don’t tell me that my financial situation has improved significantly. And don’t deign to tell me that I will benefit from the recession. I’m going to find it harder to get a job after graduation, probably be taken on at a lower pay than I might have otherwise, and with fewer benefits.

    My partner may be the next spending three years out of the workforce, which we hope will pay off in the long term. If the recession hadn’t happened, odds are he would still be gainfully employed and at a decent living wage. But in the meantime, our “financial situation” has plummeted to depths I could never have imagined last year.

    Unfortunately, like many who started out with nothing, he does have debt. Debt that he was making progress on, and which has now been halted. Not huge amounts by any means. An amount that I compare to MANY other PF blogger and think well, gosh, that really is nothing. Why am I so stressed? Well, I’m stressed because even at a low level, it’s simply not serviceable for a laid-off person. I’m stressed, especially now, because we do not have a functioning car, among other myriad worries. (Great op-ed here about how the recession is hurting low socio-economic areas, btw, and some proposed solutions. I definitely don’t agree with them all but they’re fascinating! Especially about ensuring quality used cars so people can get around. I can’t stress enough how bad public transport is here. How many times have I talked about the bus service? And with the Govt. investing in the Waterview tunnel and a freaking “nationlong cycleway“, that’s not gonna be improving anytime soon. ). How long will it take to recover and get back on top? Neither of us knows. We’re both living in a state of constant uncertainty. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, not even you, Mr Bitter. Please remove the lemon from your mouth – you’re not the only one unhappy with the way things are, trust me.

  • For Christ’s sake! Immigration officials may have forced their way into a house to take pictures of a boy – A NEW ZEALAND CITIZEN BY BIRTH – to try and send him back to China with his overstayer parents. They may also have made his mother sign a forged note.

    If that’s all true, hope they are sacked and punished to the full extent of the law.

    * * *

    I’m not super thrilled that the govt is scrapping a bill that would stop letting agents charge fees, but there’s not much I can do about it. With the Nats in power though it’s not going to get any easier to live if you are a renter. As it is going through an agent is ridiculously painful. Some want to know how much you make a week, from where, your other outgoings, your car registration, some even ask for your BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER! They want to screen all flatmates (although if you find your flatmates AFTER moving it, they can’t really vet them then, can they?). It’s so intrusive and demeaning. Some private landlords are no better; they try to rip you off. Or straight up inform you “We are looking for a family. We only want a family”. Nobody wants to rent to anyone young, let alone under 20, or still studying. And for crying out loud, agents ALWAYS want to do showings during the day and expect you to be able to drop everything at a moment’s notice and show up at a house – NOT feasible if you work full time in the city and are somehow meant to get out to the suburbs, not to mention somehow get time off to go and view the place!
    End rant 🙂