Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lowering the alcohol limit for driving

New calls to lower the alcohol limits for driving include this supporting claim;

Australia has had a 14 per cent drop in alcohol-related crashes since the 1980s, when it lowered the blood-alcohol limit to 50mg - the upper limit recommended by the World Health Organisation.

That's hardly "compelling evidence".

In New Zealand in 1985 there were 2731 crashes with driver alcohol as a factor. 238 were fatal.

By 2005 that had dropped to 1435 with 100 fatal. A 47 percent drop. Without lowering the limit to 50gm.

And the constant blaming of the lowered drinking age for drink-driving doesn't hold up under scrutiny. In 2005 the percentage of 15 -19 year-old alcohol affected drivers involved in fatal crashes was 20 - down from 33 in 2000, after a sharp rise when the drinking age was lowered. The average over the ten years to 1999 was 30. So that age group is improving its statistics.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Maori and child deaths

A comment on Rodney Hide's blog suggests that of all the children killed (through maltreatment) over the past decade only two were not Maori.

As this seems a not uncommon perception it's important to set the record straight.

While we are sorely lacking on rigorous analysis a review of the deaths of children due to maltreatment was released in July last year. It showed, in the five years to 2003, the death rate for Maori children was 1.5 per 100,000 whereas for NZ European it was 0.7 per 100,000.

That equates to, on average, under 3 (2.76) Maori children killed each year compared to over 3 (3.26) for NZ European.

Those rates may have changed since but child death is still a rare occurrence. Media coverage and the prolonged nature of investigations and trials contribute to making their incidence seem greater.

While I'm on the subject there is a lot positive to be said for Maori statistics, especially in comparison to other minority groups. For instance look at their infant mortality rate;

By 2005 it had fallen further to 6.63 per 1,000 live births - a huge improvement over the past fifty years. By way of comparison the non-hispanic black infant mortality rate is 13.6 per 1,000 live births.

It all starts with the children

A good friend has just sent me a small book called Handle with Care by Harriet Sergeant. It looks to be a damning appraisal of the UK Child-in-the-care-of-the-state system. As the author observes, the state makes a rotten parent. But to be fair the odds are stacked against the state succeeding from the outset. Here is an excerpt and I will probably post more as I read through it.

The hardest children to help are those who have been severely maltreated in their early years. How we are loved and cared for dictates the kind of people we become. Sue Gerhardt, in her book Why Love Matters, blames the hormone cortisol which floods the brain of a baby exposed too often or too long to stressful situations. From then on it will either over- or under-produce cortisol whenever the child is exposed to stress. Too much is linked to depression and fearfulness; too little to emotional detachment and aggression. Study after study emphasises the importance for these children of forming emotional bonds with adults.......

This year approximately 6,000 young people will emerge from the care of the state. What is their future? Of these 6,000, 4,500 of them will leave with no educational qualifications whatsoever. Within two years of leaving care 3,000 will be unemployed, 2,100 will be mothers or pregnant and 1,200 will be homeless. Out of the 6,000 just 60 will make it to university. Care is failing on a scale that is catastrophic.

Proportionately New Zealand has more children in state care than the United Kingdom. I can think of no reason why our system would be much better, or much worse, for that matter.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

MSD defending 155 complaints

Just announced, the Ministry of Social Development is setting up a unit separate from CYF to deal with historic complaints of which there are 155 pertaining to the past 66 years. 66 years ago NZ was in the middle of WW11! 66 years ago CYF didn't exist so some of these cases must be against the Education Department through its Child Welfare Division.

“I give a personal commitment that the Ministry will own its mistakes. We will do our very best to act in the interests of these claimants and do whatever we can to put things right,” said Peter Hughes.

(How does it own mistakes that weren't its?)

“It is also important to recognise that the claims seek significant amounts of taxpayer money and the public expect that any compensation that is paid is done so on the basis of good evidence that supports the claim.

(Funny how he never reminds us it's taxpayer money when it comes to dishing out benefits.)

“Some of these allegations are against people with long careers in social work, who have made a positive difference for many children and young people. They vigorously deny the allegations. They have a right to respond to any allegations and defend their reputations. And the Ministry supports them to do so."

(Who would want to be a social worker these days?)

“The vast majority of the claims relate to former staff. For the thirteen staff still employed by the Ministry, thorough processes are in place to protect everyone’s interests."

Is this the result of the CYFSWATCH site? Does anybody know?

Update; Make that 156. NewstalkZB has just reported the 11 month old baby girl who drowned in a bucket of water today was in CYF care.

HLFS March 2007

Try and make sense out of the following;

March 2002

Unemployment rate 5.3 percent
Officially unemployed 104,000
Number Jobless 188,500
On the unemployment benefit 115,322

March 2007

Unemployment rate 3.8 percent
Officially unemployed 84,000
Number Jobless 173,500
On the unemployment benefit 28,845

The number of jobless people is only down by 8 percent, the officially unemployed, by 19 percent, but the number on the dole is down 75 percent.

People can't live on fresh air.

There are a number of scenarios.

1/ People have moved to other benefits but still consider themselves unemployed
2/ People are sharing benefits eg boyfriend sharing the DPB
3/ The black market has significantly increased
4/ Young unemployed people are staying at home supported by their parents (the 15-19 year-old unemployment rate has risen)
5/ Older unemployed people are relying on their working partner's support
6/ With the tight labour market and conditions favouring employees more people are moving between jobs and temporarily jobless but able to support themselves

It just might be that Labour really has put the screws on people who shouldn't have been on a benefit because there were other forms of support available to them and I would endorse that. In which case the spin about low unemployment (see below) might be to reassure the public that people aren't being denied benefits they once had access to. That could be very unpopular among some Labour voters.

David Benson Pope says, "High unemployment is a thing of the past. Low unemployment and high labour force participation are now standard features of the employment scene."

173,500 jobless people is "low unemployment"?

Hollow argument from PM

Yesterday, the Prime Minister was talking up NZ's poor record of keeping its children safe.

She said, in respect of Bradford's Bill, The Government has taken a position because of its great concern about being bottom in the developed world in relation to the rate of death and injury of children in our homes. We are absolutely delighted that Parliament has been almost unanimous in taking a stand on these issues. We believe that that will be good for children and families of our country.

She refers, in part at least, to the Innocenti Report Card below which shows deaths due to maltreatment.

The New Zealand statistic was based on the average number of deaths from 1994 - 98. In the five years to 2003 it dropped to 0.9 but let's ignore that we managed that drop without banning smacking.

Look at the top four countries; Spain, Greece, Italy and Ireland. When the statistics were collected none had bans on physical punishment in the home. If the Prime Minister is going to use comparisons to other countries as the basis for her edicts she should familiarise herself with the facts.

Dictatorship of two

Winston Churchill said about democracy, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." (from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947)

At the moment we can see one of those "other forms" in process. According to Rodney Hide, a "dictatorship of two".

We have gone from Clark telling us 'I know best' to Key and Clark telling us 'We know best'. If that's 'going forward' I hate to think what 'going backward' looks like.

One tough judge

Here's a judge who sentenced a woman to 212 years in jail, and, yes, a NZ jail.
See. Labour is right. We are getting tough on crime. Very tough. That'll teach her not to rob a bank or commit a bomb hoax again.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Shunning the UN

Hah. Good on Marian Hobbs.

Just a thought - a bit hackneyed - but what about teaching human responsibilities?

Sickness benefit falls

David Benson-Pope is cock-a-hoop about the sickness benefit falling by 848 since the end of March this year.

There is considerable seasonal variation across benefits. Mr Benson-Pope might be disappointed to know that in 7 of the last 9 years the sickness benefit dropped over the month of April. It's normal.

In his favour, it is a larger drop than usual but I wouldn't be getting over-excited at this stage.

Save your outrage

More propaganda from left-wing organisations. Save The Children are deploring New Zealand's ranking of 20th of 44 developed countries in child status.

The report shows New Zealand has a long way to go in protecting children under five. Out of 43 more developed countries, New Zealand ranks 20th in child wellbeing. In fact, New Zealand falls well behind Malta and Slovenia.

New Zealand's under-5 mortality for 2005, the major factor in this rating, was 6 per 1,000 live births. Sharing this exact same statistic were Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom.

Of course then comes the predictable reference to section 59 removal and what a difference that will make.

“Not only will the Bill better protect children, but it will also enable New Zealand to meet its international and moral responsibility to protect children from abuse. As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993 we have agreed to protect children from all types of mistreatment including physical punishment,” says Save the Children New Zealand’s Executive Director, John Bowis.

Of the countries with a mortality rate of 4 per 1,000 Finland, Sweden, Norway and Italy have banned smacking. Czech Republic, Japan and Slovenia have not. It's the same mixed picture across the countries with a mortality rate of 5.

Mortality rates don't equal deaths due to maltreatment alone but they are treated as such by people with leftist agendas.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Going backwards

Following hard on the back of Tariana's apologism for gangs comes this from Pita Sharples. What a disappointment. He's been hanging around sad sacks too much. Here is part of a speech he delivered in Parliament today. He must be weary. Yes, Maori lost land unfairly. Yes, Maori should have been able to test customary rights to the seabed and foreshore in court. But rehashing is not what his people need right now;

Nowhere in this Bill does it do anything to look at the broader structural problems, the problems which for well over a century our Maori leaders have identified as undermining our tikanga, our thinking and endangering our life force.

And yes, I am referring to the colonial policies of land thefts and the appropriation of resources - for we can never forget this context in any debate on Maori welfare dependency; a context which the Foreshore and Seabed Act proved is also a 'this' century context.

There is little or no analysis of why it is that numbers of people on sickness and invalid benefits have increased in the first place.

We know that the numbers of New Zealanders in these two categories of benefits has risen, sharply, to 124,000.

The Minister confirmed in March this year, that there has been a transfer of 8.5% of people from the unemployment benefit to the sickness benefit.

The Child Poverty Action Group has explained the increase of numbers of people on sickness and invalids benefits as being part of a broader cycle throughout OECD Nations. They see it as:

The “cyclical feedback loop of poverty – the more people there are in poverty, the more people there are who get sick”.

We must talk real in this House. This Bill, does nothing to address the disproportionate and ongoing unemployment of Maori.

This Bill does nothing to put a halt to the spiralling storms of cynicism, apathy, anger, and despondency that beset too many of our communities.

This Bill does not address the trauma of the working poor, the tragedy of unrealised potential; the desperation of inadequate housing; the morbid consequences of escalating levels of crime.

This Bill continues to paint the proposition that the beneficiaries are victims of their own making.

It ignores the deep, underlying systemic causes of poverty; and of vast disparities. Issues such as institutional racism.

Tut, tut, Tariana

Tariana Turia is being characteristically outrageous with this statement about gangs.

"I'm not excusing any of the behaviour, it is totally unacceptable. But just like I'm not prepared to say that the police are all rapists, I am also not prepared to say that all gangs are criminals."

However, Prime Minister Helen Clark criticised Ms Turia's comments.

"I think Mrs Turia is really not facing reality when she says not all gang members are involved in criminal activity," she said. "I've yet to hear of one who wasn't."

What a looney, mercurial, romantic fruitloop Tariana Turia is.

She goes on;

"What I can say to you is that it's not Hori and Hemi who are bringing in the large quantities of methamphetamine into this country.

"We are talking about Asian gangs who are not patched and there's no focus whatsoever on that."

Utter balderdash. There is most definitely a focus on Asian gangs. And according to Black Power life member Denis O'Reilly;

The New Zealand Police contend that New Zealand gangs are currently responsible for 95% of the street supply of 'P' within Aotearoa.

How does she get away with it. And here's another thought. Just as the government is poised to hand over increased powers of discretion to the police in an area which disproportionately affects Maori, is it wise for the Maori Party, via Turia, to so blatantly insult and antagonise them?

Would you sign up?

There are calls for telemarketers to be banned from calling homes who have signed up on a no-call list. Apparently when legislation was introduced in Australia 500,000 people signed up almost immediately. But the ban on calling list signatories does not apply to political parties or charities much to the chagrin of telemarketing companies.

Most of the calls I receive are from charities who I nearly always reward (at the cost of those who send me letters). I have never been politically polled. (Perhaps I should ask DPF to remedy that just so I can have the satisfaction of saying "ACT".) And I volunteer my husband for market research as he's a great believer in it.

As much as I fume when the phone rings right on cue, dishing-up-the-tea-time, I wouldn't join the no-call list. Would you?

Monday, May 07, 2007


After watching the Children's Commissioner performing on Campbell Live just days ago I am somewhat gobsmacked to learn she last year laid a complaint against the same show for unbalanced broadcasting over the matter of removal of section 59. She complained in four areas. 2 were not upheld, a third the board declined to determine and the fourth was upheld. CamWest has to broadcast a statement and pay costs of $1,500.

Last week's show featuring Kiro versus Robert Larzelere was most certainly unbalanced thanks to the Commissioner's domination and attacks on Larzelere's credentials. Ms Kiro is clearly of the 'do as I say, not as I do' school.

"Inconsequential" defined

Peteremcc has nicely defined "inconsequential". Have a look.

Youth offending - worse or not?

Is youth offending worsening or is it just a matter of perception?

For each of the three years 2002, 03 and 04 Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft published a paper called, "Youth Offending: Putting the Headlines in Context".

It asked, Is violent offending by under 17 year olds increasing?

Yes. And no.

Violent offending attributed to 14-16 year olds has increased since 1991 but much less so since 1995.

And, each edition concluded;

It has been rightly said that each generation unfavourably compares the young people of today with previous golden ages. However an analysis of the available statistics shows that the popular belief that youth offending is rapidly increasing and out of control is not actually accurate, and does not accord with the experience of those working with young people.

But today the Taranaki Daily News has the following report;

Urgent research is needed to find out why a small percentage of teen boys and girls are becoming increasingly violent, says New Zealand's chief Youth Court judge.....

Visiting New Plymouth last week, Judge Becroft said that as a member of the judiciary he was unable to comment on law changes because they were Parliament's responsibility.

But, as a member of the Government's Youth Justice Advisory Group, he was calling for urgent research into the reasons why top-end serious offending by a small number of 14 to 16-year-olds was becoming more serious.

It was a trend in Western countries.

So, sadly, the answer is yes - straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Child murder and what will ensue

Do you have the feeling this, the drive-by murder of a two year girl in Wanganui, is just the start of another sickening circus? We are going to see wailing, wringing of hands, a huge tangi, gang members on bikes escorting a hearse, and finally court scenes where people hurl threats of utu or pledges to stand by thugs and murderers.

The prospect is sickening. I hope I am wrong.

Sound advice

Sound advice from Matthew Hooton writing in today's Sunday Star Times. Let's hope a fair few people take it;