Saturday, April 14, 2012

New painting

Vested interests and statistics

I wonder what has prompted this belated outburst from Hone Harawira?

Domestic Violence is Going Up, Not Down

“Domestic violence is going up, not down” says MANA Leader Hone Harawira.

The Minister of Police, Anne Tolley, stated last week that “...we [New Zealand] have safer communities and far fewer victims of crime”.

Statistics from the NZ Police include:
• In 2009 police callouts to domestic violence were 78,693. In 2011 that figure has risen to 86,710 - an increase of 9.25%.
• Despite the increase of callouts, between 2009 and 2011 there have been 12,678 less arrests. That is a decrease of 31.71% arrests.

“The picture being painted is obvious. While there is an increase in the number of reported incidences of domestic violence, the cops are not arresting the offenders of the crime”.

“Women’s Refuge is now saying that the threshold for an arrest on the grounds of domestic violence needs to be higher for the cops to lay charges. So your husband will only be arrested if he tries to kill you, but a black eye is ok. It is a deliberate trick to manipulate the stats so the government can look good”.

“If you need proof, NZ Police no longer specifically record family violence offences in their official statistics. We will be on the only country in the OECD not to report these figures! That will mean in future years the government will declare that domestic violence is coming down. Yet organisations like Women’s Refuge know that such statements are bullshit – much like what Tolley has had to say last week”.

The business of 'up or down' has pre-occupied me recently. A couple of weeks back the Families Commissioner had a heated interview with Michael Laws. He claimed DV is going down which makes the White Ribbon campaign a success (Laws claims the campaign is biased and a waste of time).

But Women's Refuge are dubious about government presentation of statistics. Their primary interest is to obtain funding for their operations. Worsening statistics are more likely to achieve this - especially from government.

The Police want to look like they are doing a good job and the opposition want to make the government look bad. I guess that's where Hone fits in. (His example of a "husband" beating the wife is a bit rich though. Crime surveys show that women in marriages experience the least amount of domestic violence.)

A strong indicator of DV is represented in sexual assaults and police say that the recent surge in recorded sexual assaults - 3.1% 2009/10 - was almost entirely driven by assaults within intimate partner relationships. This may also apply to the 2010/11 larger increase of 14.9 percent.

Then there is the old 'reports versus actual crime' trick. When it suits, the government says that reports are up and that's good. 'People are coming forward due to all our efforts' they say. Reports may be up but that doesn't necessarily equate to the actual level being up, they say.

Yet Women's Refuge maintains need for their services is growing. Even then some of that may be driven by economic need (homeless women) as opposed to more violence.

Where Hone is on safe ground is criticism of the way statistics are recorded. It is impossible to make year- on- year comparisons when methods vary and police re-categorisation of crime has confused the picture significantly. (Re-categorisation is going to pose a huge problem when the government changes benefit types.)

The best rule on hearing a statistic is, even before you attempt to weigh up its veracity independently, look at whose mouth it is coming out of.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Most people already take 6 months to a year when having a baby?

Here's an interesting opinion from the head of the EMA:

Employers and Manufacturers Association employment services manager David Lowe said most people took six to 12 months off when they had a baby.

Those who did come back at 14 weeks usually did so because of financial constraints and were often "unsettled".

"If you have a look at the returning parent and the child, everyone is more settled if they take a little bit longer off."

A longer period of paid parental leave would be better for those parents and employers would generally not mind, he said. However he acknowledged the Government faced financial constraints.

If he is right then there is no case for extending PPL to 6 months because most people already take that amount of time. Most people can afford to pay for it themselves. End of story.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good on National

1100–1150 votes
National's veto on extending paid parental leave - right or wrong?
  1. Right (62%)
  2. Wrong (33%)
  3. I'm not sure (5%)

Update on poll: At almost 16,000 votes 60 percent say 'right'.

There are times when I get called by the media I am sure because I am the only commentator taking a dissenting view to social spending (apart from the government). The left would like to paint people like me as complete heels for not agreeing that mothers should have ample time to bond with their babies. In fact that's not what I am saying at all. Of course babies should get the best start but that is for their parents to provide for.

So it lifts my spirits when I see that a good number of joe public also agree, or at least believe now is not the time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Next welfare reforms

For those interested in the next lot of reforms planned by the government have a read of the Bills Digest here written in non-legalistic language that is not difficult to comprehend. The biggest changes come for young people who will be micro-managed if requiring state support. I am not a fan of paternalism (which opposers of the bill will argue it is) but when you think about the very word, paternalism, it refers to the authority of a male parent. As the state is assuming the role of the parent and provider to 16,17 and 18 year-olds paternalism can be justified. Personally I think it will deter a good number from even applying. They want the money but not with this number of strings attached. But it makes me want to fall about laughing when I hear the left protesting about 'paternalistic legislation' when they are constantly lobbying for the state to assume responsibilities that should rightly fall to the individual.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Paid Parental Leave

Media Release
Tuesday, April 10, 2012


At a time when the government is struggling to get the country's borrowing under control New Zealand cannot afford to spend more on extending Paid Parental Leave (PPL).

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell said today that Labour MP Sue Moroney's private member's bill to extend PPL from 14 weeks to 6 months should be rejected by National and its support parties.

"Since PPL was introduced in 2002 the uptake has exceeded predictions. Like any welfare benefit, once introduced, they become difficult to control. Spending on PPL increased 175 percent between 2003 and 2010 yet the number of babies born increased by only 14 percent. (In the past five years the figures have been respectively 60 percent and 7.9 percent.)"

"In economic defence of her bill, Moroney argues that it will create employment as 'employers engage staff to replace those on PPL.' On that basis it would be equally valid to claim the bill will reduce employment when employers shed staff as those on PPL return to the workforce. In reality PPL is a hiatus from the workforce paid for by the taxpayer. It is a cost to the economy."

"If this bill is passed it will cost a minimum of $300 million by 2014, double what it is now. However, it is likely to be significantly more based on experience to date."

Did a couple of interviews on the back of this with Larry Williams, NewstalkZB (crosses over these two links ) - and Andrew Urqhart at Radio Rhema. I don't know what the listenership is on Rhema but I always enjoy my interviews there, with more time to develop a thought, or talk more extensively around a point the interviewer is making.