(Image: Rebekah Parsons-King, Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: Major welfare system changes coming

Good morning, and welcome the The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Major welfare changes coming, more funding for soldiers with PTSD, and Eric Murray won’t have a beer after all. 

A major overhaul of the welfare system is coming, in line with Labour and Green election campaign promises, reports Newshub. PM Jacinda Ardern indicated that could include the scrapping of sanctions against beneficiaries, and an end to the punitive culture at Work and Income which is alleged to exist by beneficiary advocates. At her post cabinet press conference yesterday, Ardern admitted that culture change would be difficult.

Details of what the changes might involve have inadvertently leaked out, through online Ministry for Social Development job listings spotted by Stuff‘s Henry Cooke.  To quote:

“In the job description MSD write “the Government has committed, through the Labour/Greens Confidence and Supply Agreement, to overhaul the Welfare System. This work will be led by an independent group of Experts, supported by a Secretariat of officials from MSD, the Treasury and Inland Revenue.”

If such a policy gets through, it would be vindication of sorts for former Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, who revealed her own previous benefit fraud during the pre-election policy announcement, and subsequently resigned as unanswered questions mounted. Turei’s actions put the issue firmly on the election agenda, so even though she’s not around Parliament any more, she could justifiably claim a share of the credit.


Just in time for ANZAC Day, defence minister Ron Mark has announced a million dollar grant to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, reports Stuff. A wide range of ANZAC Day ceremonies are on today, both at Dawn, and later in the day. Newstalk ZB has a useful rundown on what must be close to all of them, starting in Auckland and then moving around the rest of the country.


Rower Eric Murray might not have a beer after all, after his ad for a DB and Lion campaign was pinged by the Advertising Standard Authority. Radio NZ reports that Alcohol Healthwatch complained about the ad, because Olympic gold medallist Murray is a “hero to the young.” The ASA upheld the complaint, but the campaign has now ended, so any impact the decision has might be limited to future campaigns.


Foreign Affairs undersecretary Fletcher Tabuteau is talking up the chances of getting Papua New Guinea and Fiji on board with the PACER Plus trade deal, reports the NBR (paywalled) The two largest Pacific Island economies refused to sign up for the deal, over concerns that it unfairly advantaged New Zealand and Australia. Tabuteau says work is ongoing, but he’s confident Fiji and PNG will join, and that recent suggestions Tonga might leave the deal will also be sorted out.


Energy Minister Megan Woods has admitted there was no cost-benefit analysis done on the the decision to end oil and gas exploration, reports Newshub. Woods also admitted the government had not formally consulted with PEPANZ, who represent the industry, before announcing the decision. And there has also been no estimations on whether global greenhouse gas levels will fall as a result of the decision. ACT leader David Seymour is mad as hell about all of it, saying it’s damning, and an own goal.


Five more community papers are to be closed by Stuff, after buyers could not be found for them. They are the Wairarapa News, The Tribune, Waiheke Marketplace, Rotorua Review and Ruapehu Press. 17 staff, and thousands of readers, will be affected by the decision.


And the Greens will stand a candidate after all in the Northcote by-election, reports Stuff. Co-leader Marama Davidson used the phrase “highlighting our points of difference” in the press release explaining why the party would run a candidate, which implies there are concerns that the party is not currently standing out enough next to Labour and NZ First.


Sign up to The Bulletin





Haka pōhiri at Haratu Marae for the National Day of Remembrance on 11 March in Russell. Image: RNZ

Right now on The Spinoff: Guest writer Shannon Haunui-Thompson asks whether a day of remembrance is needed for the New Zealand Wars. There’s a new episode of the Real Pod to get into, as they get amongst the new series of Survivor NZ. And Henry Oliver has spoken to Kimbra about returning to Earth for her new album.


ANZAC Day always provokes a wide range of perspectives, views and stories. This year that will be especially so, as it is 100 years since the final year of World War One. To that end, here are some pieces that go in a different direction to the usual narratives around ANZAC Day.

First of all, let’s go back to the first ANZACs of all – unofficially at least – Australian and New Zealand troops who participated in the colonial invasion of the Waikato. Historian Scott Hamilton has written this account for The Spinoff, and questions why they aren’t considered part of the ANZAC legacy, despite having a profound impact on the formation of New Zealand as a country.

Auckland University political scientist Dr Maria Armoudian has collaborated with journalist James Robins to tell the story of a Christchurch couple who intervened to save lives at the end of the Armenian genocide, an event directly related to the invasion of Gallipoli and the first world war. Published on Stuff, the authors say the story has largely slipped out of New Zealand’s historical memory, because of the campaign by Turkey to deny that a genocide took place.

This is an interesting video report from Newshub‘s Mike McRoberts, about the battle within Māoridom over conscription during the first world war. With memories of the aforementioned Waikato war still fresh, many Māori had no intention to fight for the British King and Country – with one memorable quote from Te Puea Herangi making the point eloquently: “We’ve got a King but we haven’t got a country. Let them give our land back.”

And finally, this is not so much a piece as a series. The Otago Daily Times have been publishing stories from exactly 100 years ago every day. Reading between the lines, and knowing what we know know about the conditions the first world war was fought in, some are extremely poignant. They are a remarkable historical resource, and the ODT should be commended for making them so readily available.


In sport, Tana Umaga has been given the public backing of Blues management, which as former sports journalist Joseph Romanos pointed out on twitter, is normally the kiss of death for English football managers. Stuff reports he is all but confirmed to be reappointed as the coach of the team, despite the Blues being absolutely pants this season (and last season too, and pretty much every season since 2011)

And the Warriors are playing against the Melbourne Storm today without injured star playmaker Shaun Johnson, and they may be better off for it. The NZ Herald‘s contrarian columnist Chris Rattue – never exactly a fan of Johnson – says Mason Lino has shown he’s the future in this position, and should get the starting job permanently.


And from our partners, Vector’s Karl Check analyses Australia’s progress when it comes to shifting away from coal and gas fired power plants and onto renewal energy sources.


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here. Thanks for joining us this morning.


The Bulletin is brought to you by Vector. If you live in Auckland, they also delivered the power you’re using to read it. And they’re creating a new energy future for all of us, as showcased by the incredible Vector Lights.

Related:


The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.