Sunday, September 23, 2007

2007. NZ Work Seeking Dole and MMP Government, 1999

< 2000. Esslemonts & Mackintosh, Oaklands, Christchurch.

Over 11 months WINZ sent me Medical Certificate form-letters forcing me to see 7 Quacks, (although by law for a sickness benefit I only had to see 5 Quacks annually). Medical Certificates stated: "Your Community Wage will stop on... See your doctor by this date, if you are still unable to work and wish your Community Wage to continue." (WINZ Medical Certificate December 1999).

My Quack advised WINZ: "Profoundly deaf. Trained as a teacher / educator. Unable to hear / communicate with students." When I queried Quack why I had to see so many doctors to state I was obviously deaf, when in SA I'd seen 4 doctors in over 4 years, he said, "I'm a gatekeeper?... You can't fight bureaucrats?" Compliant Quack had accepted a form from anonymous Gosling, listened to my deafness story, filled in the form, checked my ears for wax, enquired about my CV, then accepted $36 fee for 5 minutes quacking. Quack scammed more money from me in 5 minutes than Leah earned in an hour as a SLD tutor. Quack and Gosling had guaranteed sheltered -employment processing WINZ sickness / invalid benefits.

Taxpayers paid for designated Quack consultations, and reimbursed my Quack consultation expense claims and hearing-aid maintenance expenses. Multiply that out for thousands of sickness beneficiaries and taxpayers paid megabucks. When I presented a WINZ claim form to Quack's secretary for endorsement she said, "Ten dollars?"

"It's a ripoff!" I said. "All my Christchurch hourly-paid jobs had paid less then ten dollars per hour." Quack expected $10 for one minute's form-filling. After 7 consultations, Quack referred me to an ENT specialist, confirming my deafness. For years afterwards, the specialist sent me "appointment" letters, which I ignored.

NZ Quacks diagnosed "stress" and "depression" for thousands of sickness and invalid beneficiaries, enabling WINZ to massage unemployment statistics, as "sickness" and "invalid" beneficiaries were no longer classified as "unemployed." Compliant Quacks diagnosing drug-addicts or alcoholics as "depressed" or "stressed," enabled self-abusers to become sickness beneficiaries, and enabled gate -keeping Quacks to prosper.

I applied for a WINZ advertised PR job, but Gosling blocked my application, as I was a sickness beneficiary. Gosling then insisted I drove to Sydenham office to inform me she was refunding Leah's tutoring business start-up costs.

Before general elections, National politicians who jabbered about getting dole-bludgers working for the dole didn't say how jobs would be created, or how employers would pay equitable wages to support families. Before one election, former government Treasurer, Winston Peters suggested all male school-leavers should be conscripted for 12 weeks national service. That idea fizzled out.

After 2 years, the $21/week Work-for-the-dole Community Wage was abandoned, after Clark's Labour government trounced Shipley's National government. After providing busy-work over 13 months for WINZ employees and Quacks, none of whom cured my deafness, I wrote a complaint letter to my Labour MP Dyson, who wrote a minimizing reply. (Dyson, NZ letter June 2000). I asked Gosling to stop my sickness benefit and transfer me back to "Work-seeking" dole at Riccarton WINZ.

In SA, there was affirmative-action for blacks. In NZ, we discovered affirmative-action for females. Example: Leah received a letter from a 2007 Christchurch female mayor election candidate addressed to, "Dear Mrs. Esslemont..." I didn't receive a, "Dear Mr. Esslemont..." letter, as the female mayor candidate targeted only females, and lost half of the electorate with her poor judgment and insight. Leah's bosses at Seabrook McKenzie Centre were all females. We saw on TV strange laws being debated in parliament, like the Civil Unions Bill, allowing queers to marry.

NZ's Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) representative government had a double voting system - electorate and party votes. Some list MPs got into parliament if their party polled a minimum 5% of the party vote. Example: After Labour trounced National, although our local Labour MP Dyson was elected, our local National party hack also stayed in parliament, as he was high on the National party list, (but he got low votes from the electorate). Thus the party list system left some constituencies with two MPs: the elected winner, and the favourably listed loser. Other constituencies just had one elected MP, as the party listed hack was low on the party list, and couldn't become a sinecurist MP.

Neither Labour nor National polled enough electorate votes to form majority governments on their own, so either Labour or National, whichever polled the most electorate votes, formed an MMP coalition government with smaller parties. During elections there was much sucking up by smaller parties to become coalition partners, so MMP government was messy. In 1999, I wondered whether the new Labour regime would equitably balance the exploitative Employment Contracts Act and money-grabbing employers with potentially disruptive unions, so all employees would have decent work conditions? The Employment Relations Act 2000 signified change.

In 1993, when we'd applied for NZ residence, there was no NZ embassy in SA and little information in SA about trekking to NZ. The status quo hardly changed in the following decade, as NZ Immigration Service only supplied pamphlets about NZ residence to applicants who'd already acquired NZ residence.

In mid 1999, Christchurch's male mayor proposed encouraging thousands of immigrants to settle in Christchurch to be wealth and job creators: code for quick transfer of immigrants' funds to bicultural pockets in the car and housing markets, and other markets. There was no talk of creating wealth and permanent jobs for unemployed professional immigrants already living in Christchurch.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See MMP's First Decade in NZ, and Other NZ Government Matters.

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