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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.9

    17 January, 1995

    The Dominion last week obtained confidential papers to the Cabinet committee on education, training and employment which show that the government is investigating means-testing young people's unemployment, training and sickness benefits by what their parents earn.The long-term agenda is to align all youth benefits in the same way that student allowances are means-tested for under 25-yr olds.

    This cabinet committee was successful last month in raising the eligibility of benefits from 16 to 18 yrs of age (from the beginning of 1996), and getting the family support payments for 16 and 17yr olds increased to compensate parents. The committee recommended that government should evaluate in two years time the effects of last month's announcements before implementing further changes.

    With the drought putting pressures on the North Island meat processors, the Meatworkers Union is pressing for the re-opening of Weddel plants to help out. Many unemployed former Weddel workers were prepared to re-open the showpiece Aotearoa Cambridge plant in order to help farmers struggling to find feed and having to wait to get their stock processed. Weddel Aotearoa general manager Neil Bridgland says the plant could be operating within a fortnight, provided the right sort of skills were available.
    Source - The Dominion 19/1/95 Meat processors `not coping' by Anna Komink, Daily News 19/1/95 Former Weddel staff ready to reopen plant in drought move, New Zealand Herald 19/1/95 Meat works needed says farmers by Glenys Christian

    McDonald's Boss Al Dunn says that private enterprise could do more to train youth and provide jobs. He believes there is an apparent lack of concern among private enterprise employers on the issue of employment, and he cites the number of submissions to the Task Force on Employment last year to illustrate his point. Of 750 submissions received by the Task Force, fewer than 50 appeared to be from the 107,000 private employers in NZ. McDonald's, which employs 5000 young people, is piloting a programme (with Rotary), offering employers a free service for creating youth employment systems.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 11/1/95 Jobs for young `a shrewd bet', The Dominion 11/1/95 Business sector `should provide youth training' by Denise McNabb

    Small loans can make a difference. That's the story of Just Dollar$, a Christchurch based ethical loan fund which started just over two years ago. Sixty-four people have gained full or part-time employment as a result of 39 loans totalling $113,000. Some of the loans were as small as $200. All ventures assisted were unable to obtain loans from other sources and most of those involved were previously unemployed. All ventures are vetted to ensure they will have no negative effects on the community or the environment. Just Dollar$ is seeking more deposits or gifts to increase their loan fund, contact : P. O. Box 4232, Christchurch.

    People registered as unemployed with NZ Employment fell 14.7% over the last year to 181,091. This is the lowest December result since 1990. This figure excludes the annual flood of vacation workers on to the job market, but does reflect the school leavers and tertiary graduates looking for permanent work.

    Jobless numbers are still up on November. While the annual figure of registered unemployed has fallen, overall numbers are increasing in most regions, which is a seasonal pattern. The Central region (across the middle of the North Island) increased 7.3% on the November figures, the Northern Region (Kaitaia to Pukekohe) increased 5%, Wellington was up by 5.3%, and the Southern region up by 0.4%.

    Long-term unemployment. NZ Employment figures show those registered as unemployed for over six months dropped 15,217 to 90,558 people in the year to Dec 94, a drop of 14.4% This means that almost exactly 50% of the registered unemployed are long-term unemployed.

    Where are the jobs? NZ Employment's figures show that most of their 11,274 vacancies in November were in factory jobs (2,995), followed by clerical work (2,856) and the service industries (1,718). Other sector vacancies were agriculture, mining and forestry (1,300), construction (663), metal and electrical (552), professional and technical (281) and admin and management (104). You had to be in quick ... 43% of the jobs on file with NZ Employment were filled in five days.

    Source - The Dominion 20/1/95 Jobless totla lowest since 1990, New Zealand Herald 20/1/95 Jobless total down 31,208 for last year, Daily News 20/1/95 Rise in number of Taranaki jobless by Avalon Willing and NZPA,

    1995 has been dubbed The Year of Tolerance by the United Nations, acknowledging that the cause of many international conflicts and human rights abuses was the intolerance of other religions or races. The NZ United Nations Association will mark this year with a series of seminars on tolerance.
    Source - The Dominion 7/1/95 Welcome to the Year of Tolerance by Martin Kay

    Intolerance is certainly an issue in the local job market in NZ. Steve Marshall of the Employer's Federation last week told Massey students that discrimination against Maori and Pacific Island job-seekers was a major problem in dealing with their high rate of unemployment. The figures : Maori unemployment rate is 20.8%, and the Pacific Island rate is 22.2%. This compares with the overall NZ average unemployment rate os 7.8%.

    Cultural issues and geographic isolation, together with shortcomings in educational achievements and a lack of technical skills were generally blamed for the high unemployment rate, says Marshall. "These are all valid. However, even when all these are accounted for, I believe there is an underlying discrimination issue that must be addressed." Marshall says that as NZ becomes more of a multi-cultural society "we must develop new understandings".

    Source - The Dominion 19/1/95 `Discrimination' an issue in unemployment by Anamika Vasil

    In the last Jobs Letter we reported from Australia on concerns of young people continuing to live at home because award wages and training allowances were insufficient to guarantee their independence. Latest Statistics NZ figures show a growing `at home' trend in NZ with 57% of all 15-24 yr olds living with their parents, compared with 51% a decade earlier. Government Statistician Len Cook says that young men (79%) were more likely to be living at home than young women (73%), and young Maori left home earlier than other ethnic groups.
    Source - The Daily News 19/1/95, More choosing to live alone, The Dominion 19/1/95 Stats show young adults staying at home longer

    Hot, and in photocopied circulation: Transcripts of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporations "Ideas" programme on "The Remaking of NZ", a two part radio broadcast on NZ's free market revolution. It is an overview of the social and economic forces at work in this country over the last decade, and includes interviews with David Lange, Roger Douglas, Jim Anderton, Brian Easton, Tony Simpson, Phillida Bunkle, Roger Kerr, Sandra Lee, Jeanette Coughlan and Sue Bradford. There are moves afoot to get the programmes broadcast on our National Programme.

  • Canada has taken a great deal of interest in NZ's free market revolution and our experience is touted as a way for the Canadians to pull themselves back from the economic abyss. The popular TV programme Fifth Estate recently devoted a full hour to a documentary profiling NZ's reforms, and national newspapers have carried editorials urging Canadians to copy the NZ way. Sir Roger Douglas frequently appears on TV news programmes, and acts as a freelance adviser to the Alberta Premier. Other visitors to Canada have included former Treasury Secretary Graham Scott, and NZ's High Commissioner to Canada (and former Employment Minister) Maurice McTigue is said to be regularly consulted by Canadian Ministers.

    Speaking on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporations "Ideas" programme, Listener economist Brian Easton doesn't pull any punches when describing the revolutionary zeal of the "New Right" ideologies that have come to be accepted as the norm within our government departments.Easton says that people have found career paths in the public service blocked because they were no longer ideologically correct, whereas ideology hadn't been a factor in the past.

    Says Easton : " ... Another factor was government funding was switched away from people who in the past had been mild dissenters of the politically correct line and was pushed entirely into financial consultancies who supported the government line. The terrorisation was extraordinary. People who had been invited, say, to Christmas parties for the last umpteen years, were no longer invited because they were not politically correct. The result was that lots of people who might be thought of as good simply hid, partly because they were not used to real politics where, essentially, nobody took any prisoners ..."

    Source - New Zealand Herald 16/1/95 Canada looks to us in crisis by Mark Hill

    Graeme Dingle's Project K youth training scheme will be designed for directionless teenagers who will be in danger of falling through the cracks of our community through unemployment, juvenile crime or family breakdown. Dingle and his partner Jo-Anne Wilkinson are raising funds for the project with an adventure trek and kayaking through the North Island. Project K - named after the Koru which is a symbol for life - aims to put 2000 teenagers through a 3-month training scheme in its first 3 years. The first month of the course will be a wilderness experience followed by two months carrying out community or voluntary work, acquiring a driving licence and first aid training.
    Source - The Dominion 13/12/94 Dingle plans youth project

    A report on serious housing needs prepared for Murray McCully by his officials last year has been obtained last week under the Official Information Act. It shows that 25,000 NZ households are in sub-standard, overcrowded or temporary accommodation or in homes they cannot afford. About 2,000 households had no hot water and 500 were homeless. More than half the overcrowded dwellings were in Auckland or Northland.

    The notion of full employment is a myth, an illusion and a destructive trap according to David Macarov, Emeritus Professor at the Hebrew University, Israel, speaking to the Basic Income European Network Congress in London in November. Macarov : "The world does not need and cannot use all the human labour available, and it will need less and less as time goes by. Attempts to increase the use of human labour, in the face of continually weakening demand, is personally degrading, societally corrupting, economically self-defeating and ultimately dangerous. We must find a way to distribute the resources created by technology on a basis other than work, and we must promote other attitudes and activities to the same value level enjoyed by work today."

    Macarov suggests a number of ways of distributing income other than on the basis of work : (1) expanding entitlement programmes not based on work such as family allowances, children's allowances, and in some countries, guaranteed minimum incomes; (2) paying people to engage in activities not now defined as work such as homemaking, parenting, engaging in sports and music; (3) dividing the societal resources created by technology equally among the population, as is done on a partial basis in Alaska with oil revenues; (4) providing all the elements needed for decent living to everyone without preconditions, as is done in the Israeli kibbutz.

    "Understanding the present World Economy" is a kit of papers and video prepared for individuals and groups by Katherine Peet, WEA, which gives new perspectives on our current economic system. Published by the Mental Health Foundation, P O Box 37 438, Parnell Auckland. ($25)

    US research suggests that the cost of replacing a staff member may be up to 150% of the employee's annual salary, once you include the cost of recruiting, selecting, training, and getting a new employee `up to speed', plus the cost of supervisors and co-workers involved in the transition. Jacqui Shilton of Massey University suggests that there are considerable savings to be made by undertaking programmes and providing facilities that encourage workers to stay longer, such as childcare facilities for women.

    The Australian Commerce Commission has been carrying out an inquiry into charitable organisations with a focus on community social welfare organisations. The draft report, released in November, says that the review seeks to strengthen the contribution the charitable sector makes to Australian society. It recommends multi-year (typically three-year) funding agreements which take account of the full cost of the service provided. It says the funding agreements should also include overheads, training, research and development, and programme development and evaluation.

    The procedures used by the Australian Commission are also of interest: Public hearings were held in the main centres, submissions were called for, and a draft report was presented to a conference of 250 people. The report was then opened for public comment with the final report due for presentation to Government in the middle of this year.

    "The risk of being a reforming government, being a radical government, is that you develop an enormous appetite for the adrenalin of change and you take it beyond what is acceptable and rational. We got thrown out of office because we went beyond that which was essential and we started to pursue things for their own sake and for the sake of ideology. "
    -- David Lange, from the transcript of the CBC Ideas radio programmes.

    "Roger Douglas told the Reform Party convention in Saskatoon in 1991 that ... concensus for "quality decisions" is achieved after they are made. He advised them not to reveal their programme - but if elected, to implement it as quickly as possible to overwhelm the opposition."
    -- Murray Dobbin, Saskatchewan freelance journalist, writer and narrator of the CBC Ideas radio programmes

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