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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.67

    1 October, 1997

  • COMMUNITY FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY TASKFORCE The government has pledged $5.3m of extra money to help find more Community Taskforce positions, in a move which Employment Minister Peter McCardle calls "strengthening community ownership" of his work-for-the-dole scheme. Fifty "suitable" community organisations will be offered contracts to place job seekers onto local Community Taskforce projects.

    McCardle: "This initiative aims to provide significant impetus to increasing the number of job seekers in community work by organisations outside the central Government bureaucracy. I am acutely aware of the links and extra strengths that many community organisations have in assisting unemployed job seekers, and this strategy aims to capture that strength..." McCardle says that the new money will assist with strengthening and refocussing existing community organisations' activities into brokering community work opportunities for long-term and disadvantaged job seekers in particular.

  • The government announced in the last Budget that it will be expanding the numbers of long-term unemployed on Community Taskforce, committing $10.2m in order to get 17,000-20,000 jobseekers participating in the programme. This latest initiative is $5.3m of new money and is aimed at contracting the 50 community organisations to collectively achieve 6,500 of the Budget's placement target.

  • Note: this new money is not going to the sponsors providing the Community Taskforce positions, but simply to the selected community organisations who are facilitating the placements. A spokesperson from the Minister of Employment says that if additional resources for sponsors are officially identified as a barrier to CTF placements, then this will be addressed in the design of next year's expanded work-for-the-dole scheme.

  • In perhaps a sign of how the future workfare programmes will be administered, the selected community organisations in this latest initiative will be known as Community Broker Organisations, or CBOs, in order to avoid confusion with community organisations in general. They will be contracted to deliver job seeker placements, the exact number being negotiated on a case by case basis.

    This whole process is going to be administered and supported through the Community Employment Group (CEG) who will be paid $1.2m of the $5.3 to provide field work support to the CBOs and to evaluate the initiative.

  • The bottom-line for community groups? This depends on individual CEG negotiations ... of the $4m left for grants to community organisations, this averages out at about $80,000 (incl GST) per group, or a $600 `finders fee' per placement.

    Who will be chosen as a CBO? CEG and NZES are presently inviting proposals from selected existing organisations ... especially those already working with the CEG priority groups: long-term unemployed people, Maori, Pacific Islands people, women, and people living in disadvantaged urban and rural communities. CEG will enter into 12-month contracts with the selected CBOs.

    Sources press statements and background information from Peter McCardle Minister of Employment 28 September 1997, emailed to the Jobs Letter.

    John Tamihere, Chief Executive of Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust in West Auckland, criticises the Community Taskforce scheme as a "plan to move the unemployed around, rather than to create real employment". Tamihere: "If it means moving resources away from education and training courses in order to fund community brokerage, then we are going to have some problems..."

    Tamihere agrees with the co-ordination of projects being put out to community organisations: "... But what I would like to see simultaneously is the downsizing of CEG and NZES, so that the real resources also shift across to us. Otherwise you are just building a third or fourth level of bureaucracy..."

    Source phone conversation with Jobs Letter editor Vivian Hutchinson

    The Education and Training Support Agency ETSA is paying a $500-per head bounty to some TOPS training providers to help Maori trainees into employment that also provides industry training. The payments come under the $450,000 Te Ararau training scheme introduced in this year's Budget in order to help get more Maori into jobs.

    The Sunday News last weekend branded the scheme a "Maori Job Bribe", and quoted one Wellington TOPS trainer as saying: "It's racist, scandalous even. We have always treated Maori and Pakeha students equally. Now we're being told not to... in this day and age its appalling..." United leader Peter Dunne questions whether the scheme would pass a Human Rights Commission scrutiny: "Most people who are unemployed want work regardless of the colour of their skin..."

    Max Kerr, ETSA general manager, says that Te Ararau had not been checked with the Human Rights Commission, but he was sure it was on safe ground. He says the scheme was necessary because Maori were not equally represented in industry training, and extra efforts were needed to help them get this training.

    Sources The Sunday News 28 September 1997 "Maori Job Bribe" by Simon Bradwell; and The Dominion 29 September 1997 "Maori job-finder fee defended"

    Treasury has proposed slashing welfare benefits by $40/week if beneficiaries fail to measure up to set standards of parenting as part of the government's planned code of social responsibility. A leaked Treasury paper Well Baby, Well Child suggests that money cut from a parent's benefit go to an official responsible for spending the money on behalf of the government. The paper suggests that beneficiaries lose another $30 if they failed to take action when their child had unexplained absences from school. The money would go to the school to spend on getting the child to class. Those beneficiaries who repeatedly failed the test could lose their benefits altogether.

    The Code of Social Responsibility was an idea signalled in the Budget by Winston Peters, and is part of NZ First policies. Mr Peters has indicated that the Code could include benefit cuts.
    Social Welfare Minister Roger Sowry denies that the benefit-cutting plans in the Treasury paper are being taken seriously by cabinet in its process of drawing of the Code. Sowry: "This is not a benefit-cutting exercise ... I want to make it clear that the Code will cover all NZ'ers. It won't be targeted at one particular group in society..."

    Source The Dominion 23 September 1997 "Benefits safe from social code cuts, says Sowry" by Helen Bain


    "What we are talking about is a code of social responsibility a form of contract between a welfare recipient and the state. In the future we hope to provide beneficiaries with a plan that details what the government expects of them in exchange for the help they receive from taxpayers ..."
    -- Social Welfare Minister Roger Sowry

    "Suddenly a select group of government members, in league with a bunch of Treasury officials, have decided that they hold the key to perfect parenting. They're going to tell the rest of the country how to be proper mothers and fathers.
    "This will have a negative impact on the children. They are the ones who will pay for their parents failure to meet someone else's idea of perfect ..."
    -- Maori Council chairman Sir Graham Latimer, concerned that the Code could endanger the human rights of all NZ'ers.

    "Docking $30 off a benefit from parents who do not try to get their truant kids back to school is a nonsense idea. And giving that $30 to the school to pay the costs of getting a child back to school is even greater nonsense ..."
    -- Educational Institute national president Bill Noble

    "By the time you've had people to assess that the benefit should be docked, and then you give it to whichever agency is going to spend it on the child, and then they review the parents' performance, you've spent a whole lot more money and welfare resources, and probably not solved the problem..."
    -- Labour's Social Welfare spokesman Steve Maharey

    "If you've got an alcoholic mother and you dock $40 from her benefit and spend it directly on the child, then that's all you've done. There's nothing there that addresses the alcoholism or any other of the problems that family has that is causing the child's neglect..."
    -- Child researcher David Fergusson

    "It must be acknowledged that it's not just beneficiaries who need encouragement to be responsible parents. Rather than limiting a code of social responsibility to punitive measures, it should also include parenting education and support..." -- NZ First Youth Affairs Minister Deborah Morris

    The Reserve Bank and NZIER have both predicted strong forecasts for job growth in NZ into the year 2000, giving heart to the government's central employment strategy of providing "real jobs" through stronger economic growth. Both agencies project accelerating job growth, with the Reserve Bank forecasting an employment increase of 96,000 and the Institute of Economic Research predicting an even greater increase of 102,000 over the period to the year 2000.
    Source press statement from Peter McCardle 22 September 1997

    The Morgan and Banks job index shows a slight drop in optimism for employment in the coming quarter, Nationally, 16.2% of the 1000 organisations surveyed intend to increase total staff in the next three months, compared with 17.9% for the previous quarter.

    Information technology positions continue to be the main staff shortages, followed by sales positions. Job losses are expected for those in human resources and manufacturing blue collar jobs.

    Source New Zealand Herald 17 September 1997 "Less optimism over employing staff" by Tom Clarke

    An Auckland company Hire-Rite has been touting for business to act as employer's agents in checking on the criminal records of jobs seekers. Hire-Rite promises to check prospective employee's criminal records and verify their identification on the Wanganui computer, as well as vet references, previous employment and provide a full credit history. Employers must provide the company with a request form signed by the job applicant authorising the release of personal information.

    The Auckland District Law Society is questioning the practice and warns employers that they could be on shaky legal grounds. The Society's employment spokesman, Phil Ahern, says that under privacy legislation, personal information must not be collected by unfair means and must be relevant to the job being sought. Because employers could threaten applicants by withholding a job if they did not sign the release form, it could be argued that consent was being gained under duress.

    Source New Zealand Herald 20 September 1997 "Privacy fear over check on job seekers" by Nick Smith.

    The Peace Foundation was to have Professor Noam Chomsky as its guest speaker at the 1997 Media Peace Awards, but unfortunately he is unable to attend this year. His place has been taken by Scott Burchill, an Australian lecturer from Victoria's Deakin University, who has collaborated with Professor Chomsky on several projects. Burchill's lecture will be entitled "Selling neo-liberalism: The media, free trade, and class warfare after the cold war", and will be presented at Auckland University on 23rd October (8pm). Contact the Peace Foundation 09 373 2379 or
    Source brochures from the Peace Foundation 1997

  • "Work, Families and the State: Problems and Possibilities for the 21st Century" is a conference to be held November 28-30 1997 at Massey University's Hokowhitu Campus in Palmerston North. It will examine the changing relationship between paid and unpaid workers and government. Cost: (includes food but not accommodation) $65 waged and $25 unwaged. Free programme available for the children of participants. Further details from Hannah Nash, Social Policy and Social Work, Massey University, Private Bag 11222 Palmerston North, or email
    Source email from Celia Briar <> 15 Sep 1997


    US-based economist Robert Theobald is presently touring Australia with talks on "The Future of Work". If the response to his Sunday night lectures on ABC Radio National is anything to go by, people are beginning to listen to his ideas which challenge traditional notions of success. The Sydney Morning Herald says that responses to his talks have been "extraordinary" and the ABC radio network says it has been swamped with requests for transcripts of his radio series.

    Theobald believes the world has moved out of the industrial era into "a new set of social, political and economic realities for which we are ill-prepared" Theobald: "There is a growing interest in the issues of work, jobs, resources, purpose and prestige and the developing understanding that we need profoundly new patterns of thinking in this area. I want to make people aware that they must start to live the questions rather than the answers, and that the language in which we talk must be personal and not technical ..."

    When it comes to employment issues, Theobald says we are hypnotised by the wrong issue: "...that jobs are the answer, that there will always be enough jobs, that we have to create enough demand for enough jobs. We have wrapped everything into our jobs..." Theobald says there is "no earthly reason why we should not imagine a culture in which most people enjoy what they are doing most of the time".

    One of Theobald's recommendations on tackling unemployment is to help couples who want one person to stay home understand the financial gain and losses from both of them going out to work. He says he has found it almost impossible to persuade any agency to take on this task of looking at the data and adopting a neutral stance on the question of dual-income families.

    Theobald: "I think we have a whole group of women who are now so committed to the idea that women should have the right to be in the labour force that we have forgotten that women or men also have got the right to raise a family..."

  • Theobald's ideas are summarised from his latest book "Reworking Success", published by New Society Publishers. Transcripts of the Theobald ABC radio talks are available on the internet:
    Source Sydney Morning Herald 24 September 1997 "Full pay packet is no guarantee of happiness" by Helen Trinca

    Australia's Reserve Bank governor Ian Macfarlane says that his country's main challenge today is not interest rates or the strength of the dollar, but its high unemployment. He says Australia's anti-unemployment record was poor compared to the US, Japan and Britain. Mcfarlane: "While Australia has good results on growth, our results on unemployment could only be described as average by world standards. We have not been good at providing jobs for low-skilled people and those with little experience..."

    Macfarlane told a conference of Japanese fund managers that a long economic expansion would help unemployment, as should "micro-economic reforms". He left open the likelihood of further interest cuts, saying monetary policy "had to make a contribution" towards having sustainable growth.

    Source The Independent 26 September 1997 "Reserve Bank governor focuses on jobs"

    UK Chancellor Gordon Brown is planning to cut the bottom British tax rate to 10% as part of his plan for a fairer tax system. Brown told David Frost of the BBC that he wanted to encourage people in work to do better, and to help the low-paid. Brown: "This measure will be about job creation and about being fair. I want to encourage the unemployed to get back to work so they can see that, if they earn perhaps lower wages than they might have expected, then they get to keep 90%"
    Source BBC Breakfast with Frost 28 September 1997 Interview with Gordon Brown by David Frost

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