Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Eighties reforms recalled

I was out of New Zealand from 1985 (with a brief period of return)  to 1991 and missed the following. As apolitical as I was in my 20s the extent of the reforms probably wouldn't have permeated my consciousness even if I had been here. Perusing old issues of the Social Policy Journal I came across this description of them. I hadn't previously appreciated their scope. For your interest:

Since 1984, social and economic reform has occurred at a pace which has no precedent since 1935, when the first Labour Government came to power.

Some of the most notable reforms (not presented in strict chronological order) are:
         the floating of the foreign exchange rate;
         the transformation of state trading departments into State Owned Enterprises and the subsequent privatisation of some of them;
         the flattening of the income tax scale and the elimination of many exemptions;
         the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax;
         elimination of most import restrictions;
         the changes in Māori affairs policy, reflected in the replacement of the Department of Māori Affairs by Manatu Māori and the Iwi Transition Agency, and the subsequent replacement of those agencies with Te Puni Kōkiri;
         legislatively mandated changes to the structure of local and regional government;
         extensive changes to the child protection and juvenile justice systems brought about through the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act;
         changes in the structure of government funded health services (including the creation of a funder/provider separation through the replacement of Health Boards with the Regional Health Authority / Crown Health Enterprise structure);
         extensive changes in the operation of the labour market, brought about through the Employment Contracts Act;
         extensive changes to the mode of operation of state agencies as a consequence of the State Sector Act and the Public Finance Act;
         changes within both the health and welfare sectors directed towards "deinstitutionalisation" of services;
         the incorporation of traffic enforcement within the police, brought about through the amalgamation of the Transport and Police Departments;
         numerous job creation and work training schemes (ACCESS, MACCESS, Taskforce Green, TOPS, etc);
         the introduction of the National Superannuation tax surcharge, and the subsequent tightening of the surcharge;
         the introduction of the Guaranteed Minimum Family Income for families supported by a full-time earner;
         the introduction of some data sharing between the Inland Revenue Department and the Department of Social Welfare;
         extensive changes to the child support system, including transfer of its administration from the Department of Social Welfare to the Department of Inland Revenue:
         the abolition of Family Benefit and the introduction of Family Support;
         the reduction (announced in December 1990 and implemented from April 1991) of most social security benefit rates, and the introduction of a modified system of supplementary assistance (in the form of Special Needs Grants, Special Benefit, and the Accommodation Supplement);
         the increase in the qualifying age for National Superannuation;
         the introduction of new health charges, with the introduction of the Community Services Card as a mechanism for income testing previously untested health subsidies;
         the increase of the school minimum leaving age from 15 to 16 years;
         the rise in age for eligibility for unemployment benefit from 16 to 18 years;
         rises in tertiary education fees;
         the application of parental income testing to student allowances;
         the introduction of repayable student loans;
         the contracting of some state agency functions (e.g. DSW debt recovery) to the private sector;
         the withdrawal by the state from the provision of subsidised rental housing and the introduction of the income tested Accommodation Supplement; and
         the reduction of the state child care subsidy for persons who are not in paid work.

5 comments:

homepaddock said...

Funny that so many of those "failed" policies of the 80s are still serving us well.

Anonymous said...

the incorporation of traffic enforcement within the police, brought about through the amalgamation of the Transport and Police Departments;


all benefits removed by the massive priorisation of revenue collecting
diverting police catching criminals to traffic enforcement, and the
total (and unconstitutionaly corrupt) political involvement in the
police under Hellen.


numerous job creation and work training schemes (ACCESS, MACCESS, Taskforce Green, TOPS, etc);


which have all be re-introduced again

the introduction of the National Superannuation tax surcharge, and the subsequent tightening of the surcharge;


and the subsequent total removal of the surcharge. Can't blame Labour
for that one!

the introduction of the Guaranteed Minimum Family Income for families supported by a full-time earner;


and the destruction of those incentives under WFF

the introduction of some data sharing between the Inland Revenue Department and the Department of Social Welfare;


and the elimination of data-sharing under the Privacy Act, and the
elimination of all benefits of sharing under Labour's liberal welfare policies.

extensive changes to the child support system, including transfer of its administration from the Department of Social Welfare to the Department of Inland Revenue;


and the subsequent total removal of discipline under WFF regieme

the abolition of Family Benefit and the introduction of Family Support;


and the abolition of Family Support and the introduction of Welfare
For Families ("Communism by Stealth").

the reduction (announced in December 1990 and implemented from April 1991) of most social security benefit rates, and the introduction of a modified system of supplementary assistance (in the form of Special Needs Grants, Special Benefit, and the Accommodation Supplement);


And the increase in all social security benefit rates since 1992 ---
along with the retention and expansion of all the supplementary
assistance. Basic benefit rates have increased over 300% since 1991.
(In 1991 basic dole was $86, DPB was $250. Today the dole is $280+ and
DPB is $385-$500!!!). If the trajectory of the reforms had continuted
there would be no dole, no DPB, no super, and no other "benefits" in
NZ.

the increase in the qualifying age for National Superannuation;


and the total unwillingness to increase that age even to match
demographics (let alone finance). This is an effective massive
increase
in the fraction of left spend on superannuation.

the introduction of new health charges, with the introduction of the Community Services Card as a mechanism for income testing previously untested health subsidies;


the complete removal of charges by Labour.

the increase of the school minimum leaving age from 15 to 16 years;


now whacked up again - inspite of the acknoweldeged uselessness of NZ
state schools

the rise in age for eligibility for unemployment benefit from 16 to 18 years;


effectively undone by policy changes, kids as young as 13 are now on
the dole

rises in tertiary education fees;


undone by "Free Student Loans"

the application of parental income testing to student allowances;


undone by "Free Student Loans"

the introduction of repayable student loans;


undone by "Free Student Loans"

the contracting of some state agency functions (e.g. DSW debt recovery) to the private sector;


and the massive recentralisation of another 20% of the economy back
into the state.

the withdrawal by the state from the provision of subsidised rental housing and the introduction of the income tested Accommodation Supplement;


and the massive increase in state house building, prevention of state
house sales, and increase in council housing

Anonymous said...

(No idea why the posts ended up in an odd order)



So there it is folks: every single reform has been undermined

NZ needs to do both the '84 and the '91 reforms all over again
and carry them through to their logical conclusion. We all know this
is what absolutely needs to happen - and also that not even the ACT
party, not even Brash, will come out and say the reforms have been
destroyed, we need to redo them all and drive them to completion


NZ's economic position is far worse than 1984, worse even than 1991.
The finance minister accurately described NZ this week as "one of the
most indebted countries in the OEDC". NZ's economy is third world but
we seem to think we can have a welfare state that is even more
generous than Denmark, Sweden, or France! The truth is: all of the
reforms of the 80s and 90s have been squandered; NZ's economic
position is worse than Greece, Portugal, and Spain; and only the
markets' focus on Europe stands between us and total collapse.

thor42 said...

I agree with Anonymous.
The reforms of the 80s have been utterly undermined and reversed.

I believe that the country needs a written constitution, and as well as containing measures like freedom of speech, it should contain the measures that -

* The government MUST run a "balanced budget"

* The government MUST reduce the number of people receiving each benefit every year.

* The government must NOT introduce any legislation that introduces any new benefits or the like (such as WFF)

These things will never be done unless governments are FORCED to do them.

Anonymous said...

It will never happy by "democratic" vote (i.e where bludger & state dependents are allowed to vote).

Even if those things were written in to a constitution, they constitution would be amended to remove them -- the German constitution, for example, guarantees welfare benefits and if an NZ constitution was drawn up on a consensus today, it would do the same.

Hell even the US constitution allows Congress to tax to support the "general welfare".


Which just goes to show that it is no surprise at all that the US, Europe, NZ/Aust/Canada etc are being completely outcompeted by China & SE Asia who may not have these constitution guarantees but who also have absolutely no welfare


Key has 50%+ of the vote. He can turn of the tap overnight (OK, it might actually take a couple of days to execute the necessary orders in council to zero benefits - incl codger-dole, and stop health & education). But he can do it easily - indeed he absolutely must if NZ is to survive as a sovereign nation.