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  • Henry Broadbent

The Week in Review


Government Announces ‘Full Force’ Benefit Sanctions

Early in the week, PM Christopher Luxon and Minister for Social Development Louise Upston announced a ramp-up in sanctions and penalties to beneficiaries. Initially, there will be ‘work check-ins’, targeted toward younger people on welfare. Then, a number of changes will be rolled out. Their effects will be varied, but in summary:

Those on jobseeker support who need to reapply will be forced to do so every six months, instead of each year. Increased scrutiny will be imposed, universally. New, non-financial sanctions will be added, alongside a traffic-light system, imposing penalties in increasing severity. The final, ‘red’ setting includes financial sanctions. Failure to meet obligations can mean a 50% benefit cut. 

Upston, in a wide-ranging Q+A interview, conceded the shakeup of the welfare system could leave approximately 12% of sanctioned beneficiaries with a reduced benefit, and no income. She acknowledged this would negatively affect children already hungry or in poverty. Her suggestion to sanctioned beneficiaries: 

"They might go with family, they might go with friends, there might be others that look after them."

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March stated the government was taking measures to “penalise the poorest people” and, in doing so, building a “legacy of cruelty.” Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni pointed to their evidentiary use of outdated research: a February 2010 OECD Report. In 2019, the Welfare Expert Advisory Group report found: 

“There is little evidence in support of using obligations and sanctions …to change behaviour; rather, there is research indicating that they compound social harm and disconnectedness.”

Green Party MP Fa'anānā Efeso Collins Dies During Auckland Charity Run

Heartfelt tributes flooded in following the distressing sudden death of Green MP Fa'anānā Efeso Collins, who collapsed while taking part in the ChildFund Water Run in Auckland, last Wednesday.

Parliamentary, local government and private sector friends and colleagues on Wednesday were visibly overcome with emotion as they mourned his sudden passing. Labour’s deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni described Collins as a “lifelong advocate for the Pacific community, for the vulnerable, for the poor, for South Auckland”. Colleagues from across the aisle praised his consistent kindness and leadership, describing him as someone who gave to the community, always. 

Collins studied education at the University of Auckland, published research on youth development and mentoring, and in 1999 became the first Polynesian president of the Auckland Students’ Association. He worked as a youth worker in South Auckland, was elected to the Papatoetoe Local Board in 2013, served as an Auckland Councillor from 2016 to 2022, and contested the 2022 Auckland mayoral elections as an independent candidate. In 2023 he ran in the Panmure-Ōtāhuhu electorate as a list candidate for the Green Party. He held the Samoan ali'i chief title of Fa'anana from the village of Satufia, Satupaitea in Savaii. He is survived by his wife Fia, and their two daughters.


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