Cloned messages from the Beehive

Kaka (Nestor meridionalis), one of New Zealand's unique parrot species. The parroting ghostwriters at the Ministry of Social Development are of human nature.

Ghostwriters doing copy & paste like mimicking parrots

One thing that's really great about New Zealand being a small country with a small population but more ministers in Parliament than in some of the world's leading nations: when you contact your local MP, they normally answer your emails and letters. It has changed over the years regarding Ministers or the Prime Minister.

If you write to the big parties you are not far off the mark to suspect that a robot clicks a repeat button after having established the key words of your issue. When comparing the letters pensioners receive from representatives of the National and Labour parties, we have not found any differences in the wording. Former Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Peter Hughes, has revealed why: because there is only ever one policy and it will not change, whichever party is in power. Because the senior civil servants make the rules! Watch it in this revealing video on YouTube: "Why there is always only ONE policy".

It is not surprising that former Prime Minister John Key used the same stock phrases as then Paula Bennett (Minister of Social Development) and John Carter (Minister for Senior Citizens until 2011) while the National Party was in government (2008 to 2017). But you might think it was remarkable that the trio were using the identical wording of letters once written to pensioners by Labour Ministers Steve Maharey, Ruth Dyson and Michael Cullen. And now Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni (since 2017) uses the stock phrases again.

The reason for talking like mimicking parrots is simple: they, respectively their secretaries and ghostwriters, all copy the phrasing of the 2005 and 2007 Reviews of New Zealand Superannuation and Overseas Pensions from the archive, in order to stick to the same twisted truth.

If you know these papers and then read that John Carter tried to demonstrate his competence by adding: "In my judgment, [only the roughly 10% of superannuitants who are directly affected by direct deduction are concerned about the issue]", you would even laugh if the topic was funnier.

The interesting thing about the Labour Party's time in opposition from 2008 to 2017 was that they suddenly told you that they would "look into the issue" and "bring it forward" in Parliament "whenever an opportunity arises".

But, of course, they fell back into the same old stance, once they came back into power in 2017 under Jacinda Ardern - who BTW was all overseas pensioners' big hope while in Opposition. The good old excuse that the Direct Deduction Policy was "fair to most New Zealanders".

The National Party had already used the wording before they came into power in November 2008. Interestingly enough Paula Bennett, then Minister for Social Development - many call her department Ministry of Anti-Social Development - passed the baton to John Carter, the Minister for Senior Citizens, who during 2009 suddenly became responsible for superannuation matters. Paula Bennett could then concentrate her focus on the abuse of social welfare benefits.

Nowadays the Minister for Seniors passes all correspondence regarding the overseas pension issue to the Minister for Social Development, as does the Prime Minister.

Some of the small parties voice different opinions

The only parties that supported the reform of Sections 187-191 were the Green Party, United Future and New Zealand First - with United Future ceasing its existence with the retirement of their leader Peter Dunne and NZ First kicked out of Parliament in 2020. (ACT calls for privately funded retirement provisions.) The late Jim Anderton who founded the Progressives (later disbanded) was a real supporter much earlier.

This leaves the Greens as the only real supporter. But they are far from supportive. After the Election 2017 they didn't even reply to our few emails in which we asked if they were still supportive of the issue.

New Zealand First stepped away from fighting for the issue when getting into government as coalition partner of Labour in 2017. They pretended to still be supportive but did nothing to prove this was true. Thus we didn't regret at all when they didn't make it back into Parliament in 2020.

The only thing we have learnt is that you can't trust politicians. But, of course, we had already known it before.

(Last update: 26.11.2021)

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