Thursday, February 17, 2011

NZ Poverty A ‘Lifestyle Choice’: Let Them Drink Coke

John Key is beginning to look like a man out of touch with his country.
People living in New Zealand are burdened with spiralling food and petrol costs, both which have been exacerbated by the recent increase in sales tax (GST) and the country is a hair’s breath from officially re-entering recession.
As more and more people fight to make ends meet the nation’s charitable organisations have struggled to keep up with demand for assistance. The pressure on food banks is one manifestation of this which started with the first recession in 2008 and shows no sign of abating.
Stories about low stocks at food banks have been around for some-while. Porirua (pop. 50,914) has five food banks and they were running out of food towards the end of last year
In the year to December 2009, there was a 40 per cent increase in food parcels given out nationwide by the Salvation Army.
People are really struggling out there,” says Elizabeth Iona, team leader of the Salvation Army Porirua food bank.
“They come in and say, ‘I had to pay bills this week, there’s no food‘, and this is people who have five or six children at home.”
With the tough economic times and the approaching festive season, Ms Iona’s shelves are nearly empty.
While there are baked beans and rice aplenty, they are down to single tins in other items; one packet of pasta, almost no tea bags and extremely low in toiletries, meat, fruit and vegetables…
“We’re at very low levels in general. We’ve actually been asking other food banks to top us up.
“It’s getting to the point where we might have to turn people away.
We need milk powder, nappies, baby food, toothpaste and soap.
“It would be great to get a few luxury things like biscuits but that’s not often the case.”
Kerry Atkinson, store manager of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Mungavin Ave, said if their food bank stocks get worse they will consider shutting the doors…” read more
How insulting it is that people in poverty due to the global recession, poor wages, poor job prospects and successive governments’ mis-management should now be told that if they need food donations it is because of the lifestyle choices they’re making?
When reading the following remember that migrants in NZ (read the comments section) are also caught in this poverty trap:
From the Herald
Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own “poor choices” rather than because they cannot afford food.
Mr Key made the comment when asked in Parliament yesterday about poverty levels.
When Labour’s social development spokeswoman Annette King asked about Salvation Army reports of high demand for food parcels, Mr Key responded by saying it was true that the global recession meant more people were on benefits.
“But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.
“And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.”… read the full report here
Meanwhile more and more people are calling on The Salvation Army for help because of rising food, electricity and petrol prices. Its fortunate that charitable organisations like the ‘Salvos’ exist:
“Many of our clients are facing tremendous hardship and struggle even to put food on the table. And it’s often the children who suffer the most when household budgets don’t stretch far enough.
When you donate money or food to a Salvation Army food bank you’re helping to provide one of life’s most basic necessities to those who need it most.”
The “basic necessities” doesn’t include milk in New Zealand, this is now a luxury item. It is cheaper to buy coke.
The government of NZ would do well consider the hardship its population is suffering this next time it hosts film studio executives at the tax payers expense and gives them millions of dollars in added incentives to make films like The Hobbit in New Zealand. Some of them can’t even afford to buy milk now:
Milk on the luxury list
“The country’s biggest supplier is warning milk prices are about to go higher, and medical experts fear the cost of a daily glass is already out of reach for some.
Dairy giant Fonterra today warned supermarket prices could surge further following the sixth consecutive rise in prices on its online global DairyTrade auction this morning…”
Milk in neighbouring Australia retails at around $1 a litre and  British supermarkets are charging 44 pence (93 NZ cents) a litre. Stuff reported that prices in NZ are more than twice that amount:
“Today at Countdown, Anchor-branded milk cost $4.80 for a 2-litre bottle. In June 2009 in was $3.94 for the same amount.
By comparison, the same supermarket has a 2-litre bottle of Coca-Cola for $3.99 and a 2.25-litre bottle of Coca-Cola for $3.57 (currently $2.79 on special).
Medical Officer of Health for the Waikato District Health Board, Felicity Dumble, said it was a concern when milk was dearer than soft drinks.
“One of the great things about milk is it considered to be a `complete’ food, with a wide range of nutrients essential for growth,” she said. “If the price makes milk prohibitive for families then not only are they missing out on benefits of milk itself, but they may turn to cheaper but less healthy options.”
Ms Dumble said when healthy basics became too expensive it exacerbated problems that led to malnutrition or even obesity…” read more here
We’ll not get sidetracked into NZ’s obesity epidemic (third highest in the OECD) now and will save that issue for another day.
The present government is presenting itself as one that is increasingly out of touch with the people it was elected to represent, perhaps voters will bear that in mind when they head to the ballot in November this year (Key has already said he will step down if he loses) What is the government doing right now to reduce the cost of living for the average Kiwi family?
Certainly stories like this one are doing nothing to endear Key’s government at a time when the economy of  NZ is probably in recession:
34 units of the 7 Series BMW will head to New Zealand
Many believe the recession has passed, but most are still tightening their belts, regardless if we’re talking about the automotive sector or any other segment of the industry. So what the New Zealand’s government did caused more than indignation, it led to an avalanche of criticism, not only from the other parties but also from the country’s residents.
The short story so far: the government ordered a total of 34 new BMW 7-Series, each with an estimated price of $200,000, a thing that makes people in the country blame all those involved.
But Prime Minister John Key says he didn’t know about the acquisition, explaining in a statement that the whole deal was actually based on a six-year contract by the former Labour Government.
“I can’t take responsibility for a contract that was entered into by the previous Labour Government, that wasn’t bought to my attention or to my ministers’ attention,” Key said according to “I am surprised, I would’ve thought they (Internal Affairs) would have referenced it to us… politically we should have known about it, we didn’t.”
Internal Affairs representatives on the other hand explain that they were not required to talk to the government on the matter because the previously-signed contract belonged to them.
“It’s our contract, we administer it. Our assessment was it was the best value for money to replace the vehicles now and we got a good deal in the first place and we got a good deal now,” a spokesman said.
The deal will definitely go through, as the Prime Minister said it would be quite pricey to stop the whole acquisition right know…”
So what does the government accept responsibility and if it doesn’t even know what its own department of Internal Affairs is doing what does that say for its understanding of the impacts of poverty in low income households in New Zealand?
How has it improved the life of the ordinary man and woman on the street?
Why are there still a quarter million children still living in poverty in New Zealand whilst government ministers get to drive around in $200,000 beamers?
There’s no Fair Go for all in NZ. Is it any wonder that 7,000 people overwhelmed the Oz Jobs expo in Auckland last weekend?
You may also find interesting our other blogs:
NZ’s Poverty Gap – Fat Cats Feast Whilst Queues Form For Bread And Jam (July 2010)
Immigrants Caught In Cold Poverty Trap (July 2010)
Ministerial Credit Card Rort (June 2010)
Family Gets $200,000 Bill For House Fire (July 2010)
And these external sites:
“Wealth gap divides nation
ACCUSATIONS THAT New Zealand is one of the worst performers in the developed world when it comes to the income gap between rich and poor have been validated by a Sunday Star-Times survey.
Conducted by Horizon Research, it shows the burgeoning gap between the haves and have-nots is frothing over into resentment, anger and disillusionment….”

Key: Poverty is your fault
John Key says if you’re having trouble getting by on your income it’s due to your ‘lifestyle choices‘. Key has given himself at least $23,000 in tax cuts and had a $7,500 rise on our borrowed money. He has the worst economic record of any PM in 80 years: 86,000 more jobless Kiwis and falling incomes. And this bastard blames Kiwi families for their poverty.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bullying Rife in NZ Hospitals

The website reported today on last night’s Wellington medical forum on the subject of burnout in the medical profession.

Experts said that doctors in New Zealand aren’t good at giving each other the support and affirmation needed to avoid burnout. Furthermore, hospitals are rife with bullying
Hospitals rife with bullying
“A bullying culture exists at hospitals, said forum chair John Carter, clinical leader of haematology at the Wellington Blood and Cancer Centre…
Attendees at the forum, part of the Inaugural International Cancer Symposium organised by Otago University, Wellington, heard psychiatrist and academic John Adams emphasise the medical profession’s poor record of giving mutual support and feedback.
This is an important factor in burnout, says Dr Adams, chair of the Medical Council.
By the time doctors come to the council’s attention, when their behaviour is affecting other staff and patient care, stress and burnout have led to physical health problems.
Depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disorders and/or substance abuse will have developed, and a stigma is attached to seeking help, Dr Adams says.
The earlier the problem is identified, the more likely its impact on the individual will be ameliorated…”  read the full report here
Which is ironic considering that New Zealand’s laid back lifestyle is used as a major selling point to attract overseas doctors into the country.

New Zealand has been suffering a severe shortage of medical specialists for some time.

Coincidentally The NZ Herald published an article today headed Doctor shortage reaches ‘crisis’ level, saying that a spiraling shortage of doctors “has sparked a warning of future “severe safety issues” in New Zealand hospitals.”

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists director Ian Powell told the paper that the flow of New Zealand doctors overseas and difficulty of replacing them had put many hospitals in crisis.
Patients could suffer from increasing medical mistakes and treatment delays without urgent action, he said.
“The situation is already unsustainable. We’ll have severe safety issues if this continues.
“New Zealand is losing too many of the younger doctors we train so well overseas, losing too many of our current public hospital senior doctors overseas and struggling to recruit in a very tight and internationally competitive market.
“Eventually these chinks are going to get so big that the system breaks down.” … read the full report here
Some things you may like to know about the health service in New Zealand:

  • There is a workforce crisis in New Zealand’s hospitals. Specialist senior doctors are being lost and there is a shortage of cancer specialists. Staff are lost to Australia (where the salaries are 35% higher) and to private practice. The causes are low pay by international standards, overwork and lack of resources to do the job.
But its not just the medical profession that are suffering in New Zealand, patients are doing it hard too:

Adverse Effects on Patient Health
  • A shortage of Oncologists in the central part of the North Island means that some cancer patients are being refused chemotherapy. Instead of being placed back on waiting lists patients are being referred back to their own doctors (as of Jan 2011) Affected patients include those suffering relapses of some cancers, including cervical, oesophagus and melanoma.
“It might not be what we want to hear, but it is honest … It is good to know they will not be hiding patients on waiting lists.”
But the list of cancers that won’t be treated had only been intended for clinicians to see, not the general public.
  • An economist said that New Zealand’s cancer-treatment rates were lower than the average for developed countries.”Already we have unmet need, so I guess the message is, get used to it.”
  • 261 people in Canterbury are waiting more than six months for cancer-detecting colonoscopies, raising alarm among doctors. In July 2009 the figure stood at 75 people. A private procedure costs £1,000.
  • A “postcode lottery” health system is failing people as there is “inequitable” access to treatment depending on where patients live. One woman failed to have a brain tumour diagnosed for over three years. A report into her case has highlighted serious deficiencies within NZ’s public health service.
374 patients who were involved in a serious or sentinel event, of whom 127 died; compared with 308 events, including 92 deaths, the year before.”
Migrants Tales

Are you still considering a move to NZ to work in the medical profession? Read some of our Migrants Tales, for example this one
The Health Care System Is Second Rate
This story was written by a nurse with over 30 years of experience. In it she tells of prejudice and how difficult it was to find a job. She also talks about how thousands and thousands of health care dollars are being wasted because there is no incentive to change and of how people wait so long for some tests and treatments that permanent damage is done to their health. She is minded to stay and work through this but her Kiwi partner is starting to look toward Australia to make some money….read on
You may also find interesting:  “Kiwis Missing Out On Vital Medicines with Fatal Consequences

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