The Dim-Post

September 17, 2013

Long term contraception for beneficiaries revisted

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:08 am

Back in July the National government was taking heavy fire while trying to pass the GCSB bill. We all know that’s a cue for Paula Bennett to jump up and announce that she’s going to ‘get tough’ on someone, and this time around it was child abusers and suspected child abusers, with a raft of policies, from the pedestrian to the outright crazy, none of which the Minister had bothered to calculate costs for. We may or may not hear about any of them ever again.

(The previous tough crackdown that outraged everyone was back in February when National announced tough new plans to change the law to allow collective punishment for the partners of benefit fraudsters, announced in the midst of the Novopay fiasco and the first wave of Christchurch school closure announcements. Distraction accomplished, National then stuck the bill on their order paper and forgot about it for six months.)

So I thought it’d be interesting to go back and see what happened to one of National’s earlier controversial flagship reform policies: Long Term Contraceptives for Beneficiaries.  This policy was introduced in May of 2012, to huge fanfare, front page leads and massive controversy (released during an absolutely terrible month for National, in which they announced a plan to increase class sizes in the budget and had to backtrack on it, and John Banks was revealed to have taken money from Kim Dotcom and lied about it to the public).

Paula Bennett did loads of media advocating for her policy. People accused her of practicing eugenics. Things died down a bit when commentators pointed out that Pharmac already paid for contraception and MSD already provided financial assistance for doctors visits, and that the one million dollars budgeted wasn’t going to go very far among the ~250,000 female beneficiaries and their daughters that it was targeted at.

So how’d it work out? I OIAd the Ministry of Social Development, and they replied:

As at 30 June 2013 a total of 127 clients received 148 grants for LARG made since the
assistance began in Jury 2012. Some clients received more ’than one grant, as grants
can be made available for LARG-pharmacy related costs, LARG-transport costs and
LARG~medical related costs,

That works out at just under $8000 per client to access a service that there was already government funding for. Which seems like a lot. You might even say it seems like enough to pay for a year of retraining/university study for those women, a scheme that Bennett famously benefited from and then cut almost as soon as she was in government.


  1. But think how many votes National got for that $8k…

    Comment by Michael — September 17, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  2. “… You might even say it seems like enough to pay for a year of retraining/university study for those women…”

    What? Reward the indigent strumpets for their moral failure with an university education? What ever will you socialists come up with next? By Jove, it will be votes for women, I suppose, eh! What?! *snort*

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 17, 2013 @ 9:48 am

  3. Why the assumption the entire $1m budget was spent on the 127 clients?

    Comment by NeilM — September 17, 2013 @ 9:54 am

  4. So it was a big success then.

    For years some women and poverty advocates have moaned that poor women couldnt afford birth control and it was all the gummint’s fault.. now we know there are only 127 women of child bearing age who are poor.


    Comment by JC — September 17, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  5. It will also achieve the result that MSD will be entitled to treat DPB recipients who claim for additional children from now on as trying to game the system. Now they just need to come up with something for the sperm-donor side of the equation.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 17, 2013 @ 11:34 am

  6. “But think how many votes National got for that $8k…”

    There hasn’t been an election yet since 2012, so it probably hasn’t been very many at this point in time.

    Comment by izogi — September 17, 2013 @ 11:55 am

  7. Speaking of long-term contraception, Parker as Deputy….?

    Comment by Gregor W — September 17, 2013 @ 11:56 am

  8. Did your OIA include info showing the whole $1m was spent on the 127 clients Danyl? If so, it is a lot per person. More to the point though, is that this much vaunted eugenics policy ‘helped’ a whole 127 people, out of the 1/4 million potential candidates. Way to meet those KPIs, Paula!

    JC – plenty of women may not have wanted to take up Paula’s generous offer to contracept themselves out of further progeny for the benefit of the nation…

    And Pyscho Milt is sooo right – having had dealings recently with WINZ staff while helping someone, I was shocked at how bad their culture has become; they were actively hostile to all the clients I saw. I know WINZ staff in other offices who are great, but I saw enough harsh ‘that’s your problem you got no income’ anti-beneficiary attitudes from WINZ staff to think it needs a real shakeup, not the clients.

    Gregor – Cunliffe is dealing from a thin pack of cards…

    Comment by bob — September 17, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

  9. “JC – plenty of women may not have wanted to take up Paula’s generous offer to contracept themselves out of further progeny for the benefit of the nation…”

    Actually the implants look pretty popular with many thousands of women now using them with subsequent falls in abortion and birthrates.


    Comment by JC — September 17, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  10. It’s the message innt? Disgusting the way beneficiaries are cast in the light of being loose bludgers. Casts all women in a bad light.

    Comment by Monique Angel (@Orcs2Elves) — September 17, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

  11. “Why the assumption the entire $1m budget was spent on the 127 clients?”

    Thats the Greens M.O.. Facts don’t matter, its all about wrecking and hating.

    Comment by grant — September 17, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

  12. #10: And hardly anything about the “young, dumb and full of cum” side of the equation. Seems it’s not too far removed from the ‘uncovered meat’ mentality.

    Comment by deepredred — September 17, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

  13. I don’t follow. What would the money have been spent on if not the programme itself which, as Danyl indicated, has only benefited 127 people? Or are people asking if the entire million wasn’t spent?

    Comment by izogi — September 17, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

  14. This would be an excellent concept for a series of posts. Something about car crushing would be a good inclusion.

    Comment by Hugh — September 17, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

  15. @Hugh – Or perhaps asylum seeker boat attempts before and after we got tough on them.

    Comment by alex — September 17, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

  16. But all of Bennett’s policy announcements are ridiculous and the government always has something it needs to distract the public from, so I doubt the timing of these announcements are deliberate.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — September 18, 2013 @ 6:38 am

  17. So are we saying we only approve of contraception if it is limited to being available on the free market – but only the if the free market is prepared to supply it a loss? Or are we saying we approve of free contraception if it’s supplied by the taxpayer, but only if the government don’t tell us it’s available?
    Or are we saying we only approve of available contraception if we happen to approve of the person who tells us we can have it?
    Either way, it seems that innate bias appears to trump innate social responsibility.

    God I hate those nazi scum.

    Comment by Lee C — September 18, 2013 @ 7:04 am

  18. Lee C,

    I think what Danyl’s saying is that, irrespective of any intrinsic merits of the policy, its actual impact is completely out of proportion to the amount of publicity sought for (and given to) it. A fact that supports the thesis that most of Paula Bennett’s announcements are intended to have immediate political impact, rather than real-world consequences.

    Comment by Flashing Light — September 18, 2013 @ 7:30 am

  19. @ izongi – yeh, the latter. Was the whole $1m used, or did they give a fixed amount of $ per person, in which case the rest of the cash usually reverts to govt bank account. Also, there was a suggestion that the $1m would be used for info leaflets rather than actual ‘treatment’, though that seems not to have been the case.

    @ Lee C – What Flashing Light said, plus there is the tiny problem of targeting free contraception to one group in society, viz beneficiaries. Reeks a little of eugenics – an effort to reduce the population of one sector of society. Paula won’t help them with adequate support for their families, but will help them not have families.

    Comment by bob — September 18, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

  20. It is only fair that anyone over 65 should be entitled to free contraception. Also plunket and subsidised child care
    should be available to pensioners.

    Comment by bosun — September 18, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

  21. …targeting free contraception to one group in society, viz beneficiaries. Reeks a little of eugenics – an effort to reduce the population of one sector of society.

    Hang on – there’s a beneficiary sector of society? If beneficiary has become an inheritable characteristic, we really are in the shit…

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 18, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

  22. Why does ‘sector of society’ imply an inheritable characteristic?

    Comment by Hugh — September 18, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

  23. What Hugh said, Milt. You’ll recall that being a ‘communist’ is a not a bodily characteristic like race or sex or age, but that didn’t stop the communists from being sent to the WW2 concentration camps.

    Being a beneficiary may be a temporary state in life (though National are doing their best to ensure all Kiwi workers can enjoy it permanently), but it can and has been used as a sector for targeted harassment. Thankfully, ineffective harassment. 😉

    Comment by bob — September 19, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

  24. Why does ‘sector of society’ imply an inheritable characteristic?

    Ummm … “Reeks a little of eugenics”? Doesn’t that necessarily require “an inheritable characteristic”?

    Comment by Flashing Light — September 19, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

  25. Flashing Light beat me to it. Also: if your complaint is about an attempt to “reduce the population” of this “sector of society” via contraception, how are you not declaring that sector of society inter-generational?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 19, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

  26. Are people born poor or made poor? The debate rages on.

    Regarding eugenics, the nearest post-WW2 parallel would be Fujimori’s Peru in the 1990s, and that ended up coming to grief.

    Comment by deepredred — September 19, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

  27. thank you to those who took the time and trouble to explain what Danyl was saying – I used ‘we’ to indicate I was having a pop at the accumulated range of opinions his post appeared to stimulate – all appeared to agree on only one issue – which was about their perceptions of the Minister, of whom many darkly hint is guilty of ‘eugenics’. I mean really? In this day and age?

    I agree with Danyl, I think the money was ‘badly’ spent – but let’s not deceive ourselves here, this is ‘Bennett-bashing’ really isn’t it? The post hints that when she’s not being ‘accused of eugenics’ she’s ‘cutting university funding for women’. Why is it it that certain memes about a females ‘feminist’ credentials are trotted out so predictably to denigrate females in power? Did she stand on a feminist ticket? Nope, no more than she stood on a eugenics one. And yet contraception is such a feminist issue that we chaps are more than willing to get into the debate.

    It’s incredible how we men line up for the coconut shy when the man with the megaphone calls, and there amongst the range of opinions (some confused) about the principle of contraception provided by the state, the same background noise prevails. ‘Bennett is a selfish cow’.

    How about the money saved? – if one offspring did not grow to maturity requiring the state-provision, CYFS involvement, Social Services, police judiciary and prison-accommodation that the worst-case scenario might (and I repeat, might) have incurred. Actually 8 grand was a bargain.

    Comment by Lee C — September 21, 2013 @ 6:57 am

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