Dr Michael Bassett

Dr Michael Bassett

Newspaper Columns


Labour Faces its Demons

08/07/2008


Anyone watching TV news on 7 July 2008 would realize, if they hadn't already guessed it, that South Auckland is breaking apart before our eyes. On "Close Up", the Police spokesman provided the evidence. They can't cope with the family violence that has spread amongst the underclass, the gangs that have been spawned by irresponsible parenting, and the constant crime that goes with the toxic mix of unwanted children (except for the benefits they bring), drugs, violence and under-achievement. The Police force has been battered and bruised because of inadequate resources, excessive persecution by never-ending inquiries and trials instigated from without, hopeless command structures at the top level, and political leadership that beggars belief. There was Phil Goff, Acting Minister of Police, telling the Asian community in South Auckland that they must not take the law into their own hands when the force which he temporarily commands cannot provide adequate protection for people in the area. What are they meant to do? Sit back and wait for a force that isn't there? Give us a break! While triad protection clearly isn't the answer, community vigilante activity in the absence of the Police is quite understandable.

Let's be clear about a few things. Most of the problems in South Auckland can be traced back to a few stark things this government has refused to come to grips with over nine years. The criminals share several things in common. They are almost all from families where there is one parent on welfare, too many kids from several fathers in the household, inadequate supervision, easy prey from relatives or de factos, and access to alcohol and drugs. Far too many are Maori. The kids exist because they carry an entitlement to a benefit stamped on their brows, and the parent doesn't care about their welfare for which the taxpayers give them money. That's something to be delegated to the myriad of agencies this ministry has spawned. It's the welfare cheque that matters for the parent. On pay day the parent, usually the mother, makes for the pub; the kids fend for themselves, or they go out with the gangs. Road carnage or home invasions follow. Domestic violence rises on the days of the week when there is enough money to purchase drugs and alcohol, while for the rest of the week hard luck stories emerge about people resorting to food parcels and there being no lunches at school. The Child Poverty Action Group gives us a sermon about poverty and argues for more money for the parents, which sensible people have long-since worked out would go on more alcohol and drugs. Teachers are in despair, little is taught to children except "cultural studies" that seem to legitimize the culture of despair that is a part of children's everyday lives. And young adults emerge from this growing up process with no skills, no respect for their parents, their teachers, the society that bred them, or the laws of the land. The vicious cycle begins another round as children are conceived in the certain knowledge that Helen Clark's Nanny State will provide a meager income to sustain the mother. Before long a de facto appears, child abuse occurs etc etc.

Before going home to their trendy pads in Ponsonby and Herne Bay, the media treat this social crisis like soft porn - titillating details of one tragedy after another. There's no proper analysis of the cause of the problems. No brains engaged. One can't help feeling sorry for new immigrants who have established their first foothold in New Zealand in areas where so many long-standing residents are doing little to look after themselves. Separating people off from the need to provide for themselves, earn money for food, a roof over their heads, a decent upbringing for their children, is the cruelest hoax that any government can perpetrate on its citizens. No amount of nannying can make up for a failure of the family unit to take responsibility for its own lives. The Domestic Purposes Benefit promoted so eagerly by many of the leaders in the current government, and the multifarious benefits available to people who refuse to take charge of their lives, have stoked the underclass to the stage where it has become a menace to the people themselves and to their new neighbours. Chinese and Indian immigrants are more family conscious than most of the welfare recipients in South Auckland. The newcomers expect to work for a living, educate their children, and help them to get ahead, if only to escape the mayhem that is such a large part of the neighborhoods they live in. They've worked out that there is something fundamentally rotten about a world where relatives turn up in court, abuse officials, support their offending relatives, or flock to tangis to mourn their young dead, the very people they did nothing to look after while they were alive. The Asian community understands hypocrisy when it sees it. And they are gob-smacked when ministers tell them to put up and shut up.

For many years now careful observers of the deteriorating crime scene in areas like South Auckland, Flaxmere and parts of Rotorua have been asking for an inquiry into the Police Force, its leadership, its rules, its goals, its strategies, its resources. This government has stood by, many ministers privately happy to watch morale sapped even if it means disorganization and despondency are the result. At the end of the 19th century New Zealand used to lead the world with its social policies. Now at the start of the 21st century we are seen to have dragged the chain. Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States have all implemented welfare policies designed to get to grips with social mayhem caused by too easy access to unearned money. But not New Zealand under the current Labour Government. What is happening before our eyes is the final collapse of the silly ideologies pursued by this crop of Labour leaders. They are busting our society apart. How many more murders must occur before the next election?