Thursday, February 09, 2017

Sweeping failure under the carpet

From 2001 to 2010 the Ministry of Social Development published an annual Social Report, a collection of time-series data on various social indicators. But in 2010, national decided that it contained too much bad news about the effects of their policies, so they shitcanned it. Supposedly, it was moving to triennial publication, but the 2013 report never appeared. But now I've learned that they quietly published a 2016 Social Report in June last year. I've checked the Beehive website, and unlike past reports there's no accompanying PR. It's almost as if the Minister didn't want people to notice it or something...

And no wonder. Because the report shows things are going badly. Inequality is rising, as is poverty. Suicide rates among young people and Maori have increased significantly, as has psychological distress. These are national's problems, they own them. But rather than admitting that, they seem to be trying to sweep them under the carpet.

(See also: Gerry Brownlee in parliament yesterday objecting to a question about child poverty. They do not want to talk about these issues).

I'm glad to see the Social Report back. But its return highlights how necessary it is. It should be published annually, not every three years under cover of darkness. And if the Minister won't do that, then Parliament should legislate to force them to.