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Lobbying about parental issues in NZ

I haven’t been able to find any good descriptions of lobbying caughts, through appealing undesired judgements. If you know of some, please draw our attention to them.

There are many good examples of mothers and fathers lobbying the caughts, by challenging judgements through appeal. When done with a constructive strategy, then success can result.

Google: wikipedia lobbying

Research Tools for Official Information Act — applies for USA, but NZ is quite similar


Interest Groups
Wikipedia Interest groups
Individuals have little lobbying power. Groups need to have quite large numbers, to be able to apply public pressure, to get useful changes.

A small group of fathers supported one father, in challenging the equity of the UK government giving all of the benefits to the mother and none to the father. After several losses and subsequent appeals, they did obtain a successful legal outcome, but it had no effect onto the benefits provided by the UK government: The government, instead of solving the problem, are planning to hide it by appealing higher again!

UK Father wins benefits appeal
Wednesday 2 February 2005 02.20 GMT

Although this judgement was issued in 2005, I understand that the relevant UK legislation has not been changed and the real world situation remains the same today.

In the case where the principal problem is legislation, then the caughts can issue judgements highlighting the problems in legislation, but often cannot rectify the problem by their judgement. Be warned however, that the caughts may claim that they cannot solve the problem, but this comes down to how much discretion they have on this issue and whether they have access to other equitable remedies?

For example, the judge possibly could have made an order, that the recipient of the government benefit pay across the proper portion, to the other parent. This might be difficult to enforce through time, in the real world. Even so, this would have put more pressure onto the Government, to sort out the legislative issue more quickly. This proactive judicial approach is usually deprecated, as judicial activism and judges acting outside of their constitutional role.

NZ has similar problems, with providing Government benefits to only one parent. In NZ, some progress has been made. The situation is not as dire as it is presently, for UK fathers. The NZ Government has already made some changes, although a very small group of fathers is still complaining about being unfairly treated. In some of these cases, WINZ staff have “bent the rules” slightly, so that the actual treatment is not as bad, as the legislation would lead you to expect. In other words, in the real world the legislation does not totally control what the Government does. This can be good and it can equally be bad, as it affects individual citizens. Over time, these “bend the rules” situations usually lead to legislative change and the problem is sorted out, possibly for the children of the original complainants, or their children. Due to the time delay, the solution often creates a new set of problems, frequently as bad as the ones they were trying to solve…….

Thus, it may be concluded that the UK fathers were successful in gaining a positive caught judgement, but it wasn’t helpful as it had no direct impact onto legislation. This implies that more effort should have been put into lobbying politicians, for legislative changes. The UK is so bureaucratic, that organizational or legislative changes take dangerously long times to implement.

Similarly, a citizen might decide to breach legislation or a caught judgement, that they believe is misguided, irrelevant, antisocial or unethical. Recent NZ examples have been Vince Siemer challenging the lack of working freedom of speech protections and misuse of caught suppression orders. Similarly Cameron Slater (Whaleoil) challenging caught suppression orders, or pointing out their impracticality in the modern world and their unethical uses. These people are taking similar risks to judges who go too far, in judicial activism and also they take personal risk of being financially plundered by caught-help-yourself-costs, which the caughts don’t seem to apply to their own insiders.

The history of abortion in NZ is a good example of lobbying through caught cases and appeals, in parallel with lobbying of politicians.

Fathers have successfully lobbied the familycaught, in the Darryl Carlin shared parenting case, heard by Judge Inglis. Unfortunately, this was later overruled, in an appeal of another case. (A cynic might think that the Inglis judgement reduced the extortionate pressures in familycaught, so the legal workers appealed, to protect their paramount incomes?) Lobbying is work that is never done, the need always remains.

Another case that was appealed unsuccessfully by a group of fathers, related to videotaping of psychologist’s interviews. This is an issue that is still live and I believe that it would be of value for all parents, for this issue to be further litigated — to win.

Legal-workers’-aid tends to create a non-level playing ground. Some groups have more ready access to legal aid, than others. This situation could easily lead to the caughts favouring these interest groups. However, this would not be a problem, if the other parties were unified and worked together to put effective pressure onto the caughts. Equally, the abuse of legal-workers’-aid can be challenged in the caughts, to cut off the support line to the opposition. This has been done by hospital boards, who were being sued by an ex-patient on legal aid.) I believe that I have seen quite a few cases where legal workers have used legal aid improperly. It certainly looked as though a strong case could be made for a fraud prosecution. People don’t sleep so easy, if they suspect that accountability might come to porridge and draughty non-alcoholic bars for windows. Lets make it real.

This is why to gain maximum effectiveness, it is necessary to apply the best distribution of pressure, to the relevant parts of the Government bureaucracy:

some pressure appealing through caughts,
some pressure onto politicians, of all parties,
some information (pressure) directly onto voters
possibly some pressure onto workers’ groups, such as legal-workers., or to their customers.

Know who is working against you and your values

Legal workers who benefit from the current system and only want it changed, if it improves their benefits!

Other lobby groups — maybe their interests conflict with yours, maybe they wrongly are fighting against you? Negotiate, listen…..

If your opponents are exploiting unethical conflicts of interest, expose them and try to gain support from all of the people that they are abusing.

Many of the parliamentarians that you are lobbying, are legal workers. They are very reluctant to make changes, that don’t put extra money into legal worker’s pockets. Thus, lobbying into this are will be a long hard slog. Still, if you don’t put in the lobbying pressure, then you can be confident that the situation will slide backwards. Just read some Machiavelli!

How can a politically acceptable constructive compromise be found?

Does your proposed solution sacrifice the proper interests of another (perhaps smaller group)?

Solving problems, or just hiding them?
Medical insurance enabled people to afford more hospital treatment, by spreading the cost over large numbers of healthy people but it also reduced people’s ability to manage hospital and doctor charges, who really won this battle? (Legal-workers’-aid in NZ is pretty similar too.)

Insurance companies are a very good example of an effective unified lobby group. Take on one insurance company and you take on the financial strength of them all. They can choose the case which is supported by the strongest evidence in their favour and use it to obtain precedent that protects their interests. By choosing the most favourable case, they can put more resources into it, than a party who is self funding and will only fight once.

The Government is often very aggressive legally, particularly in IRD cases. Downright vexatious in some cases. This is a reputation that only helps them. I have seen the Solicitor General stating in caught, that all caught orders should be obeyed, even if they are clearly unethical. Perhaps he was born after the Nuremberg Trials and has never heard about them? To me, he presented himself as a dangerous man, in any position. Will he repeat history?

I hope that you can see that I have quoted cases where fathers have been successful in caughts in NZ and in UK.

Fathers have put considerable effort into making Parliamentary submissions. (I have a large collection of such submissions, if you want examples, from all sides.) Unfortunately, these lobbying efforts have been let down by the small size of the groups who made the submissions. Giving up because your submission didn’t achieve your desired outcome first time, is missing the point. Lobbying is an ongoing process, perhaps until you are jailed for peddling improper influence…..?

History has shown that the path to success involves:

1. Selecting which issues need to be addressed and prioritizing them.

2. Studying the issues and the other pressure groups who are impacted. Try to get onside with them.

3. Preparing in general terms, so that when an opportunity arises, you can move quickly enough. Resources, information, strategy, supporters….. Opportunities don’t come up all the time, so you don’t want to miss a good chance.

4. Building respect and trust within your group, so that you have enough members to do the work required and also to have the public impact to gain some influence.

If your group is seen to be publicly fighting and putting each other down, then it is obvious that you will never have any useful public impact. Politicians and caughts keep a close eye on public opinion and move quickly so that they are not crushed by it. They are not scared of moaners who never do.

Art of War
Tsun Tzu gave good strategic advice, in the Art of War. Its been around longer than the NZ Solicitor-General and its wisdom has successfully withstood the tests of time, so make good use of it.

Certainly, don’t be your own worst enemy.
If you build up the image of your opponent and say in any way that they are undefeatable, then you are consigning yourself to the dustbin of history.

Probably they are also their own worst enemy! Find out how and make good use of it…

Cheers, MurrayBacon, mere axe-murderer.