I often wonder how many Government department, ACC or Work and Income, or rest home decisions and actions would stand up to the scrutiny of court - if people had the resources, time and energy to challenge those decisions.

I believe it is true that a lot of what Work and Income do is saving people from themselves. People's circumstances can be the result of bad judgment - or even a couple of generations of bad judgment and bad genes - compounded by an inability to stop fathering or producing children.

We're in a society where it is the older generation who frequently have to step in. We see grandmothers raising their grandchildren, or great-nephews or nieces. We're also a society where we dump our elderly in rest homes and then secretly resent their temerity in living long enough to become a burden.

It is the mark of a civilised society where those who are less fortunate are provided protection. New Zealand is unique with ACC, but the concept of benefits, to ensure people don't literally starve, die is common in western society.


But there is an undercurrent of resentment among those who "have". Those who have made the "right" decisions, achieved the right education, and have followed strong moral values to make a reasonable success in life.

These people are hardly likely to relate well to those who have seemingly failed along the route to adulthood. So it wouldn't surprise me if there is an inevitable resentment among those who are set up to service our "failures". Those failures include people needing more money for food. People who claim a workplace accident prevents them from earning a day's living. People who are emotionally, morally or physically ill-equipped to look after an elderly relative.

It is right that organisations are held to account if they are negligent in their duty of care or unfair in their dealings with the public. Accidental situations, such as Allan Payne's poisoning through years of spraypainting, should be clear-cut and dealt with. Accidents are inevitable in life and not a failing. I also believe that procedures need to be followed.

If courts were involved more often, they could well find injustice. But much of what these social organisations are dealing with is people's repeated dysfunction.