Budget A Ploy To Hide Crises

Nothing Finance Minister Steven Joyce said today in Budget 2017 can get past the fact that New Zealand’s economic growth in real terms, when 2% population growth is substracted, is only .8 per cent, says New Zealand First.

“Wages have been depressed, still lagging way behind Australia where people earn 25 per cent to 30 per cent more in similar occupations,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“Huge immigration, running at record levels each year has deliberately been used to keep a lid on wages and there was no information on how much GDP per New Zealander is growing. Because it is static.”

Some brief observations:

Health: Every New Zealander waiting for surgery, struggling to get an appointment, waiting in the queue at an emergency department, will feel ill when they see National’s claim it is delivering “better health services”.

This is a government that told DHBs to make efficiencies to stay within their miserable spending limits. Vacancies went unfilled, holidays weren’t taken to cut costs. Existing workers faced more pressure. Just this week when a cold spell hit, patients were thrown out at one hospital to take new cases. Obviously hospitals can’t cope with low budgets and huge population growth.

Budget 2017 is not delivering to New Zealanders health needs, and is nowhere near meeting the needs of a rapidly increasing population.

Employment:  This is the government that doomed so many Kiwis to joblessness, outdone by net 72,000 migrants who take the cash jobs and poor conditions in desperation to secure a job.

Now the government says it is spending $64 million to get people into jobs. First, it won’t work, and second, what a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Wind immigration back and they’ll get jobs.

Social housing: Minister Amy Adams makes grand claims of a boost to social housing. How could she keep a straight face and say this to the thousands desperately in need of a home?

This is a government selling off state houses or boarding them up. Budget 2017 is spending $2.3 billion getting people into accommodation “one way or another,” according to the Minister.  Buying beds in budget motels on a weekly basis is not the answer to a housing crisis. Building houses is, but National is falling short of the 40,000 needed right now in Auckland alone.

Mental health: There’s a crisis. It’s not addressed.
The budget allocated $25 million per year to core DHB mental health services, amounting to only $1.25 million per DHB. 

Emissions: Minister Paula Bennett is lost in the clouds of emissions. Fancy telling Kiwis there’s a million dollars a year more for climate change work in this Budget when National is sending $1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money overseas each year to buy carbon credits from foreigners. That’s going backwards fast.

There’s a smidgen of money to encourage use of electric vehicles – but at $6m a year we’ll never catch up with Norway and much smarter countries. But, it’s not a surprise, not long ago the Minister said he wouldn’t help, he’d let the market and industry find their way.

Corrections: National’s woes caused by their neglect of mental health, the P crisis, and lack of police are looming large in increasing prison numbers that National cannot manage.

The  $81.8 million in Budget 2017 isn’t going to help them take control of their own mess. They wasted millions on contracting foreign private prison operator, Serco, and it failed at Mt Eden prison. They only got bills, not management. Now Minister Upston is spending up large on an American company to manage offenders on home detention, parole, or temporary release. Apparently their bracelets will reduce offending. The last much touted electronic monitoring bracelets were easily cut with scissors. Stop wasting money on foreign companies when New Zealand firms can do it better.

Rail: A government that has closed rail lines, bought shonky locomotives and wagons cannot claim to be a trainspotter. They’re only fixing the quake-hit main trunk line in the South Island because of public pressure. That’s where the bulk of Budget 2017 for rail is going.

Northland is a clear example of National’s attitude to rail:
 Three years ago they shut the Dargaville-Whangarei line without so much as a press statement.
 In 2016 they shut the Kauri-Otiria line.
 In 2016 they shut the Portland connection.
 Then they slashed the rail freight service to Auckland line by half, from 20 trains a week to 10.
 All that did was throw more trucks on to our further degraded roads.

Education: Why are students the only low-income group still excluded from those who can apply for the accommodation supplement?

Radio NZ: Our national independent broadcaster has given up asking for funding with  nothing new out of National for nine years.

There’s just a bone in Budget 2017 with $2.84 million a year reinforcing the disdain National holds for public broadcasting and democracy. And it is all for new technology and capability.

Social Development: Nine years on and National is still putting money into failed trials and trying new approaches. Millions are being spent but no-one is looking at the results. That’s where the needs of people are being ignored.