Speech: Budget day/deception day
Beachlands Memorial Hall,
49 Wakelin Rd, Beachlands
1.30pm, Sunday, 21st May, 2017.
Budget day/deception day
Next Thursday is Budget Day when Steven Joyce will seek to Trump Bill English in smoke and mirrors.
A credible Budget will have three features.
First, it will provide an honest accounting of how the New Zealand economy and government finances are really doing.
Second, it will explain how there is a surplus after addressing all the reasonable demands that need money spent on them.
Third, it will set out a pathway that will deliver real prosperity and security for all New Zealanders.
By those standards this Thursday’s budget will be an abject failure!
The chasm between rhetoric and reality in our economy will be as clear as day.
Underneath the hype and misinformation will be a “fake” Budget that delivers little that is meaningful for ordinary New Zealanders.
There will be the usual political parcels fluffed up to look substantial, as though they will make a difference.
But will they survive scrutiny?
Let’s start by putting a few facts on the table. Including the inconvenient facts that don’t fit the “everything is rosy” spin.
1. Nearly 5% or 130,000 New Zealanders were officially without a job.
2. The government’s boast of GDP growth of 3% is bogus - the bulk of that is from a 2% annual population growth
3. New Zealand’s productivity is low – well below better performing OECD countries and way behind Australia.
4. The economy is fundamentally unbalanced. National has done nothing to address the chronic balance of payments deficit which is $7 billion.
5. New Zealand remains massively indebted to the rest of world – with a net international liability of $156 billion.
6. The relentless flogging off of New Zealand goes on. According to the Overseas Investment Office 466,000 hectares of land was sold to offshore buyers in 2016 - five times more than the previous year.
Let’s turn to tax cuts – a seductive notion.
The government has been teasing the public with the prospect of tax cuts through many of its previous Budgets.
The public is fed on a diet of “some day, one day” tax cuts will happen.
But being election year just dangling possible cuts is not enough.
This year they have to deliver something – or face a total loss of credibility.
No one wants to pay more tax than necessary – and with many struggling even a few dollars will seem appealing.
But the public is entitled to honest answers on what the true costs of any tax cut is.
We know that the so-called surplus, which is the pretext for a tax cut, is “a creature of creative accounting”.
The Government will tout its Budget surplus.
This is supposed to be the real barometer of prudent public finance.
Remember what we said, the government will have to explain how there is a surplus after addressing all the reasonable demands that need money spent on them
If this Thursday’s Budget does not do that then claims of a surplus will be without credibility, plausibility or integrity.
Some may be taken in but not people who think about what the Government is really up to.
Read the news, day in, day out, year in, year out, of critical areas lacking funding.
You all know there is deliberate under funding of many public services, including health, education and police.
We could recite a very long list that includes children in overcrowded schools being taught in corridors and sick people waiting years for the specialist medical treatment they urgently need.
Hospitals around the country are struggling to cope with an influx of patients – with DHBs in serious deficit – in Whangarei a Northland man waited six days, all day every day, to have a broken ankle attended to.
Almost on a weekly basis doctors and health professionals are warning of health services on the edge of collapse.
These conditions are a direct result of government conjuring up a surplus irrespective of the cost inflicted on society and the environment.
There are many other issues and areas where the funding deficit is doing serious damage, for example;
· Mental health services
To say nothing of stopping contributions into the NZ Super Fund to assist with the future costs of retirement.
If the government was paying into the NZ Super Fund there would be no surplus – and how come commentators can’t get that simple fact?
Record net immigration at almost 72,000 per year will render the numbers in this Thursday’s Budget meaningless.
Budgets that take no account of rapid population growth are next to useless.
Any government can get “growth” by mass immigration.
Question: Why stop at net almost 72,000 new immigrants a year?
Why not net 170,000 a year?
Or further yet why not 270,000?
Think of it – then the government could boast that NZ has the highest economic growth rate in the world.
All three scenarios are ridiculous.
But this government will not come clean – and adjust its Budget numbers to growth per capita, that is, GDP growth per person.
National remains addicted to a reckless and irresponsible immigration policy.
And this Budget won’t address that.
Mind you, isn’t it amazing how all of a sudden so many politicians and observers have discovered we have an immigration problem?
But National, rather than address it, continues with an absurd open door immigration policy and offshore buying to further fuel this crisis.
Until immigration is drastically reduced any claims that politicians are serious about the housing crisis is just hot air – babble to conceal their real agenda.
We’ll be releasing our housing policy for this election very shortly. It is realistic, based on the needs of New Zealanders now and into the near future. It will be accompanied by a construction programme and financing provisions to make these policies real.
Unlike the rest, we are going to build houses for people not the “market”.
There will be nothing in this Budget to stop the wholesale sell-off of New Zealand land, businesses, houses and property to overseas ownership.
This government won’t collect data on the true extent of the losses. New Zealand First will.
We will turn the Overseas Investment Office from a toothless poodle into an effective watchdog with real teeth.
There will be nothing in this Budget to boost our savings and reduce our dependence on overseas borrowing.
Four Australian-owned banks dominate our banking sector.
These banks remit billions of profits, dividends and other payments each year creating an enormous drain on our economy and the balance of payments.
But where is our government on this? As usual AWOL - missing in action.
They are totally happy with 95% of the NZ banking system being held overseas. It fits perfectly with their “flog it off” agenda.
Given that NZ is already in net debt to the rest of the world to the tune of $156 billion it is long since time for action on this front.
New Zealand First will start by putting every central and local government account with KiwiBank.
Funding must match the task it faces.
Conservation must be for conservation’s sake not just for tourism’s sake.
New Zealand has among the highest proportion of threatened or endangered species – we are talking well over 2000 species on that list.
Again, when you look at conservation underfunding you see how deceitful claims of a surplus are.
Endangered species in New Zealand will be sacrificed just so National can cook the books a bit longer.
If the conservation estate – New Zealand’s treasure – is to be properly protected funding must be seriously increased.
The government’s track record on taking steps to reduce carbon emissions can be summed up in one word.
As the rest of the world moves forward and begins to tackle the great challenge of our time what has been happening in NZ?
NZ is going backwards.
Wellington is scrapping its trolley buses – a sustainable, low carbon form of public transport and replacing them with diesel buses spewing noxious emissions into the city’s streets.
KiwiRail is scrapping its electric locomotives on the North Island Main Trunk Line and replacing them with diesels.
These are staggeringly retrograde steps but they typify this government’s total failure in the area of climate change.
National has become arrogant and dismissive in the way they ply their politics.
We should be all grateful that last weekend a National MP exposed the true nature of his party.
He said to people getting taxpayer funding, you bag us on the campaign trail and watch out, there won’t be money on the table.
He named some of his culprits.
The Salvation Army wasn’t playing ball by raising homelessness.
Willie Jackson had better look out if he wanted more money for his schools.
And beware the media - he accused John Campbell of making up stories of the homeless, as though people holed up in cars had been stage managed.
Alfred Ngaro MP was just telling the truth.
There are numerous examples.
Health Minister Coleman calling critics of his mental health policy a bunch of Lefties.
Conservation Minister Barry bad mouthing critics of DOC underfunding.
A contractor drilling holes at Pike River was gagged by his contract.
He was instructed to report to Solid Energy if anyone, particularly the media, approached him for information.
That’s how the disaster of 29 men dying is being handled.
My team went to Kaikoura 11 days ago because of complaints of slow progress on the roads.
The NZTA then had the gall to call up the helicopter firm and ask them who hired the aircraft.
What business is it of theirs?
They are a government appointed body but where is their independence?
This week we emailed St John to ask about new crewing proposals from government funding.
They wanted to know what the information was for, and copied their email reply to the Health Ministry.
This is just like the social housing providers. They were told if they had any media approach they must refer it back to the Ministry.
That’s a government starting to behave like the Mafia.
These are bullying tactics.
In the Northland by-election two years ago Whangarei MP Shane Reti phoned a resident and told her to stop complaining about a dusty road or any funds would dry up. Unfortunately for him she recorded the threat.
When two solo mums complained about cuts to training incentives Minister Paula Bennett ignored privacy laws by revealing how much those two received in welfare payments and generated a public backlash.
That’s vindictiveness at its worst.
Paula Bennett got her BA through such an allowance. She gets political power and she scraps the allowance.
When the Human Right Commission criticised John Key increasing spy powers, he put the frighteners on them - he threatened to cut their funding.
Then there’s Act Party’s David Seymour, the MP in Parliament who got in on the coattails of National. He’s a bully too, a small one.
Mr Seymour not only visited a school to deter a manager from complaining in writing about policy, he went to his house.
He told him not to put his complaints in writing.
In 2014 the Community Law Centre suspected its government funding was withdrawn because it spoke out about legal reform.
This followed other community groups saying they were being muzzled by fears that speaking out against government policies would result in losing funding.
All these Mafia like, standover tactics belong to another world, or a movie script, not New Zealand.
This is not Hollywood. These Ministers are carried away with their sense of importance.
These are just some examples of the Born to Rule Blue Brigade.
This is the party that has made a thousand cuts to community organisations – Women’s Refuge, Barnados, Presbyterian Support, Relationship Aotearoa, and a $13m cut to Adult Community Education in 2009, to name a few.
This week we called for Auditor-General Martin Matthews to be stood down.
For five years as CEO of the Ministry of Transport he oversaw the work of Joanne Harrison. She is now in jail for stealing $725,000 from the taxpayer.
He conveniently announced his departure from the MOT when charges were being laid against Harrison.
He moved on to a top job as Auditor-General.
His decision making and poor judgement over Harrison’s actions do not make him suitable to fill the role
As CEO for the MOT he had ignored eight warnings from staff that Harrison was a fraudster – she was inventing companies and giving them contracts.
Three of the whistle-blowers lost their jobs during “change” at the Ministry, which Harrison was heavily involved in.
Harrison got her husband a job, and a friend a job.
Mr Matthews knew this friend was paid but never turned up to work.
He failed to investigate, otherwise he would have followed the dots to Harrison’s deception.
Mr Matthews knew the Australian police were looking for Harrison, two years before she was charged, but did nothing.
Worse, just months before Harrison was charged, we can reveal that Mr Matthews appointed her to run an investigation at the Department of Conservation.
This involved “harassment” issues. So, a fraudster decided on the future of workers at DOC
That report must be now discredited.
Parliament was not told of her lead in the DOC inquiry when it ticked off his appointment as Auditor-General.
Second, we can also reveal his failure to take seriously potential public safety issues involving seven KiwiRail Bridges constructed with prohibited bolts, prone to fatigue and cracking.
It also involves one bridge that was made in China.
Mr Matthews was aware that prohibited bolts were being used.
He took little interest.
These bridges could be a time bomb, we just don’t know when.
Again, that vital attention to detail and being a stickler for accuracy, is what you would expect from the Auditor-General yet here we have two examples that fall well short of that.
Mr Matthews must be stood down pending investigations.
NZ First does have a comprehensive set of policies to grow the economy in a way that will deliver decent jobs for Kiwis
And that is what NZ First will campaign on all the way to September 23.
NZ First will give New Zealanders a real choice in the 2017 election.