Interesting anonymous editorial in The Herald yesterday:
Sacred cows fair game as Govt clings to surplus
A$66 million surplus in 2014-15 is, as Bill English noted yesterday, “not large”. But, in the interests of avoiding embarrassment, it is one the Finance Minister is clearly very keen to protect.
As much was apparent as he used the release of the half-year economic and fiscal update to indicate that spending on the Government’s biggest programmes is now under the gun. “Long-term drivers of costs in areas such as welfare, health, education and law and order” were mentioned as Mr English outlined his plan to retain the surplus in the face of a threatened further deterioration in the global economy. …
The universality of the likes of Working for Families, as well as the generosity of interest-free student loans, have previously been deemed out of bounds. The Government has, unfortunately, not been prepared to take tough decisions, whatever their rationality and reasonableness.
The wealthy, therefore, continue to be eligible for Working for Families benefits. Student loans have been subjected only to tinkering, aimed mainly at reclaiming loans. Mr English’s gaze should be directed at tailoring welfare to those who genuinely need it, and reining in the benevolence of the loan scheme.
Why is it, that on any editorial list of sacred cows the Nats’ tax cut bribe for the rich never seems to feature? Rolling back those tax cuts would raise much more revenue than tinkering with student loans, and is much fairer besides, but strangely this particular cow is never offered up for sacrifice.
In unrelated news, it’s a fair bet that the anonymous scribe waxing lyrical about the “benevolence” of the student loan scheme (1) received a free education themselves, and (2) benefited greatly from the tax cut bribe. Mmmm – funny that.