- Date published:
12:23 pm, May 31st, 2019 - 65 comments
Categories: accountability, class, jacinda ardern, labour, national, Propaganda, quality of life, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: Budget 2019, mike hosking
Clearly this week’s commentary on the budget can be divided on a partisan basis.
There was the frankly bizarre. Like this effort from Maserati driver Mike Hosking.
His last few budget headlines have been:
No one should be surprised that dishing out large amounts of cash on welfare reform, upgrading rail and mental health support did not attract his support. In fact the day that Mike is pleased about something the Government does is the day that us lefties should critically review our support.
Radio New Zealand has covered the budget and the events leading up to it extensively but it has this frustrating habit on spending as much time on opposition gocha lines and interviewing people to see what personal benefit they received as on the content of the budget itself.
Some complained. But there were others who captured the essence perfectly.
Like this effort.
And this column by Bernard Hickey neatly summarised the social media turmoil that erupted this week and compared it to what was acutally important.
He compared what was happening on social media with what was happening in real life. From the real life he said this:
Year 13 students Lu Faaui, Uili Tumanuvao, Sela Tukia, Francis Nimo and Efi Gaono … talked about what they wanted from the Budget. They had been forced to move out of state houses in Glen Innes (Tamaki Regeneration Company) to South Auckland and their parents were working multiple jobs to pay for private rentals.
They were paying $40 a week to travel across Auckland each day to Tamaki College.
“Just like Sela said, it’s forced us to move out of GI (Glen Innes) and yeah my family just decides to cope with it. It’s made my Dad work even more hours. My mum gets two jobs, my sister gets two jobs. I mean, money is money you know,” said Lu.
His conclusion about their desires was neatly captured in this sentence:
All those teenagers wanted was affordable and convenient housing and transport so they could easily go to school and their parents didn’t have to work so hard.
He then said that this is what the Government should have told those young people and their families:
Here’s what I would have said to those Tamaki College kids.
The Wellbeing Budget included lots more spending on primary mental health care, rail network maintenance and a welcome indexation of benefits to wages, rather than prices. It started to focus on things like child poverty numbers, carbon emissions and suicide rates, but did little to solve their problems with housing and transport in Auckland.
I’d tell them there was very little new spending on housing. KiwiBuild was barely mentioned. The new rail lines in Auckland are still just an aspiration. I’d tell them the Government could borrow enough to start re-engineering their city to be more affordable, liveable and carbon neutral, but wasn’t doing that because Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson made a promise two years ago not to borrow more than 20 percent of national income.
I’d say that’s a bit like their parents earning a joint income of $100,000 a year and having debt of $20,000. And that the bank wanted to lend them the extra $20,000 they needed to build a new home and have affordable and carbon-neutral transport. That would lift their net debt to income ratio to 40 percent. And that the interest cost would be 1.7 percent per year, which would mean the extra interest costs for their parents earning $100,000 a year to afford that house and rail system would be $340 a year.
But that politicians generally and the public were so worried about that extra $20,000 in debt and what the financial markets might say that they weren’t fixing Auckland’s housing and transport crisis. Sorry about that.
And his conclusion about the effect on social media on political discourse was this:
The best example of how this increased metabolic rate of politics has warped the public debate is to point to what has happened in America and Europe, where increasingly polarised politicians shout at each other from their own bubbles of supporters and nothing changes. Meanwhile, other forces keep screwing the scrum of democracy to further their own interests.
The end result is a disengaged public, policy paralysis, a lot of noise and not much light.
I understand how it happened and I’ve been living in it now for a decade. A political firmament driven by social media, sound bites, cheap shots and one-day-wonder stories is not going to solve the problems of South Auckland or Tamaki.
Everyone should take a chill pill, stop jumping to conclusions for a quick political hit and instead think beyond the beltway to the real world and long term concerns of citizens.
Jacinda Ardern clearly realises this. And currently she is without match in New Zealand politics. Long may it continue.