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Fudget for Austerity

Written By: - Date published: 12:31 pm, May 19th, 2018 - 71 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, Economy, grant robertson, greens, housing, labour, liberalism, Media, monetary policy, nz first, political parties, politicans, Politics, quality of life, social democracy, welfare, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

Before Thursday, I was expecting a fair few budget posts to be penned, and/or comments made, lauding or expanding on aspects of Grant Robertson’s first budget.

Funnily enough, that hasn’t happened, and in all honesty, I haven’t yet come across a wholly positive budget piece.  Maybe that’s a case of chickens coming home to roost?

The truth of the matter is that NZ Labour have been told time and again that the days of accepting the comfortable managerialism of post ’84 economics; the promise of longer term gain to come off the back of short term pain – that those days and that acceptance were coming to an end.

Unfortunately for New Zealand, NZ Labour managed to contain and defeat moves from with NZ Labour that would have shifted the party’s thinking. More, it seems the victors of NZ Labour’s internal power struggles in caucus and so on, have managed to co-opt the Green Party to some extent – hence the Green Party ascribing to the nonsense of “fiscal responsibility” too.

So a quick perusal across various media outlets suggests the best any “tribal” NZ Labour person can hope for is that the whole budget thing gets quietly and quickly swept under the carpet on the grounds of “next time” promises,  and the government thus escapes a bollocking for traipsing us through bullshit just because it’s being led by the ideological nose ring of austerity.

Across media, damning faint praise seems to be the order of the day for now.

So, for example, Alan Johnson, writing at the Spinoff sees the budget as “A Squandered Opportunity to be Transformational on Poverty”.

Joseph Cederwall is also less than impressed. He positions the budget in a thoughtful and wider context at Scoop and his piece is well worth the read.

Unions, mid-wifes, poverty advocates…the list goes on of people and professions expressing sentiments that seem to share the common theme of being (being kindly in my interpretation) “underwhelmed”.

Some, such as the CTU,  have pulled their punches, and yet even they can’t help but condemn the government’s stupid adherence to “austerity thinking”.

In terms of spending, this budget is one of the stingiest when measured as a proportion of GDP. Many announcements offer up nothing beyond the prospect of “standing still” and some (such as housing) are to be funded by private sector borrowing because that damned stupid nose ring has led Robertson and his crew to believe that much cheaper government borrowing is a bad thing.

So what happens next?

Do we endure a re-run of the Clark years that were always putting off “just rewards” until ‘next year’, or ‘after next election’, or ‘after the next election after that, when the time is right/if the time is right, and conditions are fine, and the sun shines for 24/7?

At the moment, it would appear that’s what government expects of us. And if it wasn’t for the peculiar state of NZ parliamentary politics, I’d say they were pissing in the wind with that expectation. But then, it’s an odd politics when the closest thing to anything left wing is a party that embraces old school conservatism. Yes, NZF are everything that left leaning voters would vote against in a social democratic framework; a framework that views economics and finance in terms of what is good for society and reins or guides accordingly . But NZF are the only party in this current Liberal environment that positions society alongside or before economics.

Which is a shite state of affairs to be in.

And if you disagree with that on the grounds that NZ Labour also favour society over economics and finance, then how would you care to explain the austerity budget we’ve just been presented with?

 

71 comments on “Fudget for Austerity ”

  1. Adrian Thornton 1

    Good analysis there Bill.

    Of course any political parties beating heart is it’s economic ideology, everything that it actually does in the real world is dictated to it by that idology, no matter what rhetoric is espoused or what might be promised by that party.

    Ardern’s NZ Labour Parties beating heart is free market liberalism…that is just a plain fact.

    One can also surmise by this budget (as if we needed any more proof) that Labour would still rather win over a supposed soft National and/or business vote than turn Left and pull in that huge population of disenfranchised voters just waiting for the right voice that represents them…as we have seen enacted by Labour UK and Corbyn.

    It all just makes me miss Helen Kelly even more.

    • OnceWasTim 1.1

      Once again, it seems to be coming down to ‘the least worst option’, and that’s the justification we’re all supposed to consider when we vote.
      What the ‘Left’ don’t realise is that we/they are compromising themselves out of existence.
      I’ve been watching and waiting, prepared to give the coalition a chance to do something a little bold and sensible.
      Instead, whether it be social or economic development, there seems to be this continuing acceptance of advice from ‘officials’ – most of whom have an agenda in preserving the status quo and their position, rather than at least giving equal credibility to those actually at the coal face – whether they be economists outside of government, or various advocacy groups. It’s becoming a little depressing, but I’ll wait a little longer, and if “bold and transformational” continues to mean ‘the least worst option’, I’m off to join the third world where at least there is a shitload more honesty.
      The broad church is losing its way and the coalition really is testing its supporters.

  2. Ad 2

    Here’s the actual budget summary:

    https://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/2018/summary-initiatives.htm

    Before people reify themselves into a hall of commentating mirrors, read the thing itself. The reason the commentariat is so muted on both sides of the spectrum is because he has given neither many points to critique effectively.

    That evidence shows that in political terms, he got it right.

    The five themes are all costed out:

    • Rebuilding critical public services
    • Taking action on child poverty, housing and homelessness
    • Promoting economic development and supporting the regions
    • Enhancing and protecting our natural resources
    • Enriching New Zealand’s culture and identity.

    That kind of approach could be more effective that the old Growth and Innovation Framework, if Robertson applies sufficient horizontal discipline, and does it through successive budgets. That kind of budget allocation-and-measurement innovation won’t show effects for ages. But when it does it will be big.

    Robertson’s approach is similar to the Cullen budgets in that they are indeed focussed on longer-term, lower political yield goals. That is what a wise Minister of Finance does.

    As for the proportion-of-gdp issue, the big trick Robertson and Twyford are seeking to pull together is to co-opt very large parts of private developer and banking capital into public policy, rather than continuing the traditional procurements of the past in which private developers applied for chunks of our collective taxes. That’s very similar to Shaw’s approach too within his Climate Change fund.

    Blurring the old public-from-private distinctions is the necessity of a very small and very unequal and very unevenly distributed country like ours.

    The trick may not come off, but they are betting that they can achieve their policy goals with less direct governance control but greater access by capital into state directed development. Within a small state and a very small economy, as well as a very very small political order, that’s a risk worth taking.

    • andrew murray 2.1

      In the end Ad, any real change for the better to working-class lives can only come through a change to the lot and the expectations of the professional classes and above… Labour, as always, are unwilling to address the necessary extent of that reality

      • Ad 2.1.1

        The “extent of the reality” is that this is a government budget signed off by Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party. This is New Zealand reality in parliament – outside of National. That is the political reality of this budget.

        The change of expectation to the “professional classes” are being achieved primarily through the regulation of property assets. That’s the only signal that they need to send.

        Thankfully they are sending other signals.

        Go right ahead, don’t be satisfied. You’re at least consistent.

        • andrew murray 2.1.1.1

          Ad, The reality I refer to is this,
          no government can sufficiently restore to the working classes their deserved share of the economy as well as repair the social damage of the last 30 years without taking drastic action, that action might involve new systems of money supply or a significant shift/increase in taxes or ‘blah blah’ whatever… but the point is I think it can’t be done without riling up the influential classes. I don’t think there are any 3rd-way solutions,

          I hope I am wrong as I do believe this Govt wants to make a difference, but again I think the task is bigger than the price they will be prepared to pay.

    • Barfly 2.2

      I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment AD I feel this budget is about starting a process of incremental improvement for the vast majority of New Zealanders whilst ensuring electoral success so as to continue the process through subsequent election(s).

      • patricia bremner 2.2.1

        I agree Barfly, this is the Foundation Budget, the next will be the Wellbeing Budget.
        For once I am looking forward with hope, because the frameworks are up. Now for
        the flesh.

        Jacinda, for example explained why the winter payment had to start later, much to her chagrin, as it could have had implementation problems otherwise. However, it is for all on any benefit, and affects no other payment and is for every winter from July this year, and May next year…on. Plus they have all community card holders getting up to $30.00 off Dr.s visits. However, our Dr. said they had to agree… so he thought it would be later….Politics. But it will be there and the precedent is set.

        This and the promise no-one will be left without a roof if they want one for this winter, to end homelessness is huge, and what we wanted. Once WFF kick in the difference for some families will be in the order of a $100 a week pay rise before tax or more.

        Listening to Jacinda in her reply to Simon.. how clear unequivocal and direct is she??

    • koreropono 2.3

      “That evidence shows that in political terms, he got it right”

      So getting it ‘right’ in political terms is more important than seriously addressing issues like poverty?

      If the people at CPAG say that “none of [the measures in this budget] will transform the lives of the large number of children in very severe poverty today” (1), then I am inclined to believe them. I wonder why this coalition Government is not doing more, when they could. Is that for political gain?

      Is retaining the section 70A sanctions on beneficiary mothers also for political gain? Is it somehow advantageous denying a struggling family $28 a week to spend on food?

      (1) http://www.cpag.org.nz/assets/170518%20CPAG%202018BudgetAnalysis%20Summary.pdf

      • Ad 2.3.1

        To your first question:
        Yes. This really is a political document.

        If you wanted a budget with a really hard reversal with huge promised impacts on the people, look up: Nordmeyer, Black Budget.

        About 50 different NGOs from left and right told the Minister his budget was slightly off. Both left and right. If anyone thinks CPAG is going to ever be made happy, then you are inhaling from the great blunt of delusional leftie high that gets passed around from the left every single budget day.

        To your second question:
        Concerning Section 70A of the relevant act for benefits, you will of course be already aware that Minister Sepuloni has already signaled that she is reviewing it, so spare me the sea of violins. This is the budget.

        • koreropono 2.3.1.1

          You didn’t answer the first question, nor the second…reviewing something that Labour signaled they’d do away with in their first 6 months is not doing away with it. In reference to your blunt that “gets passed around from the left every very single budget day”, is that the same as the Meth pipe that gets passed around by delusional liberals who like to think they’re on the left? I know which drug is more damaging, do you?

        • Rosemary McDonald 2.3.1.2

          “This is the budget.”

          So?

          If there was a true commitment to rectify a wrong, to to make good on a promise to a particularly vulnerable section of our community it is more than possible to do this under urgency as part of the budget.

          Off course you have to have the numbers…buy the votes needed with budget allocations…but it can be done.

          https://www.pundit.co.nz/content/i-think-national-just-broke-our-constitution

          And, if the Current Mob had done that for 70A, that particular nasty outdated and misogynistic piece of legislative work, then they would be a number of steps down the path of addressing child poverty.

          I Imagine the Greens would have voted with Labour on this…but they’d have to dangle another juicy carrot in front of Uncle Whinny.

          SSDD.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.3.1.3

          Most of what CPAG say makes perfect sense, and is well supported by facts.

    • The Chairman 2.4

      The commentariat isn’t muted on both sides of the spectrum, Ad. And there are many points being effectively critiqued.

      Therefore. the evidence shows many wanted the Government to go further.

      The dragged-out approach will leave many festering in the downward spiral Grant didn’t do enough to sufficiently address. Hence, things will worsen, thus will ultimately cost more to correct going forward.

  3. Aaron 3

    Michael Cullen is still lurking behind the scenes and given Labour weren’t prepare for government its his ideas that are coming to the fore.

    • Ad 3.1

      They had most of their budget costed and announced by December two months after the election.

      Because of that they had the big tertiary student budget item delivered by February. Which immediately benefited the lives of tens of thousands of New Zealanders – both young people and their parents.

      That is not unprepared.

    • Stuart Munro 3.2

      National weren’t ready for government either, but they’d been pretending to be for nine years. Labour’s pretense is better than National’s reality.

      • Wayne 3.2.1

        We were a damned sight better prepared than the current crowd. The reason being that from 2005 onward we expected to be the government in 2008. So we did the work. Lots of research and in depth policy papers that we implemented when we came into office, though most had to be pared back due to the GFC.

        The current government seems to have had slogans rather than policy. Hence as an example why KiwiBuild has not got any traction, even after 8 months. And hence why so many reviews, they are the things you do when you don’t really know what to do.

        • Stuart Munro 3.2.1.1

          The proof of the pudding Wayne, is not in the effort, but the result.

          I’m sure you had to work very hard indeed, given the distinctly lacklustre quality of your colleagues.

          We need only contemplate the ruins of Christchurch to understand how very far short your government was of a credible performance.

        • Pat 3.2.1.2

          Laissez faire dosnt really require a lot of planning though does it Wayne…but even so you had almost as many working groups….and thats what you do when you have no ideas eh?

          It may be fair to say Labour hadnt done the required detailed policy work, but at least now its being done….unlike the previous 9 years

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1.3

          So let’s see: how does “the current crowd” do a better job than you?

          1. Uphold human rights and the rule of law, like you didn’t.
          2. Not kill any Afghani civilians.
          3. Not cause a massive increase in homelessness.
          4. Bring PISA scores back up.
          5. Not use hospitals as toilets.
          6. Not give any bribes to Saudi troughers.
          7. Not sell access to ministers.
          8. Not make any illegal recordings of staff.
          9. Not lie about it.

          That’ll do for starters.

          • adam 3.2.1.3.1

            labour being better than national is not a very high bar to set. Most 2 years olds could do better, on the lying front at least.

            Personally I don’t really see the point in setting the bar that low. I get why some might want to, but waste your energy?

            The fact of the matter is national is full of smart people who are happy to burn the world in the name of greed. It’s why the New Testament spends so much time being critical of greed. We have know for some time the world would burn if it ever won out.

        • Incognito 3.2.1.4

          Hence as an example why KiwiBuild has not got any traction, even after 8 months.

          The Government got sworn in 26 October 2017, which by my calculations is 6 months and 23 days (205 days in total) today.

          And hence why so many reviews, they are the things you do when you don’t really know what to do.

          They are things you do when you want to do things well. They are things you do when you want to do things in an integrated way because everything is connected; window dressing, moving deck chairs, and ad hoc pragmatic knee jerks may fool people into believing that you’re doing something useful but medium- to long-term they are inefficient, ineffective, and even counter-productive as we have seen over the past 9 years. It also shows that ‘reviewing’ policy in Focus Groups does not necessarily make for good decisions but might help popular politics to rule the polls, for a limited time. The shoot first, from the hip, then ask questions may be necessary for survival in the Wild West but it is no way suitable for governing a country.

        • Sacha 3.2.1.5

          “reviews, they are the things you do when you don’t really know what to do.”

          That’s true from a right-leaning view of leadership as top-down decisiveness.

          Not so much from a left-leaning view of leadership as building consensus across diverse interests. Now if only they can get their shit together on also communicating with the general public in service of that goal..

        • KJT 3.2.1.6

          I can see how Wayne has a problem with a Government which intends to build. Rather than steal and demolish.

  4. dukeofurl 4

    Its no surprise that supporters of the Greens who got 6% of the vote, arent happy.

    if the Greens got 12 % it would likely be a different story. But they didnt.

    • roy cartland 4.1

      And that might be what is holding Grant back. The business community is the one with the money. They’re the ones with the media platform, and hence the power to manipulate gullible soft voters.

      If Grant had come out all socialist guns blazing, there would be another Metiria scandal waiting to burst his bubble. If he gets them onside for the short term, at least until his message has permeated down through the skulls of the easily-influenced, then he can start to implement what we’d all really like.

      Fact is, we still have too many rich and rich-sympathetic to be able to change as fast as we need.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        What makes you think that Robertson is “holding back”? Is there any good reason to believe his politics are anything other than what he’s presenting?

      • Ed 4.1.2

        There are easy ways to make the rich the leave the country.

    • Bill 4.2

      Its no surprise that supporters of the Greens who got 6% of the vote, arent happy.

      Maybe so. Maybe. But then, is it no surprise that supporters of NZ Labour are happy with their party running Liberal economics in government, when they ran a campaign that included the party leader reveal a supposed recognition of Liberalism’s failure?

      Maybe not. Maybe we’re “that far” gone that incessant vacuous cheerleading for a chosen parliamentary party is all that’s left to fill what was once a vibrant political landscape.

  5. Rosemary McDonald 5

    “But then, it’s an odd politics when the closest thing to anything left wing is a party that embraces old school conservatism.”

    And horses…don’t forget the horses.

    • dukeofurl 5.1

      Horses ?
      Clearly that was a NZF line in their coalition agreement

      “Support New Zealand First’s Racing policy”

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Many announcements offer up nothing beyond the prospect of “standing still” and some (such as housing) are to be funded by private sector borrowing because that damned stupid nose ring has led Robertson and his crew to believe that much cheaper government borrowing is a bad thing.

    It’s part of the lie that’s been promoted over the last few decades that all wealth comes from the private sector. The lie that’s been set up to prevent the government from doing what’s needed with all the wealth that they actually command.

    Consider: If the government simply created the money that it needed and also made loans out for mortgages and businesses at 0% interest all that money that rich people have would suddenly become worthless. They actually have too much and simply cannot spend it.

    Trade with other countries would rapidly decline to minimal levels. When the government can utilise all of a nations resources fully trade isn’t necessary. How well do the skimmers do when there’s nothing that they can skim from?

  7. David Mac 7

    I think the budget is a pretty good job at addressing the needs and expectations of the 4.7 million of us. The fringes, by nature, will never be budget content.

  8. Cinny 9

    Because of this budget and this government; a dear friend who has been devoid of so many opportunities throughout her life, submitted an application form on Friday to study and become a teacher.

    When she told me the news today I burst into tears, it’s a huge huge deal.

    This budget is not about me, might not be about you either, but it’s about people, like her, and this changes everything for her, everything. So very very happy for her, huge deal. Thanks new government, massive thanks.

    And….. was wondering if the government is prepping for a GFC?

    • Bill 9.1

      Sadly, because of this government being in thrall to austerity based ideology, many people will, quite unnecessarily, continue to be devoid of opportunity. That said, I’m happy for your friend.

      • Koreropono 9.1.1

        +1000. I’m disappointed that the Government is sticking to the status quo and denying so many opportunities. Opportunities to things like healthy food, stable homes, accessible educational opportunities, relief from depression. Never fear though homeless is being tackled with 600 new prison beds…Go Labour!

      • Cinny 9.1.2

        I’m hearing you Bill, either way, it is already changing some peoples lives for the better, my friend won’t be the only one buzzing out on life changes.

  9. David Mac 10

    I think our current government need only do 1 thing really well in order to enter the next election cycle looking like dead certs. Facilitate the building of heaps and heaps of houses.

    Prisoners leave jail and sell dope again because they have no skills and nobody wants to give them a chance. Train a pod of 4 guys to lay concrete before they get out. If we’re struggling to get drives and house-pads laid, they’ll thrive better than they ever did selling tinnies. A tsunami of building will treat our country favorably in many ways.

    • …’ Train a pod of 4 guys to lay concrete before they get out. If we’re struggling to get drives and house-pads laid, they’ll thrive better than they ever did selling tinnies ‘ …

      That’s the go, mate !

      And that’s all part of the ‘rebuild’ as well.

  10. cleangreen 11

    “the best any “tribal” NZ Labour person can hope for is that the whole budget thing gets quietly and quickly swept under the carpet on the grounds of “next time” promises, and the government thus escapes a bollocking for traipsing us through bullshit just because it’s being led by the ideological nose ring of austerity.”

    Yes Bill;

    Hit the nail firmly on the head there billl, as Robinson is a “auteriuty pundit here for sure.

    Did he already go to Europe to become indictonated as the germans and the ECB are hard right on austerity remember Greece?

    Italy is just about to break out of the heavily conrtrolled EU austerity primcipals and become left wing radical so we willl see a chenge occur overseas before it ha[ppens here it seems.

    • Alan 11.1

      so Italy has looked at the Cuba etc. model and said yeah that looks brilliant, lets do that……

      • WILD KATIPO 11.1.1

        Gotta love those Batista’s , and their mates the Mafia, eh champ?

        Really provided a rich mans playground for the wealthy Americans, didn’t they…

  11. David Mac 12

    It would be good to see Kiwibuild flex it’s muscles.

    I wonder if build costs could be slashed by 25% if key building components, like electrical cable, plaster board etc were bought by the shipload with a government guarantee. An electronic Kiwibuild builders’ depot established. The raw ingredients every build needs at ‘by the shipload’ price benefits that must be passed on to the end user. House the people, Mitre 10 can cry us a river of ITM tears.

    • DB Brown 12.1

      Just like to say you are firing with good ideas today (yesterday) David.

      My thoughts are that this government is at least trying to heal the rift that sees two NZ’s at each others throats.

      Left vs Right
      Bosses vs Workers
      Farmers vs Townies
      Economy vs Ecology
      Oil vs Renewables
      Nats vs Labour

      Could you find an enemy on that list? If not, write in to NZ Herald, they might find a foreigner for you to be scared of. The media generated divides we are all succumbing to are a ghost.

      This is the hardest task we face. Sanity.

      • koreropono 12.1.1

        “My thoughts are that this government is at least trying to heal the rift that sees two NZ’s at each others throats”

        Meanwhile they’re succumbing to the negative 70A narrative (mainly aimed at women of breeding age), thus perpetuating the rift between the deserving and undeserving (which are really generous labels given the commentary floating around the comments sections of MSM) – that’s a big fucking rift right there.

        Top that off by not removing ANY other sanctions aimed at beneficiaries and you’ve got yourself a party that buys into the Neoliberal narrative that human beings are generally lazy and require punishment or the threat of punishment to at least do the ‘right’ thing. Buying into that narrative and continuing the draconian regime of their predecessors does not ‘heal the rift’, it continues that rift and reinforces the mindset that it is okay to treat a particular section of our society differently based on their employment status, thus encouraging those who created that narrative to continue their violent and isolating dialogue unchallenged.

        • pat 12.1.1.1

          “The government has already signalled it was likely to make an announcement soon about its promised overhaul of the welfare system.

          That will look at benefit sanctions, ensuring access to entitlements and a review of Working for Families.”

          https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/budget-2018/357431/budget-could-be-cold-comfort-for-poorest-citizens

          • Koreropono 12.1.1.1.1

            That may be so, and I look forward to these announcements but as pointed out in the rest of the article. The budget not go far enough to make things better for those most affected by poverty. The upcoming announcements are unlikely to make much difference because this government has chosen to spend less than the 30% target of GDP target they set themselves. That means they could have done more but chose not to. Meanwhile kids are still going hungry, midwives are quitting and yet the excuses are still piling up.

  12. adam 13

    Why bother Bill?

    Seriously, the neocon liberal collective will conduct a cacophony of harsh criticisms, of any criticism. I see it started with you not reading enough, or never being happy. What next, having expectations makes you an enemy??!?

    My guess much simpler they will call you an out liar, oopps I mean an outlier. And as such you don’t count. They done it already with the near million kiwis who saw voting as a sick joke at their expense. Not to much of a step to do it to one commentator who dares to think of a better world – one with out austerity.

    As I said before the election, the NZ labour party are right wing, especially in terms of economics, and this budget goes a long way to prove that.

    • Ed 13.1

      In New Zealand we have a choice between a virulent strain of neoliberalism and a milder version of the virus.
      But whatever happens you get neoliberalism.

      We have no Corbyn.
      We have no Momentum.

      Until Douglas and his colleagues are tried for treason and sentenced severely, we will not rid ourselves of this plague.

      • Incognito 13.1.1

        Viruses often mutate into more virulent strains.

        You do realise that millions (in NZ) have been ‘infected’? I’m one of them but I’m trying to live with my ‘disease’ …

      • Koreropono 13.1.2

        +1000

    • Bill 13.2

      Why bother (to call things as I see them?)

      I simply bother because I can.

      It doesn’t matter at all what personal accusations some may choose to hurl. What matters is the presence or absence of convincing answers to questions that are raised.

      And I know I’m not the only one thinking along the lines I try to articulate hereabouts.

      • Ed 13.2.1

        Better to speak up and stand than be silent and skulk away.

      • adam 13.2.2

        Just as long as you are aware of the type of criticism your going to get.

        Far to many are happy for the world to burn, and burn anyone who calls them on it.

  13. Ed 14

    This is how bad New Zealand’s journalism has become.

    “So pour yourself a glass of Champaign, get out your Union Jack flag and settle in for the wedding of the year. ”

    Champaign.

    Morans.

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/royal-wedding/2018/05/live-updates-the-royal-wedding.html

  14. Ron 15

    What we did not learn from Douglas is if you think change is important do it quickly once in office. In my opinion one of the most important change should be Radio NZ. If the people do not have a competent honesty radio and television services to investigate and inform then then the majority of the public are blind. Putting off the changes at RNZ means that by the time any changes happen National will be back in power

  15. Rosemary McDonald 16

    Shamubeel Eaqub walks the tightrope for his Budget analysis…https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/104012769/the-budget–a-delicate-dance-within-a-straightjacket

    “For all the language and posturing of the Budget, it is at its core a delicate dance performed clumsily, within the confines of a fiscal straitjacket.

    A kinder interpretation is a Budget that is restrained and patient, keeping powder dry to do the big hairy stuff next year. “

    • SPC 16.1

      For those of you waiting for the larger surpluses forecast in future years, remember that the contributions to the Cullen Fund will take a large slice of it.

      If Michael Cullen had set up the fund properly via 1% taken from your wages plus 1% from the employer – thus unrelated to having a budget surplus or not (so we would have had contributions 2009-2017 and a much larger fund now), we would have this money available for health and education including pay increases.

      His error (given this Labour government has chosen to continue with it) will have consequences for the ability to afford much.

      PS National will exploit the budget surpluses required to finance Cullen Fund contributions to promise tax cuts when they return to office 2020/20203/2026 whatever.

  16. Philg 17

    The question for me from the Budget and commentary: ‘Is the Government cautious in not knowing what to do or fearful of implementing what it knows is required.’

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 17.1

      Good question. I feel a large part of this coalition is still deeply neoliberal – in which case they suffer from “not knowing what to do”.

      Redistribution of resources – necessary when you have myriad problems caused by extreme inequality – seems completely absent so far.

    • Pat 17.2

      or neither

  17. Descendant Of Sssmith 19

    Looking at my list that’s been around for years now I can only see faint glimpses of hope.

    8 hour workingday
    40 hour working week
    Decent minimum wage
    Increased taxation of the well off
    Increasing benefit rates to a liveable amount – at minimum putting the $20-00 per week back on benefits – you know the $20 per week they put back on super and the one they had 9 years to put back on benefits but did not
    Centralised wage bargaining forcing firms to compete on the quality of the product and service not on who can pay the crappiest wage
    Ensuring minimum salaries are say 120% of the minimum wage to stop employers getting around the minimum wage requirements
    Building more state housing and letting people live in their state houses for their entire life if they wish – you know giving people security
    Employing people with disabilites and young people in the public sector to give them an opportunity for a decent life and a good start – cause the private sector won’t and will never employ them all
    Regional development to support rural areas and not just farmers

    Of course there’s been more damage done in the meantime so a few additions are needed:

    Put all sole parents back on a sole parent benefit so it doesn’t look like they have miraculously vanished – who in their right mind would treat a sole parent with a 1 year old the same as a rank and file unemployed person? Must be one of those fully formed policies Wayne Mapp was pontificating about.

    Increase benefits to the NZS rate like immediately, like they used to be. Life’s got tougher.

    Create a rent tribunal to weigh in on exorbitant rents and to limit the amount of rent that can be charged – it’s not the tenants fault you paid too much for a house and in many cases the rent bears no relationship to the cost of that house anyway – was paid off years ago – tenant is paying for the other ones you bought – doesn’t the right hate cross-subsidisation. Any tenant should be able to have a rent set based on affordability. Christchurch set the ball rolling post earthquake with ridiculous rents and now every landlord thinks it’s the right of the poor to pay up. Soon as the earthquake hit there should have been a rent freeze declared – note that for next disaster all the disaster profiteers.

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