The junior doctors’ strike is a difficult issue. On the one hand, these are highly valuable workers whom we can’t afford to lose overseas and they do work long hours in difficult conditions. On the other hand, the pay rise they want would cost $50 million and is well above what other medical professionals have received.
Naturally, John Key thinks he has the answer. And, naturally, that answer is tax cuts.
On Breakfast this morning, Key said that junior doctors do not deserve a 30-40% pay rise like they are asking for. Asked how he would solve the strike he said tax cuts would solve the issue. Let’s examine that:
Say National blows the budget with tax cuts of $4 billion (commentators expect them to offer $3 billion max). That works out to about $2000 per worker a year. Junior doctors earn $80,000 a year. Junior doctors want 30-40%. Even at best, tax cuts will increase their pay 2.5%. Yeah, they’ll leap at that.
Even if Key were to abolish income tax, the increase in junior doctors pay would only just match the pay increase they want. And, of course, there would be no money to pay them.
Key, the money man, knows that his tax cuts can’t satisfy junior doctors’ wage demands, just as they can’t close the wage gap with Australia. Yet, in typical slippery fashion, he is trying to convince you that tax cuts are a panacea for all ills.
PS. Key said that, in addition, to tax cuts he would solve the junior doctors’ dispute by not hiring as many administrative staff. So, under National junior doctors will get a 2.5% pay increase and have to spend more time doing administrative tasks. I’m sure they can hardly wait.