As I move around the Wairarapa electorate people are telling me the same story. They are struggling just to make ends meet. It is something I am aware of personally. My Subaru costs me around $110 to fill the tank. Last year it cost only around $68. For a lot of people this is a struggle in itself. One woman told me that her grocery bill has now gone up by $60 more than it did before last years budget. Labour wants to help these families that’s why Labour undertakes to remove GST from fresh fruit and vegetables. Two weeks ago pensioner after pensioner told me the same thing. No matter how hard they try they cannot make ends meet.
National laughs at this – that is not surprising they are out of touch but who can blame them? The Prime Minister for example is a man of immense personal wealth. High earning people like him get the most from tax-cuts. The irony is that he obtained his wealth while working as a wheeler-dealer at Merrill Lynch, one of those business houses implicated in the global financial crisis. But he got out with $50 million before it hit the fan. At a time when a large number of Kiwis are struggling to put food on the table our leader thinks nothing of paying $14,000 for himself and his wife to enjoy a six-course dinner prepared by British chef Heston Blumenthal. Worth noting is that a pensioner’s annual income is only $14529 to $19425 before tax. This only serves to underscore the real separation between National and real people. John Key smiles and waves for the cameras in Christchurch then jumps on a plane to Cape Kidnappers to spend the equivalent of a pensioner’s yearly income on one-off novelty dining with his wife – you can’t get more different than that.
National’s plans for asset sales are dangerous. The private sector got us into the global financial crisis and to flog off wealth creating assets to the private sector who will have to rely on borrowing to purchase the assets is folly. To talk about the size of total debt, then to advocate a policy of privatization which will involve the incurring of more debt is nuts. Further if the offer to buy is for New Zealand investors only, they will be sold at a discount as the prospective market of purchasers will be artificially reduced. As I have said previously we just can’t trust National that only 49 percent of each asset will be flogged off, after all National promised they would not raise GST in the first term.
It is seductively easy to overstate the scale and imminence of economic threats and then exaggerate “shock doctrine” arguments for instant radical change. That’s where Think Big, Rogernomics, Ruthenasia and the current reversal of the Welfare State come from. The essence of this approach is to laud the existence and inherent wisdom of the market economy. Yet in reality it was this same unrestrained market that created the global financial crisis in the first place.
The upshot of all this borrowing is now whenever our economy looks like recovering, the benefits of any growth are to be shipped offshore as profits and dividends from now foreign-owned assets, and as interest payments on the debt incurred over the last decade. Last year, New Zealand paid $15.5 billion in profits and interest payments to foreign investors and creditors. Only $3.3 billion was reinvested. That is unsustainable. National has no plan for growth, they are divorced from the every day reality of New Zealanders. Labour put New Zealand in a sound position to weather the financial crisis and only Labour will provide a way out of the mire that National has created.
Michael Bott – Labour’s Candidate for Wairarapa