National has staked it all on delivering bigger tax cuts than Labour. To remain credible, they need to deliver $20 a week on average more than Labour. That’s $3 billion a year. The operating surplus is gone, so where will the money come from?
John Key has been repeatedly referencing the fact that the government spends $60 billion a year, most of which he claims hasn’t been reviewed for a decade (untrue). He assures us there is waste in that $60 billion to fund his tax cuts.
Of course, any organisation has waste and a very large organisation faces dis-economies of scale, especially one that employs 250,000 people and does everything from registering dogs to undertaking combat operations. But to suggest that there is waste on the scale Key imagines and that he could cut that waste where Labour can’t is ridiculous. He hasn’t identified any significant examples of waste.
No Government has an interest in waste existing in the public service – every wasted dollar is one that could be spent on more outputs that the people are always demanding or tax cuts, which they also want. There are votes in cutting waste wherever possible; none in keeping it. In fact, our government is regarded internationally as one of the least wasteful in the world – foreign bureaucrats come to learn from us and academics study our model as one to be emulated in other countries. National wants us to think Key, a man with no experience in government, could magically find huge amounts of waste that Labour hasn’t, but it’s just more slipperiness and hollow promises.
The Government spends $60 billion a year but nearly half of that is just government transfer payments (superannuation, benefits, Working for Families, Kiwisaver). So, National needs to find $3 billion out of the remaining $30-odd billion, most of which is health, education and infrastructure. Could any government save 10% with by carefully cutting out waste without cutting services? No, to cut that much, National would have to use a cleaver, not a scalpel.