In his Budget speech, David Shearer labelled John Key ‘Mr Australia’. Because that’s where he’s pushing us. The zero hope budget offers a thousand and one nasty little cuts for students, for kids, for low-income workers, for schools, for community groups, for your public services. All to – if rosy growth forecasts come true – barely achieve a micro-surplus in 2014/15 for purely political reasons.
What’s the difference between $74,912,000,000 and $75,105,000,000? 0.26%, $197m. That’s how much National says it will reach surplus by in 2014/15. It’s such a marginal surplus that it doesn’t matter in any real sense. It’s just a political goal.
But to make sure they achieve that goal, what have they done? Cut ECE funding, increased class sizes, cut student allowances, increased student loan repayments – and that’s just the education cuts!
And when the rosy growth projections don’t come off? More cuts. Maybe they’ll call it the ‘sub-zero budget’.
Watching Key rant and rave in Parliament yesterday, it occurred to me that he still doesn’t realise he’s Prime Minister. Every broken promise was someone else’s fault and everyone suggesting a solution was just crazy; he is both unable to change anything and an awesome manager of the economy. He doesn’t seem get that, no matter what causes a problem, it’s his job to provide a solution.
Either Key doesn’t realise he’s Prime Minister, or he’s given up trying and knows this is his last term.
This Budget didn’t even attempt to offer any solutions to the fact that quarter of a million Kiwis are jobless, or that we have send $10 billion a year in profits overseas, or that we will soon owe $200 billion to foreigners, or that we spend $8 billion a year importing oil, or that our families are getting poorer, or that our formerly second-largest city is still a disaster-zone, or that our environment is in decline, or that over 200,000 kids live in poverty, or to Labour’s ‘4, 50s’ – 50,000 more unemployed National, 50,000 a year to Australia, $50 billion government debt, worst growth record in 50 years.
All that stuff, all that hard stuff that it is the business of government to address, was ignored by Key and his gang in this budget. Instead, they fixated on the meaningless goal of spending 0.26% less.
They’re so desperate to ensure they get over that arbitrary line without doing anything brave that would tax capitalist leeches (like a capital gains tax) that they’re pinching the pocket money of paper-boys. 68,000 children will no longer get the child tax rebate that is worth up to $250, another 100,000 low-income earners will no longer get the under $9,880 rebate that is worth up to $600 a year, and more families will lose out on a rebate of up to $300 a year for childcare and help for the disabled.
It’s actually worse than that. The National Party – crammed full of people who have made tax-free fortunes off capital gains on farms and investment property – suspended the budget debate so that, under urgency, they could retrospectively debate the law to repeal those rebates and take a few hundred dollars a year off kids, low-income workers, and families. If that’s not scrapping the barrel, I don’t know what is.
The budget was so pathetic that TVNZ didn’t even lead the news with it.
The only question now seems to be will how many of us will wave goodbye to NZ before NZ waves goodbye to Mr Australia.