Bill English is running a new line, contrasting “necessities” with “nice to have”. For example:
More public servants face the axe
In a speech to public servants yesterday, Finance Minister Bill English stepped up his warning that some programmes and departments were luxuries the country could no longer afford. He said the Government was eyeing up spending on things that might be “nice to have”, but which came at the expense of necessities.
I think the double dipper has made a mistake with this line, because the too obvious question is which category the Nats’ tax cut gift to the already wealthy falls in to. Phil Goff challenged him on this on morning report yesterday. Others are asking the same question:
Reverse Tax Cuts for Millionaires and Leave Our Public Services Alone
Press Release: Maritime Union of New Zealand
[Maritime Union General Secretary] Mr Fleetwood says last years tax cuts for the wealthy have now been confirmed as irresponsible and unaffordable. “This is austerity for the workers to pay for handouts for those travelling first class.”
“The Finance Minister has said that he will cut so-called ‘nice to have’ services. The Maritime Union says that now is the time to reverse the tax cuts that are ‘nice to have’ for those on upper incomes, like John Key and Bill English.” …
He says the National Government now intends to further starve public services of resources in order to pay for the “sports car and champagne” tax cuts to their friends.
Mr English would not specify to media what areas would be cut or merged. “An example of a nice-to-have would have been the hobby classes that were paid for through vote education. We, a couple of years ago, took away the money for that,” he said.
Never mind that this is pure stupidity, because adult and community education (ACE) has huge economic benefits. What really stuns about this comment is the pure hypocrisy of Bill English. Here’s what he had to say about ACE in 2005 (not online but extracts here):
Community learning has a long and honourable history. I recall my mother going off to night time classes in furniture restoration, a quiet space in the busy life of a household of 12 children. In a painting class I visited a few years ago a man told me about how the tutor had changed his life by challenging him, teaching him and making him finish the picture. He described how he had become part of this small warm community. There are a thousand stories about how human needs are met by the collective and aspirational activity of learning.
So glad that your mother enjoyed her furniture restoration classes Bill. Classes the like of which you are now so proud of cutting. I guess education is just one of those “nice to have” things. Not like your unaffordable tax cuts, which are of course untouchable. And which you will keep on and on and on borrowing for. Hey good luck with that record budget deficit eh? That’s quite a legacy for a Finance Minister.
All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.