Bill English’s priority in 2013 will be to “bed in” welfare reforms. Because that’s where the big fiscal savings lie.
He’s hoping to cut 44,000 beneficiaries and save $1.6 billion by 2016-17. Which would be fantastic if this was a jobs government focussed on employment growth and those 44,000 were going into decent paying jobs.
But no. Instead we have unemployment expected to remain around 7% by the end of the year, and the economic forecast deteriorating until 2017.
So those 44,000 are going to go the same way we just got our last big drop in benefit numbers while the unemployment rate rose: by pushing vulnerable people off the safety net.
As Ed Miliband was recently saying in the UK where they have a similar story unfolding: There’s a Labour way to reduce benefit numbers and welfare costs and a Tory way. The Labour way is to create jobs, the Tory way is to attack the vulnerable.
This government’s just given us the highest level of unemployment since the last National government 13 years ago, at the same time as they’ve almost got benefit numbers back down to the levels the last Labour government left them with…
It’s all well and good National trying to divide us into a nation of strivers vs shirkers, but we haven’t just gained tens of thousands of so-called shirkers in the last few years – we’ve just gained a National government that is doing nothing to protect Kiwi jobs, and everything to encourage our best and brightest to head across the ditch.
Here’s an excellent Garrick Tremain cartoon (h/t Frank Macskasy):