Before the election National promised that the public service would be capped, not cut. That promise was betrayed a long time ago, but what hasn’t been known up til now is the extent to which they are cutting it.
You’ll recall a month back Consumer Affairs Minister Heather Roy let slip that across-the-board cuts of 10 per cent were on the table. Her office quickly backed away from the claims and Bill English assured us no across-the-board figure had been applied.
As is becoming increasingly routine with this government, it turns out they were lying.
Documents obtained by the Dominion Post under the OIA confirm that National is in fact looking for across-the-board cuts, at a level of – you guessed it – 10%. Here’s what Bill English told public sector heads:
“Using your detailed knowledge of both the department and sector … can you identify the spending that delivers the lowest value for money, say, the bottom 5 per cent and 10 per cent.”
The paper said chief executives should look at whether a programme was in the public interest and was still relevant “given changing needs, priorities and governments”.
They’ll spin this as being a response to the recession. But to use English’s own words, these public service cuts are “part of a long game, not just a quick hunt for savings”.
That “long game” is to run down the public sector and divert that money into the pockets of the rich. It’s been the right-wing project since Thatcher and Reagan – to “starve the beast” and redistribute the wealth upwards. How else do you think National are going to afford to bring the top tax rate down to 30 per cent?