From James Shaw’s speech in parliament
The big headline in today’s Budget is a $2 billion Family Incomes Package.
After nine years of increasing hardship for low-income families, now, in an election year, National makes yet another headline-grabbing announcement to make it look like they’re doing something about it.
And it sounds great.
But a quick glance at today’s announcement suggests the following:
On the one hand, they say they’re increasing Family Tax Credits — for some people.
But on the other hand, the abatement rates will be higher and will cut in earlier.
They give with one hand and take away with the other.
The changes to income taxes go well beyond simply resetting thresholds to keep up with inflation.
And, as is always the way with these guys, the largest share of the tax cuts go to those on the highest incomes.
People on more than $127,000 a year get a tax cut $33.22 a week, whilst those on $24,000 a year or less, get only $5.34 a week.
Mr Speaker, this so-called $2 billion Family Incomes package is just another tax cut for the wealthy in disguise.
It reminds me a little of Budget 2015 when they announced benefit increases of $25 a week.
That sounded great too, until we realised later that half of all beneficiary families with children did not get the full $25.
Some got nothing at all.
And that’s the thing about this Government. They are the masters of the shell game.
Can we trust National on the climate?
And what about our children’s future? Can we still trust National to protect our climate and move our economy to a low carbon future?
Sure, National signed up to the Paris Agreement, committing us to a low carbon economy. But at the same time, under their stewardship, New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have been getting steadily worse.
They’re now 19 percent higher than they were when National came to power and continue to rise and rise and rise.
Budget 2017 makes things worse — they’re still stuck in their 1950s thinking by spending $9 dollars on motorways for every $1 dollar on rail. More pollution, more congestion.
The National Government’s failure to take any meaningful action on climate change means we’re going to have to pay other countries to reduce their pollution so that we don’t have to. And it’s going to cost us a fortune!
The Green Party revealed Cabinet briefing papers this week that estimate the cost of National’s inaction on climate change to be at least $14 billion dollars over 10 years.
That’s nearly $1.5 billion dollars every year just to buy carbon credits overseas.
And that’s at today’s prices. When carbon prices increase, we’ll be stuck with a bill that makes our looming Superannuation deficit look tiny by comparison.
We still have a small window of opportunity left to act. New Zealand’s got the resources and the clean energy expertise to meet the climate challenge and show the rest of the world how it’s done.
This is, in fact, one of the great economic opportunities of our lifetime — one that National is just letting slide on by, while they have their heads buried under the sea…looking for more oil.
If you want to live in a country that isn’t crippled by climate debt, one that is truly sustainable, with innovative, meaningful, well-paying jobs, you need to vote to change the government, before that window of opportunity closes.
The speech also covers rivers, housing, DOC funding, and the unnecessary failure of National’s Social Investment programme.
Mr Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister posted a survey on his Facebook feed asking his followers what sort of pie he should eat today.
The answer is humble pie.
Budget 2017 disappoints in its lack of a big vision for our great nation and a lack of self-belief that we can solve the challenges of our time if we change the direction we’re heading in.
We can have rivers that we can swim in.
We can lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty.
We can fix the housing crisis.
We can show the world what it takes to have a truly sustainable economy that works for and includes everyone.
Budget 2017 will not be the defining political moment of the year. That moment belongs to the people of New Zealand in Election 2017.
After nine years of National, it is time to change the Government.
And change is coming.
Update – The Greens blogpost from Marama Davidson on why they are voting for the Bill and why they think the Bill is woefully inadequate.
Overall the Budget is a huge disappointment and a missed opportunity to make real progress on pressing social and environmental issues. We want more support for those who need it most, and we want that sooner than National. To make that a reality, we need to change the Government.
But right now, we are debating National’s family package in Parliament. The Green Party is supporting these changes, not because they’re perfect – far from it – but because we want families to get more support and we strongly believe it is not our role to deny those families that.
With these changes, the Government has turned on the tap that has been long denied to communities for some desperately needed relief. But it’s only a tiny drop. For our lowest income families, these changes are a trickle, and in the words of the Child Poverty Action Group, what is actually needed is a tide.
While we won’t stand in the way of the tax cuts for the lowest incomes, the Greens will keep working for the real changes that are needed to ensure all everyone has what they need to live; good lives, warm secure healthy homes, enough healthy kai and enough to pay the bills.
We’re supporting these changes, not because they’re perfect – far from it – but because more families need support. https://t.co/KJEbbFDDDx
— Green Party NZ (@NZGreens) May 26, 2017