Last month our PM was boldly telling the IMF to back off:
PM rejects IMF call for spending cuts
Prime Minister John Key has rejected suggestions by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the government needs to go further in cutting spending, saying plenty of progress is already being made in that area.
Since then I guess Bill English has told John to go practice his smile-and-wave in the corner, and has set out the government’s actual position:
Spending cuts help Government books
“In the Budget last year, we freed up $2 billion of low quality spending Budget 2010 will have a similar focus on weeding out low quality spending.”
The Nats are looking to cut $1.8 billion over four years. Where from? Last budget it was Adult and Community education (oops, turned out it was great value for money). Last budget it was contributions to the Cullen Fund (ooops again — hey maybe the Nats aren’t so good at picking winners after all). Last budget it was the Prisoner’s Aid and Rehabilitation Society (something that actually does reduce crime for a change). Last budget it was tertiary education funding commitments. And so on and so on.
So what will it be this time? What and who (with the easy arrogance of the party that brought you “Mainstream New Zealanders”) will be deemed to be “low quality” in need of “weeding out”? The only confirmed targets so far are public sector jobs — I expect that the families losing their livelihoods won’t mind though, they’re only low quality jobs after all. What else? Labour’s David Cunliffe seems to have a fair idea of other targets, because he presented a pretty specific list in Parliament (and over at Red Alert):
Hon David Cunliffe: Does his definition of low-quality spending include thousands of elderly in his own electorate who cannot get home help? Does it include dying patients in the ManawatÅ« losing intensive rehabilitation services? Does it include $2 million cut from mental health services in Nelson? Does it include front-line biosecurity jobs, or police cars to get cops to crime?
Nothing but the usual evasions from English in reply of course, so I guess my and your elderly relatives with their home help slashed are low quality in English’s eyes. Nice one. And who needs biosecurity, or police cars? Low quality rubbish.
The Nats are trying to sell this not as cuts, but as “redirecting” funding to “the frontline”, to “health and education”. Bollocks. It’s just as legitimate to claim that they’re redirecting it to the tax cuts for high income earners, which they are desperate to work in to the budget somehow. We can fund health and education without these cuts! But the Nats aren’t going to drop the tax cuts. They aren’t going to cut Bill English’s housing rort or his extra $20pw housecleaning allowance. They aren’t going to cut John Key’s vanity cycleway project. They aren’t going to stop pouring billions into a useless holiday highway. They aren’t going to stop throwing exorbitant payouts at their hand picked mates. They aren’t going to deal with the incompetence of paying to keep empty schools open. That’s all high quality spending you see. Hmmm. Cunliffe again:
“In Mr English’s own electorate, thousands of elderly are having their home support they rely on cut so that rich earners like Mr English can pocket an extra $300 a week. The elderly in his electorate apparently represent low value in terms of services.”
That’s really what it all comes down to folks.