The National Government is not playing by its own rules in not agreeing to sacrifice some of its own non-essential spending this Easter/Anzac Weekend.
Finance Minister Bill English recently admonished New Zealanders about the need to draw a distinction between spending that's essential to have and spending that's nice to have. Of course, given the Nat's continuing poll popularity, they are beginning to sound very arrogant now, especially given Labour's ineffectiveness in opposition. That's why National can continue to channel spending into 'nice to have' programmes while telling all other ordinary Kiwis to practically go and eat cake.
Yesterday, I heard the announcement that the Government will fund New Zealand's America's Cup bid to the tune of $36 million. Acting Tourism Minister David Carter fronted this controversial announcement (conveniently made while John Key is abroad) and defended it by saying that if Team New Zealand entered the Cup, the Government (i.e. taxpayers) were contractually bound to cough up. What a croc excuse that is! Carter and shamefully Labour's Trevor Mallard defended this decision on the basis that our participation will bring flow on economic and tourism benefits to New Zealand. Good on the Green Party though for coming out and sticking it to both Labour and National on this issue! Metieria Turei pointed out that this America's Cup spending was one more example of what English cited as 'nice to have' spending.
While I support state intervention in the economy, I believe that we should be aiding industries and programmes whose success will bring longer term benefits to Aotearoa such as the Christchurch re-build, a West Coast recovery package, sustainable energy projects, eco-tourism, forestry, fisheries, small scale ecologically based farming and hi-tech industries. I also believe we need a significant state house building programme to house the increasing numbers of poor people and Canterbury earthquake survivors over aiding a mass boat building bonanza for the rich.
Aside from the America's Cup spending, for those of you who don't (or can't) keep pace with the Nat's 'nice to have' spending, here's a running tally:
So the next time that John Key or Bill English says we don't have any money for a decent Canterbury and West Coast recovery package, to pay family carers of disabled people, to increase benefits and pensions, provide more hip operations, provide free education for all children and tertiary students, reinstate early childhood and adult education cuts and provide decent frontline public services, just remember that the Nats are still spending up pretty large on non-essentials on the taxpayer credit card.
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