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Archive for 24 May 2012

Frankly speaking on Budget 2012…

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On Twitter, from John Key,

John Key ‏@johnkeypm

We’re delivering our fourth Budget at 2pm today – it builds on our plan for a brighter future for NZ.

9:38 AM – 24 May 12

This blogger’s response,

fmacskasy ‏@fmacskasy

@johnkeypm – Um, yeahhhh, right.Tui time.We’re still waiting for the 170,000 new jobs you promised us LAST year.Waiting…Waiting…waiting

9:41 AM – 24 May 12
More commentary to come as the Budget is released…
Judgement Time
  • Increasing cost of prescription items from $3 to $5 each

This one is perhaps the most pernicious of the budgetary measures. It may not affect middle and affluent New Zealand – but it will impact harshly on the poorest people in our communities; the unemployed; those on minimum wage; superannuitants; solo-parents, etc…

Tony Ryall has stated that the increased revenue will go towards more cancer treatment.

Nice spin.

I mean, who can possibly argue with spending more on “cancer treatment”?? *cue camera on children at Starship hospital, suffering leukemia*

Of course, National could have left prescription charges untouched and funded cancer treatment by using extra revenue  from higher tobacco taxes. Or put new taxes on other carcinogenic products.

Probably just as well. There are many medical condititions that, left untreated, may eventually lead to cancer. So in effect, National is scrimping $2 for a bottle of pills, and having to pay $20,000  later on for cancer-therapy a few years later down the track.

But by then, if National is still in power, they will have introduced user-pays in our healthcare, including mandatory health insurance – so it won’t be their problem.

Verdict:

Any Benefit to  society:     nil
Rat cunning by National:  10/10

  • Increasing student loan repayment rate from 10%  to 12%

Aside from the belief that it must be illegal for National to arbitrarily raise interest rates on any contracts they’ve signed with students when they took out their loans (where interest was set at 10%) – this blogger wonders why the Nats hate students so much?

If John Key was looking at new incentives for our young graduates to leave New Zealand, in search of higher salaries, then they are on the right track. Expect emmigration to double over the next few years.

Verdict:

Any Benefit to  society: nil
Benefit to Australia:      yes
National’s common sense:  -1/10

  • 154,000 new jobs over the next four years, unemployment to below 5% by 2015

Three points;

1. who will remember this committment in three years’ time? Considering that half the country appears to have significant amnesia over Labour’s prudent management of the economy, where Michael Cullen posted surplus after surplus, and paid down the country’s debt – will New Zealanders remember this particular promise in 2015? Do pigs fly? Is the Pope jewish? Does Key smile?

2. Last year Bill English and John Key were predicting 170,000 new jobs in their 2011 Budget. Since then, not only have we not seen 170,000 new jobs – but unemployment has actually  increased.

3. Recycling is a good thing. But does that extend to governments recyclying failed promises from one Budget to the next?  National can count itself fortunate that a pandemic of amnesia is sweeping the country, otherwise they could never get away with this kind of BS.

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit  to   society: nil
National’s economic management: fail

  • Future Investment Fund established to use proceeds of SOE selldowns

This is National’s slush fund that will collect the sale proceeds from the partial sale of our state assets. The proceeds are ‘estimated’ to be $7 billion. Or $5 billion. Or… John Key and Bill English doen’t  actually know. They’ve admitted to be guessing.

English claims that the partial-privatisation of Genesis, Mighty River Power, Genesis, Solid Energy, and a further sell-down of Air New Zealand and spending it on schools and hospitals “changes the mix” of our state assets.

It does no such things.

Whilst schools and hospitals are indeed assets – they are non-revenue earning.  Genesis, Mighty River Power, Genesis, Solid Energy, and  Air New Zealand are revenue-earners. In fact, when coal is exported and foreign tourists fly around New Zealand, these assets actually earn foreign revenue.

What National is doing is selling bits of our state businesses to pay for “housekeeping”.  (It would be like a courier driver selling his/her van to pay for his/her house to be painted and other bills.)

Upgrading our schools and hospitals should be infrastructure maintenance pay for out of  our taxation. If National hasn’t enough revenue from taxation to pay for day-to-day operations – then this is further evidence that the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts were unaffordable.

Question:  how will National fund infra-structure maintenance next year, and the year after? Will they sell more state assets?

Potential  Benefit  to   society: nil
National’s economic management: unsustainable

  • New KiwiSaver rules requiring more disclosure from fund managers.

Good move. Anything that makes investment companies more transparent is to be applauded, and Nationasl is to be commended and supported on this policy.

Potential  Benefit  to  society: high
National’s common sense: 9/10

  • Keeping retirement at 65, instead of raising to 67

It can only be described as inter-generational theft that retiring baby-boomers will be able to retire at age 65.  These are the same baby boomers who,

1. Had access to  free tertiary education

2. Free prescriptions

3. Low-cost medical care

4. Cheap government charges

5. And then enjoyed 7 taxcuts from 1986, whilst following generations got lumbered with user pays in education, healthcare, prescriptions, etc.

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit  to  society: none
National’s sense of fairness: low

  • Closing a tax loophole for those who rent out their bach and boat, saving $109 million over four years

Whether this works remains to be seen.It falls far short of a Capital Gains Tax, and the “closure” of this loophole could be nothing more than a PR exercise and National appearing to be “sharing the pain with affluent New Zealanders“.

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit  to  society: tbc
National’s sense of fairness: tbc

  • An excise tax hike on tobacco, taking the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes to more than $20 by 2016

Whilst it’s easy to “sock” it to smokers, there remains the question as to why National does not apply the same excise tax hike on alcohol.  After all, if raising the price on tobacco products reduces smoking – then raising the price on alcohol should reduce consumption of that product as well.

This is not a matter of ‘wowserism’. Alcohol abuse costs our economy $4 billion-plus per annum. It causes social problems. It fills our A&E Wards with drunks’ self-inflicted alcohol-poisoning and injuries. What part of any of this makes sense to anyone?

But then again, we all know that the alcohol industry has ‘friends in high places‘.

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit  to   society: 9/10
National’s economic management: 5/10

  • $275 million spent on “Welfare Reforms”

Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest $275 million in job creation programmes?!

Welfare ain’t ‘broke’.

It’s the job market that’s seriously under-performing

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit  to   society: nil
National’s economic management: nil

  • Removel of the childcare allowance

And this is supposed to assist women (and men) back into the workforce?! This was a petty budgetary move, and when contrasted with tax cuts for the rich, shows that National is truly a friend of the rich – and bugger everyone else.

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit  to   society: nil
National’s economic management: nil

  • Scrapping the annual inflationary increase to early education funding

Is this really going to help early childhood education?

Is this what middle New Zealand had in mind when they readily accepted tax cuts in 2009 and 2010?

Are people starting to wake up now  to the simple truism that you cannot have tax cuts without cutting services. It’s not difficult, my fellow New Zealanders; less taxes equals less state services equals (eventually) more User Pays.

As New Zealanders end up paying more and more for services they used to enjoy more cheaply through taxpayer funded services (because the cost was spread widely through society), they will eventuially come to realise that their taxcuts have evaporated like a snow flake on a hot tin roof.

Did all you people who voted National really think you’d come out of it better of?

Suckers.

Verdict:

Any Benefit to taxpayers:  nil
Any Benefit to our children:   nil
National laughing at us:   You betcha.

  • 25% reduction in prison population  by 2017

Another  long-term goal that,

A. May or may not be achieved

B. Will never be remembered

C. National will not be held to account on this promise

D. And if the prison population is expected to drop – just why is National building a new prison at Wiri, at a mind-blowing cost of $900 million?!

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit to society: very high
National’s potential to fulfill: very low

  •  Deferring KiwiSaver auto enrolment

At a time when we need more New Zealanders to save for their retirement, and when those savings can be invested in productive sectors of our economy – National is postponing auto-enrollent for new entrants into KiwiSaver?

How clever is that? Not very.

More than anything else, this aspect of the 2012 Budget is revealing; it tells us that even the Nats don’t believe their own numbers.

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit to society: very poor
National’s economic management:  We should be worried!

  • Government debt to rise from $50b to more than $70b before return to surplus of $197 million

Is anyone surprised at this?

Did anyone expect any different after two tax cuts, which reduced government revenue?

What else should we expect if a government makes cuts to expenditure, instead of initiating job creation programmes?

This Blogger believes that National’s expectation of a surplus in 1014/15 is absolute rubbish. In fact, I give National’s expectation of a return to surplus the same odds as me winning Lotto and Elvis beaming down into my lounge.

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit to society:  non-existant
National’s economic management:  Pure, steaming 100% BS.

  • New spending totals $26.5 million to 2015/16

$26 million?!

Out of total government revenue of $57.6 billion?!?! Isn’t $26 million something like 0.0000000000000000000000001% out of  $57.6 billion?!?!

Jaw-dropping in it’s ridiculousness. Perhaps Key, English, et al, should look behind their Beehive sofas for loose change?

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit to society:  pitiful
National’s economic management:  pathetic

  • National claims to be committed to supporting affordable housing and the growth of non-government housing providers. Housing Minister Phil Heatley says. “We’re committed to delivering the right houses to the right people in the right places,” he says.

Is that why National dumped the Gateways Scheme  which promised to build 1,000 new homes at Hobsonville Point, in Auckland – after building just 17?! Mind you, that promise was made during the October  2010 Mana by-election.

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit to society:  Excellent
Actual achievement by Nats: Another truckload of pure, steaming 100% BS.

  • Courts Minister Chester Borrows says. “This Government is committed to a modern and accessible justice system as part of our wider drive for better public services,” he says. “For the courts, this means delivering the services people demand, while also being responsible with taxpayers’ dollars.”

Why the hell does that statement send chills down my back?

Verdict:

Potential  Benefit to society:  Unknown
Actual achievement by Nats: Unknown

  • Budget forecasts also show economic growth picking up from 2% this calendar year to more than 3% in 2014 and 2015

Really? Well, roger me rigid and slap me with a wet haddock – how did last years’ Budget work out for us?

What grand predictions did National  make last year, in it’s 2011 Budget? Let me refresh the reader’s memory (especially for those amnesiacs who voted for National, last November),

The economy is set to pick up strongly next year, growing 4 per cent after treading water for a couple of years, with the Government expecting 170,000 new jobs to be created in the next four years.  Budget forecasts suggest the unemployment rate will fall from 6.8 per cent this year to 4.6 per cent by 2015. ” – Source

Prediction: 4% growth
Actual: 1.4% (2011-12)

Prediction: 170,000 new jobs
Actual: 16,000 new jobs (June 2011April 2012)

Prediction: Unemployment will fall from 6.8%
Actual: Down to 6.3% in December 2011. Back up to 6.7% April 2012.

Verdict: fail

  • Three tax credits are being removed childcare / housekeeper, income under $9,880 and the children’s income credit. These will save the Govt $117m over 4 yrs.

This one is one of the worst parts of the Budget. “Income under $9.880” includes children with after schools jobs. So the kids earning $50 a week now has to pay tax on it???

At the meantime, millionaire speculators who buy and sell houses – pay not one frickin’ cent in capitakl gains tax.

This has to be the meanest tax ever levied. To quote a poster on ‘The Standard‘ blog,

Children will now have to pay income tax on their after-school jobs but will have a limited exemption for cash-in-hand earnings such as babysitting.”

What absolute fucking wankers National are. Putting tax on kids who are working to get a bit of independence, save for uni or help out their families.

This is National’s vision for the future of NZ.

Top tax rate of 33% for billionaires, no CGT and kids earning pocket money get stung.

I can’t even begin to contemplate the thought process that led to that stunner. How does someone go through the books and decide that the best way to ‘broaden the tax base’ is to hit kids with after school jobs?

“Damn, it’s those little bludgers with paper rounds who’re wrecking the country! They must be stopped!

Conclusion

This year’s Budget can be summed up;

  • Shuffling money around, to create the illusion of “new money”.
  • The opposition Parties are correct when they state that the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts left a gaping hole in government revenue.
  • National has no job creation programme – instead preferring to leave job creation to “the market”.
  • In lieu of job creation, and with stubbornly high unemployment, National is engaging in “welfare reforms” – the subtext being that beneficiaries are to blame for not having jobs. (Despite Paula Bennett admitting on 29 April that “there’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do“.(Source)
  • Many of National’s programmes are many years into the future and people will have forgotten them by target dates. (Bless the public and their RealityTV-sodden, amnesiac little brains.)
  • Many of last year’s Budget 2011 predictions have been abject failures.
  • This blogger sees no reason to disbelieve that the same will apply to Budget 2012.

If, after this dog’s-breakfast-of-a-budge, a number of  New Zealanders still believe that National is a “prudent fiscal manager” – then yea verily, they truly deserve this government.

Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t.

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