Home > The Body Politic > Letter to the editor – Did Bill English try to pull a swiftie on ‘The Nation’?

Letter to the editor – Did Bill English try to pull a swiftie on ‘The Nation’?

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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On TV3’s “The Nation“, Lisa Owen asked Finance Minister Bill English if funding for health and education had been cut on a per-capita basis. The response from  English was jaw-dropping;

“…if you look at the figures, let’s say for health, a variety of economists say that we needed about 700 million a year just to keep pace, yet health is getting about 570 million a year. You’ve frozen the schools’ operational budgets, so to be absolutely clear, per capita spending on health and education, it’s down, isn’t it?”

Bill English replied;

“No. Look, I couldn’t say for sure whether it’s up or down. “

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The nation - lisa owen - Bill english - budget 2016 - homelessness

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What?! The Finance Minister was saying to the New Zealand public that he “ couldn’t say for sure whether it’s [per capita spending] up or down“?! So how does he allocate money within the multi-billion dollar budget? By roll of a dice?

It deserved a response…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: Sat, May 28, 2016
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
NZ Herald

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On 28 May, Finance Minister Bill English was interviewed on TV3’s “The Nation“. Host Lisa Owen asked English if funding for health and education had been cut on a per-capita basis;

“…if you look at the figures, let’s say for health, a variety of economists say that we needed about 700 million a year just to keep pace, yet health is getting about 570 million a year. You’ve frozen the schools’ operational budgets, so to be absolutely clear, per capita spending on health and education, it’s down, isn’t it?”

English replied,

“No. Look, I couldn’t say for sure whether it’s up or down. “

Which he repeated;

“It’s not a measure we apply… Now, per capita, I can’t tell you whether it’s up or down. “

It beggars belief that a Finance Minister, responsible for a budget of $77.4 billion of taxpayer’s money, appears not to know if per capita spending on health and education is up or down.

This would be akin to mum and dad doing the weekly grocery shopping – and not knowing how many children to buy food for.

It simply is not credible that a Finance Minister would be unaware of such basic information.

So which is it – incompetence or evasion?

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-Frank Macskasy

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[address and phone number supplied]

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References

TV3 The Nation: Interview with Bill English

Fairfax media:  Budget 2016 – $700m needed for health to stand still – CTU

NZ Herald: New Zealand Budget 2016 – At-risk students targeted, operational funding frozen

Budget 2016: Core Crown expenses

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You might be suffering from capitalism

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on  29 May 2016.

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= fs =

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  1. 3 June 2016 at 11:17 am

    I just love the “I can’t believe this” look on Lisa Owen’s face! A fairly typical evasive National answer, however. Do you think they undergo training in “How to Stonewall the press”?

    • 7 June 2016 at 9:21 pm

      Kate, not only am I sure of it, but Ministers have their own media “minders” – former journalists and broadcasters – who have an inside knowledge how the media system works. Threse former-journos train their bosses what questions to expect, and how to frame responses. They are usually given one or two key points to repeat, and hence the term “staying on message”.

      The really unpleasant thing about all this? Those media minders are funded by us, the tax-payer.

  2. 3 June 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Reblogged this on Rangitikei Enviromental Health Watch and commented:
    The clowns who run our fake monetary system …

  3. 4 June 2016 at 11:44 am

    Reblogged this on A Green Road Daily News.

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