Opinion: There's always something missing from the government's Budget.
Every year, those who wanted money, don't get it, or they don't get anywhere near the money they need.
And it happens every year.
Under Bill English, and John Key who dealt with the GFC and ran zero budgets for 4 years pretty much every sector was furious they didn't get money.
Crucial sectors like education and health had to do more with less. School upgrades didn't happen, and in the health sector, everything was rain-checked.
So I can understand the current government's argument that they are still having to play catch up with the chronic under-funding and under-investment from those National Party zero-budget years.
But this year's Budget was not a zero-budget. It was the biggest Budget ever delivered. It was NZ$5.9 billion of taxpayer money.
And nearly a billion of that is just being given back to Kiwis who earn less than NZ$70k annually in the form of a cost of living payment.
It is a temporary 3-month lolly scramble that Treasury itself said won't solve the underlying problem of inflation and the soaring costs of living.
Here are just a few ways I believe that billion dollars would've been better spent and allocated.
- Get the duplicate Auckland Harbour Crossing project underway. Yep, it'll cost way more than a billion bucks, but it's a project that's constantly being kicked down the road. And today's closure of the Harbour Bridge proved that an alternative is needed. NZ$27 a week? Those cars stuck on the motorway would have spent that on fuel while they were idling and waiting for the wind to stop. And also, think of the lost productivity. And tunnels under the harbour could include rail too. It's a mega-project that needs a mega-budget but you need to start somewhere. And tunnels under the harbour would mean one lane of the harbour bridge could become a walking and cycling lane.
- Dental. Where the heck is the money for dental? I haven't been to the dentist in 10 years because of the cost. In other countries, it's subsidised. Why not in New Zealand? We do it for children, but why not adults? A missed opportunity.
- Inter-regional public transport. We need to kickstart inter-regional transport. It was in the Emissions Reduction Plan announced just three days before the Budget. But it seems that was just lip service. Where are the trains? Where are the bus subsidies? make it cheaper and people will use it. And if people use it, their routines will change. And their reliance on gas-guzzling vehicles will wane.
- Funding for Pharmac was NZ$205 million short ANNUALLY. Imagine if a drug you needed wasn't funded. You'd be furious. And rightly so.
- Breast Cancer screening?? They wanted NZ$15 million and got nothing. The 50,000 women on the mammogram waiting list will have to wait some more. Disgusting.
Those are my top 5 Budget omissions. I don't mean to be a down buzz - but it needed to be said.