Budget Special – Intro – Jane Young Summary – Political Reaction – University Reaction - Health Reaction – Business Reaction – Alliance Reaction – Michael Cullen Live
--- LIVE FROM PARLIAMENT ---
INTRO: A steady-as-it-goes budget. Highlights include, regional development, health funding and CYFS funding.
JANE YOUNG SUMMARY: There wasn’t
much money to go around. This year he has asked for more
bang for his buck from his big spending ministers. “Would I
prefer to spend more?” Cullen asks himself, “Yes”. Summary
of education budget: “he has bought a fight with
universities on this”. Extra dollars for health are the
lowest ever increases for health. Social Services is the
other big spending area, including money for computers, and
child safety. Other spending summarised too. Much less for
Maori this time than last. Cullen says he would like higher
growth, but National says he hasn’t got a hope with his
tinkering. Parts of this budget are quite smart – others
Q: Isn’t the world economic performance rather underwhelming?
A: Some people are saying that the world slowdown is deeper than expected. But the jury is still out on that issue.
Q: Does this matter?
A: Yes. If Cullen had a big spend up this year and there was nothing left for next year, that would be tough, in election year.
POLITICAL REACTION: Political leaders from the right say it lacks soul. Even those on the left find it disappointing. Richard Prebble says it is visionless. Rod Donald says there is not enough in it. Winston Peters says that the supporters of the Alliance and Green will be freezing tonight. Peter Dunne says it is soul less.
UNIVERSITY REACTION: University Management is shutting down for a strike at midday tomorrow. Daryl le Grew, vice chancellor, says that the university will be forced to cut its services and quality. Meanwhile the Government is looking a rejigging Tertiary funding in general. The Polytechnic Association says that the Government is squeezing a sector that can’t take more.
HEALTH REACTION: Doctors are disputing the sums in the budget and say that hospitals will have to go into debt. They also say that there will be no easing of waiting lists. A cancer patient says “you can’t do that to sick people”. Of the $353 million for health, doctors say only half is new, and only $47 million is going to hospitals. An Association of Medical Specialists spokesman says there is less and less smell on the oily rag hospitals have been running on.
BUSINESS REACTION: The business community have not been great fans of the government in the past. One business leader said it was a “vanilla” budget. The absence of a corporate tax rate cut has disappointed some businesses. Exporters however are pleased with economic partnerships announced in the budget. Deutsche Bank spokesman says that borrowing money to put it into a Super Fund is not the way to the future. Cullen says there will be paid parental leave next year – but there are no details yet – and the CTU don’t like that. $80 million to the Kiwi Bank has been allocated on the same day that the Warehouse announces a deal with WestpacTrust. There is also the venture capital fund.
ALLIANCE REACTION: There is arguably not a lot in this for the Alliance. Jim Anderton says the Alliance has proved that MMP can work. The party is currently polling at 2%. “There is never going to be enough money to satisfy all NZers, let alone Alliance supporters, ” says Jim.
CULLEN LIVE Q&A:
Q: This is boring?
A: It’s sound and sensible.
Q: But don’t the people want something more?
A: That is there, all the gains made last year are also in this years budget. And we are doing other stuff, like the venture capital fund.
Q: Are you not very very dry for a Labour minister of Finance?
A: We have found room for a more active role for Government.
Q: Is this just the real politik of a mid-term budget, leaving room for a lolly scramble next year?
A: I don’t think NZers are that naieve. That is what is happening in Australia and the government there is in trouble. Next year we will have a bit more money – but not much more.