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Bill's Budget: No Dough - No Place To Go

Bill's Budget: No Dough - No Place To Go - Michael Cullen

"A National budget this year would be a complete non-event, utterly incapable of making any sort of difference," Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today.

"Remember Bill English's dollar-for-dollar pledge as he tried last year to justify the party's programme of tax cuts for high income earners?

"He promised to match the $400 million National planned to spend on its 1 April tax cut with $400 million on social spending.

"But $275 million had already been committed to Vote: Health, leaving just $125 million. And much of that would have been absorbed in restoring the impractical and unsustainable cuts to baseline spending incorporated in the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update," Dr Cullen said.

"We found when we took office that some of the future spending projections we inherited from National were nonsense. Either we had to stump up an extra $50-odd million for police in the 2000-2001 year, or frontline police would be laid off.

"Either we had to stump up an additional $35 million for the Inland Revenue Department or IRD staff would be made redundant, vital work would be abandoned through lack of money, and the Government would have lost an estimated $170 million in uncollected tax.

"National would have had to make up these votes for the same reason we did. There was no real alternative," Dr Cullen said. "That would have left Mr English just $40 million to play with. And $40 million does not go far.

"Certainly it would do nothing to close the gaps, restore New Zealand Superannuation to realistic levels, reduce the costs of tertiary study or provide relief for New Zealand's most vulnerable households.

ends

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