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Another Welfare Budget

ACT leader Richard Prebble says the Budget is “an ineffective, visionless document” with half of new spending going on welfare.

“There’s nothing in the Budget for ordinary New Zealanders,” Mr Prebble said.

“There’s nothing for the working poor, the battlers, those who work, pay taxes, didn’t get a pay rise and don’t qualify for a community card.

“There’s nothing for business, nothing to stop the exodus of firms to Australia, nothing to stop the loss of talented New Zealanders, our young graduates, who leave for overseas, having nothing to lose except their student debt and a lifetime of paying 39 cents in the dollar tax.

“There’s nothing in the Budget to close the gaps. The average Maori household is $30 a week worse off. Fifty percent of Maori are paying more tax because they smoke.

“Last year, the slogan was ‘Closing the Gaps’, this time it’s ‘the Transformation Economy’. But the Budget allocates just $192 million over four years - $48 million a year -for the Transformation Economy.

“When you consider that welfare gobbles up $1.5 million every hour, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the amount proposed for the Transformation Economy is just 32 hours of welfare spending.

”Air New Zealand alone is planning to spend more than $5 billion over the next decade on new aircraft – or $500 million a year. This government says it can transform the whole economy for $48 million a year – less than 10 percent of what one company is planning to spend.

“The package will be totally ineffective. The government is on a strategy to nowhere,” he said.

“The government plans to spend $1.3 million on business development – less than one hour’s welfare spend,” Mr Prebble said.

“For regional development, it has allocated $700,000 – just 30 minutes welfare spending.

“Agriculture and biosecurity gets $3.2 million – two hours welfare spending.

“There’s $18.4 million more for defence – just 12 hours welfare spending.

“The extra $1 million for education, to help small schools, is about 40 minutes welfare spending.

“The rural sector gets another $2.27 million, or 90 minutes welfare spending.

“Health will receive $211 million extra, or six days welfare spending.

“The extra $200 million taken through retrospective GST is enough to finance five-and-a-half days welfare spending.

“When you add up all the extra government expenditure, it amounts to just 30 days welfare spending,” Mr Prebble said.

“The Budget doesn’t face the real problems. The goal should be to boost economic growth and close the widening gap between New Zealand and Australia.

“In 1995, our economy grew by 6 percent. When the coalition came to power it was 4 percent. Now, growth is just 1.6 percent or half the OECD average.

“There’s nothing in the Budget to boost growth. While this government raises tax, the Australians are doing the opposite and cutting the company tax to 30 percent – 3 percent lower than New Zealand.

“Getting our company tax rate below Australia’s is number one priority. Getting overall taxes below Australia’s is next.

“New Zealand can only be wealthier if we have more people working, or we improve productivity. Although official unemployment is now 5 percent, we all know the real figure is more than 10 percent. We have more than 400,000 adults on benefits – most of them able-bodied.

“It’s not sustainable to have one adult in three on state assistance. We need a Budget which has real welfare reform as a central policy, to get more people into productive work.


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