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Budget 2002: Comments From ACT Spokespeople

Thursday 23 May 2002

JUSTICE Spokesman Stephen Franks. "This is the Government that promised to get tough on crime with its sentencing and parole legislation. Well, apparently they expect getting tough on crime to actually cost less in the short term - yeah right! If that's the case why didn't the Government accept truth in sentencing? The Government's forecasting [page 200, B.2 and B.3] a real $21 million drop in Corrections Department spending in the next four years. After inflation this represents effectively about a $50 million drop. It costs about $50,000 a year to keep a prisoner. How do we avoid the conclusion that under its apparently new tough sentencing regime the Government is expecting to have about 1000 less criminals behind bars in four years' time. The Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill was a sham. The Government has shown the fingers to the 92 percent of New Zealanders who voted for a tougher stance on crime."

EDUCATION Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata: "Trevor Mallard was again the big loser in funding battles around the cabinet table, and children in the classroom will suffer the effects. The Education vote has been given nothing more than the bare minimum to placate union leaders - it won't be enough to satisfy the teachers in the classroom. There is nothing to address the growing problem of drugs in our schools, the increasing number of kids dropping out with no qualifications, and no vision to lift - or even measure - educational outcomes."

HEALTH Spokesman Ken Shirley: "The Health budget announcements contained little new money or ideas, simply minor details of how funding already announced is going to be used in the primary care sector. Health suffered its first cut in real per person spending in the current financial year, which is why every single Health Board has been plunged into borrowing to maintain services. Labour has tried belatedly in election year to plaster over the widening cracks in the seams of their flagship health boards. The continued failure to harness the private health sector, along with Government under-funding will see continued headlines of the near crisis that surrounds mental health, and the need for Boards to cut or reduce services, to balance their budgets.

TERTIARY EDUCATION Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman "The further heavy handed treatment dealt to the private providers, which official information papers show have been largely responsible for driving innovation and opening up tertiary education to disadvantaged Maori and Pacific Islanders shows that this Government values ideology and spin far more than the wellbeing of students and the country."

SOCIAL SERVICES Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman: "Taxpayers lose out yet again as this Minister's failed stewardship leads to thousands more people moving into the benefit system, costing an additional $1 billion over the Government's three-year term."

MAORI AFFAIRS Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata: "This year's Budget has nothing for Maori. It is an indictment on the Labour Maori caucus that promised so much and delivered us nothing. This is a Bludger's Budget that rewards idleness. There is nothing in this document for young Maori who aspire to achieve, just more pay-outs for those who bludge off taxpayers."

RURAL AFFAIRS Spokesman Penny Webster: "Nothing in this year's Budget is going to help those in the rural sector. The last two years have focused minds on the fact that NZ is still an agricultural country but the government ignores the sector in their budget statement. Farmers, like other small businesses, want to see a reduction in taxes and compliance costs. The cost of bureaucracy like ACC and RMA is an issue but this Government doesn't want to recognise this."


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