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National signals savage spending cuts

30 May 2005

National signals savage spending cuts

Finance Minister Michael Cullen warned today that National’s plans to carve more than $9 billion a year off government spending within three years would mean a savage loss of public services.

“The entire education vote allocated in the 2005 budget for the 2007-08 year, for example, is $10.008 billion. For health, it is $9.893 billion. For law and order; $2.449 billion,” he said.

Dr Cullen was commenting on John Key’s statement to the Herald on Sunday that a National government would reduce spending from 32 per cent of GDP to 27 per cent within three years. On current numbers, a reduction to 27 per cent of GDP represents $9.023 billion in 2007-08. This equates to a 16.5 per cent drop in forecast spending.

“There is no way you could finance cuts of that order from the easy targets Don Brash likes to quote. You would need to cut, and cut deeply, into the muscle and bone of public provision.

“Assuming the 16.5 per cent cut was applied evenly across all government spending, the change would include around: 4,065 fewer primary school teachers; 3,220 fewer secondary teachers; 1,260 fewer sworn police; 185 fewer front line social workers; 3,445 fewer nurses; 910 fewer hospital doctors and; a $70.62 a week cut to New Zealand Super for a married couple.

“And we know National’s cuts to existing services won’t stop at $9 billion as they have an extravagant spending programme of their own to finance: tax cuts of $2 billion a year plus and big promises on prisons, road transport and defence.

“The choice this election is becoming clearer with every off-guard comment Mr Key makes. National under Don Brash and John Key would go further than ever before in dismantling public services and the only people who would benefit would be the very wealthy,” Dr Cullen said.

ENDS

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