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Public services are vital, not ‘nice’

23 May 2008 Media Statement

Public services are vital, not ‘nice’

John Key has confirmed that National will cut the services New Zealanders rely on in order to ‘out tax cut’ Labour, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said.

The Labour-led government announced a three-phase, $10.6 billion personal tax cut programme and a $1.1 billion expansion of the Working for Families scheme. The overall programme will see around 50 per cent of households better off by over $50 a week at full implementation. It will also deliver significant gains for superannuitants.

Acknowledging that there is little fiscal room left after yesterday’s Budget, Mr Key has signalled service cuts by calling government investments ‘nice.’ He is quoted in the New Zealand Herald saying:

"It's not a question of whether spending is 'nice'. Most Government expenditure is 'nice'."

“John Key is not a happy man today. He knows that he will no longer be able to pretend that he will be ‘Labour plus tax cuts’ any more. He will have to cut services.

“But Mr Key is going to encounter an almighty backlash if he travels around New Zealand telling people that government support is something that is ‘nice’ to have, but not necessary. People don’t want to be told that hospitals are ‘nice’, having more teachers is ‘nice’, or that keeping communities safe is ‘nice.’

“Government services are not a luxury item, Mr Key.

“Mr Key admits his ‘bold’ plan to not fire any one in the public sector but not hire anyone either will only save him $500 million over three years. John Key will have to cut services and the Labour-led government will make sure New Zealanders will know what is at stake before they go to the polls.”

ENDS

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