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The Budget And Barbarism

The Budget And Barbarism

TEXT: Debate about the budget has focused solely on whether the surplus should be spent or saved. Given uncertain prospects, there is a case for caution. What is not discussed is a tax increase that would ensure good health care for New Zealanders as an irrevokable commitment. Something we are determined to have as a top priority: first, because human suffering is wicked; and second, because only a healthy population can guarantee productivity in the long run.

Labour constantly tells us that we should wait for growth; and then proper funding for health will be painless. And now, despite 4% growth and the best financial year in recent memory, the Canterbury Health Board is telling 10,500 people, ranging from those who need hernia operations to those with cataracts, that they have no hope. Of the over 20,000 who remain on the waiting list, people with cancer and heart conditions, only 24% will get treatment within 6 months. This is nothing less than a slide into barbarism.

Just over 1% on to everyone's rate of tax would give our health system an extra $900 million, enough to cut the waiting lists and start the trek back to the first class health systme we once had. We would not actually add 1% to everyone's tax. For heaven's sake, the poor need a tax break. An extra tax on those on welfare means no cup of tea at the end of the month; for others, it means a holiday in Nelson rather than Sydney. Only the top 14%, those with individual incomes above $50,000, would pay more income tax and only those above $80,000 substantially more.

Prof. Jim Flynn

Alliance Finance Spokesperson

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