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Cullen's Black Budget

MEDIA RELEASE - Friday 28 May 2004

HEADLINE: Cullen's Black Budget

The Alliance: "It can't be done this way"


Cullen's budget is good in that it will help low-income workers and their families, although it is sad that they will have to wait so long to see a real improvement. The investment of more money into health and education is always welcome.

However, the budget is profoundly depressing in that it is clear that this is as good as it gets. The present financial circumstances are the most favourable we can expect - and yet we get a targeted approach that will do little to lessen the gap between rich and poor in New Zealand or undo the damage to a heath and education system that needs sustained funding after decades of neglect.

Already, we hear that the funds for operations cannot be spent because of the scarcity of surgeons and nurses. That is why the Alliance is committed to a minimum of 11.3% of individual taxable income to be spent on health. We want to put adequate health funding above good times and bad. We would ask all parties to agree on a Dedicated Health Tax. We believe that New Zealanders would so value a really good health system that they would punish any party that compromised its funding.

Secondary teachers are an ageing and threatened species. School fees shame poorer parents who cannot pay them. The tertiary student debt mounts billion after billion encouraging a whole generation to leave their nation.

The major sources of inequality in New Zealand are three. The growth of single-parent families as a low-income group. The fact that those without tertiary credentials are increasingly on a low wage. And that fact that we no longer use progressive taxation to shift the burden of taxes from those below $50,000 per year to those above.

The Alliance is committed to a fair tax system that will make education free at all levels, restore the health system to excellence, and help those who need help the most. The budget gives a windfall to some New Zealanders in a good year. That offers no long-term hope of a healthy, well-educated New Zealand whose people can sustain growth. It simply cannot be done this way.

Prof. Jim Flynn - Alliance Finance Spokesperson

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