11 May 2011
The Budget needs a vision for jobs, not a focus on the deficit
The Prime Minister’s speech today on the Budget gives no vision of how the government will attack the continuing high unemployment with 155,000 people out of work. Instead it looks back to the 1990s when unemployment was high, assets were sold off, the country fell away against Australia and the average wage rose only 7 percent in real terms over the whole decade.
Richard Wagstaff, the Vice-President of the CTU said “The deficit is not the most urgent problem. New Zealand’s government debt is low in international terms, and can be addressed when growth returns. In the meantime the priority needs to be getting people backing into work and rebuilding Christchurch.”
“New Zealand also needs an active programme to develop the economy for the future. The government seems to think cutting government spending and restructuring government departments is a substitute for an economic strategy.”
Australia’s Budget yesterday had a focus on jobs, despite the far better employment situation there with only 4.9 percent unemployment which is expected to fall further. The government there announced a National Workforce Development Fund designed to create 130,000 training places over the next four years.
“New Zealand is in a quite different situation with high unemployment. Cutting government spending is the wrong priority and boosting jobs and education is the right one.” said Wagstaff.