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“Smoke and mirrors” Budget paints a bleak outlook

“Smoke and mirrors” Budget paints a bleak outlook for NZ children

PHA Wellington Branch and Child Poverty Action Group media release 25 May 2011

Budget 2012 is a smoke and mirrors budget which paints a bleak outlook for children and the economy, a post-Budget breakfast forum in Wellington was told today.

CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg told the forum, hosted by the Public Health Association Wellington branch and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), that the Budget reflects a weakening economic outlook for New Zealand.

“It was another zero Budget, so any spending is going to have to come from savings and further cuts to important services, such as prescription medication. What’s scary is that where most of these “saving” cuts are going to come from is not apparent.

“What was needed was a focus on economic growth. The Government’s aim to assist beneficiaries to get into work is a step in the right direction, but punitive welfare changes are quite unnecessary, and will achieve no more than would be achieved by decent economic growth.”

CPAG director Michael O’Brien said it’s important to view the Budget not just as an economic document, but as a reflection of how we prioritise what we value and what really matters to us.

“What this Budget says about us is we place little or no value on children, who seem to have been neglected. The consequences of this neglect are that we will most likely see more and more children living in poverty in New Zealand.”

“It’s also a recycled Budget. We’ve heard these announcements and policies before; they didn't work then, so what makes the Government think they'll work now?”

Law student and young leader Asher Emanuel told the forum the price increase of prescription medication and cuts to student and childcare assistance is only mounting costs for people already under pressure.

“Any policy change which reduces access for children to healthcare runs counter to healthcare ideals.

“And by no longer offering financial assistance for postgraduate study, the Government risks making education a luxury available only to the wealthy, rather than a basic human right.”

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