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Progressive Campaigning Organisation Slams Budget 2024 - A ‘Backwards Budget Of A Thousand Cuts’

ActionStation Aotearoa says the Coalition Government’s first Budget was built on the foundations of a thousand cuts, drags Aotearoa backwards, and saddles those struggling the most in our society with the harshest consequences of austerity.

“This is a shift in power and resources from marginalised communities to the already wealthy. We have seen $1.22 billion in public sector cuts that have not been reprioritised,” says Kassie Hartendorp, Director of ActionStation.

“This backwards Budget will have ripple effects on all of our long-term futures for years to come. It will drive low-income families further into poverty, with less access to the income support and public services they need to thrive. People need support now more than ever, not austerity,” says Hartendorp.

“Before the Budget even landed, the Government had already made decisions to reduce minimum wage and benefit increases, cut public transport subsidies, cut disability support and cut thousands of public service jobs. These cuts alone are causing compounding and cumulative impacts on all of our communities.

“Since the Coalition Government got into power, they have been driving a myth that public spending has caused the cost of living crisis. The reality is the more we cut our public services and social infrastructure, the more that energy companies, banks, landlords and supermarkets profit from the things we need to live good lives.

“The idea that the Government needs to ‘tighten the purse strings’ is steeped in contradictions, when during a recession more resources should be extended to people who are struggling the most,” says Hartendorp.

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A new report launched yesterday by the Fairer Future coalition coordinated by ActionStation showed that the cumulative impact of the Coalition Government’s cuts to income and services means many households will have less money despite the Government promising tax relief.

The $30 a week for the average household in tax relief will be swallowed up by changes to benefit indexation, holding down the minimum wage, cuts to public transport subsidies, increased WOF fees, and reintroduction of prescription charges.

“Tax relief is short-sighted in a context where everyday people are facing cuts to income and public services. This Government is taking from those who have the least to pay for landlord handouts. This means our sole parents, disabled people, minimum wage and unemployed workers are taking a massive hit while wealth gets unfairly concentrated in the pockets of a few.

“The Budget has not given enough funding to build the public housing needed to make a dent in the waitlist of 25,000 households. They have funded 1500 new social houses by community housing providers (CHPs) with funding available next year, but no funding for Kāinga Ora to build the public housing we need.”

Hartendorp says it is significant that huge demonstrations calling for the Coalition Government to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi took place in around 40 towns and cities today.

“The Coalition Government has been attempting to drive divisions between our communities through anti-Māori attacks and breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We refuse to be divided and made to scrap for the crumbs.

“We need economic decisions that are common sense and look after the well-being of people and our planet. That builds the housing we need to make sure everyone has a stable home, that increases the incomes of people and whānau so we can participate in their communities, that builds the green infrastructure we need to tackle our climate crisis, that extends funding to the health services we need to be well. All of this would make a more equitable economy for everyone.

“Budgets should be about planning for the future and allocating taxes in a way that ensures our collective wellbeing. The Government’s individualised tax cuts and cuts to public services stop this forward exchange — meaning the needs of people in our communities will be higher in the future because the public good is no longer there.”

ActionStation, alongside over 20 trade unions and community sector organisations, are holding an anti-austerity rally on Saturday 8 June, 1pm Pukeahu War Memorial Park, Wellington.

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