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ACT Spokesmen Respond to the Budget

ACT Spokesmen Respond to the Budget

This is the response by individual ACT Spokesmen to the Labour-Progressive Government's 2003 Budget delivered today. ACT New Zealand Leader Richard Prebble and Finance Spokesman Rodney Hide are issuing separate statements.

Corrections. Stephen Franks said: "The trumpeted budget for probation officers leaves the Service going backwards. The extra positions are only a fraction of the extraordinary staff turnover in that desperate service. Money wasn't the problem - they already have unfilled vacancies. Mr Goff's sentencing and parole laws have grown the job. Probation officers once supervised punishment. Now they have to serve the 'criminological needs' of their 'clients'. The total for the probation service is less than one-and-a-half day's welfare spending. This shows Labour's real priorities."

Economic Development. Deborah Coddington said: "Michael Cullen and Jim Anderton are yet again sneezing taxpayer cash all over particular businesses. But there is no let up from restrictive taxes or red tape. It's freeing up in those areas that will build the economy, not Cullen and Anderton's fits of selective 'generosity'."

Education. Deborah Coddington said: "Simply throwing more money at the teaching crisis is not going to solve the problem of quality when teachers' pay is still controlled by the feather-bedding unions, and teachers are only paid enough to get the last man on board. If Mallard wasn't so stubborn he'd allow schools to choose devolved funding so they could woo back all those great teachers who've found work outside the classrooms."

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Energy. Ken Shirley said: "Even faced with a power crisis, this Government is still blinkered by ideology. Too many generation projects have been blocked by the RMA or the Department of Conservation - yet this Government has ignored the yards of red tape and regulations choking the entire sector. We need more market, more competition and less Government. This Budget won't stop the lights from going out."

Families. Heather Roy said: "The $28 million over 4 years allocated to the Families Commission is payback to United future for their supine attitude towards the Labour Government. The Commission will provide politically correct reiterations of the conventional wisdom of middle-aged social scientists. New Zealand children at risk of abuse will not receive a moment's relief from this funding."

Foreign Affairs and Defence. Ken Shirley said: "Cutting corners on defence spending could be the most dangerous legacy past and present Governments leave this country. Defence is a key responsibility of Government. After gutting our defence forces, a pay-rise for the troops that remain simply isn't going to protect New Zealand from terrorism. We should be investing in our defence and we should be standing alongside our traditional allies."

Health. Heather Roy said: "Primary healthcare wins, to the detriment of hospitals. The result of ignoring hospital services will be lengthening real waiting lists for elective services. There is no relief for District Health Boards. Anyone who took the Labour government's frequent re-announcements of 'new' health money at face value would think the health sector awash with cash. But today's funding has been previously announced on at least three separate occasions. There is nothing in this budget that will address the outward flow of health professionals to better paid jobs overseas, where working conditions are superior. We will continue to train our health professionals for export."

Housing. Dr Muriel Newman said: "Labour should have introduced time limits for tenants in state houses. Instead, it is spending more than $200 million of taxpayers' money to build more state houses. That is misguided, especially when the private sector has the money to do it. Building more state houses will not solve the problem. Waiting lists combined with no time limits simply mean many more people will move into state housing and remain there."

Maori Affairs. Stephen Franks said: "We had "closing the gaps" and "capacity building". This budget carries on the pork barrelling for Maori votes, but scarcely pretends any more that any outcomes will be measured. Worse - it doesn't count the true cost of official racism, the costs to local government of squads of consultants on cultural and spiritual matters, and payoffs for RMA consents all over the country."

Police. Dr Muriel Newman said: "Crime is on the rise. New Zealand needs more police, yet this soft-on-crime Government has failed to give police the resources they need. Maintaining law and order is a core role of government, yet the Budget shows that Labour is abrogating this responsibility. The Minister has failed to ensure that police receive the tools they need to fight the war on crime. He has proven to be ineffective, and should resign."

Rural Affairs and Biosecurity. Gerry Eckhoff said: "This Government appears ignorant of the fact that there is life outside the cities. This is an anti-farmer Budget, if ever there were one. The most frightening element is that there is no significant provision for biosecurity research and technology. We're losing the battle against incursions of unwanted organisms. Farmers needed to see a vast effort in biosecurity, and the Government failed.

Sport and Recreation. Stephen Franks said: "Businesses do their budgets and business plans together, but where is the plan covering chequebook yachting? Will it be claimed as capital spending or as consumption? Where is the calculation of risk against return? The Government has made no attempt to estimate the chances of success. The lack of budget details shows this was simply a punt on political popularity. I'll wager they find reasons to pull out of the yachting sponsorship."

Transport. Deborah Coddington said: "This government's ideologically opposed to the freedom of the motor vehicle so it's no surprise there's no relief for motorists in the budget. Labour, assisted by The Greens, regards motoring as a sin so happily imposes more sin taxes to fill the coffers of the consolidated fund."

Welfare. Dr Muriel Newman said: "It is disappointing that the Government has failed to provide funding to ensure every unemployed New Zealander is in full-time work or training, rather than being paid to do nothing. It is wrong to pay able-bodied people to do nothing. This Budget is a taxpayer's nightmare that will limit people's opportunities and keep them dependent on the state. Reducing child poverty was the Government's priority but, by softening welfare and making it more generous, Labour is worsening the plight of New Zealand's most vulnerable people. This is a Budget of failure, limited opportunity and lost potential."

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