Free Press, ACT’s regular bulletin
ACT’s regular bulletin
The Government went into the election with an $18 billion dollar surplus (over four years). The new government will spend it all and then some. Their promises mean they mostly have already. Balancing a budget without tax increases after free tertiary education, inevitable public sector pay increases following on from the care worker settlements, Winston Peters $1 billion per annum regional slush fund, and a $2 billion dollar per annum health spending promise will be very challenging for Labour come May.
Across the ditch our cousins face problems foreign to New Zealanders in recent times. Structural deficits, budget cuts (which are driving the cut backs on services for New Zealanders in Australia among other things) and five Prime Minsters in ten years as a result. After record terms of trade under the Howard Government, the things Australians sell lost their value and their entitlement culture took the hit. New Zealand’s terms of trade have risen almost constantly for the last decade, but what goes up must come down.
If taxing and spending could solve all problems, Government would be easy. But taxing and spending makes Governments lazy (On TV this morning, Prime Minister Ardern couldn't even guess what her promiese add up to). The real problems, a construction sector wrapped in red tape, a one-size-fits-all state monopoly in education, outrageous reoffending rates from released prisoners, and corrupt incentives in welfare all require courage and ingenuity more than other peoples' money.
The Most Pernicious Policy of
We don't know what Labour's free tertiary education will cost the taxpayer yet, but we can guess it will be the most pernicious policy of all. Not only is it unfair on a whole generation who have paid or are paying their student loans, not only will it contribute to a fiscal blow out, the biggest victims will be the recipients. (Most of them don't know it yet).
Anyone born after 1972 paid for part of their own education. The same people paying for Super they won't get themselves will now shout free tertiary education for those who came after. Just over a million New Zealanders fit this category, and they're approaching the age where they'll all vote.
Betraying Their Roots
Labour is supposed to be the party of the working people, but that's not who benefits from free tertiary education. The most expensive courses are University, but only 14 per cent of decile one students left school with University Entrance last year compared with 72 per cent of decile ten students. University graduates earn on average $1.6 million dollars more through their life time, and now they get even more subsidy from the taxpayer.
Ironically the biggest losers will still be those who think they're benefiting. If 100 per cent of a University's funding comes from the Government, what can it do to raise course quality? If it wants a new lab or smaller classes or better lecturers it has to go cap in hand to the Education Minister, but what happens when there's a fiscal crunch?
Vice Chancellors already complain that our Universities are sliding down the world rankings. They can't compete with much better funded universities across the ditch. Going overseas is becoming de rigeur for high end private high school students. Back home, there'll be degrees for everyone but state funded tertiary education might as well be three more years of High School.
The proposition for school leavers is dismal. If you have the academic qualifications you might as well study. Everyone else is doing it and you're going to pay your taxes anyway. A generation will spend three years of their life going through the motions. It is a cruel joke on the kids who think they are benefiting.
Worst of all
Labour has a policy that will contribute to a fiscal blow out while destroying the quality of tertiary education and wasting a whole lot of kids' time, but still leave the poorest New Zealanders out in the cold. It's difficult to imagine how a Government could screw up worse, but this is what we've got.
This country survived two world wars, the Great Depression, and the great Marmite Crisis of 2012. We will prevail. Let's get through this.
Curious Question for Auckland
Auckland ratepayers will be shocked by stories splashed across the Herald that they employ 234 spin doctors at a cost of $45 million per annum. The bigger shock is how such a large and expensive team could fail to suppress or spin such a negative story for the Council. Now we know Aucklanders aren’t even getting value for money.