5 December 2011
Government looking after the 1%
“National’s undertakings with ACT in education, ACC and spending caps go well beyond what it told the electorate. It looks like ACT with just 1 percent of the vote is being given a privileged position dictating government policy,” says Helen Kelly, CTU President.
“These policies spell increased privilege and further privatisation,” she says.
“Setting up charter schools with the process under largely private sector control, and inviting them to be run for profit undermines confidence in our highly successful state school system. It introduces the profit motive into education, and may force kids in underprivileged areas who cannot afford to travel far to accept religious or for-profit education providers.
“Foisting this experiment on our most underprivileged children is appalling. It also implies that schools in underprivileged areas are to blame whereas it is well established that it is under privilege itself that leads to lack of educational achievement. It should be noted that the people of South Auckland and Christchurch did not vote for Act.”
“The government should be focussing on reducing the inequality John Key admitted had increased during his first term, rather than conducting these kinds of experiments which stand to benefit those wanting to make money out of our children’s education.”
On ACC, National made clear it would privatise accident compensation for people injured at work by allowing private providers to compete, despite strong evidence it would increase costs and worsen the quality of compensation and rehabilitation for working people. One safeguard in the proposal that it consulted on was that ACC itself would remain not-for-profit and would not have to pay taxes. That made it more likely that ACC would still provide a large part of the compensation service.
“What National is now promising ACT is that it will look at making ACC work on a for-profit, fully taxed basis so that ACT and National’s supporters in the insurance industry here and Australia can make more money out of the privatisation of the scheme,” says Kelly.
“The Government is also going to legislate to cap government spending – something even Treasury did not see as sensible. It would mean that the government cannot introduce new services that it can carry out more efficiently than the private sector, such as in health and education, without cutting other services.”
“These are extremist policies that were never put before the electorate by National and which it has accepted despite ACT’s miniscule vote. This is a warning as to the direction this government will be heading over the next three years”, said Kelly.