Firstly, I need to say that I have never been a member of any political party because they all have faults and I want to maintain an independent view. What is good for NZ I will back 100%. The views below are mine.
The Government has been elected amongst other things to deal with the housing crisis, homelessness, poverty and underfunding in most key areas – health, education and Police. There are of course many others.
My assessment is that in all those key areas the Government has scored a Fail.
The issues which began under National of keeping good fiscal management depended on not spending. This can only happen temporarily without extreme consequences. The legacy left behind when voted out was going to be a major challenge and could not be fixed overnight.
National also scored a FAIL.
Since Labour came in things have got worse – much worse. Some of the statistics are quite scary but you will have read many of them already. A plan and action were needed from day one but what we have had are reviews, committees, commissions of inquiry, task forces, or whatever. Much talk and many reports but little action. This year’s budget seems to be about to finally announce spending on housing. What took so long? When will the first sod be turned?
This is years after the disaster of Kiwibuild. In my view, this failed because it was designed by bureaucrats who had no idea of how things work in the real world.
The horse has already bolted.
I am tempted to say there is a comparison between Donald Trump and The Wall. Blame it on the Mexicans. Here it is blamed on landlords with unfair claims they are manipulating the housing market and using “tax loopholes”.
As in the US where Mexico was not the problem, landlords are not either. They provide a service, and housing for those who need it [on average 4 people per rented property compared with an average 2 in a self-owned property], while also paying tax on income and building a nest egg for retirement. Surely those aspects are all praiseworthy and should be supported rather than unfairly attacked.
Announcements have been made and funding committed in several areas but not spent. Shovel-ready projects were not even designed or consented to in some cases.
Costs have got out of control. Apparently, there are 10,000 more Public Servants. Imagine the cost especially where many are on a contract being paid three times or more than a normal wage rate.
The cost of the Petone to Wellington cycleway is estimated at $190m [$4.2m per 100 metres]. That compares with Transmission Gully, a 4 lane 27 km highway with bridges, major earthworks, etc at $1.25b but not finished [it started at $850m so what will the cycleway end up at]. Something is very wrong here!
Labour did well in 2020 handling the financial and tax consequences of the pandemic. That is, except perhaps for tourism and commercial landlords. But since?
Now we need A PLAN.
More so, we need collaboration, all working together, using each other’s skills, talents, capital and expertise to claw back the financial future of our country. This is employers, employees, businesses, farming, entrepreneurs, professionals, central and local Government empowered with a visionary plan to go somewhere.
What we have is NO VISION, NO PLAN and NO COLLABORATION.
This has been made worse recently by unexpected announcements of pay freezes [quickly back-tracked on], non-deductibility of interest [only on residential rental properties], an extension of the bright-line test [your main home could now well be caught], impositions on farmers, and extra employee holidays paid for by employers, plus moving the top tax rate to 39%.
Some things such as reducing carbon emissions and reducing contamination of our rivers are great in principle. The collaboration is how we get there together rather than with another set of punitive rules and regulations.
NZ is now regarded as a risky place to do business because you can never be sure of the rules of the game which can be changed without warning and in some cases backdated in effect. This is without consideration of the existing financial commitments or the consequences for those involved.
This is not kind and is not collaborative.
We are not going to get out of this as a nation unless this approach changes.
It has been interesting that Australia in its Budget this week decided that the unexpected extra tax revenue of $99b – because the effects of Covid-19 were not as extreme as expected – would be put back into jobs to keep the economy running and avoid some of the other hardship issues that would otherwise arise.
NZ has an extra $33b available but is talking debt repayment.
I support the Australian approach on this for 2021. We need to keep our economy moving as they are.
The ACT party has come out with an alternative Budget. One of the very interesting ideas is to drop the tax rate for individuals in the income bracket between $48,000 and $70,000 from 30% to 17.5%. That would benefit many Kiwis. They are what David Seymour describes as taxed “as if they are rich”.
I support that suggestion.
I would like to see more spending on frontline Health services [not backroom bureaucrats, advisers or accountants], Pharmac for the drugs other countries get but we don’t, education [not just salaries but also resources and buildings], Police so they can actually keep us safe, building many more state houses with rent charged as %age of income instead of market-related, victims of abuse, and benefits, but also more skilled and relevant immigration allowed in to plug key and seasonal gaps in the NZ workforce. Spending before people get to the top of the cliff saves the ambulance and the vastly increased costs at the bottom.
We need a VISION and a PLAN. Will we get one?