Prime Minister John Key described his 2015 Budget as ‘compassionate conservatism’. Some have called it a legacy budget. Certainly it delivered on his long standing commitment to protect the most vulnerable in society: “This National Government is the first Government to raise benefits in 43 years, and I am proud of that fact. There is $25 a week for 110,000 beneficiary families, supporting 190,000 children. There is $12.50 a week in Working For Families and $12 in the minimum tax credit. Fifty-three thousand low-income families and a further 103,000 children will benefit. Tens of thousands of other families will get a bit more. In one way or another, this Budget touches half a million Kiwi kids, and it is fair and reasonable.”
In 2006 when he first became the leader of the National Party, John Key spoke of his deep belief in welfare and his concerns about the system: “There will always be a social welfare system in New Zealand because you can measure a society by how it looks after its most vulnerable. Once, I was one of them. I will never turn my back on that. Yet, also, you can measure a society by how many vulnerable people it creates – people who are able to work, and able to take responsibility for their own lives and their children’s lives, yet end up depending long-term on the State. It is in the interests of no one, and to the shame of us all, that an under-class has been allowed to develop in New Zealand. It is not the New Zealand way, and if left to fester it will impinge upon us all. My party is deadly serious about addressing these issues.”
By 2007, he had firmed up his commitment to tackle long term dependency and the growth of the underclass: “There are streets in our country where helplessness has become ingrained. I’m not just talking about poor communities – because we all know that being poor needn’t rob you of hope. I’m talking about places where rungs on the ladder of opportunity have been broken. The worst are home to families that have been jobless for more than one generation; home to families destroyed by alcohol and P addiction; home to families where there’s nothing more to read than a pizza flyer; home to families who send their kids to school with empty stomachs and empty lunch-boxes; and home to families where mum and the kids live in fear of another beating from dad. I know we can do better. We have to do better. Because, left unchecked, the problems of a growing underclass affect us all.”
He made a promise to New Zealand: “These are tough problems – very tough problems. But I have no intention of being a Prime Minister who tackles only the easy and convenient issues. I don’t pretend I’ve got all the solutions. But I can tell you that dealing with the problems of our growing underclass is a priority for National, both in opposition and in government.”
By the time John Key was elected Prime Minister in 2008 the country had fallen into a recession and was being confronted by the global financial crisis. But he pledged to reform welfare and reduce child poverty: “The Government’s welfare policies, like all its policies, will help people to help themselves. They will reflect its belief that paid work is the route to independence and well-being for most people, and that it is the best way to reduce child poverty. In going for growth my Government will be acutely conscious of the fact that it is in the interests of no New Zealanders, and to the detriment of us all, to allow an underclass to develop in New Zealand. It will take seriously its duty to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
Social welfare has remained a top priority for John Key’s government. Their sweeping but little headlined reforms are transforming the way the system operates. Benefits have been re-aligned, work testing rules have been strengthened, and an investment approach has been adopted – to better measure the economic and social cost of long term dependency.
New Zealand now has the lowest number of sole parents on the equivalent of the Domestic Purposes Benefit since 1988, the number of children living in benefit dependent homes has dropped by 42,000 over the last 3 years, and teenage pregnancy rates are collapsing.
With an understanding that a parent obtaining fulltime employment is the single most important contributor to lifting children out of poverty, this year’s Budget included measures to strengthen work requirements for sole parents. Like other able-bodied beneficiaries, they will now be required to reapply for their benefit each year – a move that is expected to discourage those who are already working or living with a partner from reapplying. They will also be required to seek paid employment of at least 20 hours a week from when their youngest child turns 3, instead of 15 hours when they turn 5.
This change, which follows the Nordic model of requiring sole parents to look for work when their youngest child is quite young, is based on OECD evidence that categorically shows high rates of sole parent employment lead to low levels of child poverty.
To assist sole parents in their move into employment, education or training, the subsidies for childcare for pre-school, after school and holiday programmes, have been increased from $4 to $5 an hour for up to 50 hours a week – on incomes of up to $800 a week.
In total, the child hardship package announced in the Budget will cost $240 million a year when it is fully implemented and $790 million over the next four years. With an improving economy, and tougher rules to ensure benefits are only being paid to the needy, the government believed there was “scope to increase benefit rates”. As the Finance Minister Bill English explained, he had been monitoring the gap between benefits and wages: “We think it has actually grown enough. So we think we can close it up without affecting the incentive to work.”
There are risks in the move, as in general, the more generous benefits become relative to wages the harder it is to move people off welfare. But the government knows that. They also know the extra benefit money will not only help families in need, but it will provide a stimulus for small businesses in their communities, leading to new employment opportunities.
In another surprising move, the government has tackled child support, a problem policy area that has long been in the ‘too hard basket’. Revenue Minister Todd McClay explained that $1.7 billion in penalty payments will be written off, because the system is “overly punitive.” Of the $3.2 billion child support debt, only $700 million is child support – the rest is penalties. Many of the 120,000 parents faced such “paralysing” levels of debt they had left the country – about $827 million was owed by those living in Australia and $778 million by those in other countries. By forgiving the debt, the government hopes to encourage more parents to pay what they owe: “We want child support paid so it goes directly to the children who need it, or back to the taxpayers who are paying it by default in the form of a benefit to that child’s family.”
With regards to housing, the Budget will provide an income-related rent subsidy to an additional 3,000 tenants, taking the number of available subsidies to 65,000 by 2017-18.
With new IRD research showing KiwiSaver has failed to increase the savings of those who most need to save, the government has axed the $1,000 kick-start payment for new enrolments – saving $500 million. The annual tax credit of $521 remains, at a cost of over $700 million.
Other Budget measures include, a $52 million “contingency fund” to speed the building of houses on crown-owned land in Auckland; $35m for social housing; $35m for Maori housing; $687m for education; $1.7 billion for health; $118m for law and order; $264m for defence; a new “border clearance levy” for arriving and departing passengers of $16 and $6 respectively; $58m for border security x-ray machines, detector dogs, and immigration staff; $20m for both the Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau; $210m for ultra-fast broadband; $12m for the New Zealand Business Number to facilitate data sharing by government departments and reduce business compliance costs by 25 percent by 2017; $97m for regional highways; $40m for urban cycleways; $400 million for Kiwi Rail to turn itself around; $25m to establish three regional research institutes to focus on creating new jobs; $80m for R&D growth grants; $37m to local authorities for resource management and freshwater reforms; $50 million for Whanau Ora; and a $375m reduction in ACC levies next year, followed by $125m in 2017.
Looking forward, National has made income tax cuts from 2017 a fiscal priority – if economic conditions allow – along with returning to surplus next year and reducing net debt from 25 percent of GDP to 20 percent by 2020.
Overall the 2015 Budget forecasts a $684 million deficit this year – instead of the small surplus predicted – followed by a $176 million surplus next year, rising to $1.47 billion the year after, then $1.99 billion, and $3.62 billion in 2018-19.
The allowance for new spending in both this and next year’s budget is $1 billion, rising to $2.5 billion in 2017-18.
Growth is expected to average 2.8 percent of GDP over four years.
The Budget forecasts that by mid-2019 another 150,000 people will be in work, and unemployment will drop to 4.5 percent from the current 5.8 percent. The average wage is expected to rise by $7,000 to $63,000 a year.
National’s Budget left political opponents struggling. The policies to address poverty made their increasingly shrill claims that National doesn’t care about children look ridiculous, and the two-year rule on investment property left the opposition criticising it for being a capital gains tax, something they had themselves promoted at the last election.
On the downside, the Budget continues race based funding (presumably to appease the Maori Party in return for its continued support), and Bill English appears to be stepping back from last year’s commitment to lower government spending to 25 percent of GDP over the next few years – a rate that would certainly accelerate growth and significantly lift living standards.
I asked this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator former National and ACT Party leader, Dr Don Brash, to share his response to the budget:
“It would be churlish to be entirely negative about Bill English’s seventh Budget. There is merit in increasing the basic benefit level – the first increase in real terms since 1972 – and on the other hand increasing the expectation that those on a benefit will get into at least part-time employment. The Minister was able to point to a steady decline in the ratio of core Crown spending to GDP towards a sub-30% level by 2016/17, the level last seen in 2004/05 when Michael Cullen was Minister of Finance. And there was nothing totally nuts, such as any move to exempt fruit and vegetables from GST. For all those things we should be grateful.”
Dr Brash calls the budget a “political master-stroke for the Government”, but says, “Sadly for our future, there was nothing substantial in the Budget aimed at solving the major long-term challenges facing the country…”
In a world that is increasingly concerned about inequality and giving everyone a fair go, the government has delivered a budget that puts New Zealand on the front foot. Whether it is focussed enough on growth to counter the chill winds of lower commodity prices remains to be seen.
THIS WEEK’S POLL ASKS:
Do you rate the budget as Good, Average or Poor?
We are very interested in hearing your views on the budget – please send us your feedback in the poll comments…
*Poll comments are posted below.
*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.
THIS WEEK’S POLL COMMENTS
|An unusual budcet for national, I hope the results are as good as your summary suggests.||Jim|
|A very good budget with no big hand outs steady as she goes.||Ken|
|Again small business and middle NZ carry the can.||Neville|
|No change to excessive expenditure such as Mauri claims, changing the flag etc. Still double taxing super.||Peter|
|Nothing to alleviate the bloated Auckland economy by encouraging investment away from Auckland in the provinces. It is not rocket science that this strategy would help the excessive demand in Auckland and improve the economic hiatus the provinces are currently experiencing as a result of the Auckland focus.||John|
|Perhaps corporate tax rates could have been lowered if non-resident withholding tax went up. A serious attack on Auckland housing prices requires change to RMA, perhaps mandating councils to divide up cities into areas containing no more than 50,000 residents and declare high density zones within every area.||Dwayne|
|Very good John Key stand tall and proud||John|
|Still need to sort out the RMA which will help business.||S|
|RATING THE BUDGET How do I rate the Budget? For the families who live on very low wages and are in financial strife, I would rate the Budget as Good. This Budget will deliver extra money to them to help support their children and make life a little better. However I would raise the question, how certain can we be that the Key Government will actually have the money available at the time that it is required to pay these people? With seven budgets in a row, not one of them showing a credit, the chances of that sum of money being available are not good. Hardly any money has been set aside in this budget to grow, or increase , export sales of New Zealand made goods, including food and animals. Without increased export sales we will never see a budget with an actual surplus over imports. I must therefore rate the general budget POOR. The Budget provides $25 million for the establishment of three Regional Research Establishments to create new jobs. I would presume that universities will provide the core expertise for these centres. It also provides $80 million for Research and Development growth grants. What the Government is not doing is to provide help and assistance to the small/medium business sector to increase their export sales. A major problem with so many businesses is their low growth in productivity. They need to work smarter rather than harder and to do this they need help. So many also need to work smarter with business management and business accounting. During the period of 1978 to 1986 New Zealand had a Government organisation called the Development Finance Corporation which included a division know as the Small Business Agency. The role of the SBA was to encourage the development of an efficient and innovative small business sector. To create employment opportunities. To foster entrepreneurship. To encourage the development of companies and their products. To support technological development. To assist regional development. To provide business counselling and information services. To help new firms get established. To help businesses grow. I was Education Co-ordinator for the SBA. In 1986 the Government of the day stated that there was no need for the Government to help the business sector because they were doing very nicely and they closed us down. Now in 2015, if New Zealand is ever going to solve the major challenges facing us with all of our economic problems, then we must have Government led change.||Ernest|
|You will never please all the people all the time…||John|
|As Dr Brash says it is not a long term budget. That is, not in the nation interest but in the National Party interest. The fantasy bubble still governs their thinking. The balance of payments has been in deficit for 40 years and only a change back to basic modern economics will guide the nation back to domestic production as a priority – rather that the “spend, spend, spend” ideology. Would like to know the amount the government plans to borrow in 2015/2016 as it has not been evident in public documents?||Frederick|
|Where is the plan for NZ to have positive goals? We are stuck with some people doing very well financially and lots just surviving.||Simon|
|Border control measures are for the public good, not for the benefit of the passenger, and the cost thereof should therefore continue to be met by central Government.||Alan|
|Seems to be no consideration for older generation..||Richard|
|Central Goverment could do more providing employment in other areas beside Auckland.This would also help with Aucklands houseing shortage.||John|
|Nothing for superannuatents.||John|
|What about the works of this country. We keep on paying all the time. Very conservatism.||Robert|
|THINK ITS ABOUT RIGHT FOR ALL SECTORS.||FRANCESS|
|A responsible and fair budget in difficult times.||Athol|
|Need to further cut Govt spending and rein in administration spending by Councils,especially Auckland City. Pass legislation to do away with non-elected politians.||Terry|
|Some populist and some political power provisions, but otherwise devoid of intelligent formulation of the matters it claims to address. For example, money to reduce Maori youth suicide when Maori suicide is 1.2 times that of non-Maori and youth suicide rates are actually lower than that across older age groups, but not a single cent to address specifically male suicide that runs at almost 4 times the female suicide rate. Money for various groups but the word ‘men’ doesn’t appear anywhere in the budget documents, even though the country continues to rely disproportionately on the blood, sweat, tears and talents of men. Pressure on sole parents to ‘return to work’ when their children are still barely toddlers is foolish in the extreme. Limited time at paid child care centres may be advantageous for children but substantial time in child care will never provide for the emotional development of our nation’s children. Rather than make life more difficult and pressured for sole parents, a much better way to reduce sole parenthood (and its various undesirable correlates) would be to reduce the ease of getting on that dependency in the first place. For example, promote the importance of intact biological families and the risks and harms to children from family separation, provide financial and other support for intact families rather than only for broken ones, enforce a stand-down for the sole parent benefit except in a small range of clearly defined and evidenced circumstances.||Hans|
|Still nothing in the Bugdet for the Small Business,that empoly 90 % of the work force, & pay tax, should have been a Tax reduction for the small business. just hand outs again, & no talk of reducing the buraccay.||Geoff|
|Still stinks of racial bias, kick-start programme was a joke.||Malcolm|
|I do not see how we can improve any Budget when we pay huge sums for Treaty Claims to Iwi who pay no taxes on their income and yet expect other NZers to pay to fix the problems of the poor, underfed, sick children of their people. It will never stop for the simple reason that many Maori once given something want more of the same. Now it is water, then it will be air. Those assisted to learn, don’t try; those put into jobs stay a couple of weeks and leave;; organisations who receive government money to place people in jobs don’t go regularly to see if they have turned up to those jobs or learned anything in the training they were supposed to have been receiving. The examples are non-ending. A minority in charge of a majority.||Deborah|
|It is all in Nationals policy favour. We need and want more jobs for everyone And wages to to keep up inflation so people can afford to buy their own home etc.||Theodorus|
|This was a JAFFA budget. Designed to woo the Auckland (Polynesian) voters. After getting a defeat in Northland, National now realise they have to show interest in Polynesians to try and win more seats in Auckland. They also voiced their disinterest in Kiwi Saver. I wonder how many South Aucklanders are enrolled?||Peter|
|A give & take budget.||Desmond|
|A stab in the heart for the future low income earners who will not have the $1,000 incentive to join a personal savings scheme (Kiwi Saver). The Government have already discontinued paying into the national super fund with no sign of recommencing contributions. This is on top of Key refusing to consider raising the age of eligibility of the pension to a graduated 67 years.||John|
|Not enough done to tax overseas property investors buying property in NZ, at least stamp duty for these people is a no brainer plus forcing local bodies to double land rates on undeveloped residential land to reduce land banking.||Paul|
|Too much race related funding.||Barry|
|Still no action on the Maori handouts which stop at the top echelon in Maoridom.||Maurice|
|The budget in principle sounds good. But what I am missing in your report is the other side of the coin ( so to speak) What I mean is , we are all informed about who or what will get money thrown at but there is not a single shred of information what the exact figures are re Governments Tax income and how much the Government is actually borrowing to support this budget. I have got an inkling that if we would know what is happening there we all would get a bit scared about how much the Government is actually borrowing to pay for all that. Already they are talking about the unsustainability of Pensions payments in the face of a growing aging population. We are not getting any information about the funding of this very important part of the budget at all and what the outlook is for the next say 30 years in that sector.I think it is a very scary subject and so it is more convinient to sweep this under the carpet until it is no longer possible to hide. And I am vexed about how the Government can expect all these people who are getting child support to find work. There is not only a lack of jobs for low skilled people, there is also a massive attitude problem in regards to work ethics amongst a of a lot of people out there who have been living on benefits for such a long time that they have become totally unaccustomed to fend for themselfes and in many cases we are talking about 3rd or 4th generation beneficiaries here. We do not need more and more Govt agencies administrating this plethora of problems but a clear cut law where all this treaty settlement money which has been paid out or is to be paid out has to be spent on Maori people in need .Besides we do not get any information on how much money is spent on all other expenses related to TOW issues ( incl the running costs of the Tribunal) Another thing swept under the carpet.||Michael|
|Stop the Race based hand outs we are all New Zealanders, if we do not go forward together we will be living in the past.||Ross|
|More than good – first class in the present situation and for a third term Government.||David|
|Changing horses in mid stream.||Rog|
|Given the political nature of MMP the Govt has done the best it can in the current economic enviroment.||Murray|
|It is the best they could do considering that we are still in a mild recession and still recovering from labour’s massive applied dept through monetary mismanagement and the cost of purchasing votes from the wrong sector of people.||Roy|
|It could have more incentive to encourage small business owner to employ more staff.||Phil K|
|Do you really think he is doing a good job he should stop taking payment for our exports in imports and demand MONEY so that we can start making the things here then we could reduce our debt and get people into jobs.||John|
|It is as good as it could be with the economy as it is.||John|
|Meets some needs, but there will always be those that miss out.||Dennis|
|No Vision, no strategic approach, lack of attention in NZ’s long term exposure,, no regional growth policies, no answers to galloping consumption in AKL, no real incentives for small business and middle NZ working people.||Graham|
|Going forward I think it is clever.||Warren|
|It will be interesting to see how it will benefit the children or if it will just be more to spend on gambling, drugs and alcohol.||Mary|
|I could comment on every aspect of the budget, but the thing that really irks me is giving yet millions of dollars more money to whanau ora who should never have had it in the first place. More special treatment for maoris in the hope of keeping the maori vote. I’m afraid National has lost my vote as a result of (no guts to confront them ). I would also like to have seen the $27million dropped for all this crap on changing the flag, when clearly, approx 88% of NZ,s have said NO CHANGE in the polls. If the flag changes, I have no country! You can bet it will have some maori crap on it if it does.||Des|
|National has put its money where its mouth is. To demonstrate their support for the Less fortunate in such a manner makes it clear that the left do not have a monopoly on social consciousness. John Key to has delivered on what he said before he became Prime Minister. Congratulations.||Edwin|
|The details outlined by Muriel gave a very comprehensive overview and meant nearly as good as it could get.||Lance|
|I think with the curent economy it was very fair.||Anthony|
|As usual there is too much emphasis on Maori and we all know that throwing money at them helps no one, the greedy racists and their little Hitler Whinlayson are laughing all the way to the bank, they will soon be the richest and most powerful group in NZ and god help the rest of us when it happens, we will be slaves to the minority with no way out. Welcome to New Zimbabwe.||Stevo|
|As far as the kids are concerened I think maybe the parents could take a little bit more responsibility.||Clark|
|Still has racial bias which I deplore.||Rodney|
|Nothing affected me at all.||David|
|The government should have allowed those who owed child support penalty interest to put their money into Kiwisaver and bring home Kiwis not bring in midrants.||George|
|Abolishing the Kiwisaver $1000 kickstart was wise (and perhaps overdue).||Jonathan|
|Keep the flag change the politicians, its so bad. More lost jobs,nothing for the elderly, prisoners are better off than us nothing done about poverty..||Frank|
|1. Govt spending on public sector salaries, benefits and wasteful crony contracts needed cut, thereby lowering Govt. debt levels owed to Global central banks. 2. Company and Personal Taxes can then be lowered and eventually eliminated all together. 3. Company Tax Rate could be 15 % 4. Personal Tax Rate 0% for the first $30,000 then 15 % for the next $30,000. This greatly reduces the burden on low wage earners and Small business owners. 5.The government sector have had it too good for too long, to the very great detriment of the rest of us and Our Country. It is well past time they were trimmed right back.||Brendan|
|As the ACT party put it. If you are having to increase welfare you must be doing something else wrong. An uneducated youth who cannot read or write will not be employable. Red and Green tape strangles the initiative of entrepreneurs who know how to make money. Need I say more.||Colin|
|Uninspiring but ok under the circumstances lVery late in recognising capital gains and 2 year holding period is a farce Foreign ownership is prevalent and speculation is rife in Auckland Bad Goverance in my thoughts careful you may loose my vote Means test yes .. trusts for hidiong money and assets a review is very necessary.||Ray|
|It signals a slow improvement. Next step, please kick out all those non elected members of councils and parlaiment and their support staff Wasting time and money.||Johan|
|Poor. Very, very poor. But what could we expect from someone who needed to make the hard decisions and doesn’t have the bollocks for the job? Too bad you’re a wimp, John.||Mark|
|It was a fair budget. It is tackling the difficult issues but still needs to be refined more and stop funding anything based on race. We are all ONE people, not a bunch of separate races. Furthermore, it is time the ‘change the flag’ discussions were dropped. We have a flag and we do not have the spare cash to waste on a new one.||Diana|
|As long as it can get beniticaries back to work asap.||Tim|
|Ultimately lower taxes for all and lower reliability on welfare will be good for all. In my view, business does not need more incentives; by contrast it needs less regulation (within prescribed frameworks) and less government intervention. Whether this budget helps the country to get there remains to be seen.||Peter|
|It doesn’t address the increasing relative poverty of superannuitants whose only income is super.||Isabel|
|No Tax Cuts for Middle Income NZ. We are being Raped.If you cut taxes it decreases unemployment as it creates more jobs. Race based housing package for Part Maori,simply disgusting.And More money to Whanau Ora unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!! Very disappointed in John Key and As for Chris Nga Tahu Finlayson,well the Racist little man needs to go.||Greg|
|Stop funding Saudi farmers and use the money collected from us to help N.Z ers.||Edward|
|If John Key is concerned ‘with the problems of our growing underclass’, why does he keep throwing taxpayer money at Maori creating state race-dependency? We urgently need racial reform: ie one race in NZ named New Zealanders. Also where is the vision for small & medium businesses like Australia?||Monica|
|It was pretty much all that the Government could do really, considering the economic climate. Obviously a significant effort went into making the best political capital out of a mediocre situation. Love them or hate them, you have to take your hat off to them for that move, as it left their opposition as immobile as stung slugs!||Charles|
|You cannot spend more than you have got!!||Noela|
|It certainly caught Labour on the back foot with the increase in benefit. However, until they stop funding isswues based on race there is always going to be a huge waste which could be much better spent on everyone.||Helen|
|One would have to say, (bearing in mind no one gets everything they want) this is a good budget.||Eric|
|Excellently thought through.||Dick|
|A typical Mr. nice guy Key, desperate to retain power budget. Whanau aura, not a problem, here’s another $50million, & we don’t want to know where it goes. Supposed children in poverty, have some $$$$$$s, we don’t want to discourage 15yr old solo mums from having sexual fun. One or two good points, so I mark it average, but certainly no blue-print for a prosperous to-morrow. As usual, an excellent summary by Dr Brash. How different this country would be, if he had led National to power..||Allan|
|Stop all handouts to the Maori.||Gerald|
|A good middle term budget.||Ian|
|All very Good but where is the dept reduction.||Wayne|
|Whilst masterful politics, the actual outcomes for New Zealand are poor. there was no reform in areas where reform can make a real difference it individual New Zealanders and the country as a whole. We are currently taking too much tax that is providing too little tangible benefit. Cutting inefficient spending with corresponding reductions in tax would provide greater short and long term benefit to the country.||Andrew|
|Full marks to the Budget report. It helps the struggling low income group but expects them to make the effort to find work. Expenditure is maintained where needed except for the Treaty gravy train. Andrew Little shows his lack of grasp for financial matters in his criticism of the government’s financial management not showing a surplus as he forgets that Christchurch earthquake repairs have to be paid for and the rest of the World had a more sever downturn than NZ experienced. The only item which needs to be deleted from the planned expenditure is the new NZ Flag where the $27 million cost is totally unreasonable, especially at this time when there are worthwhile necessities required.||Chris.|
|We are still left with no long term economic plan after the Christchurch rebuild and the $25.00 lift in benefit is synical since it takes place almost a year from now, by which time it would have eroded to at least half its value.||Kenneth|
|Not so sure about parents having to seek work, (what work?), when kid turns three years old, though – isn’t that a bit early? Dunno, as I have no children…||Andy|
|And still the children are forgotten.||Beryl|
|A responsible and fair budget in difficult times.||Mark|
|..gutless financial dysfunction……||Chris|
|It was a pretty good budget – fair and balanced.||Wendy|
|The budget gobsmacked the opposition. With luck they will stop all the political BS and start concentrating on the issues that really matter.||Larry|
|The government has failed to cut wasteful spending and is still “living” beyond its means. The legacy of Helen Clark lives on.||Mike|
|It was good to see that the welfare reforms are continuing and that now they are tackling the tough issues. If they can get those sole parents into work who have been treating the DPB as a lifestyle option and prevent young women from making it their career choice, they really will deserve full praise.||John|
|Considering that the economy is very fickle, I think the government is doing a good job – BUT they should knock race-based funding on its head.||Peter|