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National Hypocrites Over Surf Lifesaving Funding
23 Dec 2018
Chris Leitch

The National Party’s launch of a petition calling for government funding for surf lifesavers is one of the most hypocritical actions by a political party in recent memory.

National had nine years in government during which it could have done exactly what the petition is calling for, but it didn’t.

Instead it was the biggest slasher of funding ever, to numerous organisations that provided much needed community services.

In a 2014 report BERL economist Ganesh Nana pointed to a real (ie, after inflation) cut in health spending of 4.5% between 2014 and 2017. Since inflation in the health sector routinely runs well ahead of general inflation, the projected cut was more like 9.8%. In the same period, he calculated a 1.7% cut in education spending and a 13.9% cut in spending on the environment.

In 2016, District Health Board budgets were cut by $138 million, meaning psychological services in Canterbury faced cuts from $1.6 million to $200,000, while trauma counselling was halved to $400,000.

Also in 2016 they cut $7.3 million for Parents as First Teachers, and operational grants for public schools were frozen. In 2009 $13 million was cut from adult community education, and a 2017 study showed cuts of $260 million per year for preschool childcare and education since 2010.

National denied there was a housing crisis while selling off thousands of state houses, and extracted $664 million in dividends over seven years from Housing NZ that could have been spent on new houses, all while immigration was running at record levels exceeding 70,000 per year.

Meanwhile a 2014 report showed National had generously increased its own ministerial funding.

The National government put paying $4,500,000,000 dollars in interest every year to the private banks they borrowed from, loans created on bank computer keyboards, ahead of services for New Zealanders.

As Adam Creighton, Economics Editor of The Australian newspaper says, “without any reserve requirements and, by historical standards, pitiful minimum capital ratios, banks in effect create as much money as borrowers want”.

The European Central Bank has been creating credit at the rate of $35 billion Euros per month, through its quantitative easing programme, without any sign of inflation, so there’s no reason the Reserve Bank here couldn’t fund the government in a similar way, instead of taxpayer dollars enriching the profits of overseas owned financial institutions.

That would free up $4.5 billion per year for lifesavers and a host of other groups, along with hospitals, schools and agencies providing much needed services for Kiwis.

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