The right-wing continually denounce business subsidies. They claim to believe in a sort of economic natural selection where businesses must be able to thrive, unsupported, and only the strongest should survive.
New Zealand does have one of the least protected economies in the OECD and the Government is currently welcoming overseas oil companies into our region to drill and explore. New Zealand is ranked 3rd in the world for the ease of doing business and there will be few regulatory hoops or costs providing barriers to those wishing to explore for oil and gas.
The Government's Energy Strategy focused heavily on fossil fuels, rather than clean alternatives, and the ETS has been altered to ensure that the coal and lignite industries would be protected from paying for their carbon emissions. Despite having the recognition of being easy for doing business, this Government is making changes to the RMA to fast track consents, limit local bodies ability to use the Four Well-Beings to manage future developments and is spending millions on irrigation to support greater intensification of dairying.
Wages have not increased greatly over the last few years and, with the re-introduction of youth rates, the Government has managed to keep a cap on labour costs too. This has meant that many workers are not able to survive on the wages they receive and a great number have to have their living costs topped up by the taxpayer.
When a Government supports some businesses by paying for carbon emissions, pollution clean ups, high numbers of worker injuries, labour costs and irrigation, these are forms of subsidisation. While many businesses can become very profitable because of this support it will also drain the government coffers and shifts taxpayer money away from core Government services. I wonder how much extra could be spent on health and education if we didn't have to pay for:
- $2.3 million annual ACC claims due to accidents in forestry sector
- $11 million in legal bills and rescue attempts in dealing with Pike River
- $11.6 million initially spent to clean Lake Ellesmere
- $17.5 million to clean up the Tui Mine
- $130 million to deal with the Rena disaster
- $142.2 million to clean the Rotorua Lakes
- $148 million for advanced benefit payments to assist with hardship
- $390 million Solid Energy loss
- $1.5 billion in subsidising carbon emissions each year
- $1.9 billion on assistance with hardship and accommodation allowance etc (2012/13 budget)
- $13 billion to fix leaky buildings