Finance Minister Bill English responded to a Southland Times letter writer who questioned the validity of the Government's surplus in light of the $60 million debt it has accrued. English responded by saying:
"Despite the revenue dropping sharply because of the recession (no mention of the tax cuts), the Government also borrowed to maintain its support of the most vulnerable New Zealanders..."
I was so angry at his gall in blaming struggling New Zealanders for his mismanagement and his spending on corporate welfare and unnecessary motorways, that I wrote the following:
In responding to Neville Kerr (May 21) Finance Minister Bill English gave the impression that the debt of $60 billion that his Government has accrued was largely to, “...maintain support of the most vulnerable New Zealanders...”
His claim does not match reality when we have seen a dramatic shift of wealth from our poorest to the already rich. Inequality in New Zealand has grown at a faster rate over the past few years than any other OECD country and we now have 27% of our children living in poverty. Our richest 1% have captured 16% of our country’s wealth and the bottom 50% now share a paltry 5%. We also have a housing crisis that is beginning to reach levels not seen since the Great Depression.
If it was our most vulnerable that Mr English was most concerned about then why did his Government:
- Cut taxes to the rich, resulting in $1.2 billion of lost revenue each year?
- Cut the early childhood education budget by $400 million in their first year?
- Cut entitlements for thousands of deserving ACC claimants?
- Bail out the asset rich private school Wanganui Collegiate ($3.9 million for 400 students) while illegally closing Salisbury School for high needs girls and Phillipstown School (decile 1)?
- Cut funding to rape crisis centres when sexual violence offenses were increasing?
- Remove the need to have healthy food in schools?
- Cut numbers of state housing and force low-income families into sub-standard private rentals?
- Not support a living wage so that many working families now rely on food parcels and we have a growing demographic called the working poor?
- Allow almost 20% of our workforce to become unemployed or underemployed?
The shift of wealth to our already rich has been the real goal of this Government and the vulnerable have been largely ignored.