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Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: For sake of NZ, revise your Budget, Bill

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Finance Minister Bill English during his presentation on the 2012 budget. Photo / NZ Herald.
Finance Minister Bill English during his presentation on the 2012 budget. Photo / NZ Herald.

Mr B. English
Top Floor Deficit House
Wellington

Dear Sir,

Sorry to bang on about it, Bill, but this Budget's still a bit of a bother, to be blunt. Some of us can't quite comprehend why you clobbered the kids, cobber. Particularly the ones who deliver the news.

Presumably, the good folk of Dipton look forward, each day, to the thrill of having a massive organ thrust into their letter box, full of useful information - including accounts of your own thrilling deeds.

Yet you've chosen to raid those kiddies' paper banks, to snatch their minor's mite, purloin their pittance, simply to bloat an already distended public purse. This is Shylockery unbridled, sir. Taking tax credits from our plucky little paper persons (boys and girls) is unbearable, Bill. For pity's sake, sir, they're out in all weathers so they can fund a $20 top-up in order to text their frozen friends.

What will the message be now, Mr E? - Srry, cn't txt n e more. Grwnupz tk all my $ :(

And wait, there's less - specifically for the old folks in rest homes, sir. They're losing $4.5 million - in the first year alone, your eminence - by virtue of your decision to link asset reviews to the CPI, rather than keep the current $10,000 increase a year.

Thus, at the sunset and sunrise of life, are dreams snuffed out. We've had the Black Budget, sir and the Mother Of All Budgets, now you risk notoriety as the author of the Baby Budget; the one that pillaged the paper persons - and their grandparents too!

'Tis a bitter pill, Bill, and one you should not swallow. Because no swallowing's required, sir, if you'd just pay heed to the many superfluities that remain in the Budget. Here's a selection, sir; all of them which, like warts, warrant removal.

* The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet - $3.5 million for "free and frank advice" on policy issues. Come, come, sir. At $3.5 million, it may be frank but it ain't free. Besides, since your advisers didn't give you a heads-up about using asset sales earnings to glam up NZ House in London, you could hack a mill off to teach them a lesson. Do it, sir. For the paper boys (and girls). For the country.

* The Ministry of Women's Affairs: $4,475,000 for policy advice on issues affecting women - pretty much exactly what you're taking off the oldies in care. Ask the womenfolk, sir, how they want that $4.5 million spent. And they'll say. "We don't want it spent it on us. Spend it on the old people." Do it, sir. For the mothers. For the paper boys (and girls). For the old folk. For the country.

* There's also $1 million "to enhance workplace safety and raise the standard of facilities at racecourses". Fair dinkum, Mr E, if we've got to tax the kiddies, surely the sport of kings could pay for their own dunnies? Cut it, Bill. For the paper boys (and girls). For the old folk. For the country.

* $102 million for "ballet, Maori performing arts, orchestra, protection of historic places and promoting and supporting New Zealand films". Seriously, Bill, $102 million and you can't find a cent to rebuild Christchurch Cathedral? Money down the drain, sir. Let the films promote themselves. Trim that budget, sir. For the paper boys (and girls). For the old folk. For the country.

* $181,445,000 for legal aid. There's a fundamental injustice in the justice system, Bill. Some people don't have to pay to defend themselves in court. Other people pay for them.

Look, sir, we've got interest-free student loans (and interest-free loans to assist people in long-term care). Legal aid should be the same. Make legal aid a loan, sir. The cost will plunge and you won't need to list it as an expense. Do it, Bill. For the paper boys (and girls). For the old folks. For the country.

* Finally, some biggies. Like the $6.4 million "to implement and administer a New Zealand emissions trading scheme", the $11 million "for policy advice on domestic climate change", the $23 million "for a national carbon accounting system", and the $909 million "for the allocation of NZ emission units to the New Zealand economy". Don't bother. Bill. Let them allocate themselves. Sod "emissions trading" and "carbon accounting" and the "policy advice" too. Global warming's dog tucker, Bill. That most ecologically minded of blokes, James Lovelock, Mr Gaia himself, says it isn't happening. It's a gone burger, Bill. Drop the lot. Save a billion. For the paper boys (and girls). For the old folk. For the country.

There's more. of course. There always is. But that'll do for starters. Though whether anyone does get started is an entirely different matter.

Yrs sincerely,

The usual suspects

- NZ Herald

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