Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Budget 2012: It's sensible, say 'average' family

Alistair Ray, here with wife Amanda and (from left) Matthew, James and Abbie, would have liked to see a capital gains tax. Photo / Natalie Slade
Alistair Ray, here with wife Amanda and (from left) Matthew, James and Abbie, would have liked to see a capital gains tax. Photo / Natalie Slade

"Sensible and unspectacular." That's how last night's Budget went down with one typical Auckland family.

Alistair and Amanda Ray and their three children aged 12, 10 and 6 live in Sandringham East, where the median personal income of $26,600 at the last Census virtually matched the Auckland average of $26,800.

Their two youngest children attend Edendale School, whose decile ranking of 5 is right in the middle of the official 10-point scale.

The area is gentrifying - Edendale principal Rosemary Vivien expects the school's decile rating to rise next year - and the Rays' income now puts them just above the $105,000 cut-off point for Working for Families tax credits for a three-child family.

But they still rent the three-bedroom house they have lived in since moving from Britain six years ago because they can't afford to buy in the area.

Mr Ray, 40, an urban designer, said he would have liked to see a capital gains tax to bring down house prices, but the family were otherwise unaffected by the Budget.

"It's pretty unspectacular either way. I think it's fairly sensible.

"I generally agree with the idea of not over-spending to try and stimulate economic growth, because we can see the consequences of that in Greece. So I generally agree with trying to balance the books."

He would have been willing to pay higher taxes to help reduce debt. "I suppose it's easy for me to say that, being on a reasonably good salary."

But he disagreed with selling assets. "It's like trying to balance your own domestic budget by trying to sell bits of your furniture."

He also wanted to see less spending on roads and more on public transport.

Mrs Ray, 39, who has a doctorate in cancer research but is now a full-time mum, said she loved the Budget's emphasis on science and the extra health spending on cancer, including nurses to co-ordinate cancer treatment.

"They had them in England and they co-ordinated it all together. I think that is a great thing to invest the money in," she said.

She was pleased to see the money coming from higher tobacco taxes, and was relaxed about some of it coming from raising prescription charges from $3 to $5 an item.

Ms Vivien said Edendale School might lose up to three teachers over the next five years as a result of bigger class sizes. But the Rays were relaxed about that too.

"I think the quality of teachers is the most important thing in a class," Mr Ray said.

"Whether you increase or reduce the class size, if you haven't got a good teacher it's no use."

Read all of nzherald.co.nz's Budget coverage here.

- NZ Herald

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