The Budget is an unimaginative and inadequate response to a dire need to address the job crisis, child poverty and housing availability. It does not do enough to support struggling families and continues to prioritise short-term debt reduction over jobs and fairness.
We can afford to do more to help people who have been hurt by the long recession and this Budget should have included more assistance for people who lose their jobs, productive community work programmes, and a strategy to help high-value, high-wage industries grow. It didn't. There is reprioritisation of industry training funding to help young Maori and Pasifika trainees, which is good, but not enough to encourage many more young people into tertiary education and training.
The Budget at least recognised that poverty is a problem for many families. But again, the Government's response is weak and misleading.
A repackaging of several programmes around home insulation targeted at low-income families, programmes to reduce rheumatic fever, more for budget advisory services, investigation of low-interest loans, and a trial of housing warrants of fitness for Housing Corporation houses is belated and doesn't hit the causes of poverty which need to include New Zealand's low wage structure.
Spending on school buildings from the sale of valued public assets to a small minority of well-off individuals and investment funds does not make bad asset sales policy good.
Health is almost $150 million short of what is needed for rising costs, population and ageing, and public services continue to be run down.
Helen Kelly is the president of the Council of Trade Unions.