Editorial: Family fine example of decent Kiwis

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Joe Sonneveld and his wife Annemieke with four of their six children in their orchid house. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Joe Sonneveld and his wife Annemieke with four of their six children in their orchid house. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The Budget should not pass without a pat on the back for Joe and Annemieke Sonneveld, orchid growers at Drury.

When news media seek out people whose circumstances have been, or will be, affected by a public policy change, they seldom hear the attitude of the Sonnevelds.

They have six children, which made them eligible for the Working for Families tax credit in years that their business earned less than $172,425. Some years they received $20,000 back from the Government but, they told the Herald, "we haven't needed it".

After the Budget on Thursday drastically reduced their family support payments, Mr Sonneveld was not complaining. It may be a mistake to imagine that most people's interest in the Budget goes no further than their own pockets.

Everybody's welfare depends on the strength of the whole economy, its exports, exchange rates, internal costs and external competitiveness.

To pay family benefits to households with six-figure incomes is sheer waste.

Taxpayers such as the Sonnevelds, whose business exports 98 per cent of its orchids to the United States and Japan, would gain far more benefit from a balanced Budget that keeps interest rates low and takes pressure off the exchange rate.

Yet the changes made to Working for Families will see the benefit cut out at only a slightly lower rate for six-child families: $138,790.

The Sonnevelds are far from the only household that does not need it. Good on them for saying so.

- NZ Herald

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