Rodney Hide: Huh? Spending boast a wrong 'un

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That's our money John Key and his Cabinet are throwing around. Photo / Getty Images
That's our money John Key and his Cabinet are throwing around. Photo / Getty Images

There's much about politics that's stupid but nothing beats Budget Day. It's a day when ordinarily sane people spout nonsense.

Ministers hoot and holler that they are spending more money than ever before. Opposition MPs scream and shout it's not enough.

We don't do that at home. We don't do that at work. To do so would be to be labelled insane and end up poverty-stricken.

Imagine it. "How was your day, dear?" "Great. I spent more on fishing gear than ever before!" "Well done, honey. I bought a dress that cost even more than last year's."

In the real world we must economise and judge our spending by what we get not by how much we spend.

But not politicians. Not on Budget Day.

Health Minister Tony Ryall is the most sensible man I know. He crowed on Budget Day that under his stewardship health spending has hit a record $15.6 billion a year. Imagine telling your boss that. "Yes, indeed, it's true. Under my administration, my department is spending more than in any other year!" It would likely see you sacked.

But here's the sane, sensible Tony Ryall bragging he is now spending more than any other Health Minister. "Those Labour Ministers of Health were tightwads: I spend even more, much more!"

We hear nothing of any economising. There's no mention of savings or of doing more with less. And it's our money.

The more-money-than-ever-before is all coming from us. We are being squeezed until our pips squeak. No government has ever squeezed more out of us. That's the flip side to the Budget hullabaloo.

As a result, we must all do more with less. But not government.

And all the dollars we spend must be justified. But not politicians' spending. Not on Budget Day.

Minister after minister was bellowing how they are spending more than ever before. None was telling us what we are getting extra. It was enough just to be spending.

And where was the Opposition in all of this? Promising to do more with less? Promising to be better stewards of our money?

Nope. Labour Leader David Cunliffe declared the Budget a "fudge it". His concern was "underfunding". His deputy, David Parker, worked it out: "Health spending is going backwards under National." Yes, that's right. National is spending more than ever before but unless even more is spent we are going backwards. Labour is promising to spend bigger than Ryall.

If you spent what you didn't have at home and bragged about it, your wife would dump you. If you did it at work, you would be sacked. Do it in politics and we vote for you. It's nuts.

- Herald on Sunday

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