Last week in the Hawke's Bay Today Bruce Bisset said I had shown my true colours and offered nothing but "destructive criticism"about the Government's so-called "Wellbeing Budget".
He didn't like that I asked what was in the Budget for hard-working Kiwis, the tradies who slog their guts out to make a living for their families, the small business owners who have risked it all to go out on their own, the police officers, firefighters and teachers who work hard day in and day out. Hard-working Kiwis deserve an answer to that question.
Bruce said I only care about rich people. But these people aren't rich.
They work hard to make a living. They don't ask for handouts but they're made to feel guilty if they're not taxed to within an inch of what they can handle.
People like the young nurses and mechanics in training that I met a few weeks ago at EIT.
They don't ask for a lot but they deserve for their children to have a decent education, safe roads to drive on, decent infrastructure in their communities, essential services, good health care and a safe community to live in. That's what wellbeing is.
So I won't apologise for saying that New Zealanders will be asking what's in the Budget for them – because it's not the above.
Bruce claims I don't care about the poor. Well Bruce, did you know that under the Labour-led Government there are 13,000 more people on welfare?
That's more children living in benefit-dependent homes. Those families are worse off on the benefit than if they had a parent in paid employment.
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The chances those kids will go on to lead benefit-dependent lives are much higher.
Did you know Bruce that under this Government the latest figures show 11,067 people were waiting for a social or community house? That number is 40 per cent higher than the same time last year, and almost 90 per cent higher than when the National-led Government was in power. This is not okay. So you're wrong Bruce, I do care about the poor.
Bruce claims that I don't care about the sick. Well Bruce, did you know that this Government is on track to having at least 10,000 fewer people undergo elective surgeries than last year?
Here in Hawke's Bay alone there are 194 fewer people who have had surgery than this time last year.
Under National the figures were heading in the right direction, now for the first time in a decade they're going backwards. It's not good enough. So you're wrong Bruce, I care about the sick.
Asking what was in this Budget for hard-working Kiwis is an important and legitimate question. Nothing has been offered but more taxes for hard-working Kiwis who are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living. The first piece of legislation passed after the Budget was more tax on petrol.
Bruce says it wasn't in the public interest for me to release what was in the Budget. After months of this Government claiming this would be a "wellbeing Budget" we cut through the spin and showed that actually it would be spending up large on defence, forestry and Pacific aid.
Billions of dollars to keep Winston happy. That's on top of the failed KiwiBuild programme, Shane Jones' slush fund and the billion trees.
So Bruce, if my true colours are showing up how badly middle New Zealand is being let down by this Government, highlighting all of their broken promises and unravelling their spin – then I'm happy to be painted that way.