Thursday, May 15, 2003

Thoughts on the budget

The Budget was announced today, and the general reaction seems to be that it's boring. No substantial new spending, and no significant policy changes - though in light of the 80's and 90's, the latter is probably a good thing. The country expects to run a surplus of almost $4 billion next year, which seems criminal when so many areas of our public services - health, education, welfare, the police - are crying out for funds after being systematically starved for ten years. At least Cullen has the decency to seem embarassed about it...

It's made me wonder what the point of having a Labour government is if they're not going to even try and fix the damage caused by that starvation. But seeing the Herald's take on where we'd be if National was still in power - more welfare cuts and a minimum wage still frozen at $7 an hour - shows that in fact having Labour in government has led to some very real progress. Still, it's not nearly enough, and endless promises of "jam tomorrow" are eventually going to wear thin with Labour's traditional support base. And under MMP, they have real options to pull labour in a more leftward policy direction, rather than simply voting for the Other Bunch.