Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Aussies don't want tax cuts

This is simply hilarious: the Australian government gives away billions in tax cuts - and the Australian public says they don't want it. Instead, they'd rather have better services, particularly in health.

Meanwhile, over here people seem to want to have their cake and eat it too. National continually bang the drum about tax cuts - and about a perceived lack of health services. Unfortunately, they can't have both. If we want to reduce waiting lists and ensure that people get the healthcare they need, then we have to pay for it - and this necessarily means taxation. While National likes to pretend that significant gains can be made by cutting "health bureaucrats", this is as much a fantasy as it is in education. The total appropriated for Vote:Health [PDF] in Budget 2005 was $9,681 million. Of this, a mere $150.198 million (1.55%) went on the bureaucrats at the Ministry (for things like policy advice, performance monitoring, public health and running information services), and (according to the article linked above) $513.7 million (5.31%) on District Health Board managers and administrators (meaning the people who make sure the doctors and nurses get paid, arrange appointments, manage workloads, run the hospitals, and do all the other bullshit that, while it isn't actually cutting people open or making them better, is still important to enabling that to happen). Interestingly, while the latter figure has increased in nominal terms, it has decreased significantly in percentage terms; in 2000/2001 DHB management and administration made up 6.01% of the health budget ($379.4 million out of a $6,309 million total spend). This is hardly a sign of enormous inefficiencies and money waiting to be saved. The only way National can get significant "greater efficiencies" out of the health sector is by either cutting services, or paying frontline staff less - the very things which fucked up our health system in the first place.