Thursday, May 22, 2008


Unlike last year, I was expecting something in this year's Budget. Not the inevitable tax cuts - unlike the right, I am not obsessed with tax, not do I begrudge the government spending money on health, education, and protecting people from the vicissitudes of life. So the centrepiece of Cullen's budget left me cold. No, what I was expecting was some large social policy, like a restoration of benefit levels, or an expansion of paid parental leave, both as a reminder of what Labour stands for, and as part of a strategy to force National's hand and wedge it between the people and its base.

What I got was nothing. Oh, they're inflation-adjusting the health budget, making some minor tweaks around student allowances, and continuing to fund KiwiSaver (a real financial poison pill for National). But there's nothing there for the left. No new social programmes, no increase to superannuation, no social dividend, not even a new university in South Auckland, let alone a commitment to fund Auckland's rail expansion quickly. All we get is a tax cut which at first glance at least favours the poor over the rich, but still buys into right-wing agenda that the solution to every problem is a tax cut. And this is supposed to inspire people to vote for them?

Labour had an opportunity with this budget to regain some ground and give people positive reasons to support them in the upcoming election. They squandered it.