Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Slash and burn

After a promising start, it looks like National is reverting to type after all, with an ACT Minister letting slip that the government's razor gang had been instructed to slash 10% from departmental budgets:

ACT MP and minister outside Cabinet Heather Roy named the savings target in an email newsletter.

"In a response to current economic circumstances, all Government ministers and departments are conducting a line-by-line review of expenditure to identify where savings – of around 10 percent – can be made."

And it looks like the slash and burn has already begun, with confirmation that the government is planning to slash 500 to 1000 people from the Ministry of Social Development - the very people who are going to be needed to help others during the recession. But as usual, they'll be told to "do more with less". In the 90's, that philosophy - of imposing arbitrary budget cuts in pursuit of some arbitrary fiscal target - led to crumbling schools, roads, and hospitals, to chronically underpaid doctors, nurses, and teachers, to growing public health waiting lists and high barriers to getting social support. It also led to a government which outsourced core functions to highly paid consultants while letting its internal capacity wither - to the extent that it was eventually unable to run an election properly due to the relevant people not being budgeted to do it. Even after nine years in power, Labour was unable to heal all of that damage. And now it looks like National is going to do it all again...

So, when your local school starts falling down and you can't find a doctor, just remember: that's the price you pay for electing a National government.