Thursday, February 03, 2011

Austerity for some, but not for others

Capital Coast District Health board has a problem: it is underfunded by central government, to the tune of $47 million last year. The situation is so bad that last year it was forced to shut down Wellington hospital for a week in a desperate attempt to balance the books. They've even cut the staff's coffee.

Meanwhile, they've been paying for their CEO to commute from Australia every week:

Capital & Coast District Health Board confirmed it paid for acting chief executive Shaun Drummond to fly to Townsville to visit family at weekends, but is refusing to say how much it cost. The board had a $47 million deficit last financial year.


The Dominion Post has been told he was flying business class. A business-class ticket on Air New Zealand from Wellington to Townsville, via Auckland and Brisbane, costs about $2800 return, according to the airline's website.

$2,800 a week for 52 weeks mean we're talking almost $150,000 a year, all because the DHB does not believe in New Zealanders. Some "austerity". But then, austerity never seems to apply to those at the top, does it? Instead, its all about clamping down on those at the bottom, while the fat cats continue to swig champagne. And its the same story in central government: massive tax handouts for the rich, paid for with higher GST and slashed government services for everyone else. And the Ministers doing it, with the $250,000 salaries, government limos, and taxpayer-funded travel, will never feel the impact it has on everyone else. Their wealth puts them above it all.

Austerity for some but not for others is neither equitable not sustainable. If it is to be politically credible, it must be applied fairly and equally. But National isn't interested in that - instead, they're all about screwing over the many for the benefit of the few, just like they did in the 90's.