Monday, June 20, 2011

The cost of cuts

The cost of National's cuts to public spending? Shit in the drinking water in our rural communities - at least according to our DHBs:

“The Government’s sixteen month freeze on the drinking water capital works assistance program has limited communities’ ability to address drinking water concerns that were highlighted by the Ministry of Health a year ago.”

Information obtained by the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that some District Health Boards (DHBs) have made progress in their efforts to help communities improve drinking water, but thirty percent of DHBs said that the freeze on funding had been a limiting factor for some communities to improve their drinking water and monitoring regimes.

There's a concrete example of this down the road from me in Shannon, where residents have been coping for years with unsafe water contaminated with giardia and E coli. The local council wants to fix the problem, but its small rating base means it can't afford to. They had been hoping to access a pool of money from central government, but National froze and cut it. As a result, they keep getting sick. But the rich get marginally lower tax rates, which is all that appears to matter to National.

This is a basic failure of the National government to provide proper living standards to kiwis. Everyone in New Zealand should have access to clean, safe drinking water. Everyone. We're not the third world, and its not expensive. Its just that National are too cheaparse to help out where help is needed.