Thursday, May 25, 2017

It must be election year

Today was budget day, and National has delivered a budget with a supposed $2 billion "family income package" consisting of tweaks to tax thresholds and Working For Families. There's some nasty clawbacks in that around abatement rates and cuts, but it will definitely make some people better off - not people right on the bottom, but pretty much everyone above that. Its the sort of centrepiece policy you might expect from a Labour government. Which is a guess a sign that National is genuinely afraid in election year.

Unfortunately, that fear doesn't extend to dealing with the big problems. The housing crisis? Nothing. No capital gains tax, no funding for their promises of more houses, nothing. Clean water? Nothing - though they are committing $6 million to making it worse by subsidising irrigation. Climate change? No moves to make polluters pay or push for the radical decarbonisation we need. Transport? Still all about the roads, with nothing for Auckland rail. Beyond the big election-year policy to sweeten up middle-class voters, the rest of the budget is business-as-usual, doing as little as possible other than keeping things ticking over. Its a budget from a government which has no idea what it actually wants to do in office. Which given that this is National, is a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

Oh, but the big trend of the last few years has continued. Despite their utter incompetence and repeated negative reports from the Inspector-General, the spies are getting even more money, with an extra $20 million of the SIS and $40 million for the GCSB. And meanwhile other departments are facing zero increases or cuts. It's a telling reminder of National's priorities: spies rather than support, privacy invasion rather than public services. And a reminder than every dollar we spend on these fuckers and their paranoid, self-important little games is a dollar stolen from the mouths of the needy. Its time to take that money back, by defunding the spies entirely. Its not a hell of a lot in the great scheme of things, but it could make a real difference in the right places.