Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Grant says "no" again

Yesterday the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists released a report on dental care in Aotearoa, highlighting its unaffordability and recommending free, universal dental care. This is something the left has been campaigning for for a long time - Jim Anderton pushed for it before the 2011 election, and Helen Clark has advocated for it. It would massively improve people's lives, reduce pain and suffering, and save money in the long-term. But it would involve spending money, so naturally Grant Robertson has vetoed it:

The Tooth be told report, commissioned by the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, said free or subsidised access to dental care in Aotearoa would save millions of dollars in healthcare over time.

But Acting Prime Minister Grant Robertson told Morning Report moving directly to universal dental care would require over a billion dollars a year in extra funding and any additional investment needed to be weighed against other priorities in the health sector.

Instead of free and universal provision, he wants people to go crawling to WINZ, with all the added pain and suffering that entails. Weirdly, he thinks that this isn't a deterrent - which I guess tells us either that he has never dealt with them, or that nine years on an MP's salary and six on a deputy prime minister's has destroyed all memory of it (and WINZ has got massively worse since Grant was a student).

Its a stupid and short-sighted decision - every dollar spent today on dental care saves $1.60, which is a far better benefit / cost ratio than you get from an Auckland motorway. But the money has to be spent up front, and how does that help Grant's next budget? Also, apparently voters hate long-term investment - or at least the donors he talks to in the Koru Club do, and they're the people who matter to him now.

It's a perfect example of Labour's metapolicy of austerity - can't do anything, gotta keep taxes on the rich low! It's also a perfect example of why they deserve to lose the next election. Labour is giving us nothing to vote for. So why should people lift a finger to keep paying Grant $334,734 a year?