24 May 2012

Parties denounce 'zero growth, zero hope' Budget

10:51 pm on 24 May 2012

Opposition parties have labelled the National Government's 'zero Budget' as 'zero growth and zero hope'.

Finance Minister Bill English told Parliament on Thursday this year's Budget will get the Government's books back in surplus by 2014-15, and the country is faring relatively well.

"We are avoiding the substantial cuts to public services and living standards that we are seeing in many other developed countries," Mr English says.

Labour Party leader David Shearer moved the traditional motion of no-confidence, before telling the House the Budget fails to make the tough decisions and will have more New Zealanders heading for airport departure lounges as they look for opportunities and a brighter future overseas.

Mr Shearer said this Budget will deliver the worst economic growth in 50 years and see 50,000 people moving to Australia.

"It has delivered 50,000 more unemployed and has 50,000 more people on benefits, costing us $1 billion.

"That is a zero growth Budget, a zero hope Budget and a zero reason Budget for staying here in this country, Mr Speaker."

But Prime Minister John Key told Parliament the Budget will strengthen New Zealand's economic resilience, saying the National Government has got on top of the mess that the previous Labour-led Government left it.

Mr Key said National has got the export sector growing and will have the books back in surplus by the 2014/15 financial year.

"And in years to come when they look back on this Government, will they say: 'Thank goodness they're there, there's not all this debt', or will they say: 'We wish we had those people who live on cloud Labour who just want to spend money from people who live on planet Mars or some other place and one day have to pay it back with interest.'"

Burden should be shared - Greens

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the 2012 Budget has ramped up the burden on lower and middle income New Zealanders - and if there is a burden to be shared, then it should be shared fairly.

Dr Norman told Parliament the Budget is full of cuts that will hit middle New Zealand in the pocket - and many will be much worse off as a result. He also accused National of slowly entrenching inequality.

"The National Party government is slowly grinding middle and lower income earners into the ground, while giving generous tax cuts to the wealthiest."

But ACT Party leader John Banks told MPs this Budget will prevent future generations being burdened.

"Saving our great-grandchildren yet born having to foot the bill in the interest costs of massive debt that the Labour Party and their friends would ramp up on their backs."

Peters says Budget a tribute to Ruth

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the Budget delivered by Bill English shows that the Government has run out of ideas and National's only answer to the economic crisis is to privatise, sell, cut back and hope.

Mr Peters told Parliament the Budget is reminiscent of the 'Mother of all Budgets' delivered by former National Party Finance Minister Ruth Richardson.

"And today, in a sincere tribute to Ruth, Bill has decided to reproduce her 1991 Budget. What an act of political courage. What vision. What insight. It shows that they've learned nothing."

Budget for the rich - Mana

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira told the House that a 'zero Budget' means just that - zero money for health, zero money for education and zero money for decent wages.

"The rich aren't giving up bugger all. In fact, with the assistance of this National Government, rich people will still be able to play the financial markets and pay no tax.

"Finance companies can still fail, knowing that National will bail them out. Company directors can steal hundreds of millions of dollars and keep their knighthoods while poor people steal from a dairy and go to jail."