Surplus gone, time to concentrate on serious economic issues

National’s obsession with its nanosecond surplus has ended up being a lose-lose for New Zealand because it came at the price of fewer jobs and more pollution, the Green Party says.

The Government’s Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update today forecast a $401 million government deficit, GDP growth slowing to 2.1%, and unemployment rising to 6.5%. This is a step backward from the Budget 2015 forecasts of a surplus, 3.2% GDP growth, and 5.1% unemployment.

“National should have focused on fixing the economy to deliver jobs and cut pollution, instead of just chasing a surplus at any cost including cutting health spending, closing community police stations, and putting off contributions to the Super Fund for even longer,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“Whether or not the Government is in surplus doesn’t really mean a lot to most families, who are more worried about being able to afford a decent home or joining the 151,000 New Zealanders who can’t find a job.

“Increasing capital spending is the right thing to do to give the economy a push, but we need to make sure the spending goes on the right things, such as transformational infrastructure projects that would kick-start the clean economy and create jobs like the Auckland City Rail Link.

“On a day when the Children’s Commissioner has announced that 30 percent of our kids are living in poverty, I would have hoped that some of the $1 billion for defence spending would instead be used to target those who need it the most.

“I really hope that the $2.6 billion of transport spending flagged today will be used for smart, clean transport solutions and not just more expensive motorways.

“New government spending must be focused on making the changes to our economy that are necessary following the Paris climate agreement, building the foundations for a low carbon economy,” Mrs Turei said.

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