Surplus good but at what cost?

National today achieved their own narrow goal for the economy by achieving a surplus, but it’s come at the cost of the things that matter to families and children, the Green Party said today.

Treasury reported today that the Government has recorded an operating surplus of $414 million before gains and losses (OBEGAL) for 2014/15. This is National’s first OBEGAL operating surplus since they came to power in 2008.

“National has finally secured its first surplus, which is good, but it’s come at the cost of better health for all of us and a great education for our kids,” said Green Party finance spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“We think New Zealanders could have got a surplus today and ensured that every hungry child had a school lunch, giving them their best chance of getting a good education.

“All around New Zealand local police stations are closing, kids are losing their school pools, and our air and water are getting more polluted.

“National has chosen to cut community policing services in communities like Eastbourne despite 108 years of service keeping that community safe.

“School pools in places like Tamaki and Wanaka have been demolished and parents increasingly have to pay more for school basics like swim lessons, travel, books, uniforms, and laptops on top of school fees.

“National has chosen to not tax carbon pollution and to recycle all new revenues from that tax back to families and businesses through tax cuts.

“With better financial management, the Government can achieve a surplus while enhancing government services, making life better for our children, and cleaning up our air and water.”

Examples of how the Government can secure a surplus while improving the livelihoods of people and our communities include:

  • Put a tax on carbon to make polluters pay and use the new revenues to fund tax cuts.
  • Repriotising spending on low-value roads to fast-track Auckland’s City Rail Link – the number one clean transport priority for Auckland.
  • Help schools reduce their own power bills by investing $20 million into solar power systems in schools, allowing them to benefit from cheaper, cleaner power, leaving them with more money to invest directly into teaching and learning.
  • Use savings from retendering the Government’s banking contract to establish a Green Investment Bank to speed the transition from a dirty, polluting economy to a clean one.

“We think New Zealanders could have got a surplus today without the need to compromise the quality of our livelihoods and our long-term future,” said Ms Genter.