- A lot of cuts were meaningless to the budget’s bottom line and other programs were simply “deferred”.
- The PM splashes $2bn on welfare, but says he’s not buying off voters.
- Co-governance is the sacred cow and elephant in the room that’s yet to be addressed amid the ongoing “policy bonfire”.
Bonfire? More like a candle
The media is pushing the narrative that Labour cut a billion dollars from the budget in an ongoing “policy bonfire”. But Prime Minister Chris Hipkins admitted the billion dollar figure is actually cumulative over four years.
Hipkins also pushed back on suggestions that Labour under former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was pursuing “too many dumb things at once”. Labour’s new found focus, according to Hipkins, has to do with making life more affordable and the need to deal with the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.
What’s getting cut?
In addition to the previous rounds, the current cuts include:
- Scrapping the clean car upgrade scheme aka “Cash for Clunkers”.
- Scrapping the social leasing car scheme intended to subsidise leasing clean cars to low-income families.
Hipkins also announced the controversial Auckland light rail rollout would be phased in to ease costs.
With the big cuts out of the way, Labour threw in some announcements that were more philosophical, but inconsequential to the budget’s bottom line including vastly narrowing the speed reduction programme.
Other minor initiatives were also “deferred”.
Lowering the voting age
Hipkins said there’s simply not the votes in Parliament to lower the voting age for general elections. The voting age for federal elections is “entrenched” under the Electoral Act. Changes would need to be supported by 75% of MPs or endorsed in a national referendum.
However, Labour plans on introducing legislation this term to lower the voting age to 16 for local elections. That move only requires a simple majority.
A lower voting age generally favours left wing parties, especially if you also control the narrative at schools. But what is the reasoning for it otherwise? Do 16 year olds have worldly wisdom? If so, there is an inconsistency somewhere since you have to be 14 years old before the state deems you wise enough to even stay home by yourself.
2 billion reasons to vote Labour
In addition, Labour announced a $2bn welfare package aimed at pensioners, students, children and parents and those on main benefits, which Hipkins assured Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking wasn’t an attempt to buy the election.
The narrative that Hipkins is more bloke than woke is putting Labour’s poll numbers in the lead.
Co-governance…the elephant in the room
Co-governance is controversial because, in its various forms, it tends to undermine the basic democratic principle of one person-one vote in favour of unelected tribal rule pitched as “partnerships”.
Implementing various forms of co-governance, however, still seems to be a priority for Labour despite suggestions to the contrary. There’s still Three Waters and now the Resource Management Act, Local Government reforms as well as Cyclone Gabrielle relief payments and the recently announced transport plans that are seeking to implement “partnerships”.