INDEPENDENT NEWS

"A Brain Drain Budget": Luxon Offering Kiwis A One-way Ticket To Australia

Published: Thu 30 May 2024 04:27 PM
FIRST Union General Secretary Dennis Maga says today’s Budget 2024/25 is one of the most regressive in the country’s history, and represents a "Brain Drain Budget" that will encourage many more Kiwis to consider moving overseas.
Mr Maga highlighted several features and omissions from today’s Budget as detrimental for New Zealanders’ economic wellbeing, and the future of the country:Irresponsible and ideological personal tax cuts would do nothing to mitigate the cost of living crisis and were being paid for by the dismantling of the public service;A failure to live up to the National-NZ First coalition promises to increase the proportion of Government funding to St John meant our emergency ambulance service was now at risk of collapse;The omission of any new measures or initiatives aimed to crack down on tax avoidance in New Zealand by multinational companies meant more wealth extracted from New Zealanders’ labour and transferred overseas;Previously announced projects, including the disastrous ‘Fast Track’ infrastructure Bill, showed the Government was still unconcerned with climate change, biodiversity and species loss, or the country’s future energy security.
"Personal tax cuts are a slimy bribe to New Zealanders in an attempt to make them complicit in the Government’s systematic dismantling of the public service and welfare safety net, as though we will all benefit from austerity in the long run - we will not," said Mr Maga.
"It’s an illusory short-term gain for a very real long-term pain. In terms the Prime Minister might understand, it’s like paying off your shareholders to avoid true scrutiny over your company’s failing business model."
"Personal tax cuts will do very little to mitigate the rising cost of living, which will continue to grow as the Government rewards companies who have no obligations to anything but their bottom lines."
"If the aim really is to mitigate the cost of living crisis, the Government should be strengthening collective bargaining so that New Zealanders get a fairer share of corporate profits and reduce the significant inflationary pressures caused by the greed of the ‘infinite growth’ model that conservatives worship above all else."
"Finance Minister Nicola Willis says tax cuts are ‘fully paid for’ - which is true, but only in the sense that we will all pay for these tax cuts through the loss of a functional and responsive public service."
Stats NZ figures released in February showed that the provisional annual net migration loss of 47,000 New Zealand citizens in 2023 was a new annual record, with more than half estimated to be heading to Australia.
"New Zealanders are heading overseas in record numbers in search of greater opportunity, better-paid jobs, secure and affordable housing, and a robust social safety net - the very things our Government seems fixated on destroying," said Mr Maga.
Mr Maga said that crucially, Budget 2024 failed to increase funding for Emergency Road Ambulance Services, representing a failure of the coalition agreement between National and NZ First, which had promised to "renegotiate the Crown funding agreement with St John with a view to meet a greater portion of their budget."
FIRST Union delegate and St John ambulance officer Tom Bannan told TVNZ this week that the service was in a worse state than he had seen in his 36 years working with St John. Ambulance officers have been in wage bargaining with St John since December last year and repeatedly told that no wage increase could be negotiated until the Government stepped in to increase the proportion of its state-funding, which is currently around 80% of its total budget.
"This leaves St John workers no other options but to continue with escalating industrial action," said Mr Maga. "Ambulance officers cannot keep disappointing New Zealanders with long emergency response wait times while watching their experienced colleagues head overseas in search of better pay and a fully-resourced ambulance service."
"If you or your loved one dies after waiting four hours for an ambulance, the twenty bucks extra in your pocket means very little."
"It’s clear that the coalition of National, NZ First and the Act Party have been unable to prioritise the long-term health of emergency services, which is a political and social failure."
Dennis Maga paid tribute to the thousands of people rallying around the country today against the Government’s attacks on Te Tiriti and tangata whenua.
"New Zealanders are not stupid. They know when something sounds too good to be true, and their silence and complicity cannot be bought for twenty bucks a week," said Mr Maga.

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