The Budget

Greetings and hello again from New Zealand!!

As a quick aside for all the international readers before I even start, if you’re wondering where “Old Zealand” is click here. The discoverer of our country, Dutchy Abel Tasman decided on a moniker that was dear to his heart.

So I’ve been dribbling the football of thought around my brain stadium for days now wondering what I might speak about. Generally I like to dip my toes into the pool of international political intrigue. However this time I thought I would keep things a little closer to home here in little old NZ.

This week the brand new National government delivered their very first budget since winning over the hearts of the middle ground of undecideds in the general election late last year. They effectively won on a promise of tax cuts, thinking more money in our pockets will somehow make us feel better. Just to let you all know, in the first round of tax cuts on April Fool’s Day earlier this year I got less than $10 a week. Most of the money went to those people richer than I (just a humble teacher of children).

Anyhoo, since National made all their wonderful promises of money back in our pockets, thousands of people have lost their jobs as companies – led by their idiot boards – who borrowed to expand, fell into receivership as income streams dried up. As these people have stopped paying taxes, the income streams of the government have also dried up. This means the next couple of rounds of tax cuts have been ‘put on hold indefinitely’ which, in layman’s speak means (perhaps I’m barking up the wrong tree here) cancelled forever.

So, one major bribe is gone, how are National going to win our hearts back? By offering a $1300 to any homeowner to insulate their house. You might be thinking that this seems like a very novel and forward thinking idea, and it is. However they have to proved this offer without means testing. I think it’s mainly because most landlords in New Zealand are cheap, and most notably the largest landlord of them all, leading the way for everybody, is the government through the wonderfully resourced Housing New Zealand. Landlords, led by the state, refusing to spend money insulating houses against the cold of NZ winters means lots of sick tenants – last week I was one of them.

Our cold, damp, uninsulated house has begun to sprout the annual black mould around windows and other unventilated areas. For 10 months of the year this place rocks. We have two deck areas, one out the back, one out the front. Both of these get loads of sun. Unfortunately, the lack of insulation in our house means that it is currently colder inside our house than outside. If we had insulation in our roof and floor then we might still be cosy from yesterday afternoon’s sun.

The other thing that was notable in the budget was the scrapping of pay talks between the government and support workers in New Zealand schools. In it’s infinite wisdom the government has decided that all those untrained teachers – and that’s what they are, people who teach our young in a variety of different settings, but are yet to have the degree that allows everyone to call them teachers – are not worthy of a pay rise this time. Once again, the poor old recession is getting the blame – what did it ever do??

So support staff, who teach reading recovery, numeracy programmes, English language support for new immigrants, and other such wonderfully supporting educatory dalliances, lose out. Not only are they not going to get a pay rise, they aren’t even getting the chance to negotiate one with the government. I guarantee a strike would normally be on the cards but these people are paid so piss-poorly that many don’t even belong to the union, so are unlikely to take industrial action. The lack of pay will also mean many can’t afford to make their political point heard.

If you think that teachers are the only educators in our schools, then you are very much mistaken. If we had no support staff then we wouldn’t have any teachers. Nobody would stay in the job with the amount of work required.

I’ll be glad when this damn recession is over sometime in the middle of 2015 if you believe the National government. Maybe then we’ll be able to get back to our old ways of spending money that we don’t have on things we don’t need.

Until next time, word.

Boon x

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