There Is Enough Money

For years we have been told “there is not enough money” for elective surgery, for social services, for free education, for a decent income for everyone.

This is not true. There is enough money. But it is being spent on other things.

It starts with the wealthy corporations and individuals who spirit their earnings out of the country to keep it all for themselves and avoid paying for their share of the services provided out of our taxes.

It carries on to the megasalaries paid to a few elite directors and managers at the expense of the rest of the workers and efficient and effective service delivery. Even government departments and State Owned Enterprises have fallen into this trap.

From there we move to unnecessary government spending such as the $14 million spent setting up a farm, shipping sheep, and now building an abattoir to placate a wealthy Saudi Arabian businessman who was upset because New Zealand stopped him from shipping live sheep from his New Zealand farm to Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Health’s $24 million refit of an office building it doesn’t even own and actually didn’t have the money to pay for is another example. Further examples of the extravagant and unnecessary spending by our current government could fill pages.

And then we have the eye-watering consultants’ fees paid out by government-funded services to do for them what they should be able to do themselves. The latest example being the Southern District Health Board’s $1,200 a day government-appointed commissioner’s decision to spend over $150,000 on an English consultant to run seven days of ‘listening sessions’ with staff, former patients, and their families to try to improve the service. This included $10,000 to design the ‘listening sessions’. Meanwhile the elective surgery list grows longer.

Lack of money is not the problem. Spending priorities are.

If we had a government prepared to sort out the tax dodging, rein in executive salaries and consultancy fees, and target spending towards the things that really make a difference, we may well find we have enough money to reduce elective surgery waiting lists, pay aged care and disability sector workers a decent wage, fund more new medicines, reduce class sizes in our schools, provide free tertiary education.

However, it is up to us. It is our choice. If New Zealanders would prefer the government to have a different set of priorities for taxpayers’ money, come election time it would be wise to focus on policies rather than personalities.