Home' The Wellingtonian : May 26th 2011 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, MAY 26, 2011
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What's really in the Budget?
Last week s Budget saw no
change to the usual frantic,
day-long efforts by the
media to get the measure of the
beast, and to rush the conclusions
in front of the public.
Routinely, this is followed by
weeks of teasing out the Budget s
hidden treasures and trapdoors,
which only become apparent long
after the public has got tired of
the entire thing, if only because of
the shouting that goes on between
the experts back on Day One.
On Day One, for instance, the
consensus was that Health, Jus-
tice, and Education had been
spared the spending cuts inflicted
almost everywhere else. Cer-
tainly, some health areas (mental
health, maternity services) got
their funds boosted or held their
own, and this was duly welcomed.
Only now has it become clear that
health services may well have
been underfunded by $110 million
overall, if judged by the funds
required to keep services at cur-
rent levels, after taking inflation
into account and the needs of a
population that s both on the
increase and getting older.
Did anyone notice the $80m cut
from District Health Board
subsidies for GPs, and the $14m
from items including doctors
visits for under six year olds? In
Vote Education, the 2.9 per cent
increase in schools operational
grants, while welcome, is also
below the inflation rate.
Much of the Budget Day good
news has turned out to be painted
in shades of grey. Between now
and the November election, the
risk for the government is that the
message -- in tough times we all
have to pull together and tighten
our belts -- could become
unsustainable if and when the
public starts to believe that the
country s burden is not being
For now, the government is still
getting the benefit of the doubt.
On Budget Day in particular, suc-
cessive New Zealand governments
have tended to ignore the impact
on the state coffers of some large
elephants in the room -- with the
elephants this time being the
recent round of tax cuts, the cur-
rent levels of National Superan-
nuation, and the ongoing lack of a
capital gains tax that almost
every other developed country
treats as a necessary tool of econ-
In New Zealand, the revenue
available for public services
suffers badly as a result. Regard-
less, such elephants tend to be
ignored, or are taken as political
givens. Consequently, there is
constant pressure to find short-
Everyone will have their
Budget examples, but my eye was
caught by the $23m cut to the
Industry Training Fund, and thus
The $24m boost for business
research and development (to be
aimed at producing added-value
products and a better understand-
ing of earthquakes) sounded good,
but it has been taken from the
science innovation kitty for bio-
logical and social research. On the
upside, the $12m targeted at this
country s rampant levels of rheu-
matic fever can only be welcomed.
So far, the government appears to
have succeeded in painting this as
a Budget of moderation, especially
by contrast with the wholesale
spending cuts advocated by its
friends in the Act Party.
Over time, the drip-fed conse-
quences of the Budget cuts will
put that image of moderation to
The Wellingtonian welcomes
letters. Please supply name,
address and day phone number.
No pseudonyms. Preferred
maximum length 200 words.
Letters may be edited. Preference
is given to letters responding to
issues raised in The Wellingtonian.
Send your letters to P O Box 3740,
It's not the
clothes we wear
I reply to H Westfold s letter, May
19.If a woman was wearing a short
shirt and high heels, a man still
made the decision to sexually
assault her. The advice to stop
dressing like sluts strongly
implies that women are
responsible when they are
Just reading newspaper reports
about sexual assaults shows how
many children and elderly people
are sexually assaulted, so clothes
have nothing to do with it.
where it belongs
I write in reply to H Westfold who
wrote in regarding the Slutwalk
movement (May 19).
Whether or not someone is
dressed like a slut has no
significance on whether they
become a victim of a sexual crime.
Eighty per cent of rapes are
committed by family members or
friends. Do you think they care
how their victim is dressed?
Shouldn t we, as a society, be
punishing the perpetrators of
these crimes, not the victims?
Should we not be teaching don t
rape instead of don t dress like a
slut if you don t want to be
The point of the Slutwalk is to
fight the myths surrounding
sexual assault, to place the blame
where it belongs, on the
perpetrators, and to promote the
idea that women should be able to
dress however they like without
having to wonder if they will be
blamed if they are attacked. No
means no, yes means yes. Only
our words can give consent -- not
our bodies and not our clothes.
In response to recent letters
regarding oldies remaining in the
workforce, keeping young people
out of work.
I think a good part of the reason
is that employers have finally
realised oldies still have the old-
fashioned skills of being able to
spell, use reasonably intelligible
grammar and communicate in
more than squeaks and grunts or
the texting/twittering equivalent.
Therefore, employers conclude
that they can be reasonably well
understood by clients and
customers for whom squeaking,
grunting, texting and twitter is a
foreign language. M Kennedy,
Well done in highlighting our
government s odd position on
alcohol driving limits, compared
to the United Nations (May 19).
Steven Joyce cannot be sincere
when he says we need more
evidence of harm before we reduce
the blood-alcohol driving limit to
0.05mg/100ml, the level for most
It is beyond belief that he truly
thinks this is not a factor in our
excessive road toll, that the World
Health Organisation has its facts
Why has this government been
slow to adopt the
recommendations of its own Law
Commission s review of liquor
Expert advice recommends a
minimum price on a standard
drink to end ultra-cheap alcohol,
supermarkets be alcohol free, to
stop our food purchases funding
cheap booze, and alcohol
advertising and sponsorship
should be banned. And it
recommends reducing driving
limits to 0.05mg or lower.
The recommendations have
insignificant effects on sensible
drinking, but they will cut into
So why the resistance?
Dr Jeremy McMinn, Addiction
Specialist & Psychiatrist
Banning people on bicycles from
riding along Oriental Parade is
balderdash (letters, 19 May).
The shared walking and cycling
path is intended for low-speed
cruising, such as getting your
children started on a bike. Anyone
wanting to ride at more than
walking pace will prefer to stick to
Safer traffic speeds, such as the
council-approved 40kmh zone, on
Oriental Parade makes sense for
It reduces the chance and
consequences of crashes, and has
no significant effect on journey
times. It makes it easier to cross
the road, and improves the
ambience of this popular area. We
all win when traffic speeds come
Do not under-rate
Gordon Campbell s opinion piece
is yet another uninformed
commentary predicting Peter
Dunne s imminent unseating.
Ohariu voters know that, like
Labour s Charles Chauvel,
Katrina Shanks is a carpet-
bagger. She does not live or work
in the electorate. Ohariu voters
deserve better than a cast-off from
Wellington Central, where she
And if her debating chamber
performance over the Internet
Piracy Bill is anything to go by,
we definitely deserve better.
We have better in Ohariu
Electorate MP Peter Dunne, a
comfortable and polished
performer in Parliament and at
the Cabinet table, no doubt.
And Ohariu voters definitely
deserve better than Charles
Chauvel, Labour List MP based
in Ohariu . He has never been
based in Ohariu. He lives and
works in Wellington Central.
Shanks and Chauvel can t even
vote for themselves as an
electorate MP. To successfully
represent the electorate you need
to live here, shop here, drive
around it on a regular basis.
Turning up to the occasional
school fair does not base you in
Ohariu, and does not connect you
with the people. Keith Mockett,
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