OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Budget 2014: Yeah okay.

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  • Russell Brown,

    Competent Budget in which the free doctors’ visits for under-13s will justifiably get a lot of coverage. But … it appears that this government continues to hate on public health and primary care services, including for disability. Cuts in dollar terms in quite a few places.

    And for reasons I can’t work out, the budget for Problem Gambling Services has been cut 11.6% and is less than the income from the gambling levy that funds it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The answer on Problem Gambling funding:

    Reasons for Change in Appropriation The decrease of $1.936 million is due to the expected timing of expenditure under the Problem Gambling 3-Year Services Plan and a one-off funding transfer, which increased the 2013/14 appropriation by $1.730 million. Current and past policy initiatives are listed above

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2014/estimates/v6/est14-v6-health.pdf

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Competent Budget

    Erm...
    Sound like a Labour budget almost. As for that surplus.
    As Winston pointed out, the amount of surplus is less than the amount than the insurance payout for Chch, which went into Govt. bonds thus showing as a positive amount in treasury.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    The 2013 Budget delivered a miserly response from the Government to
    the outcome of the Appeal against the 'Famiy Carers Case".

    Instead of merely removing the prohibition against the payment of
    family members providing care for those eligible for Home And
    Community Support Services via MOH: Disability Support Services, the
    government passed, under urgency, with a heavily redacted Regulatory
    Impact Statement, the ammendment to the Public Health and Disability
    Act.

    This amendment made legal the policy that had been deemed illegally
    discriminatory by the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the High Court
    and the Court of Appeal.

    https://www.google.co.nz/#q=i+think+national+has+just+broke+our+constitution

    This 2013 Budget had a joyous announcement of 23m per year extra for
    paying some family carers under a new operational policy.

    http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/92m-pay-family-carers-disabled-adults

    This new operational policy was released in October 2013...allowing
    payment to 1600 parent carers. This scheme is heavily restrictive,
    impossibly complicated and quite possibly breaches employment
    regulations...but section 70E of the PHDAct amendment prevents any
    legal scrutiny of this by the Tribunals or Courts.

    Unsurprisingly, less than 10% of the prospective 1600 parents have
    applied successfully for payment under this scheme.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11240668

    What a pity the governments largesse did not extend to increasing the
    accessibility of this miserable response to over a decade of battle
    between disabled and their family carers and the government.

    And yes, Russell, Disability services do seem to miss out....looking at the Vote Health Document

    http://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/pdfs/estimates/v6/est14-v6-health.pdf

    it appears that expenditure is expected to be more or less static for the next 3 years.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah, though I can't work out with absolute certainty whether that means what it looks like it means. I'll assume it does for the moment.

    Interestingly there's a big increase ($180m) for Defence. New helicopters and frigate upgrades, mostly. Which, you know, might be justifiable - there are arguments for and against things.

    But it's peculiar what gets funded and what doesn't. Why not a systems upgrade for civilian bicycle lights? After all, the threat to me is immediate and proximate (about 5 minutes and 20 metres away). I'm more likely to suffer in the next few years from a unguided vehicle than a guided missile. Now that we have free GP visits for the under 13s and 18 weeks of paid parental leave* we'll consider these part of the landscape and it will take a fundamental shift in thinking to step back from them. Our decision making is ad hoc, traditional and incremental, but sometimes that denies us the ability to think more clearly about what gets us to what we really want.

    *Laila Harre had to fight the Clark Government to get 12, proving the point. Parental leave is now established in the expectations of the population and their politicians.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Homer,

    The visualisation's a bit off for MPI - "Border Biosecurity Risk Management" is listed as both increasing and decreasing by 100%, as is "Implementation of Policy Advice" (at least I think those are the same thing both times). LINZ has similar issues - it thinks almost everything is new. Only a few of them are like that though.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • Terry Baucher,

    And the bulges in the Gallery’s pants were already starting to show in the Budget lock-up, which bodes poorly for the election

    To be fair Keith, and probably to our equal surprise, the first question to Bill English in the lockup wasn't about tax cuts. (Brooke Sabin asked a number of quite pertinent questions about the impact of migration flows on housing).

    When the question was asked what was interesting about the ensuing discussion was the admission that tax "cuts" could be accommodated within the $500 million extra operational spending.

    Sneaky measure of the day: the suspension of inflation adjustments to the student loan repayment threshold for a further two years until 1 April 2017 effectively a tax increase for those with student loans. (This gets double points points for sneakiness as it was included in the announcements about boosting tertiary education and research, even though Student Loans are administered by the Inland Revenue.)

    Great graphics, Keith, gee that must have taken some work.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2008 • 91 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to George Darroch,

    a big increase ($180m) for Defence

    We must be strong.
    For if we are weak, we are not strong.
    And if we are not strong, we are weak.
    So we must be strong.
    ....

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    $5.2m less for public broadcasting and $4.4m for the First World War instead.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Okay, thoughts please on the decision to grant a $375m interest-free loan rather than conventional funding to NZTA.

    This will cost only what it costs to serve the loan, but I'm not clear on how NZTA pays it back. Is it fair or not to say that the $375m loan is a dodge to contrive the $372m surplus?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    This will cost only what it costs to serve the loan, but I'm not clear on how NZTA pays it back. Is it fair or not to say that the $375m loan is a dodge to contrive the $372m surplus?

    Seems about right. NZTA is only too willing to bend over backwards for the political masters, as long as they get to build ROADS!!!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Is that related in any way to the loan for Auckland's new electric trains?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Russel Norman identifies large effective cuts in Health and Education budgets.

    For Education, there is a nominal increase over those years from $10.12 billion in 2014/15 to $10.15 billion, but in real terms that is a 5.5 percent cut.

    "In Health spending, the cuts over the three years amounts to $1.8 billion in real dollar terms. In Education, it is $588 million over the three years.

    "The cuts in these two areas alone equal $2.4 billion, two thirds of the $3.5 billion surplus National is projecting by 2017. National is paying for their surplus from cuts to our health and education."

    Andrea Vance tallies the other departments facing cuts.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Competent Budget in which the free doctors’ visits for under-13s will justifiably get a lot of coverage

    Totally. Great policy.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Just a first glance but these things stood out:

    MoBIE 2.3B in 2015 (down 16.7% 2014-2015)
    DoL 1.1B (down 10.1% 2014-2015)
    MED 254M (down 30.7% 2014-2015)
    MSI 113.4M (down 0.3% 2014-2015)
    DBH $74.9M (down 48.1% 2014-2015)

    All as separate line items, yet the later 4 were subsumed into the former which takes actual MoBIE expenditure to $3.8B – now there may be valid statutory reasons for identifying things separately (e.g. Marsden Fund) but they shouldn’t be listing them as separate entities, still.

    Also, a number of items in the MoBIE breakdown come up as “Policy advice and outputs” without identifying what these things are for. Will the detail be forthcoming in a later iteration, Keith?

    And, finally I notice that the Commerce Commission Litigation Funds $7M and 3.5m as separate packages of new money in MoBIE’s budget (i.e. didn’t exist before). And the Financial Markets Authority Litigation Fund ($2M down 1.9%) Takeovers Panel Litigation Fund ($200K down 1.9%) are also in MoBIE’s budget. Now, I know for a fact that nothing leaves MoBIE without going through Joyce’s office, even before it gets to the responsible minister so that tells me a little something about how this government intends to regulate the market…

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Disability services do seem to miss out

    We need to see all the other amounts spread across government, not just the MoH-funded support services. It all adds up to about $3b.

    I imagine one of the disability organisations will analyse that - perhaps DPA now that they have a really good policy person on board.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    DBH $74.9M (down 48.1%

    That must represent some internal transfer of functions?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    "I imagine one of the disability organisations will analyse that - perhaps DPA now that they have a really good policy person on board."

    I will await such an analysis with bated breath.

    Although, since the Government is funding DPA NZ to the tune of $615,837....

    http://www.register.charities.govt.nz/CharitiesRegister/PublicAnnualReturn?nocId=a9b164fe-cc62-e311-8f2f-00155d0d1916&charityRef=DIS00007&accountId=eb40962d-ed89-dc11-98a0-0015c5f3da29&searchId=2d51ec04-e061-4332-b5c7-3da29a6cfe18&nocRef=DIS00007AR007

    compared to $11,000 in actual membership fees.....

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    They did some helpful summaries in previous Budgets. Takes ages to riffle through the various docs otherwise.

    Note that if you highlight text in a comment before you click on Reply it automagically gets pasted in as an indented quote. Handy.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    They did some helpful summaries in previous Budgets. Takes ages to riffle through the various docs otherwise.

    Aha! You can teach an old b^#ch new tricks! Thank you Sacha.

    Anyway, the taking "ages" bit I get, but I also do a fair amount of riffling myself.. Quite enjoy the pastime. Funny what turns up.

    It would appear that this Budget is going to struggle under close scrutiny.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Ultimately, I think this budget is fine, and National really is doing a reasonable job of managing the finances.

    This opines the authentic self-satisfied liberal middle class.

    Nothing for the poor. Not a cent for the bottom.

    Still, I guess we got gay marriage.

    Francis Fukuyama was right. The neo-libs won.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to nzlemming,

    Is it fair or not to say that the $375m loan is a dodge to contrive the $372m surplus?

    I'm not sure whether NZTA purports to be an independent body whose debt is not guaranteed by the state?

    In any case, the government is on shaky ground in this area. They won on Bank of Tokyo v Solid Energy.

    But there was a lot of mess around Learning Media where the government infused cash to pay off Westpac while leaving their other creditors (the owners of their leased premises) dangling. (Winston Peters should do more digging in that case, maybe).

    It's quite hard for a government to act as an arms-length shareholder and claim limited liability when it controls the order pipeline and legal environment of most SOEs and Crown entities.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Nothing for the poor. Not a cent for the bottom.

    Please be more specific. Voters need to hear it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Funny what turns up

    totally

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

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