Budget Day has been and gone and left much of my electorate shaking their head at the money scramble. Few will begrudge support for those who need it most but there is absolutely no plan to recover our economy – in fact Finance Minister Grant Robertson proudly outlined his expectation that by 2025 we will be almost $200 billion in debt, more than three times as much as last March.
The Bay of Plenty electorate is home to 24,330 constituents aged over 50 – that is more than half of the electorate. Yet this year’s Budget provided no meaningful assistance to those people who quietly get through life with determination… tradies, self-employed, local workers, the elderly, the disabled, the working poor who chose not to have children due to lack of a permanent home.
And the public sector workers who kept our community operating safely and efficiently during last year’s lock downs? They’ve had their pay frozen. These members of our region have been forgotten by a government who has chosen to borrow more money to build more government rather than support more businesses.
This is ridiculous at a time when orchardists and pack houses are crying out for workers. There was once a time when MSD required jobseekers to pick and pack fruit in season rather than collect the dole. This government has decreed that no sanctions will be applicable to those who choose not to work.
Instead of helping business owners to sell more produce, to earn export dollars, they’ve announced a reduction in international work visas while making it even less attractive for local unemployed people to take up these jobs.
Business owners are the employers we need to be supporting. They have suffered so many hits in the last year, from lock down restrictions to minimum wage increases, doubling of paid sick leave, and another paid day off next year. This month’s Budget was yet another blow to the employers of our region. The cost of produce will simply have to increase to keep up with higher costs and this will likely wipe out the $20 per week that the poorest members of our community will gain in July.