Te Taumata has adopted the term, ‘The Missed Opportunity Budget’, following yesterday’s Budget 2020 announcement by the government.
Chair, Chris Karamea Insley, says he would grade the budget a ‘B’ – barely a pass mark. He says it lacks a clear narrative or strategy of what the end goal is.
“This budget is not visionary,” he says. “We see a random splash of money and a race back to business-as-usual. There’s a missed opportunity to genuinely partner with Maori post-lockdown and beyond. In fact, there’s scarcely any mention of Maori or iwi in the document at all.
“And other than some rats and mice on pest control, there’s nothing on climate change, which is very disappointing.”
Mr Insley agrees the government can afford the fiscal policy. New Zealand’s current debt is 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while other countries are at 50 to 80 percent of GDP.
“Our interest rates are very low so we can afford it. Our GDP debt is projected to get to 50 percent under this plan, which is still much lower than other countries. We can afford a massive recovery plan, but they can’t.
“Governments use balance sheets strategically to massively inject cash into the economy with a focus on job creation when interest rates are at an all-time low – which is a big tick in my books. New Zealand still holds AA with world ratings agencies, so the Opposition is simply wrong with its claims of unaffordability,” says Mr Insley.
While unimpressed Budget 2020 has no reference to partnership with Maori, he says a total of $666m of new spend in the next 12 months in the primary, regional development, tourism, science and innovation sectors, along with trade and retooling business support and the extension of wage subsidies will create jobs for our Maori whanau.
“Implementation of the budget will require strong leadership and a whole-of-government effort. However, I have incredibly low confidence we’ll see this across the ministries. Rather, a bumbling and clumsy execution.
“Te Taumata has been a strong and vocal supporter of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her leadership navigating our nation through lockdown. And we stand by this. But going forward, our support for this government will be more muted.
“I’m reminded of the words of wisdom of our past and present Maori leaders – ‘kia kaha, kia manawanui. Be strong and be patient’. We have an election this year,” says Mr Insley.