Continuing with neoliberalism as the cornerstone of National’s policies over the past nine years, New Zealanders have witnessed some of the most damaging political impacts to society and the environment in our short history. Our rights and environmental protections have slowly been eroded away year after year, while the rich have become richer as the poor become poorer.

With the election only weeks away, it is time for a much needed review of National’s performance over the past nine years.

We are now leaders in the world for child poverty, housing unaffordability, teen suicide and species facing extinction, which leads to the pertinent question: where is this ‘Brighter Future’ National promised New Zealand?

National completely failing to provide adequate mental health services in New Zealand, costing Kiwi lives

New Zealand has been crowned with the highest teen suicide rate in the OECD, but despite the massive 60% increase in demand for services across the country, funding has only increased by 28% since 2008. With Canterbury still recovering from earthquake Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Jonathan Coleman decided to cut mental healthcare funding, leading to shocking facilities which even government appointed reviewers considered too awful to visit. National also axed all Lifeline’s funding, ignoring their 50 years of experience handling suicide prevention to instead gift the contract to an organisation which conveniently has Bill English’s wife on the board.

This is all highlighted in a recent incredibly damning report of National’s failed mental health strategy. Take a bow Dr. Coleman, your lack of accountability helped create this crisis and continues to cost Kiwi lives.

National stopping all contributions to the Super Fund

Facing a large future superannuation cost for the aging baby-boomer generation, the Super Fund was wisely set up by Labour’s Minister of Finance Michael Cullen in 2001. It has been the world’s most successful sovereign wealth fund over the past five years, averaging 17% returns per year yet in the 2009 budget, National cut all contributions to the fund. Had National continued making payments rather than use crown funds for tax cut bribes, the fund would have an extra $18 billion to help meet this fast approaching cost.

Dodgy dealings exposed in Saudi sheep deal

Last year it was revealed National paid $11.5 million of taxpayer funds to a Saudi Arabian Sheikh due to a failed live sheep export, which they claimed, without evidence, would result in New Zealand being sued. In reality, it was a bribe to try and push through a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Saudi Arabia which still hasn’t eventuated. With no answers to what taxpayers have received in return for the $11.5 million, the Saudi bribe highlights National’s willingness to blatantly use taxpayer funds to further their own agenda.

Nearly one third of Kiwi children now living in poverty

305,000 New Zealand children now live in poverty, ranking New Zealand 34th out of 41 countries for child wellbeing. With substandard, overcrowded, cold, damp homes, and the cost of living rising while minimum wage is far below the living wage, families are unable to feed, clothe, or properly care for their children while meeting costs such as electricity and heating. This results in massive overall costs which are borne by society, estimated at $6 billion every year.

Children’s commissioner Dr Russell Willis believes the role of government is the “single-most important determinant of short and long-term health, education and social outcomes for New Zealanders, yet we don’t have a plan or targets.” National have sat by and watched poverty increasing, yet have no targets or plan to tackle child poverty.

‘Swimmable’ freshwater standards doubling allowed levels of pollution

With 61% of monitored waterways now too polluted to swim in and 74% of freshwater life threatened with extinction, New Zealand’s freshwater is at crisis point. The Sir Peter Gluickman report, the NIWA report and the Ministry for the Environment report were released earlier this year and are highly critical of the impact government policy and current land use practices are having on the health of our waterways.

Nick Smith simply shifted the goal posts on what was previously considered ‘wadeable’ to ‘swimmable’ in his disastrous changes to the National freshwater policy, which doubled the allowed levels of E-Coli parts per million from 260/100mL of water to 540/100mL. Taxpayers continue to subsidise intensive farming’s pollution to the tune of billions of dollars every year, rather than make farmers pick up their tab.

John Key received much deserved international condemnation for lying about the false marketing claims we are ‘100% Pure’, while Nick Smith buries his head in the sand and instead pretends birds are to blame for declining water quality.

New Zealand’s housing crisis

New Zealand now has the most unaffordable property in the world according to The Economist, yet Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett still refuses to acknowledge there is a crisis. With prices rising an average 8 per cent a year and the average Auckland house price now $1 million dollars, first home buyers are destined Generation Rent.

National has refused to introduce policy to curb demand such as a capital gains tax, restrictions on foreign ownership, removal of tax incentives for investors or limits on immigration.  This isn’t a surprise considering the property portfolios they hold, with Nathan Guy topping the list owning a whopping 21 properties.

Removing democracy from Environment Canterbury (ECan)

In 2010, National rushed through a bill under urgency removing all democracy from Canterbury’s environmental regional council, with Nick Smith later claiming full democracy carries too many risks. National selected pro-farming councillors to oversee the wholesale conversion of Canterbury’s water resources into dairy irrigation, with no care to the pollution and destruction caused to waterways.

Smith claimed the councillors would only be there as long as needed to “complete their mission”. Years later, and with only half a democracy restored, it’s now clear the mission was to exploit all resources possible as quickly as possible for intensive farming’s private profit.

Fire-sale of New Zealand’s assets

Ignoring two thirds of Kiwis who voted against asset sales, John Key rejected democracy and fire sold our income generating assets against the will of the people. The government raised $4.7 billion from the partial privatisation of Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy and Air New Zealand, much lower than what was expected. The ex Merrill Lynch foreign exchange trader allowed prices to be set far too low, with wealthy overseas investors now owning 39% of Air New Zealand compared to Kiwi investors owning just 9%.

Having originally promised to use asset sales funds to solely fund health, education and transport, Bill English went back on his word only allocating 56% as promised and instead spending over $2 billion on other projects such as for a new archive system for TVNZ, Government House Visitor Centre upgrades and funding a new Chinese Bank.

New Zealand’s public healthcare system at crisis point

The government have for years underfunded healthcare, to such a degree that 174,000 New Zealanders now require publicly-funded surgery yet are not even on waiting lists. District Health Boards across New Zealand have reached crisis point where patients exceed available hospital beds, putting critical patients at risk and denying hundreds of patients surgeries and follow up appointments. Like with housing, Bill English simply denies the health crisis exists.

After setting a target of 4,000 extra elective surgeries per year, National increased simple Avastin eye injections which count as three surgeries per patient at the cost of nearly all other surgeries just to give the illusion they are acting for public benefit. Had each Avastin patient only been counted once, Health Boards around the country would not have met their targets.

No Jonathan, our healthcare system is not even close to the “envy of the world”.

Continued in Part 2.

About The Author

Kyle is a Christchurch based freelance writer with a passion for investigative journalism and thirst for the truth. He's also an avid environmentalist and tiny house dweller.

3 Responses

  1. Richard

    I hope you cover taxation in your ntext post. The 20% increase in gst is further hammering of those on low incomes. Gst registered people and entities can claim back get on “business related” purchases. I long for a good hearing for financial transaction tax to replace it.

    Reply
  2. Anthony Mokaraka

    But wait this has to be a good thing . . . it even comes with a Knighthood ????? . . Unbelievable !!!!

    Reply

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