Here is Part 2 of our review of National’s three terms in government, which follows on from Part 1 where we discuss failing mental health services, the Super Fund, the Saudi sheep bribe, one third of children in poverty, new ‘unswimmable’ freshwater standards, the housing crisis, axing ECan’s democracy, asset sales and our broken healthcare system.

Sale of state housing during a housing crisis

In 2014, John Key announced a plan to sell up to 20,000 state houses to community housing organisations defying the belief of many whilst housing reached crisis point around the country. The waiting list for housing in 2014 was sitting at 5,840 before being sharply cut as WINZ took a much harder line on those trying to join the list. Even with tougher requirements, as at June 2017 there are now over 6,700 on the waiting list, highlighting increasing levels of demand while the government reduces supply. Bill English at the time said there’s no point building new state housing.

YaleGlobal Online this year found “more than 40,000 people live on the streets or in emergency housing or substandard shelters”, almost 1 percent of the entire population and by far the worst in the OECD. Paula Bennett admitted she had “no idea” the cost of emergency housing would reach $50 million a year to motel owners, yet the public could see this would be the inevitable result of selling state housing during a crisis.

National lied about not raising GST

After promising National will not increase GST and will not raise taxin the lead up to the 2008 election, Key went back on his word in 2010 raising GST from 12.5% to 15%. This increased the cost of living for New Zealand’s already struggling lower class while the wealthiest 10 percent benefited from a 5 percent top income tax rate drop, from 38 percent down to 33 percent percent.

Wealth inequality one of the worst in the world

There has been a massive redistribution of wealth since National came to power, with New Zealand now rated one of the worst countries in the world for rising wealth inequality. Funds transferred to the government’s older voting base have increased since 2007 from $252 to $319 a week while average government payments to Gen Y only slightly increased from $56 to $61 per week. Tax cuts have benefited the wealthy far more than the poor, and the wealth has been proven to trickle up rather than down.

Extra $50 billion of crown debt

For a government which claims to be fiscally responsible, the current levels of debt prove otherwise. Since they came to power in 2008, crown debt has steadily risen from the $10 billion left by Labour to now over $60 billion dollars. This is even following John Key fire-selling our revenue generating our assets, leaving future governments with less ability to pay down debt.

Proponents on the right often claim the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquake are to blame for the $50 billion of added debt. However, the combined cost of both appear nowhere near the $50 billion added.

Unlike most OECD countries, New Zealand pulled through the GFC relatively unscathed. After a 2% decline in 2009, the economy pulled out of recession and achieved 1.7% growth in 2010, 2% in 2011 and 3% in 2012.

As for the Christchurch earthquake, expenditure has been estimated at $6.7b on “core Crown’ payments such as fixing infrastructure and building new anchor projects. However, it was revealed in 2014 only $2b had actually been spent.

So while the two events did come at some cost, tax cuts cost this country $5 billion a year and formed part of the massive distribution of wealth from the taxpayer to the wealthy. Not only has poor fiscal management fractured New Zealand’s society, it has also had a negative impact on the country’s growth.

Oil exploration in endangered Maui dolphin conservation zone

It is estimated only 55 critically endangered Maui Dolphins are alive in the world, yet in the 2014 block offer National opened up 3,000 square kilometres of their marine mammal sanctuary for oil and gas drilling.

Green MP Gareth Hughes believes the oil drilling permits are “symptomatic of the lack of concern the Government’s shown. We pride ourselves on the world stage as clean and green and doing the right thing. Here we are endangering the world most endangered dolphin.”

New Zealand tax haven

As part of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca leaks called the ‘Panama Papers’, it was revealed New Zealand was being widely used as an international tax haven through the use of foreign trusts. The National Government in 2011 changed the rules on foreign trusts, removing tax to encourage use of New Zealand as a financial services hub. Since the update in 2011, the number of foreign trusts in New Zealand more than tripled to nearly 11,000 according to Inland Revenue. This number quickly dropped to 3,000 trusts once new laws were introduced to tackle the issue, confirming our country was being used to evade tax and launder money internationally.

GCSB mass surveillance

In 2014, NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed what many already believed; the GCSB was illegally intercepting our private communications. “If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called ‘XKEYSCORE.’ It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance.”

An under pressure John Key later claimed “mass surveillance is not occurring against New Zealanders, it never has”, promising to resign if innocent civilians were having communications tapped. Yet, even after a mountain of evidence was supplied proving that the GCSB was conducting illegal mass surveillance, he refused to stand down.

This was highlighted when the GCSB admitted to illegally spying on MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and led to National introducing the controversial GCSB Bill, enabling legal mass surveillance.

Continued in Part 3..

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