E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, is deeply concerned about the prospect of a National-led Government’s ability to fund essential services and infrastructure, after figures released today show their policies create a large fiscal shortfall.
The figures have been released by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, using all the information the National Party have published about their own policy costings to date, as well as data from Treasury and the Reserve Bank. It reveals a shortfall of $3.3bn to $5.2bn, numbers which do not even include major spending promises that remain uncosted by National.
E tū Assistant National Secretary, Rachel Mackintosh, says the National Party must front up now about how they would pay for their election policies.
“National’s promises are expensive, and the party simply cannot make it work without new revenue or significant cuts,” Rachel says.
“The Council of Trade Unions have had to carry out this work because National are still not being upfront with the public about their financial plan. It should really be National’s own responsibility to explain to the voting public how they are going to balance the books. The closer we get to Election Day, the more worrying it is that the National Party can’t present a credible explanation for how they’ll pay for their promises.”
Rachel notes that other parties have been able to present their numbers – Labour through Budget 2023, and the Greens and ACT with their published alternative budgets.
“With National not even able to make their own announced policies stack up financially, we are deeply worried about what this would mean for continued funding of key services. The money must come from somewhere, and so adequately funding things like health and education is at serious risk.”
E tū Co-President, Muriel Tunoho, has worked in community health for decades. She is particularly concerned about what the budget hole would mean for health funding.
“National underfunding the health system is a tale as old as time,” Muriel says.
“People working in the community health spaces are particularly worried because we’ve been forgotten about before. While we have made some gains under Labour, there is still so much more we need to make the health system work for everyone, especially our most marginalised communities.
“Not funding health properly means real hardship for families in Aotearoa. Both the workers and the service users suffer. I have seen poor health outcomes result in all sorts of huge challenges for whānau, it’s heartbreaking.
“E tū members in health need pay equity, safer staffing, and many more improvements. These things require a proper boost to health funding, which we have been campaigning for. Seeing that National can’t even fund their headline election policies is a clear sign that community health would be neglected again.
“Quite simply, National need to turn their policy programme around so that it helps everyone, not just the wealthy few. Now is not the time for tax cuts for the most well-off. It’s the time for serious investment in the communities of Aotearoa.”