|Marama Davidson: Defending a neoliberal budget.|
While RNZ's Guyon Espiner has described the 2018 Budget as a 'triumph of neoliberalism', the 'progressive voice' of the Green Party, co-leader Marama Davidson, says its the budget of 'a real government'.
IT WAS UNLIKELY that the Labour-New Zealand First coalition government was ever going to live up to its big claim that it would be economically 'transformative' and its first budget just confirms that. It tinkers around the edges of the economy and leaves the fundamental assumptions of neoliberalism untouched. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says we have now moved on from a capitalism that was failing to a 'capitalism with a human face'.
If this is 'capitalism with a human face' its not a capitalism that most of its victims will recognise. Activist Sue Bradford, echoing the concerns of many, said that she wanted to see a budget that provided fast, serious relief for homeless people and those living in deep poverty within the welfare system. " She got neither.
Commented Sue: "In his Budget speech, Grant Robertson said "Budget 2018 lays the foundations for New Zealanders in the decades to come. I wonder which New Zealanders he's talking about, and to whom he is being so carefully responsible in his determination to out-do Bill English's fiscal conservatism when it comes to confining his Government to the Labour/Green Budget Responsibility Rules."
There have been many other criticisms of this budget from activists and community groups. Auckland Action Against Poverty has pointed to the fact that while the government could find $300 million for the police and $100 million for an America's Cup campaign, it declined to remove the sanctions regime from sole parents or raise core benefit levels.
People Against Prisons Aotearoa made the observation that NZ military, the police and the Corrections Department each received a bigger slice of the budget pie than education.
None of this criticism though has made its way into Parliament, which is looking more liking a meeting of the Neoliberal Appreciation Society by the day. Even the woman described as the 'progressive voice' of the Green Party,co-leader Marama Davidson, stood up and enthusiastically defended this budget.
Davidson, who has often highlighted the plight of the poor, described the budget as one of 'a real government'. Davidson is talking abut a budget that a mainstream journalist like RNZ's Guyon Espiner has accurately described as a "a triumph of neoliberalism or at least a continuation of it."
Somewhat disheartened by what I heard yesterday I had a look at the manifestos of U.K Labour , the Democratic Socialists of America and Left Bloc (Portugal). They reminded me,as if I needed reminding, that are viable progressive alternatives to what we heard from Grant Robertson yesterday.
What's lacking in New Zealand, as it has been for decades, is a progressive political party that can give voice to those alternatives. One thing is certain - neither Labour or the Green's will be providing those alternatives any time soon. The so-called 'left' that continues to defend these parties is letting us all down.