Across The Ditch was Recorded Live on 16/05/13.
In this week’s bulletin Selwyn Manning and Peter Godfrey discuss the big challenges facing the National-led Government, and also the significant issues that are likely to be delivered by Finance Minister Bill English when he reads today’s Budget.
The big challenges for the National-led Government are: High NZ Dollar, slow export-led recovery, the Current Account Deficit, Net Government Debt, Auckland’s housing crisis, political pressure for a feed the children programme.
What are the likely big ticket items… Housing supply will be tweaked in Auckland, thousands of state houses will be transferred to privately owned trusts, and, subsidies currently applied to state house tenants will be transferred to tenants of housing trust homes. First home buyers will not get any assistance. Health looks set to have targeted-funding increases but the devil is in the detail.
On the economy, this is National’s ‘smile and be optimistic’ Budget. This sets the scene for election year politics.
Despite 1.3 million people voting at the last General Election to “keep MMP, but overhaul it” the National-led Government is refusing to do so. Justice Minister Judith ‘Crusher’ Collins said this week that the Government will not implement recommendations by the Electoral Commission to lower the percentage of votes needed for a party to get into Parliament from 5% to 4%.
Prime Minister John Key said yesterday: “In my view, in general, people are reasonably happy with the way MMP’s operating.” When asked if this decision was the end of the matter, Key said: “as far as I’m concerned, yeah.”
Large mainstream parties like National benefit from the votes given to parties that do not meet the 5% threshold, when those votes are divided up proportionally to those parties that do make it.
The other anomaly of the current system is if one party’s candidate wins an electorate seat, he or she can pull other MPs into Parliament on his or her coat-tails. That potentially can assist National’s coalition partners at the next election.