I am as baffled by the government’s pay freeze for nurses, teachers, police and social workers as you are.
And the only conclusion I can reach is that – by doing this - they’re hoping to convince us voters that they are good financial managers: that they’re prepared to rein in spending.
But they have misjudged this badly, because it is sending completely the opposite message.
Reining in spending is a good thing, but if you don’t have enough money for something as important as lifting the wages of our hardest working public servants to decent levels, if you’re run out of money that badly, then you’ve just sent a message to voters that actually you are having trouble balancing the books.
Because where’s the money gone? Money isn’t a problem for this country.
Grant Robertson just found a billion dollars down the back of the couch, that’s how much money we have lying around.
Our economy is doing better than expected, and better than countries we like to compare ourselves to. And what’s more, the government is on a spending spree and has been for some time.
$14m on a wage subsidy scheme that was so loose even wealthy law firms ended up taking the cash.
$10m for AJ Hackett. $200m announced today to give tourism businesses advice and psychological support.
$100m to upgrade marae around the country, even when the relevant iwi already have enough money to pay for it themselves.
$6 billion at least for the light rail to Auckland Airport vanity project.
$30 m to investigate a hydro lake scheme that is so batshit-crazy even the industry can’t understand why.
$90m on a fast train from Hamilton to Auckland that’s so slow you can beat it in a car.
$1.1 billion for green jobs aka a make work scheme.
I’m sorry, if we have that much money, why aren’t we spending on paying our hardest working public servants more? I would much prefer to see our taxpayer dollars go to those people than pointless pet projects.
This announcement sends the message – rightly or wrongly - that this government run out of money, which sends the message that they’re not very good at managing the books, so the pay freeze play is backfiring.