Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Fairyland Dream?

Finance minister Bill English said on taking office he had discovered a series of "unfunded projects and fairyland dreams." (Stuff)

So the economic stimulus plan to save us all has been launched. Cunningly the Government have been quick to point out that the $500 million of taxpayer money will be spread on infrastructure projects across a wide range of regions, which is code for 'you farmers will have to wait and be happy that a roading worker might upgrade a highway in the nearest city'.

And then of course there was the tiniest sardine dangled on a line. A small infrastructure unit will be set up and will probably need another $100 million of taxpayer money to fund it - this from a Government I seem to recall promising to put a halt to spending on the public service.

But here's the real bait - the 'fairyland dream' Bill English is really referring too. The unit, supposedly will be putting forth a number of long term projects with another $5-6 billion available to it over the next four years.

In political speech jargon all this means is that the Government is sweet talking and hedging its bets. Water storage is likely to become one of those 'unfunded projects' English spouts off about, miraculously brought out of the cupboard at election time when National decides it needs the rural vote.

Playing politics for the next election is a dangerous game. A few schools, 69 new state houses (of which most will be in Auckland) and a handful of roading projects is hardly going to save the economy. To do that, Bill would have to stop playing at putting away the cash to buy votes in three years time.

Seems the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree when it comes to the previous Government and this one.

What they have agreed to do:

$216 million on education, $124 million on housing (let's hope they get a few cockroach exterminators for their buck in Auckland) and $142 million on that old chestnut - roading.

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