Opinion: Perhaps the Government might want to say sorry

Source: 1News

After calls for Labour leader Andrew Little to apologise to tax expert John Shewan, columnist Dita DeBoni wonders if a Government apology to the public might be more in order.

1 NEWS Columnist Dita DeBoni

The Government should apologise to the people of New Zealand for treating them with utter contempt and total disrespect.

They have been caught out, time after time, speaking untruths – about really important stuff – and refusing to rectify problems, let alone admit to them.

This week alone, it emerged from tax expert John Shewan that the country’s laws around tax-free trusts were inadequate and the trusts were probably being used as tax havens - as the IRD has warned several times previously.

It’s completely contrary to what John Key has assured us for so many months.

Mr Key got that wrong, and has to put it right.

Bill English was found to have pulled figures out of the ether when making his claim that the country could not afford paid parental leave.

Alarmingly for a Finance Minister, he seemed to be unable to calculate that Sue Moroney’s proposal would add just $120 million – not $240 million – a year, to his budget.

Where’s his apology for getting this rather large sum wrong?

Simon Bridges has recently had to admit that the Government agrees with Auckland Council on the issue of roading tolls, after his party categorically denied they would ever agree to such measures.

Of course, they are not called “tolls” by Mr Bridges; instead, his spin team have come up with the phrase “demand-side interventions”.

This is so cynical it is sad.

Backbencher Paul Foster Bell put forward a proposal to rename State Highway 1 ‘Captain Cook Highway’, after being lobbied by a National Party donor to do so. 

It comes after a record churn of staff through his office, and the finding that he spent over $60,000 on travel in the year, despite being based in Wellington.

It’s this kind of behaviour that makes the public distrust politicians.

The education minister, Hekia Parata, has removed the cap on private school funding at the same time the state school system is crying out for more money.

In the same news cycle comes word that New Zealand’s wealth has become the most unevenly distributed in a decade, and that 10% of the country now own 60% of all wealth.

The effect of Ms Parata’s decision is that this 10%’s offspring are about to get still more government money through the private school system.

A lot of the funding models used in schools are arcane and complex, but they matter, because Ms Parata is charged with delivering an equitable and properly funded education system across all New Zealand school students.

Mr Key has asked the public to forget that children are sleeping in cars; that food banks are busier than they have ever been; that New Zealand’s child mortality rates are higher than Canada, Poland, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland (“the Finlands”); and that our country’s environmental watchdog has just this afternoon panned the Government’s reporting on the state of the environment.

Key, Bennett, English, Bridges and so forth insist everything’s fine. But they’re wrong, and need to retract their incorrect statements.

They must apologise.