Luxury before necessity

Nadine Higgins writes: Let’s put primary healthcare before free university classes for rich kids:

. . . Three visits to my GP had set me back $180. I dropped another $200 on two courses of antibiotics, probiotics, Codral, cough syrups, cough drops, health shop lung elixirs, and an array of strong pain killers after I coughed so hard I injured my ribs (which is a real treat if you can’t stop coughing). The x-ray, thankfully, was being covered by my health insurance, which I pay fortnightly.

So, as I hacked and coughed and wondered why I’d put off that last doctor visit so long when I was clearly getting worse instead of better, my thoughts turned to the kids heading off to university this year, their fees fully funded.

It’s not an entirely illogical leap given this week the Government admitted its pledge to reduce the cost of going to the doctor by $10 by July 1 going to take longer to implement, basically because they don’t have the money.

I didn’t feel too strongly about the free first-year university fees policy until that moment in the x-ray room, but then I felt outraged.

Why are we helping people who can afford to upskill themselves and who will reap the benefits of upskilling themselves, when we don’t have enough money left over to make sure people can afford to look after themselves? . . 

It’s not just less expensive visits to doctors that has pushed other priorities off the government’s can-do list.

The payment to beneficiaries to help with winter power bills has been reduced.

Here we are at the beginning of May shivering and expecting this Winter Energy Payment to begin. It was promised to run from May to October. Well, layer up. It’s not arriving until July, but the delay is the least of your problems.

Here’s the bad news for the nation’s pensioners. You were all expecting a $700 increase to your pension this year (couples). You’re not getting it. It has been reduced to $413. Singles now only get $265.98. . .

In the announcement on the Beehive website, it was noted that payments would be made over 13 weeks in 2018 (a late start in July), whereas in 2019 it would begin in May for 22 weeks.

Innocently, I figured this was a systems issue. New Government, new payment and Winz needed time to get it up and running. Surely they’d just divide $700 by 13 weeks. It was a gold-plated election promise and Winnie would surely be a guard-dog on this one.

Errr no. In all that innocence I missed the words “When fully implemented, the annual payment will be…”

They’re talking about 2019 being the full implementation date.

The election promise was clearly a 2018 winter warmer. Can you imagine Labour going head-to-head with National’s $680 increase and proudly parading a $413 kilowatt floppy carrot?

A financial haircut of $287 is a substantial amount in kilowatts hours – 1190 kWh to be exact (going by my own anytime-rate). It’s at least a month’s power in winter to most pensioners. . . 

Wealthy retirees are no more in need of extra money for power than students are in need of fee-free education.

But there will be poor retirees and other beneficiaries who were depending on the payment to keep them from the cold.

The government has got its priorities wrong. putting luxury before necessity.

Fee-free tertiary education for all is a very expensive luxury that has left the government unable to properly fund necessities.



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