Elec­tion cash splash

With less than a week to go un­til polling day, the bribes are fly­ing in thick and fast. So, what’s in it for you?

Sunday News - - BUDGET BUSTER -

YOU get some money! And YOU get some money! And YOU get some money! With less than a week be­fore the polling booths close, the prom­ises are fly­ing thick and fast.

Solid pol­icy-mak­ing, or out-and-out bribery? What­ever you call it, the out­come of this elec­tion is def­i­nitely go­ing to change your per­sonal fi­nances. I’m not sug­gest­ing any­one should base their vote solely on self-in­ter­est, but you might want to know which side your bread is but­tered.

Leav­ing aside the broader poli­cies, here’s a com­pre­hen­sive guide to the sweet­en­ers on of­fer for each of the main vot­ing blocs.

STU­DENTS AND YOUTH

Al­most all the par­ties are wav­ing huge wads of cash around in an ef­fort to get the youth out to the polling booths.

Labour is promis­ing three years of free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion (in the full­ness of time), and bump­ing the stu­dent al­lowance up $50 a week. NZ First is also hav­ing a crack, promis­ing to wipe loan bal­ances for new stu­dents who stay and work in the coun­try for five years.

The Greens are of­fer­ing free off-peak pub­lic trans­port ser­vices for stu­dents, a uni­ver­sal al­lowance for all post­grads, and lift­ing the base stu­dent al­lowance rate by 20 per­cent.

The Ma¯ori Party is also on board with free pub­lic trans­port, along with a uni­ver­sal stu­dent al­lowance, and writ­ing off the liv­ing cost com­po­nent of all out­stand­ing stu­dent loan debt.

The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party wants to give $200 a week to every 18 to 23 year old, re­gard­less of whether they’re study­ing or work­ing. How­ever, that would re­place the stu­dent al­lowance, as well as the first $10,000 of any other ben­e­fits.

BEN­E­FI­CIA­RIES, VUL­NER­A­BLE

The Greens are promis­ing to in­crease all ben­e­fits by 20 per cent, re­move ex­ces­sive penal­ties and sanc­tions, re­duce the bot­tom tax rate, raise the min­i­mum wage, and in­tro­duce a win­ter en­ergy pay­ment.

Labour’s on board with help­ing out with power bills, of­fer­ing up to an ex­tra $140 a month for ben­e­fi­cia­ries and pen­sion­ers. It’s also plan­ning to fund up to $2000 per house for up­graded in­su­la­tion and heat­ing, an area the Ma¯ori Party and NZ First are also keen on.

FAM­I­LIES

This is where Na­tional en­ters the pic­ture, with a prom­ise to ex­tend paid parental leave to 22 weeks. Bill English ap­pears to have had a well-timed change of heart, hav­ing ve­toed Labour’s pro­posed ex­ten­sion to 26 weeks only last year.

Na­tional is also dou­bling the grants avail­able to first-home buy­ers, which means el­i­gi­ble cou­ples can get up to $20,000 of free moolah, or $30,000 for a new build.

Be­sides ex­tend­ing paid parental leave, Labour wants to in­crease Work­ing For Fam­i­lies by $370 mil­lion a year, and in­tro­duce a new pay­ment for par­ents.

The Greens in­clude all this and more in their Bud­get For All Moth­ers, which also boosts sub­sidised af­ter-school care, ex­tends sick leave, and gives every new­born a ‘Baby Pod’ with clothes, nap­pies and bed­ding.

Fi­nally, the Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party wants to give $10,000 a year to fam­i­lies with chil­dren be­low the age of three, as well as free, full-time early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion for three to four year olds.

RE­TIREES

Nat­u­rally, NZ First has the juici­est of­fer for the older de­mo­graphic, promis­ing an ex­tra $800 to $1000 a year for Su­perGold card hold­ers, and to in­crease vet­eran’s pen­sions by 10 per cent.

The other con­tender is the Ma¯ori Party, which wants to make a free pub­lic trans­port scheme avail­able to those over 60.

THE BIG PIC­TURE

A cynic might as­sume that most peo­ple se­cretly vote in line with their own self­in­ter­est, what­ever the plat­i­tudes they mouth in pub­lic. For­tu­nately, the re­search by po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists sug­gests that’s not ac­tu­ally the case – we are ca­pa­ble of look­ing at the big­ger pic­ture.

With that in mind, this list of per­sonal perks can only be one small part of the de­ci­sion. Re­mem­ber, there’s no such thing as ‘free’ money, be­cause ev­ery­thing is a trade-off. Choose care­fully, and maybe we’ll all end up richer as a re­sult. Got a money ques­tion? Email Bud­get Buster at richard.mead­ows@thedeep­dish.org, or hit him up on Face­book. ROSS GIBLIN/STUF has done next to noth­ing to get Ma¯ori into warm, dry, af­ford­able homes, Fox says.

An Iwibank may also be the an­swer to branch clo­sures leav­ing en­tire areas of the coun­try ban­k­less, Fox be­lieves, such as hap­pened when West­pac closed Ru­a­to­ria’s last bank in 2015, leav­ing a large tract fo the East Coast with­out any branches at all.

Ex­actly what an Iwibank would cost is not known. Fox says the party does not have the same power that Na­tional, or Labour, does to get all its poli­cies costed in de­tail.

But, she says: ‘‘It will start small and grow.’’

The Ma¯ori Party is polling at be­tween 2-4 per cent, but ex­pects to have four MPs.

That means in govern­ment it would be a coali­tion part­ner, and ne­go­ti­a­tions would be re­quired to make the Iwibank dream a re­al­ity.

Ma¯ori Party co-leader Marama Fox says main­stream bank­ing prac­tice can­not cope with com­mu­nally-owned land.

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