The Government made a terrible mistake last week in announcing that it would not be honouring its promise on doctor’s visit costs on 1 July 2018. It is bad news for families but it is also cancerous to trust in the electoral process.
Politics became toxic in New Zealand in the 1980s over Labour selling public assets against its word and in the 1990s over National reversing its policy on the surtax.
The last two Governments of Helen Clark and John Key were very careful about what they promised and ensuring they delivered.
The issue of access to GPs affects every family. We never know when anyone of us or our children will get sick. The costs of delay can end up costing the Government much more.
National in government reduced the costs of going to the doctor as the economy recovered. We delivered free visits for under 5s in 2011. We promised to extend the free visits to under 13s from 1 July 2015 and did so.
Last year in May, National promised to further extend the policy so as to reduce the cost to $18 for adults from 1 July 2018. Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark rushed out a promise only a week later to outbid National and make it only $8.
This promise was explicit. Jacinda Ardern said “the cost of visiting the GP will be cut by $10 on 1 July 2018.” It was repeated thousands of times in advertisements.
This policy reversal on doctor’s fees comes a month after announcing Labour will increase petrol taxes by up to 25 cents a litre on 1 July despite promising no new or increased taxes.
Labour is also back pedalling on Police. In early 2017, the then National Government announced 885 extra police that are now flowing into increased officers in Nelson. Labour said it was not enough and promised 1800 new frontline police over three years. This weekend on The Nation, new Minister Stuart Nash said there would now be only about 1,000.
I was confronted by an angry Brightwater constituent at last Saturday’s market. She had been promised by Labour that they would change the accommodation supplement areas so she would get another $80 per week, but had just got a letter from Labour’s Housing Minister breaking the commitment.
The problem here is that Labour way over promised and made extravagant promises they cannot now meet.
Budget 2018 is shaping up as one of broken promises. The effect on Nelson will be fewer police and higher doctor’s costs than Labour promised. Nelsonians will be paying more to fuel up the family car. Labour is playing with fire. New Zealanders have historically punished Government’s harshly for breaking their word.