Political parties often engage musicians to drum up support during the election season. It’s the time of year when party hacks attempt to swell their numbers by using musicians as Trojan Horses for their political ideals. We all remember The Feelers’ song used in National Party adverts last election.
But what happens when taxpayer funds are propping up these artists?
The Party, Party put on by the Internet Party features numerous bands that have recently received significant grants of taxpayers’ money courtesy of NZ On Air.
Sons of Zion, State of Mind and PNC all received subsidies from NZ On Air as recently as late last year. The sums involved are not insignificant. A quick glance at the list of subsidies suggests that in the past few years these acts have received well over $200,000 of taxpayer funds.
Laughton Kora of L.A.B was also part of a group that received $245,000 NZ On Air funding to visit prisons for a Maori TV programme.
While we can all appreciate that bands are comprised of individuals with their own political beliefs, it seems wrong for bands to be enabled to support a political cause by being propped up by the taxpayer.
Budgets are essentially political documents, particularly in election year, and this year even more so because the Minister of Finance thinks the Government can have a bit of a spend up while proclaiming the need for restraint and praising themselves for the restraint they have shown.
The spending that has been sanctioned, particularly the family assistance package worth $500 million, goes to the political heartland of the National Party, the middle of the middle class who think they both need and deserve state assistance. There is also a good dollop of dough for sore spots and pet likes Christchurch and schools in North Canterbury, and for some projects of cultural merit like buying the TVNZ Film Archive.
The Minister of Finance also neatly frames the expected debate over election promises. His budget speech states that Treasury advice is that additional spending over the $1.5 billion the current government has allowed itself will boost interest rates. Our prediction is that National will use this to bash Labour and other parties if those promises (spending and revenue reductions) go over the Treasury determined figure. That is consistent with National’s narrative that the country cannot afford a Labour/Greens government.
Our criticisms and quibbles:
So is this a good budget for the country? It’s certainly a well-calculated action plan to get the National government re-elected, but there’s little prospect of reduced government spending, substantial tax cuts or significant reform of spending.
To convince this Government that government is too big in New Zealand and the tax burden should be reduced, we must continue to pressure our politicians to share the benefits of the improved economy with all taxpayers.