The $8,500 question still unanswered

Wed, 20 Feb, 2019

ACT Leader David Seymour is issuing a simple challenge to Finance Minister Grant Robertson: Explain why improved relations with neighbours are worth $8,500.

“In the past 24 hours, the Minister has been asked in Question Time and Select Committee but has avoided the question.

“In Question Time, he said it was a matter for Treasury. In Select Committee, he gave the same answer and Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said he had little to add.

“The Minister wants to start putting a price on every aspect of life – your sense of national identity and cultural belonging, your friendships, even your relationships with your neighbours. When he puts prices on these things, he is guiding the Government’s spending decisions.

“A program that helped people meet their neighbours might be given preference over more police or better pay for teachers based on these numbers, but nobody can explain where the numbers came from. It really is second-rate work.

“Once upon a time, the Soviet Union used to use the Sears catalogue to find out what things should cost, but their economy based on fake prices ultimately collapsed under a lack of real information about what people valued. The Government’s Wellbeing Budget will be the same.”