The RNZ funding thaw has begun!
Over 32,337 people demanded a thaw of Radio New Zealand’s funding, today the melt has begun.
It’s just over a month since we delivered our petition to Parliament, and today the Government responded with a $2.85m funding boost in the budget announced earlier this afternoon!
People power has prevailed in this case. The quality independent journalism that RNZ delivers is crucial to maintain our democracy.The Government has finally done something to recognise this.
But, it doesn’t go as far as we’d hoped. Dr Peter Thompson, from the Coalition for Better Broadcasting recently calculated that RNZ is now underfunded by $14m a year. When you compare this boost to the $60 million per year the Government has committed to attracting Hollywood Producers, it does make you wonder about priorities. While we celebrate the $2.85m boost there’s still much more work to do.
Although the Government has responded to pressure from the ActionStation community and many others on several fronts (like the additional funding for Radio New Zealand, $100m for mental health and slight increase in the accommodation supplement) they did so with the same ‘minimal change, maximum headline’ approach they took last year.
Even more work is needed in other areas of the budget that continue to be neglected by governments year after year.
There is nothing in this Budget about clamping down on big business tax cheats, like Facebook and Google, who generate millions in advertising revenue from New Zealanders, depriving our newspapers, all while avoiding paying their fair share of tax here.
This is a status quo Budget. It’s the Budget of a Government that thinks things are going pretty well. If the Government doesn’t have a vision for our future, or a plan to get us there, we’ll just have to take the lead ourselves.
Things are not going well for far too many people in our country. More than 40,000 people in New Zealand were homeless at the last census.
Our rivers are polluted, our water is being sold to bottling companies, and our taonga — like the Kiwi and the Maui dolphin — are put at risk for the sake of exploiting our natural treasures for profit.
Instead of putting our public money were it could do good, we wait until things have gone horribly wrong and then lock up so many people in this country that the Government is about to spend $1 billion building 1800 new prison beds.
The problem is, we’ll all burn ourselves out if we have to fight for our lives on every one of these important issues only to have the Government respond with the barest minimum they can get away with.
What we need is a clear, coherent vision of the country we want to be in 20 years time, and a convincing plan to get us there. We need a plan to get us out of the vicious cycle of inequality that so many families in New Zealand are stuck in. We need a plan to clean up all our rivers and waterways and to restore safe places for our beloved wildlife to flourish. We need a plan to rebalance our economy so that it serves the interests of everyday people and the planet we love and depend upon for our lives.
What this Budget confirms is that we are not going to get that kind of vision from this Government.
So it’s time for us to take the lead. If politicians are lacking the vision, the imagination or the courage to have a vision for better and fairer for future our country and the lay the plans and lead the way to take us there, then we’ll do it for them — just like we have for RNZ funding.
This is a new kind of politics. To make it work, we need everyone.