May 17, 2006 – 7:00 pm

Six months back in the country, I’ve formed some opinions about where NZ is lacking. I was interested to see how the budget would address what I’ve identified as the country’s shortcomings. Now the budget’s out, I give them 1/2 marks.

I only had two priorities. They hit the first one out of the park: broadband. We are, as one commentator pointed out, a small country at the arse end of the world. We have a great opportunity to compete through products that don’t have to be shipped across an ocean. But while Telecom gives us a broadband stream worse than that of a geriatric with a swollen prostate, we’re as competitive as the Natural Law Party.

My other priority was education. Our local school is poor as dirt. The teachers do their best, but there’s no way that our schools can build people who are competitive globally. If you have good broadband and are doing business with the US and Europe, you have to be able to speak top-notch English. Illiterate and innumerate kids are a handicap this country doesn’t need in the coming decades. You can build as many roads as you like, but they’re useless if the people on them can’t spell, can’t count, and have no ability to think.

I live in the town that’s first in the list of transportation projects in this NZ Herald article on the budget. We need a roundabout, sure. But goddamnit, we need better schools more. Many of the schools served by the clusterfuck intersection the money goes to fix are poor. You can always wait a few years for a better road, but if you fuck up the kids who are learning to read today, you’ve fucked them for life.

The budget offers $361M more for schools. That’s compared to $1.3B for transportation. And there’s still a $8.5B surplus! There’s no excuse for not putting more into education. It’s not hippy welfare spending. It’s building the skilled ambitious workforce we need to compete but don’t have today.

Ok, I must be settling in. I’m bitching about the Government, sure sign of a local.

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