The nurses union has “strongly rejected” a district health board pay and conditions offer and is seeking urgent mediation to stave off nationwide strikes.
But the Government says it is “preparing for the worst” because there is no more money to offer.
Of course there is more money to offer. The Government has a $3.5 billion surplus and is spending $2.8 billion on giving future lawyers and accountants free fees rather than nurses the pay rise they are asking for.
This doesn’t mean I think the Government should agree to the union demands, but that all these things are conscious decisions of the Government. Unlike the previous Government they didn’t inherit a decade of forecast deficits. They have strong surpluses.
Remember that this Government in the 2018 Budget had a smaller increase for Vote Health than National did in the 2017 Budget.
Maybe they could not give Ruapehu Alpine Lifts $10 million corporate welfare for a new chairlift, and instead add that to the nurses’ offer?