Editorial: Waikato getting its share

Presumably to rebut Opposition carping about some regions being starved of Government funding, Finance Minister Bill English and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce have released a report to show how taxpayer dollars are being distributed geographically.

The Regional Government Expenditure Report contains data for the year to June 30, 2012, broken down to provide estimates of central government spending (operational and capital) in each of the country's 16 regions.

One set of estimates is based on a direct expenditure approach and the other on services provided.

Waikato Times readers with an urge to see how even-handed the Government has been can fairly easily track down a copy and see for themselves.

Using the expenditure method, the Government spent a hefty $78 billion, most of it operating expenditure. The average per capita was $17,602. Waikato accounted for $6.7 billion, or $16,048 per capita.

Taking the services approach, the total spend was $79 billion, or $17,826 per capita nationwide. Waikato consumed $7.3 billion, or $17,450 per capita.

On either measure, we can't complain - our share was 9 per cent and we happen to have 9 per cent of the population.

We might grumble that Wellington had the highest per capita operating expenditure ($22,297) and capital expenditure per capita ($2,184), but that's because it is the capital and headquarters for many of the Government's core functions, such as policy advice that supports services across the country.

We can be more understanding that Canterbury's per capita share of expenditure is above average, largely due to increased spending following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

It's instructive to recall the findings of the recent Regional Economic Activity Report, another Government publication. It said incomes in Waikato and Taranaki are higher than average and our prosperity has been generated by favourable world prices for commodities - oil and gas from Taranaki, and dairy from Waikato.

The application of technology and capital to our natural resource endowments has yielded high returns because of export earnings.

In short, we have prospered from our own efforts, regardless of how much the Government might care to toss our way.

Waikato Times