A state house in South Auckland. Fish and chips for
dinner. Again. The phone has been cut and the power has
gone out because the family can’t afford to pay the bills.
By candlelight a woman gasps for life: the end is near, as
a bronchial condition brought on by years of living in a
damp underheated house takes its toll. She was supposed
to be getting home help but the district health board
stopped funding that service. Suddenly the sound of a car
pulling up in the driveway. It’s young Malo, just home from
an (unsuccessful) job interview on the other side of town.
He rushes in. ‘Mother,’ he cries. ‘The news—it’s just come
through—the tax cuts in the Budget. People earning
$70,000 or more are going to do really well out of it! Many
of them will get hundreds of dollars more a week!’
Exhausted by the fight for every breath, the dying woman
somehow musters the strength to give a grateful smile.
‘Thank God,’ she murmurs. ‘Thank God for that. And the
business community, the corporate investors? Please tell
me they will suffer no more.” Malo’s grief-torn face is, for
a moment, lit up by a tremendous smile. ‘It’s all right,
mother,’ he says softly. ‘Company tax has been reduced to
28%.’ The sick woman struggles to rise from her bed.
She’s clearly excited beyond her ability to contain it. ‘But
that’s…but that’s—‘ ‘Yes, mother,’ replies Malo. He's
almost crying now. ‘Yes. That’s even lower than Australia’s
company tax rate.’ She sinks back into her pillows. Her
strength is almost gone. ‘And John Key? That nice Mr Key?
Tell me he’ll be all right.’ She feels her son’s hand on her
brow. ‘You need worry no more, mother,’ he says proudly.
‘Thanks to the tax cuts, John Key and people like him will
get $350 more a week.’ She gropes for his hand, squeezes
it with her last ounce of strength. She can die happy now.
There is peace, and justice, and goodness in the world. The
rasp of breath grows fainter. Malo weeps helplessly. The
candle flickers, and goes out.