Robertson says economy is on a roll but – crumbs – some colleagues look like toast

Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson  could barely contain  his  exuberant enthusiasm over  how the government  is performing  when he  opened the  general debate in  Parliament this week.

It has  scored  the trifecta: a  $5.5bn  surplus, an annual GDP growth rate  approaching  3%  and  the lowest  unemployment figure in  a decade, 3.9%.

This  coalition is on a  roll”, he trumpeted. 

The good  news  didn’t end there:

“Just today I received advice about the increased labour force participation rate at 71.1%, the increased employment rate at 68.3%, the decreased unemployment rate at 3.9%, and the decrease in the underutilisation rate at 11.3%—all important information’.

In his state of   euphoria,  the  Finance  Minister couldn’t  resist a   flick  at the Opposition.

I just wish the Opposition would cheer up. I just wish that the Opposition would say, ‘Actually, the economy is doing well,’ and celebrate that story. But, I can understand it, because I do have one concern about unemployment: Simon Bridges, because he is well on his way to becoming unemployed over that side of the House. I know that when Simon Bridges heard the words 3.9%, his heart sank. He thought it was the preferred Prime Minister rating for this month, for him and the National Party”.

Robertson  wound  up  to  a  round of applause   from  his  backbenchers:

On this side of the House, we are proud of the fact that more NZers are in work, that unemployment’s going down, that youth unemployment is going down, that wages are lifting. That is the sign of an economy that’s working. That is the sign of the fact that this government has a plan for the economy to benefit all NZers”.

Sadly,  not  all  members  of  the  coalition  are  on a  roll. Clare Cullen is   already a  forgotten  figure.  Meka Whaitiri has  disappeared  into the shadows.  And  Iain Lees-Galloway  is in the  dunce’s corner  after his performance  over his  decision  not  to  deport Czech criminal Karel Sroubek.

As Peter  Dunne  has  pointedly  noted:

While Lees-Galloway cannot be held responsible for the original residency decision, which happened long before he became Minister, he has to be held responsible for the decision to effectively confirm Sroubek’s residence by deferring the usually automatic deportation decision for up to five years.

“There have to be serious questions as to his reasons why. Moreover, his failure to offer anything approaching a credible explanation of his actions starts to bring his wider  judgment and suitability to hold ministerial office into question”.

Dunne   goes on:

Probably the worst news for Lees-Galloway is that while the Prime Minister did not seem at first to know too much or even be all that interested in the Sroubek case, she is now engaged and becoming irritated and frustrated by what is being disclosed. He will also be well aware that two Ministers have already fallen this year over performance and conduct issues, and will be increasingly concerned not to become the next one to go.He will have realised that what officials disclose when they eventually report back will determine not only Sroubek’s fate, but also his own”.

So   not  everyone   on the  government benches  will be feeling as bullish about  the  future  as   the  man in  charge of  NZ’s  finances.

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