Robertson is bullish about his latest Budget and its impact but questions persist about long-term “transformation”

As the  parliamentary  debate on the recently delivered budget  meanders  on, it  is  clear Labour  MPs  are  surfing  a  tide  of  euphoria. They  see  their  constituents overwhelmed  by  the  beneficence  of   the  Ardern government and its regard for their wellbeing.

Their  enthusiasm is  reinforced  by  the Finance Minister Grant  Robertson,  who  each day  at Question Time responds  to   patsies from his backbenchers with statistics  showing everything  is  hunky-dory.

The  PM Jacinda  Ardern  has joined  the  self-congratulatory  chorus.  She told  Opposition leader Judith  Collins  how  the  recent Budget announcement of a main benefit boost is projected to lift up to 33,000 more children out of poverty.

In combination with other changes under Labour, such as the Families Package, 109,000 families with children will be better off by, on average, $175 per week by April 2022.

The PM enthused: Continue reading “Robertson is bullish about his latest Budget and its impact but questions persist about long-term “transformation””

Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods

Farmers    who  believed   Labour  when it  said  it wanted  to  double  agricultural  exports may have experienced  a  sense  of  disillusion as  they  absorbed the  messages  of  Budget 2021.  While  the  government  is  allocating $1.3bn to modernise rail infrastructure and  build locos  and  wagons in Dunedin,  it  could find  only  $62m  for  agriculture.

Someone  has  calculated  that  the country’s 40,000 farm businesses, if they shared the $62m, would each receive $1550 or $29 a week (less than the ongoing minimum benefit increase).

This  comparatively meagre  sum   is  to be  applied as  follows:

  • $37m towards a national integrated farm planning system for farmers and growers.
  • $24m towards agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research and development.
  • $900,000 to collect vital statistics on agricultural production, such as greenhouse gas emissions.

Critics may  conclude   the small outlay for agriculture reflects Agriculture Minister Damien  O’Connor’s influence in Cabinet.  Others  may  see it as  evidence  of the traditional antipathy of Labour MPs  towards  farmers. Continue reading “Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods”

How our present and future needs have been balanced – by lumbering each household with $95,000 in govt debt

As  all   the  lobby group  shouting  fades in  the  wake of the  budget,   how    is  the  real  verdict  shaping  up ?

If  from the  Labour  camp,  you’d  say it was  a   financial  triumph,  balanced  but  with a  bold  vision.  And,  as Sir  Michael Cullen asserted,  there  is   “a  real degree of  bravery”  in the benefit  increases.

According  to Sir  Michael,  Finance  Minister  Grant  Robertson

” .. has  done  a  superb  job   in writing a  budget  which  balances  present  and  future  needs,  begins  to  address our  social inequities and  provides a  solid  foundation for  future  sustainable  growth”.

For  Sir Michael,  this  is  just the  beginning:  he  sees this  as the  first  part of a trilogy  of  budgets.  Roll  on  the other  two!

On the  other  side  of the fence, the   drumbeat was  a   bit   more  discordant.  The praise  certainly was  not  quite  so  fulsome. Continue reading “How our present and future needs have been balanced – by lumbering each household with $95,000 in govt debt”

Well, that puts Ruth’s beneficiary bashing to rights but borrowing has been boosted (by $100bn) to achieve this

The wellbeing of people today is being improved at the expense of the wellbeing  of taxpayers in the future.

That’s among the Budget observations by your team at Point of Order.

Net core Crown debt is forecast to increase by close to $100 billion by 2024/25, although it peaks as a share of GDP at 48% in 2022/23.

Umpteen announcements were made from the Beehive during the day and we note  Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s braying about the “righting of a wrong”.  This was a reference to the infamous benefit-slashing “Mother of all Budgets” presented by Ruth Richardson in the days of the Bolger government before MMP.

Are we supposed to believe this could not have been rectified – let’s say – when Labour was running things during the nine years of Helen Clark’s government, even though it was dependent on the support of minor parties? Continue reading “Well, that puts Ruth’s beneficiary bashing to rights but borrowing has been boosted (by $100bn) to achieve this”

Climate change crusaders press for a Budgetary assault on emissions and pests (but this might stall the Covid recovery)

Radio  NZ   is  reporting  that  climate  change  warriors have  low  expectations  the  budget  will  deliver what is  needed.  Climate lobby groups say that while the need for action to lower emissions and tackle climate change has never been greater, they doubt the government will step up.

It is being pitched as a Covid-19 recovery budget, as the world starts to emerge from 16 months focussed on battling the virus.

 Radio  NZ    quoted Victoria University climate scientist James Renwick as  saying the window for climate action was closing fast. 

“Forget 10 years to sort emissions it’s really only 18 months.  It’s this period last year and this year where governments are making investments, we’ve got to get that right – the pressure is on.” Continue reading “Climate change crusaders press for a Budgetary assault on emissions and pests (but this might stall the Covid recovery)”

A budget to keep the Jacinda bubble from bursting might blunt NZ’s productivity and spur Kiwis to better themselves in Oz

Finance  Minister  Grant  Robertson  won’t  want to do anything  to disturb  the  waves  of  euphoria  washing  over  New  Zealanders when  he  presents  the  budget  this  week.  The  country is  still basking    in  the  recognition accorded  the Prime  Minister  with  the  top spot in Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s greatest leaders.

The annual list, which was published on Friday,  praised Ardern’s leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as her “world-leading climate and gender-equity policies”.

Fortune magazine has been ranking and publishing top 50 world leader lists since 2014. Although Ardern has featured on it in the past, this is the first time she has been ranked  number  one.

Even  one-time National   supporters  line  up  in  the  queue   of  Ardern  worshippers.

So  Robertson   will  strive to  avoid  any  discordant  notes in  the  budget.  Yet  the  fact  is  that  the  NZ  economy,  though  it   has  survived the  Covid   pandemic  with  a  surprising  degree  of  success,  is  facing  many  challenges,  some  of  them  with  very  sharp  edges, as  it  moves  into  the  next  cycle. Continue reading “A budget to keep the Jacinda bubble from bursting might blunt NZ’s productivity and spur Kiwis to better themselves in Oz”

Aussie Budget is worth reading, if you want a steer to where Robertson will take us next week

New  Zealanders  who  want  a  preview   of  Finance  Minister  Grant   Robertson’s  budget  next week  need  only take a  quick  read   of the  latest  Australian   budget  presented  in Canberra  last  night.

The  Liberal-National  coalition  is  promising a  huge  spend-up,  with  the   Federal Treasurer, Josh  Frydenberg,  being immediately accused  of  delivering a  “Labor-lite” document.

As  in  NZ, Australia’s is a  deficit-laden budget as the leadership strives to sustain a recovery from a coronavirus-induced recession.

Setting  the scene, the Federal government  reminds  the voters: Continue reading “Aussie Budget is worth reading, if you want a steer to where Robertson will take us next week”

State servants cool on pay curbs, despite Robertson eschewing the “freeze” tag – but will they warm to a koha-based tax system?

Finance Minister Grant Robertson reminded us – in a speech to Auckland business people – about changes to the Public Finance Act which require him to set out the wellbeing objectives that will guide the Government’s Budget decisions this year.

The Budget will also reflect the te ao Maori perspective that Treasury has been incorporating in the budget process through a framework called He Ara Waiora.

What will this mean in terms of Budget taxing and spending?  We can’t wait to find out.

We recall that one question examined by our Treasury officials a few years ago was how tikanga Māori (in particular manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, and kaitiakitanga) could help create a more future-focused tax system.

Perhaps by relying more on koha and less on IRD demands.

Meanwhile Robertson has spelled out the Budget 2021 wellbeing objectives: Continue reading “State servants cool on pay curbs, despite Robertson eschewing the “freeze” tag – but will they warm to a koha-based tax system?”

Public service pay will get scant lift from Robertson – but let’s see if the Budget can keep govt’s poll support in the clouds

The  Ardern   government  is  cruising  along with  poll ratings  still far  above those of  its  opponents  and a  leader   enjoying  almost cult  status.

Her  deputy, Grant   Robertson,  wears  a  matching  suit  of  political  armour,  although one-time Labour  Minister (and then ACT  leader) Richard  Prebble contends  he is   the worst  finance minister  since  Rob Muldoon.

Until  now  the  government  has  been borne   along   on  a  cloud  originating  in  the successful  deflection  of  the  Covid  pandemic.  Its  policies  have  escaped   any   deep  scrutiny from  mainstream media,  partly  because of  preoccupation  with  the  pandemic,  and  partly because of  the  teflon  aura surrounding Ardern.

Even   when  there  is a  stumble,   as  happened this  week with her  speech  on NZ-China  relations  and  the  latest  chapter  in the  Mallard story, she  is  within hours  back  on  her  cloud. Continue reading “Public service pay will get scant lift from Robertson – but let’s see if the Budget can keep govt’s poll support in the clouds”

Well done, Minister – almost $1bn of spare Covid cash is found and Robertson lands a new job to keep an eye on his colleagues

Yes, Grant Robertson’s pre-Budget speech has now been posted on the Beehive website and we can officially confirm that not all funding allocated in the COVID Response and Recovery Fund has been spent. Our Finance Minister has almost $1 billion of unspent dosh to play with (and the Taxpayers Union is reminding him he is under not obligation to spend it).

He also confirmed he has a new job (but we imagine he won’t be relinquishing any of the others).  He will be leading the establishment of a team which will ride shotgun on the implementation of “critical” initiatives.

This means he will set up a new team to do the PM’s job of ensuring ministers actually do what she wants them do and what they are paid to do, in other words.

As part of the Budget preparation, Robertson told the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, he asked each Minister to look again at COVID spending for which they were responsible to see if it was  still needed or is still a priority, and whether underspends could be reprioritised.

And hey – this exercise has yielded around $926 million worth of savings. Continue reading “Well done, Minister – almost $1bn of spare Covid cash is found and Robertson lands a new job to keep an eye on his colleagues”