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””
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”
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”
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”
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)”
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”
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”
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?”
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”
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”