Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is now firmly entrenched as the key minister in the Ardern government steering the New Zealand economy. That will come even more sharply into focus this year with PM Jacinda Ardern planning trade missions to Europe, Asia, the US and Australia.
So there was an air of anticipation in Parliament yesterday – as Robertson rose to speak in the debate on the PM’s opening statement – that he would detail his plans as NZ moves forward from the pandemic. Clearly, New Zealanders need to know how the government will master inflationary forces, bring the surge in the cost of living under control, or even how those industries which lost momentum because of Covid will be revived.
He did claim credit for how the government stepped up and provided the support for New Zealanders to stay in work. Continue reading “Industry revitalisation and the Ardern govt’s heavy agenda for 2022 – the big question is about its ability to deliver”
At last, a glimpse of bipartisan analysis in the chaos engulfing Boris Johnson’s premiership.
Say what you like about Tony Blair, but he is a serious politician. What he says is worth taking seriously.
It is also not great for Boris. And worse for everyone else.
Continue reading “Blair and Boris – who would have thought it?”
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””
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”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has made a rod for his own back in reporting a budget surplus of $7.5bn for the June year. Immediately there were calls for tax cuts from “hard-working NZers” at the same time as powerful lobby groups demanded higher spending on health, education, infrastructure, you name it.
The surplus was the biggest in a decade, more than double the forecast.
The problem for Robertson is that the economy is slowing, and the government could find the tax take this year under-shooting this year’s budget forecast.
So the Finance Minister is left with the old refrain:
“The books are in good shape”.
Which won’t win any new votes. Continue reading “The surplus looks plump, sure enough, but NZ’s living standards are a better measure of our wellbeing”
Stripped of his housing portfolio, Phil Twyford has to rebuild his political reputation.
Given his spectacular failure with KiwiBuild, PM Jacinda Ardern might have been pardoned for leaving Twyford to work out his redemption in his other portfolio of Transport, which has enough problems of its own to demand the full-time attention of a struggling minister.
But Ardern has entrusted the Economic Development portfolio to Twyford. This has surprised some business leaders, and dismayed others.
NZ’s economic development is suffering from sustained and deep-seated malaise. Labour productivity, or output per hours worked, is around 40% lower than the output per hours worked of international peers. In a recent report the Productivity Commission noted the only members of the 36 countries within the OECD with both a lower productivity level and weaker productivity growth than NZ are Mexico and Greece. Continue reading “Our productivity growth has been flagging – so fixing this should be high on Phil’s new agenda”
The government is reported to be planning a “world-first well-being” budget in 2019. It won’t be some “light, fluffy happiness index”, but will be based, says Finance Minister Grant Robertson, on indicators and measures of well-being which can be tracked.
It sounds a great idea. The government sees it as running in tandem with the current measurement of GDP growth, which according to Robertson is a good, long-run measure of economic activity. But he reckons GDP doesn’t represent what New Zealanders regard as success. He believes success should be measured not just through financial capital (by GDP), but through natural capital, human capital and social capital.
The government’s enthusiasm for tracking “well-being” is apparently matched in the departments tasked with undertaking the research, particularly Treasury and Statistics. Continue reading “Well-being index may show we have little to bleat about – except productivity, perhaps”