If we’re talking outcomes then I disagree with Phil Goff – this isn’t the worst budget I’ve ever seen. That prize would have to go to Ruth’s mother of all budgets, or perhaps one of the variety of black budgets we saw under the fourth Labour government. Which is not to say the cuts in this budget are good – just that I’ve seen worse in my time.
There is no doubt however that this is the most poorly constructed budget I have ever seen. It’s amateur hour in so many ways I’m struggling to see how Bill could deliver it without hanging his head in shame. If he was a beneficiary submitting such a poorly thought-out budget to WINZ he’d probably see his benefit stopped.
I have never, for instance, seen a budget in which cash raised from yet-to-be-sold assets was put on the books as if it already existed. They’ve basically bet our health system on being able to flog our assets for an imaginary price.
Nor have I ever seen a New Zealand government make a billion dollars worth of cuts without being able to say what they are cutting. I don’t believe they actually know where these cuts will come from or how sustainable they will be. In fact I don’t think they care. I’d love to see the advice they had on this policy and how much they ignored.
And then there’s this treasury forecast they’ve settled on. The one that predicts billions of dollars of tax more than IRD forecast. If they’ve got that one wrong (and I think it’s very likely they have) then we’re really f**ked.
Such a fast and loose approach might be a little more palatable if it was being done in the name of a real vision for New Zealand’s economy but for all their talk of “ambition” the nats have provided no big ideas at all. It’s like they used up all of their creativity on dodgy accounting and left none for thinking about where they want New Zealand to be in five years time.
This lack of imagination is most obvious in that there’s no interest whatsoever in increasing New Zealand’s earnings. Instead it’s like they’ve decided we’ll pay off the mortgage and get rich by taking the house to pieces and selling the timber.
Of course they don’t really believe this – they know it’s a small elite that will actually gain from this plan. Indeed that’s the point. They just want you to believe otherwise.