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Andrew Little’s pre budget speech

Written By: - Date published: 8:42 am, May 13th, 2015 - 170 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, Economy, john key, labour, Politics - Tags:

Tēna koutou katoa. Thank you for joining me this morning.

Thank you John Milford for your welcome, and Peter Cullen for your kind

Next week, the Government will present its seventh budget.

Only on rare occasions does a single budget have a profound effect on the
economy, and on people’s lives.

Mostly, Budgets are markers along the way of the government’s plans,
which usually evolve incrementally and – under the present government – in
response to populist political itches.

This year’s Budget is different.

This Budget comes from a government with almost seven years economic
management under its belt.

It comes after four years of reasonable GDP growth, at a time of low
inflation, and increasing labour market participation.

Despite these good conditions, it is a budget that will, once again, fail to
deliver on the defining promise of the Key / English National government –
to get the books back into surplus.

This is not a promise that’s been made lightly.

In 2008, in the depths of the GFC, officials forecast New Zealand would
have a long string of Budget deficits.

National’s chief priority, it said at the time, was to turn that around in short

And in the most recent General Election campaign, National repeated that
its central economic policy promise was to return to a Budget surplus this

That promise, “to return to surplus in 2014/15” sat proudly as their number
one commitment in their election material, distributed to every corner of
New Zealand.

They made that promise knowing about the current state of government

They made that promise knowing the Government’s revenue projections
were worsening.

Of the $4.5 billion lower revenue that Bill English is now blaming for his
failure, he knew about $4 billion of that in December last year, when he still
claimed a surplus.

They made their Budget surplus promise knowing world dairy prices had
consistently fallen for 8 months, and were projected to fall further. The
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation forecast this price slide
right at the start of the election campaign, and National chose to ignore
the warning.

National made the promise knowing other commodity prices were falling
and another industry important for exports, the oil and gas industry, was
under pressure.

Even with low inflation, even with growing participation in the labour
market, deep down they knew shortly after last year’s Pre-Election
Economic and Fiscal Update they could not generate a Budget surplus in
this Budget year.

There wasn’t enough milk money. There wasn’t enough oil money. And, as
a result, there wasn’t enough tax money.

But their promise was clear. Their good economic stewardship would see
us in surplus.

And now they’ve abandoned their promise.

National’s talk now is about how achieving surplus was an “artificial target”
and that getting a surplus is “like landing a 747 on the head of a pin.”
A lot of effort has gone into glossing over the broken promise. But I see it
for what it is – one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime.
The second major deception related to the Budget is this week’s
announcement on ACC levy cuts. It was a vague promise to do something
two years and one budget away.

It had all the hallmarks of trying to spruik a positive initiative that may not
happen ahead of a budget that has already been defined by what it won’t

New Zealanders deserve better than this.

National’s election message last year was that we are on the cusp of
something special.

The only thing special seems to be the late realisation that this promise was
even bigger political pretence than the promise to produce a surplus.
It’s time to put the record straight on this government’s economic

It has squandered opportunity. It has left New Zealand’s economy
vulnerable and exposed.

Too many New Zealanders are working harder than ever, but they don’t
feel like they are getting anywhere.

Middle income families are struggling to get ahead, and seeing the dream
of home ownership slip away.

The rock-star economy is leaving everyday people behind.

A new approach is needed. One that deals honestly with the circumstances
that confront us.

Because of this government’s inaction, today we face major economic

• A 7 billion dollar hole caused by falling milk prices
• An economy dangerously over-reliant on the same old commodities
• An out of control Auckland housing market
• And growing regional neglect

Many New Zealanders ask me :

• When will I get ahead?
• When do I get to see a share of the growth in the economy?
• What does the future hold for me and my family?

These questions are difficult to answer. Not only has there been a failure to
deliver on promises, this government has also failed to lay the foundation
to generate future wealth.

We are entitled to expect better.

Today, I want to talk about how we found ourselves in this situation.
And I want to talk about what a responsible Government would do in next
week’s budget to grow our economy and ensure every Kiwi feels the

Where Have We Come From

So how did we find ourselves here?

How is it that at a time of around 3% growth a year, people still aren’t
feeling better off?

How do we still have nearly 6% of our people unemployed? The last time
growth was this good, our unemployment rate was a full two per cent

How is it that with 3% economic growth, we still have working families
living in poverty? That remains one of the most disturbing statistics in New
Zealand today – two in five kids in poverty live in working families.

When the present government took over at the end of 2008, it inherited
one of the strongest balance sheets in the OECD. Net crown debt was zero,
a result achieved after 9 successive budget surpluses. Labour used these
surpluses to repay debt and establish a sovereign wealth fund to help
cover the future cost of superannuation.

Other factors also set us up well. We had one of the lowest unemployment
rates in the OECD. And we had concluded one of the most important free
trade agreements for our country – the FTA with China.

New Zealand was well positioned to weather the global financial crisis.
Yes, it’s true we had a drought-induced recession, and then the GFC, just as
National came to office.

But we were prepared. And we got through. Just as three years later we
got through the Canterbury earthquakes.

Let’s remember that National’s main response to the fiscal aftermath of the
GFC was to make a tax switch where a backbench MP got ten times as
much as a median income earner.

The truth is: if this government was really concerned about the predicted
decade of deficits, they had a funny way of showing it. They cut the
government’s revenue.

Even more telling is the government’s lack of response to the obvious need
to diversify our economy.

Since the GFC, we have enjoyed a sustained period of high commodity
prices and superior returns.

This should have been the very time to introduce measures to incentivise
and direct investment into a more diverse range of economic activity.

In the last 7 years, National hasn’t announced a single initiative that has
tackled the structural imbalances in our economy.

They haven’t tackled our over-reliance on dairy, or on housing speculation.
They have done little to encourage innovation.

They haven’t done anything to fix the issues that made our economy
vulnerable in the first place.

A different JK, John F Kennedy, once said the best time to fix the roof is
when the sun is shining.

But our JK would rather leave the hole, and take credit for the sunny day.
None of this will be news to you.

All over New Zealand I’ve had business people come up to me concerned
about the lack of economic vision they’re seeing. They’re worried there’s no
economic strategy beyond the next opinion poll.

Instead of substantive reform, National’s plan was to cheer the rise in
global dairy prices, which reached world record levels in 2014 but have
halved in the past year.

The prospects of that price recovering are not good – Goldman Sachs last
year warned there would be a glut in the global dairy market over the next
five years, and economists are downgrading their forecasts for next
season’s Fonterra payout.

That’s the economic reality we face today – falling income from a
commodity we have been heavily reliant on, with consequences for us all.

The Government likes to tell a simple story about their economic
stewardship, but here’s what really happened over the last seven years:

• The GFC and the Canterbury earthquakes caused major disruption,
but New Zealand was well-prepared to deal with both.
• Spending on rebuilding after the disaster has artificially boosted our
economic performance measures.
• For a while, we also got by on the back of record dairy prices.
• Those prices were a short term fix – a bandage on a broken leg.
• In fact, our exports have gone backwards since 2008.
• Most importantly, this Government has ignored the long term fixes
our economy needed.

What this failure to adapt means for New Zealand families, especially in our
regions, is this:

• Many of them still aren’t better off.
• We have working families living in poverty.
• John Key promised them 150,000 new jobs by 2016. They won’t get
• He also promised them $7,000 more wages by 2017. They won’t get
that either.
• And, finally, our economic future looks increasingly precarious.

This government has been more than reckless in its complacency. It made
a surplus promise it knew it could not keep. It ignored the biggest
economic problems facing New Zealand today and tomorrow. It has grown
the number of New Zealanders struggling to get ahead. Next week’s
budget will do nothing to change that.

What they should have done:

So, what would a responsible government have done between 2008 and

I say there were four major missed opportunities.

First, a responsible government would have laid the foundations to
diversify the economy.

Our over-reliance on dairy has never been more stark than it is now.
But the Government has ignored ideas that would help our other
businesses to get ahead.

New Zealand now spends just half the OECD average on R and D.

For a country dependent on innovation and rich in ideas, that’s appalling.
We should have used the economic growth of the last four years to
increase our investment in innovation. The government ignored that

Research and development tax credits would have been a good start.
Business knows this. You understand the benefits.

But right now, the government insists on picking the winners through their
grants programme. This week, Callaghan Innovation admitted they can’t
even be sure that the benefits from the government’s scheme are staying
here, rather than going offshore.

We have to change that.

The next thing a responsible government would do is level the investment
playing field.

For the average Aucklander, their house makes more than they do.

Our economy has to be so much more than milk and houses.

New Zealand needs less money going into housing, and more money going
into productive businesses.

The housing crisis we now find ourselves in is the result of two things: the
Government hasn’t cracked down on speculators. And they haven’t built
enough homes.

The untold millions speculators have poured into Auckland housing could
have been so much more useful to New Zealand in productive businesses.
Three years ago, we promised a Labour government would build
thousands of houses, and we would start immediately.

We also promised to crack down on overseas speculators, by stopping
non-resident non-citizens from buying Kiwi houses.

More Aucklanders would own the roof over their heads under our plan. The
market would stabilise, bringing interest rates down, and the exchange rate
with them.

Instead, this government has dithered, tinkered, and sat on its hands.
The third missed opportunity is that a responsible government should have
revitalised New Zealand’s regions. Instead, this government ignored them.

Of the new jobs created since the start of 2011, 70% have been in Auckland
or Christchurch, where only 47% of the population live. It’s a vicious circle.

Because the jobs went to Auckland and Christchurch, migrants went there
too, and New Zealanders left the regions.

More than three quarters of net migration in the last year went to Auckland
and Christchurch. Spending on infrastructure in our regions has declined,
services have closed, and development has stalled.

An active government partner would reward migrants and businesses who
invest their future in our regions. If someone commits to our regions we
need to commit to them, too.

Finally, this government should have reformed tertiary education to
prepare for the coming tidal wave of change in the future of work.

We live in a world where:

• the largest taxi company, Uber, doesn’t own any taxis
• the world’s largest media company, Facebook, doesn’t produce any
• Xero, for all its brilliance, is putting accountants out of work.

New Zealand’s polytechs and universities, as well as our businesses, have
to keep up with these trends. A global survey found that 73% of CEOs are
concerned about the availability of the key skills they need in their industry.

The government should have listened more to business, found out where
they saw the skill shortages, then invested heavily in vocational training.

That hasn’t happened.

If we keep training people for the old economy, we fail in the new

A broader economy, more affordable housing, regenerating the regions
and educating for the future. That’s where a responsible government would
have acted. This government hasn’t.

That’s what a responsible government would fix next week. This
government won’t.

New Zealand’s next government

I began today by telling you that it is rare for a budget to profoundly affect
people’s lives. But that’s the sort of Budget we need now. This could have
been one of those budgets. With good growth and low inflation, this is the
moment for visionary thinking.

So what is my vision?

I want a New Zealand where neither your postcode nor your parents
determine the success you can achieve in life, only your effort does.

I want a New Zealand seizing the opportunities of new ways to do business
this century, not struggling to catch up as the world moves on.

A country that trains its young people for the jobs they’ll actually do, not
the jobs their parents did.

A country where we reward the risk takers, the innovators, the unafraid.
Where we celebrate growing wealth, and where everyone who works for
that success shares in the rewards.

A country where owning your own home is still an achievable dream.
None of this will be easy. The deep, structural problems we face in New
Zealand don’t have any quick fixes. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a

Tackling New Zealand’s problems takes commitment, perseverance, vision,
and the willingness to take risks. Doing the right thing for New Zealand
requires focus, not focus groups.

That’s why our Future of Work Commission, led by our finance
spokesperson Grant Robertson, is a two-year commitment where we listen
more than we talk, and we come to pragmatic solutions that will guide our
policy in the decades ahead.

The Commission is a model of the way we’ll approach all the big issues.

We’ll listen, we’ll deliberate, and when we act we’ll make a real difference.

That’s the only kind of government I want to lead.

The challenge ahead

We’ll be holding this Government to account on New Zealand’s big issues
next week and beyond, in the House and around the country.

That’s our job, that’s what we do.

But there’s a role for you, too.

After the budget each year, Ministers hit the road.

John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce will be speaking to businesses
many times in the coming weeks.

That’s the opportunity for everyone to raise the issues the Government
hasn’t delivered on.

Hold them to their word. Ask them:

• Why haven’t we hit surplus?
• Why are we still so reliant on so few commodities?
• Why are you still ignoring the housing crisis?
• Why are you still neglecting the regions?
• And, most importantly, where’s the plan to diversify our economy?

Put these questions to the Government, and see if they have any answers.
Next Thursday, this government has an opportunity to start answering
these questions. They have a chance to chart a new course for the New
Zealand economy.

It is imperative that they take it.

It’s not unreasonable for every New Zealander to want the best for New

• We deserve a government in surplus
• We deserve a solution to the housing crisis
• We deserve vibrant regions
• And most importantly, we deserve a plan to diversify the economy,
bringing good jobs to all.

That’s what a responsible government would deliver.

Thank you.

170 comments on “Andrew Little’s pre budget speech”

  1. “Our economy has to be so much more than milk and houses.”

    Nice line. I’ve got a young working tourist staying with me at the moment. A trained accountant, working in the primary sector, he can’t believe how unbalanced our economy is and how reliant on dairy we are. He’s also compared our situation to that in Oz, where the mining industry has been the gloss hiding the essential emptiness of the economy.

    • Andrew 1.1

      With Agriculture directly accounting for about 4% of GDP, that hardly translates to: “how reliant on dairy we are”. Sure it puts a big hole in the books when the prices are low, but we produce some of the best quality Agg exports in the world, and the prices will return to a more normal level soon.


      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        “and the prices will return to a more normal level soon.”

        I’m glad you can see the future. Now, what are the lotto numbers?

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2

        and the prices will return to a more normal level soon.

        Yep, they will and the normal level for agricultural exports is low. Especially now that the US has entered the milk export business and China is developing it’s own local milk industry with Fonterra’s help.

      • linda 1.1.3

        27 percent of our gdp is finacail services (buying and selling houses to each other ) and that’s really going well I guess we will all find out the illusion that is new Zealand

        • aerobubble

          oh, but it much worse than that. Borrowing money means you pay more, both by competing with others who borrow, but by actually having to pay in interest. And then its even worse, we don’t have a capital gains tax, or stamp duty, and so can spend more while our economy becomes a riskier bet pushing up the risk premium. As we borrow more we collectively become riskier, which in turn means we pay higher interest, while incentives to spurge on non-productive capital prporty gains over take investment public and private. Its no surprise that there’s no dual carriageway between our largest city and our capital connecting the fourth and fifth largest cities. Its due to the imbalance of a under resourced ‘Senate’ like parliament lacking a upper chamber and without sizeable govt backbenches to raise all hell.

          Doing stuff on the cheap, no. Eight wire, is no way to secure the future.

          • Draco T Bastard

            An upper house will do nothing for our governance except make it even worse. Just have to look to other nations that do have dual house systems to see that.

            • aerobubble

              Yes, in the last thirty years upper houses have been stacked with neo liberals.
              However whatever the civil or private body, when the underlying historical principle of the organisation is brought to the fore then the role becomes clean.

              The problem has been profit above all else, the religion of neo liberalism has infected all, much like. Christianity purge the Roman empire and sent Europe into a dark age. Neo liberals have undermined democracy at every opportunity.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Yes, in the last thirty years upper houses have been stacked with neo liberals.

                The problem isn’t neo-liberals but partisanship. If both houses are dominated by the same party then it’s a rubber stamp. If one house is dominated by one party and the other by the other then it’s a stalemate preventing the law changes that the state needs. Just look at the Republicans preventing the democrats from doing anything about their debt limit and almost bringing the US to collapse. There are many such examples of this sort of BS in many political systems that have two houses.

                They do not achieve what the proponents of them say that they achieve but they do cause major fuckups.

  2. Reality 2

    Excellent speech. Andrew Little gives a great sense of being a genuine “good guy” not smile and wave PR driven.

    • Once was Tim 2.1

      Tova O’Brien didn’t seem to think so …. I’ve just watched TV3 News and it seems that she completely/UTTERLY missed the second half of the speech (e.g. ‘WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE’ and the next bit – simply dismissing things as Labour lacking in policy – as tho’ they should front up with some sort of pledge card NOW).
      …. ALL that however when I’m no longer a Labour Party supporter – at least not until they return to some basic founding principles.
      I was just completely flabergasted at Tova’s report. Where the fuck do they find them?
      There’s a less charitable question of course, and that goes something like “Who the hell is she f – I mean ‘spruiking’?”

      • John Shears 2.1.1

        Agreed , a sham of a news report , I had already read the report.

      • Yep, Tova was piss poor. But then she was just echoing today’s rightie talking points, which were on display here on TS, where 3 commenters on multiple threads put the same question at roughly the same time: ‘Is it really the biggest deception etc.’. After lunch, the theme was ‘angry Andy’.

        Can’t blame a pretty average journalist for not wanting to do her own thinking. It’s completely contra-indicated these days anyway.

    • The Murphey 2.2

      Q. Can you point out what you felt the speech addressed ?

  3. Roflcopter 3

    Same speech we’ve heard from all the leftie leaders over the last 5 or 6 years, just worded differently.

    No vision, no solutions deeper than empty rhetoric and one-liners, and nascent xenophobia.

    And the left wonder why they fail to get traction.

    • Sable 3.1

      Labour is hardly a left leaning party. They have more in common with your money wasting mate Mr Budget Blow Out Key…..

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2

      Roflcopter’s right: Labour were like this all the way through the nineties too. Always banging on about unemployment and such. On Planet Roflcopter, nothing happened next.

    • tinfoilhat 3.3

      Strange you say that – when reading through the speech I tuned out a thought it could as well have been john key giving it.

      Bah and humbug we need some green power in parliament !

      • Tracey 3.3.1

        I thought similarly tinfoil… a little like his 2008 campaign speeches.

        A less talked about side effect of the housing issue in NZ, is that when people who can afford to buy are in a low equity position, they can’t borrow against the house as easily to start a business.

        In my youth and my when my Dad was 35 he could leverage against the house to start up a business…

        Its not just about owning the roof over your head it’s owning a decent equity so those with ideas can take a risk

        • Draco T Bastard

          Its not just about owning the roof over your head it’s owning a decent equity so those with ideas can take a risk

          Even better would be if the government stepped in to support those with ideas so that they didn’t have to risk everything. There’d be almost nothing holding back our innovation then.

    • Heather Grimwood 3.4

      to Roflcopter: seems the comment of someone showing fear of hearing the truth, and if these facts have had to be repeated over recent years. there has been a reason for it…lack of action to ensure health of our economy.

    • Tracey 3.5

      Did you read past the first paragraph?

    • Heather Grimwood 3.6

      to Roflcopter: seems the comment of someone showing fear of hearing the truth, and if these facts have had to be repeated over recent years, there has been a reason for it…lack of action to ensure health of our economy.

  4. Sable 4

    A good cure for insomnia.

  5. Colonial Rawshark 5

    Any government which believes in surpluses as a good thing, is a government which believes that austerity, tax increases and service cuts are a good thing.

    We should be damned pleased that National is abandoning its goal of getting to surplus. If you really want to push them to achieve their surplus, you know how they will. Tax increases on the poor and service cuts for the poor.

    • Tracey 5.1

      And he could still have attacked them for their lies and deception without endorsing the surplus goal or the notion that more GDP is the way to go.

      he does point out that we have GDP of 3% but little trickle down…

      So, to me, it is a confusing message, ideologically and practically.

      • Colonial Rawshark 5.1.1

        Agree. In many ways it was an adequate speech but I’m also not sure with whom that speech was supposed to resonate. Is Labour promising to be better managers of the current economic system than National is? Is that what is really required now?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Is Labour promising to be better managers of the current economic system than National is?

          Yes, that is exactly what Labour are promising – better management of a failed system.

          • Macro

            Same old… same old…. Just a different cloak.

          • John Shears

            As they had been doing before the Nats took over and racked our Govt debt up through the roof zero to millions go figure

        • Jones

          I suspect that speech was supposed to resonate with business leaders and owners… particularly the small to medium enterprises developing niche ideas and products that could grow a lot further under the right conditions.

          • Tracey

            which is what Helen did… but National still has that ground amongst it’s 49% voters, doesn’t it?

        • Tracey

          That speech, imo, was to win over business… which means Labour Party is going nowhere Left of Centre in the near future…

          To get into power it seems LP has to suck up to business and for Nat to get into power they have to demonsie union and the workforce and beneficiaries…. Sounds like both are relying on the same group to me.

          • Jones

            Aye. It’s like Labour have looked at what’s worked for National and said, “ok… we can do that too”. They are trying to create the steady as she goes image so that WHEN the electorate get tired of FJK (and they eventually will), there is someone “safe” to take over.

            It’s not leadership… it’s management. It’s not visionary… it’s pragmatic. It’s not what NZ needs but it probably what NZ wants.

  6. jenny kirk 7

    Yep – I expected the negative criticism as above.

    What none of you negative types are taking into account is the fact that Labour IS working on its work/jobs policy and WILL come up with some realistic policies within the timeframe announced – and you are just all going to have to be patient and wait for it.
    Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither will the rebuild of the Labour Party be done in a quick space of time !

    • it reads like it was written by a committee..

      ..are there no decent speech writers in labour..?

      • Tracey 7.1.1

        we need a benevolent dictator… oh wait a minute

        • Stuart Munro

          People would probably settle for one if the economy wasn’t falling apart.

      • northshoreguynz 7.1.2

        Says someone who can’t structure a sentence, let alone a paragraph.

      • Clemgeopin 7.1.3

        Could you , just for the heck of it, write a sample speech and pot it here so that we get to clearly understand your political perception/acumen and what really you want in his speech?

        • Clemgeopin

          Whoops, ‘post’, not ‘pot’!

        • phillip ure

          do you mean what i think he should be calling for..?

          ..or what i would want (dictator 4 a day – and all that)..?

          • Tracey

            Post the speech you think he should be making

          • Clemgeopin

            No, just a pre-budget speech. (pretend that you are the leader of the opposition delivering that speech to the nation, the government and the potential voters. Just a succinct brief speech will do. I am sure you have the ability to write a great speech with your own thoughts and ideas.)

            • phillip ure

              i note you are serially asking for speeches – but i had thought of doing that before his speech..

              …as an intellectual/political-exercise..

              ..it’s already half-done in my head..so i’ll post it in the next day or so..

              • Clemgeopin

                Great! I hope you will post it in a day or two or three. I just remembered about the last time you made a similar statement to me here stating that you would post a link to a video about the ride you were going to do the next day on a motorbike with your pet dog or was it a hedgehog? Um, may be a pet porcupine? What happened?

      • Detrie 7.1.4

        I think all these things are committee driven. A bit of this, a bit of that…

    • Roflcopter 7.2

      Yup, and every time Labour comes up with these policies, they’re like Little’s speech… the same old stuff worded differently.

      Nothing has changed, nothing will change.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2.1

        You mean, the same old stuff that delivers budget surpluses, lower unemployment, and higher per capita gdp?

        That same old stuff?

        Own goal, fool.

        • Roflcopter

          You have no proof that those policies would have achieved what you stated, as every time it was pitched, NZ voters worked out it was all a load of bullshit.

          And it still is, and you’re expecting a different result.

          Keep trying.

          • One Anonymous Bloke


            “Same old stuff” as in – the things Labour led governments have always delivered in New Zealand.

            Or are you as ignorant of history as you are of politics and economics?

            • Roflcopter

              The “same old stuff from the 90’s” doesn’t work any more… get that through your head, that’s why Labour keeps getting rejected… the world has moved on, but Labour is still looking backwards.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                Oddly, I agree with every word in your comment here.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Yeah, the problem being that Roflcopter hasn’t worked out that National and every other right-wing entity are even further behind than Labour.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                “same old stuff from the 90’s”

                Perhaps Rofldunce has also missed that it was in fact National who failed in the ’90’s, followed by a period of surpluses, low unemployment, and higher per-capita gdp.

    • Jones 7.3

      Just has to be in time for the next election… I won’t hold my breath. Coming from a staunch Labour family, which included a Labour MP in the First Labour Government (the values of which still resonate strongly with me), it seems to me the sun has well and truly set on the party it once was.

      • Ron 7.3.1

        Of course it has and so it should. We are in a very different world from 1935. Just have a think how the world has changed. Jet planes, man landed on moon, 4K and 3D television, cell phones, cures for diseases that were once accepted as a death sentence. Not to mention computers, and all the benefits that has brought to society.
        We have to stop living in the past and solve today’s problems which are very different from the 1930’s

        it seems to me the sun has well and truly set on the party it once was.

    • The Murphey 7.4

      Jenny it makes no difference what the policies are because they are underpinned by a failed ideology which is literally destroying the earth and its inhabitants

      The speech was a waste of air and until someone addresses the money as debt situation then listening to them is a waste of time

  7. r0b 8

    Excellent analysis of the problems and missed opportunities. Light on the alternatives going forward, but you’d expect that at this stage. Overall a very good speech.

    • Bill 8.1

      I disagree. We all know it’s fucked. Who cares about the precise details? Damned few. All he had to do was say things are fucked and that Labour believes in and is committed to change. Then lay out that roadmap of hope that takes us to big change.

      Timorous wee beasties.

      • Clemgeopin 8.1.1

        ” All he had to do was say things are fucked and that Labour believes in and is committed to change. Then lay out that roadmap of hope that takes us to big change”

        Cool! Could you, just for the heck of it, write a small sample speech and post it here so that we get to clearly understand your political perception/acumen and what it is that you really want in his speech? i take it it is not too hard for you do do that. If it is, then don’t worry.

        • Bill

          Dunno if your attempting to rip the piss or what.

          As I’ve indicated, I want to put a post contrasting the policies of the SNP in Holyrood and NZ Labour policies for NZ, bearing in mind that the SNP operate with one hand tied behind their back…they have no control over economic levers and operate off the back of a grant, the level of which is determined by the spending of a Westminster government running austerity cuts.

          • Clemgeopin

            “Dunno if your attempting to rip the piss or what.”

            No, not really. I am serious and keen to read your pre-budget opposition speech. Post it here in this thread.
            (Pretend that you are the leader of the opposition delivering that speech to the nation, the government and the potential voters. Just a succinct brief speech will do. I am sure you have the ability to write a great speech with your own thoughts and ideas.)

    • Enough is Enough 8.2

      I agree

      It is however only the leader of the opposition saying this, which is what his job description entails. But to move this forward, independent people, and the media need to be asking these questions and raising the issues on a daily basis.

      The current narrative that the public is hearing is that New Zealand is The stand out western economy (“Rock Star”), the naughty GFC is the reason we are in deficit, and keep the course and your brighter future will begin next week.

      Only when “Jo and Jane, mortgage paying, debt ridden, poorly paid, Smith” start hearing the real story from people other than the Opposition, will it start sinking in that we are on the cusp of an economic disaster and only the elimination and destruction of the National Party will save us.

  8. Bill 9

    Maybe Andrew would like to contact Ed and get his pledge plinth sent down?

    Truly. That’s fucking bereft.

    Not today. But I’m going to trawl the SNP speeches and put up a post contrasting what truly social democratic left economic policies look like against Labour’s meh.

    As a wee starter (and no,these aren’t all necessarily budget related) – no privatisation of health and rolling back what has already been privatised.

    Holding retirement age at present levels.

    Investing stated $ sums in child care, domestic violence measures etc…

    Stating definite targets for numbers of businesses to adopt the living wage.

    Investments stated for education including commitments to no university fees ever.

    Top up allowances for poorer young students so they don’t have to drop-out of education.

    Free prescriptions.

    Targets announced for X number of public rental houses to be built.

    Abolition of zero hours contracts.

    All government employees and contracted employees to be minimally on living wage.

    Working on the systemic and cultural impediments to women succeeding – committing to smash the glass ceiling.

    Details of progressive taxation changes and protections for the poor and the vulnerable.

    And on and on and on, from a government that has no power to create jobs, to raise revenue from taxes or borrow and has to operate within formulaic fixed sum grants calculated off the back of another government’s spending: one that is wedded to austerity.

    Begging the question, if they can do it….

    • Colonial Rawshark 9.1

      No to another generation of expensive, dangerous nuclear weapons and ballistic missile nuclear submarines.

    • Craig H 9.2

      An excellent start.

      I would add support for business funding – it’s currently damn hard to find money if you don’t know the right people and you don’t have sufficient collateral, which is usually property, which is getting harder and harder to get into.

      Finding ways to make this substantially easier would really improve the economy find better opportunities and move away from commodities, and would sell a tremendous narrative of Labour supporting businesses, growth and increasing wealth and jobs for all, IMO. It would greatly aspirational for students and apprentices, and would fit in well with the Future of Work.

      Some ideas:

      Something similar to the Student Loan Scheme for start-ups.

      NZ Super/ACC/Kiwisaver funds make funding substantially more accessible for non-property business borrowing, especially new businesses and start-ups.

      • Bill 9.2.1

        What I listed are specific ‘really existing’ SNP policies as they pertain to the Scottish Government in Holyrood.

        There were/are small business incentives, but I can’t recall the details.

        Obviously, it’s not a direct parallel example, there is no ACC for example.

    • Jones 9.3

      All good stuff but how is all of this funded…? Return the creation of the money to the Government and away from the banks for a start.

      • Bill 9.3.1

        The SNP have already funded a lot of stuff listed and are simply extending coverage.

        I’ll reiterate – they cannot collect revenues from tax and they cannot borrow; they operate within a fixed budget that’s determined by a formula applied to spending in England and Wales. People in England and Wales have been subjected to austerity budgets.

        So, what the SNP has done is cross subsidise within their fixed budget and run surpluses into the bargain.

        The NZ government on the other hand, can raise revenue from taxes, borrow and create jobs to grow the economy etc, and yet….user pays, deficits and privatisation has run riot.

        I’d really like somebody to explain and then, I suspect, I’d like for a whole generation of NZ politicians to go and fuck themselves.

        • Jones

          I like it, especially the last paragraph. But if I understand it correctly, the Scottish Government have created a trust (so it’s at arms length from the Scottish Government) to invest in infrastructure initiatives, from which the savings and financial benefits are reinvested back into the fund for future initiatives… a futures fund if you will.


          This is brilliant… canny Scots!

          NZ could easily be doing this. I would like to posit an explanation as to why we have not… NZ has been bought by the foreign banks.

          • jenny kirk

            Hang on, Jones – didn’t Labour NZ have a policy similar to this in the last election campaign …….. ? mmmm yes I think they did. Its purpose was to fund initiatives which would create jobs.

        • weka

          “So, what the SNP has done is cross subsidise within their fixed budget”

          What does cross subsidise mean there?

          • Bill

            If money was meant to go to ‘x’ they prioritised and put it to ‘y’ instead. Like I say, it had to be done within the context of a fixed budget. So, the money used to ameliorate the bedroom tax was from a part of the grant meant for another area.

            • weka

              I have no idea what the bedroom tax is or what amelioriate means here.

              Do you mean that if the UK govt allocated $100 for the Scottish govt to spend on say roading, then the Scottish govt might spend $20 on roading and $80 on health? They’re basically taking their portion of the UK tax and spending it how they like?

              • Bill


                • weka

                  cheers. So the idea you are talking about above is that it’s possible to run a non-austerity economy on a fixed budget that is otherwise considered austere, and the SNP has just proved it? That’s very inspiring.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    One danger that Scotland faces currently is that it cannot issue money, control the money supply and set interest rates like a “real” sovereign nation can. In many ways Scotland is the monetary equivalent of a an Australian or US state – subject to someone elses monetary policies.

        • Keir

          Actually that’s not simply true – the Scottish Parliament has had the power to vary income tax by 3p in the pound since it was created, but Alex Salmond didn’t want to raise taxes so he let that power lapse.

          • Bill

            Been through this before. Raise taxes and the revenue goes to the exchequer in London. Borrow, and the Barnett Formula gets tweaked accordingly.

            • Keir

              No, that’s not right. The SNP even ran an election campaign (Penny for Scotland) back in 1999 premised on the use of the SVR to fund services in Scotland. They than backed away from it, and the Scottish Greens used to attack them from the left as being insufficiently willing to use taxing powers available to them to ameliorate austerity.

              The equivalent amount to the money raised by the variable rate goes to the Scottish Consolidated Fund – s77 of the Scotland Act.

              • Bill

                No government in Scotland – not of any persuasion be it the Labour/Libdem coalition or who-ever used that ‘tartan tax’. And it lapsed in 2012 or thereabouts.

                As for ameliorating austerity, you seriously need to look at the record of the SNP on that front before commenting again.

                Then you need to consider that they were the only party from among Labour, Tory or Libdem running on a platform of ending austerity. The other anti-austerity parties are the Greens and Plaid Cymru.

                • Keir

                  Firstly, so you do concede that the SVR money goes to the Scottish Consolidated Fund, right?

                  And the SVR was allowed to lapse by First Minister Alex Salmond and Finance Secretary John Swinney, both of the SNP! You can hardly say they are in a tough place because they can’t increase taxes when they themselves gave up that taxing power!

                  And no, no other party used the variable rate – the Labour Party (being in power at both Westminster and Holyrood) would hardly need to, would they?

                  As far as not using taxation powers to ameliorate austerity, I’m just telling you what Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens says – go argue with him, not me, about that.

                  • Bill

                    “You can hardly say they are in a tough place because…”

                    That was never my point though Keir. My point was that a government that has no economic levers, nevertheless manages to protect the NHS (fully public in Scotland), education (free University), older people care (public provision in Scotland), free prescriptions, nullify the ‘bedroom tax’ etc, etc.

                    Meanwhile, governments that do have economic leverage are constantly harping on about how cuts need to happen….including here in NZ.

                    Now, someone is telling porkies on that front, (austerity is necessary/austerity is class war) and since it’s possible to judge the Scottish government by its actions, that leaves the obvious answer as the only answer.

    • Clemgeopin 9.4

      You are confusing a pre budget speech from an opposition leader 2.5 years before the next election with ‘polices’ they will go into prior to the election for a mandate from the voters.

      I put it to you that SNP got its massive support in Scotland due to strong nationalistic emotional regional ‘patriotic’ sentiments rather than their ‘Labour’ policies. If that was not the case, then SNP would have got massive support all over UK rather than just in Scotland. Explain that, then

      • Bill 9.4.1

        “Explain that, then.”

        Jesus wept! The SNP do not stand candidates in England or Wales. They do however, make no bones over their support for the Greens in England and Plaid Cymru in Wales and their desire to work with who-ever also advocates progressive social democratic politics.

        Anecdotally, the policies advocated by the SNP – an end to austerity and investment in public services – rolling back privatisation of the NHS in England and Wales – moving towards free tertiary education in England and Wales – do enjoy support in south of the border. FPP fucks things up though.

        Nicola Sturgeon was the only party leader who was actually liked in UK wide polls.

        Meanwhile, are you suggesting that better informed and engaged Scottish voters are being merely emotional and/or sentimental? You’re wrong.

        edit – to an extent you’re right about me confounding different types of speech. But that’s irrelevant. The ‘meta-message’ is important no matter the speech. Notice can be given on certain unacceptable matters regardless. Positive change can be sign-posted regardless. Real and substantive reasons for hope can be articulated regardless.

  9. b waghorn 10

    What some of you activists above miss is that Mr Little is talking to the masses ,you know ,the people he has to get to vote for him.!
    So as long as people keep causing division in the ranks key and co are laughing.
    My advise to you is if you got nothing good to say is say nothing,
    And get out there and work you’re Arse! off making sure that what ever party floats you’re boat is ready to go into a government that will be lead by labour. Because like it or not the greens and mana have no show without labour.
    Have a nice day.

    • northshoreguynz 10.1

      Can’t stop posters having an opinion.
      But ISTM that they are railing at the wrong people. The Labour Party has never been truly socialist. Even the original state housed were built by Fletchers. The party is much more a social democratic party, and as such Little’s speech is on message.

      • b waghorn 10.1.1

        I’m not trying to stop people having a opinion but people on the left of labour need to consider how it looks if there bitching at each other. Win the election first then apply the pressure.

    • Bill 10.2

      And ‘the masses’ couldn’t possibly resonate with a message confirming what so many know – we’re fucked? And ‘the masses’ couldn’t adopt and run with a message of hope based on fundamental left leaning social democratic principles?

      Which is why ‘the masses’ got subjected, yet again, to negative dry ‘bleugh’ and no ‘fire in the belly’ promoting a message of hope?

      • Clemgeopin 10.2.1

        “And ‘the masses’ couldn’t adopt and run with a message of hope based on fundamental left leaning social democratic principles?”

        You can only win by carrying the MAJORITY with you to help the minority.
        You can not win by carrying the MINORITY alone to help the majority.

        • Bill

          You got to enthuse, engage and win the support of a majority of people!!?

          Wow Sherlock! How come I didn’t get that?

          • Clemgeopin

            “You got to enthuse, engage and win the support of a majority of people!!?

            Yes, but you can not do it the old fashioned nostalgic way. The world, the people, the wealth, the economy and the way of life has moved on for a large number (vast majority) of people.

            “Wow Sherlock! How come I didn’t get that?

            Oh, my dear Watson, do you get that the majority now includes the business people, the small, medium and large job creators and the reasonably well paid educated professionals and ordinary workers too? THAT, comprise the ‘majority’ in the developed western societies in the MODERN world, unlike in the last century. A political party needs to ‘enthuse, engage and win’ THEIR support and their VOTES to be in government to do lots of good to society, including for the poor and the under privileged. Don’t you agree?

            • jenny kirk

              + 100 % Clemgeopin.

            • Bill

              Sure. I agree. But I’m confused as to why you made the comment as though it was a counter to something I said.

              • Clemgeopin

                I made my comment because you are judging Little and his speech harshly, impatiently and in fact very unfairly considering the Labour policy platform/direction is under review after three electoral defeats and in any case his speech was not supposed to be a policy speech, nor an alternate budget 3 years before the election. That alternate budget speech, in line with the decided policies, will be the pre-budget speech in may, 2017.

                Andrew Little used today’s opportunity appropriately to put the boot into National’s mismanagement, inefficiency and lies regarding their budget and election broken promises.

                In some of your previous comments referencing SNP you implied that Little/Labour is unconcerned/not as concerned with ‘democratic social ideals’ and ‘policies’, unlike SNP. Really? Do you really and honestly think that Ed Miliband and Andrew Little are not for democratic socialist values?

                Your support for SNP, Sturgeon, the Greens and Plaid Cymru, seems to have diminished your understanding of the reality of the political situation in UK and here in NZ. How come the Greens or the Plaid Cymbru are not able to get more than a handful of votes? The Greens are a bit more successful here, but not a lot more, in spite of MMP.

                You have judged Little and his speech prematurely when he has only just begun his leadership journey and has 2.5 more years to go.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  You have judged Little and his speech prematurely when he has only just begun his leadership journey and has 2.5 more years to go.

                  I tend to agree. Labour and Little’s performance in re-positioning Labour can be most properly judged a full ~12 months on from the last General Election. But bear in mind that’s in just 5 months time.

                  Do you really and honestly think that Ed Miliband and Andrew Little are not for democratic socialist values?

                  Does their front bench buy into core aspects of the neoliberal economic and monetary orthodoxy. Yes is my pick. With democratic socialist softenings around the hard capitalist edges of course. Isn’t that all you need to know? If you need to know more, isn’t it obvious that Miliband will be replaced by a right wing neo-Blairite?

                  How come the Greens or the Plaid Cymbru are not able to get more than a handful of votes? The Greens are a bit more successful here, but not a lot more, in spite of MMP.

                  It’s FPP in the UK. People know that their vote for GR and PC will be wasted. A lot of people in the UK can’t be bothered to vote for the options put in front of them. And the GR in NZ have some issues of their own currently.

                  The real question you should ask is – if Labour is truly the party of the 99% – why did only one in five registered voters vote for them.

        • Draco T Bastard

          National seems top do quite well carrying the rich on the backs of the majority.

      • b waghorn 10.2.2

        ‘fire in the belly’ promoting a message of hope?
        Obama did a lot of that and it achieved no more than getting him elected.
        I’ll take pragmatic and realistic any day.
        That’s not to say I don’t hope for a real change of direction for NZ

        • Bill

          Yeah. Okay. Real hope based on a concrete direction. Not the vacuous messaging or massaging a la Obama.

    • Atiawa 10.3

      +100. Little is playing the long game. What would be the point in showing your best hand this early in the electoral cycle. The gloss is fast wearing off Key & his government and Little is establishing his cred’s with the electorate.
      Little is the only alternative and if you don’t like it, bleating won’t produce the answer you crave.

      • Bill 10.3.1

        “What would be the point in showing your best hand this early in the electoral cycle”

        It’s not a fucking game. It’s people and real lives. Given that, there is no ‘best hand’ – there is only ‘getting your shit together’ and boldly representing people and their wishes.

        Or should politicians sit above us all and gamely compete with one another and on their own terms, for a spectators cross on a ballot paper every election? The winners!! Yay!!! Now back to the sports TV, the drudge and the nonsense….my team won/lost.

        • te reo putake

          It pretty much is a game. At least in the sense that it has rules, competitors and judges.

          Atiawa is dead right. And not just because we don’t want to give the right two years to attack the policy platform. It’s also because Labour are doing exactly what the SNP have done for the last couple of years. Listening to the people and trying to find policies that the people actually want. I don’t see a problem with that.

          • Colonial Rawshark

            Trust me, NZ Labour are NOT doing “exactly” what the SNP have done LOL

            • te reo putake

              Yeah, like you would know about either party, CV.

              The SNP spent the two years before the last Holyrood elections strengthening its local organisations, canvassing the electorate and building a policy platform that was more than just ‘we want a referendum’. They actively listened to the Scottish people. That’s exactly what Little wants to do. The NZLP’s Future of Work commission is meant to engage and learn from Kiwis. Combined with the internal re-organisation that began two years ago, and is ongoing, Little should be leading a far more plausible and electable party at the next election.

              • Bill

                I can’t agree with you on this TRP.

                NZ Labour’s main internal force is its crushing inertia.

                What they’re doing is essentially what UK and Scottish Labour did…they said they were listening, but ignored everything that didn’t fit with their pre-conceived notions of what the right thing was. For those things that kind of fitted with their view, they tweaked what they heard to make it fit better.

                The SNP went with their gut feeling. It resonated and resonates. 56 out of 59 seats. Over 100 000 members. Now they’re calling a spade a spade and brooking no nonsense from the ‘Establishment’.

                I suspect they will not fuck it all up and will hopefully inspire civic nationalism within England. As Irvine Welsh wrote, “… it’s time to take that white flag that has been the real symbol of the mainstream left in Britain for the last 30 years, and paint a flaming red cross on top of it. The SNP evidently scares the establishment to a greater extent than a tawdry, complicit Labour, which is essentially competing with the Tories to serve it. How much more would a populist, leftist, decentralist, civic nationalist party in England?”

                NZ Labour is at best going down the same track as UK Labour in England, or worse, the track they took in Scotland where, yeah…they’re dead. They won’t be coming back.

                • Bill, the essential lesson from the SNP is to listen to the people. That’s what Labour, under Little, is trying to do. It’s not a bad thing in any way. Hopefully the days when focus groups determined the decisions are over. The SNP had a clear strategy of engagement with voters and so does NZ Labour. Hopefully it’ll work here too. Maybe not as spectacularly, but then it doesn’t have to be much of an improvement to get to the place where an alternative government is viable.

                  Btw, I reckon Scottish Labour will do Ok in the next Scottish elections. At least there’s a degree of proportionality in that system.

                  • Bill

                    If Scottish Labour separates itself from UK Labour – and this is what they are talking about – then maybe, but only due to the proportionality. I’d pick them to be on a similar level to the Tories. I suspect the Libdems are going to bounce back better than Labour and that the Scottish Green Party will do rather better than both.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                The NZLP’s Future of Work commission is meant to engage and learn from Kiwis.

                You actually have hopes for this? LOL. The Labour Party can’t even learn from its own members. At Region 6 Conference a bunch of our branch’s remits which specifically take into account increasing resource, energy and economic instability were voted down and then Grant talked about how high tech automation was going to change the future of work for all Kiwis, which is an utter nonsense.

                • Yeah, democracy sucks, eh. Your branch failed to convince the region of the worth of your proposals. It’s probably you that needs to learn from that, not the other way round.

                  • The Murphey

                    Q. Are denial and optimism pre-requisites for being a ‘team player’ ?

                    Q. How many LP leaders have you ‘supported’ over the years through your comments on this site ?

                    • A: No. Your fear sustains me.

                      A: I’ve supported them all. But, then, I generally don’t care about the leader, it’s all about the policy for me. However, clearly, Andrew Little is more of a threat to your lot than the previous incumbents, hence the desperation over ‘angry Andy’. And that I like.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    Yeah, democracy sucks, eh. Your branch failed to convince the region of the worth of your proposals. It’s probably you that needs to learn from that, not the other way round.

                    Labour failed to convince 3 out of 4 voters of the worth of its policies. It’s probably Labour that needs to learn from that and change – you would think?

          • weka

            “It pretty much is a game. At least in the sense that it has rules, competitors and judges.”

            Er, no it doesn’t. That analogy falls flat as. But it does go some way to explaining what is wrong with politics in NZ.

            “Atiawa is dead right. And not just because we don’t want to give the right two years to attack the policy platform. It’s also because Labour are doing exactly what the SNP have done for the last couple of years. Listening to the people and trying to find policies that the people actually want. I don’t see a problem with that.”

            Isn’t that what Labour were supposed to be doing before the last election?

            • te reo putake

              And yet it’s still a perfectly apt analogy, used in every election ever. And in most TV programs about politics, factual and fictional. House of cards, game of thrones etc. There’s even an area of academic study called the game theory of politics.

              The difference now on listening etc. is that Labour is actually putting resources into and not just whipping out soundbites. We’ve had 3 leaders in a row who were all mouth, no ears, and at heart were just millionaires with an abstract understanding of what matters to Kiwis. Little’s a lot different from them and a has a history of following through and delivering on what he promises.

              • Atiawa

                Yes. You obviously know the same Andrew Little as me. I think I missed one public meeting of the candidates during his 2011 & 14 election campaign’s. I also attended each of his 6 – 7 community meetings he held in 2011 whereby the general public were invited to hear him speak at various locations around the electorate and to ask him questions. He was always clear around the values he represented and keen to hear from electors their issues and concerns.
                I thought that his finest attribute was the concern he has for the powerless and his desire and willingness to help to make a difference.

                • jenny kirk

                  Atiawa – I didn’t have that opportunity of hearing Andrew Little on the hustings – but what you say sums up what I’ve thought since meeting him up here in the north and reading up on his background.
                  It seems, finally (after 7 years in the wilderness), Labour has a Leader who has real old-fashioned Labour values, knows how to articulate them – and what is more, can deal to the current government in terms that we all understand.
                  Which – no doubt – is why everyone else wants to attack him.

                  • Anne

                    It seems, finally (after 7 years in the wilderness), Labour has a Leader who has real old-fashioned Labour values, knows how to articulate them – and what is more, can deal to the current government in terms that we all understand.

                    That is exactly my impression from meeting him and attending several events where he spoke. Consistent, never wavers, knows exactly where he is going to take the party and it ain’t down any neo liberal track!! The other thing I like about him… he is not the least bit phased by Key. There’s nothing Key and co. can throw at him that he hasn’t encountered before.

                    I know its frustrating – I get frustrated too – but be patient folks. He would be a fool to articulate policy details now. Time after time over the decades Labour announced their policies too early only to have National pinch them and walk away with victory. Holland, Holyoake, Muldoon and Bolger governments all did it.

              • weka

                I think those things are a reflection of how some people behave in politics.

                Who are the judges btw?

    • Tracey 10.4

      “you activists”…

      WHAT does that mean, people who post their opinion on a website = activists?

      Or something else.

      IF the people expressing opinions here DONT represent the views of the masses why does it matter what they wrote? Cos the majority will never read it

      • b waghorn 10.4.1

        I’ve always been under the impression that many commenters here are actively involved in politics as opossed to comenters on stuff etc.
        The standard has a decent sized following so I imagine some are swing voters who may form an opinion of the state of the left from this site.
        At the risk of being very corny ‘divided we fall’ and all that .

  10. john 11

    Andrew Little says not quite making surplus this year has been “one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime”.

    I’d actually thought that Little might succeed where Cunliffe, Shearer, and Goff had not.

    But not when something as minor as not making surplus is in his mind “one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime”.

    That’s beyond silly and shows a total lack of judgement about what’s a really big issue and what’s not.

    • mickysavage 11.1

      Why? It is a lie that National has peddled for the past seven years. Repeatedly telling fibs for political advantage ought to be regarded as a major issue. If you want to see some of the background see http://thestandard.org.nz/the-magical-disappearing-surplus/

      • john 11.1.1

        You’d have to be on another planet to think that saying you’re hoping and planning to get to surplus by year x, is “one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime”.

        And how can it be ” “one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime”. when English himself was reported as far back as last year saying treasury had forecast that there probably wouldn’t be a surplus.

        Little needs to learn to pick his battles – when just a half percent change in govt income and expenditure (i.e just 1/4 of a percent each) is the difference between a deficit and surplus, this couldn’t be further from ” “one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime”.”

        • Tracey

          which of the other lies do you think is the biggest political deception of a lifetime?

          Or, which group of lies amounts to the biggest political deceptions of a lifetime?

          Or as long as you like the Government of the time truth and honesty is irrelevant?

        • mickysavage

          You did not read the post did you John.

          How about this?

          “August 2011 – “In only three years we will be one of the first developed countries back in surplus. After that, we will be repaying debt while other countries keep borrowing.”
          October 2011 – “An earlier return to surplus gives future governments more choices, and National is focused on that goal”
          November 2011 – “We are committed to getting back to surplus in 2014/15 and that significant challenge will require ongoing spending restraint across the public sector and a focus on innovation and results.”
          January 2012 – “Mr Key said that the Government’s focus on responsibly managing its finances includes a commitment to return to surplus in 2014/15 – which National campaigned on at the election.”
          April 2012 – “Getting back to surplus is a challenge but we are making the decisions required to get there, so that we can pay down debt and have more choices about what we want to do.”
          April 2013 – “We remain firmly on track to reach surplus in 2014/15.”
          May 2013 – “New Zealand’s economy is in good shape. The Budget confirms the Government will get back to surplus by 2014/15.”
          January 2014 – “After much hard work, the Government is effecting a remarkable turnaround in the books, with the latest forecasts showing a budget surplus in the next financial year – 2014/15 – after which government debt begins to fall.”
          May 2014 – “A $500 million support package for families and children, dividends from a growing economy, and a track to surplus next year are all features of Budget 2014.”
          Even the 2014 election campaign material continued this theme that a surplus was just around the corner. Remember this?

          Since National came into government, we have been working towards achieving a surplus in the 2014/15 year as well as reducing debt.”

          Key did not say that he was hoping or planning to show a surplus. He was promising one.

          • b waghorn

            “”Key did not say that he was hoping or planning to show a surplus. He was promising one””
            Didn’t you know Micky he was wearing his bullshit artist hat at the time.

          • John Shears

            Thanks MS more facts not fables,

          • Anne

            Yep… I remember him saying all of them. And what does the MSM do? They sit there and say nothing – not a peep out of them.

            Imagine if you will that we’re back in 2002, and Helen Clark made those claims and her govt. never managed a surplus from that time through to 2008. The MSM would have dined out on it every day. We would never have heard the end of it.

            The reality is: Clark and Cullen never made any claims of the same nature that I recall, yet they achieved surpluses right through to 2008!

      • greywarshark 11.1.2

        It’s not only a lie, it’s a deliberate confusion so NACTs don’t have to think about providing the modern democratic services to the people we would otherwise be calling for. Oh NZ can’t afford that, spending must be cut back so we can have a surplus.

        “Surplus” is a code word for ‘fooling the masses who are ignorant of how national economies are actually run these days’. It’s like the juvenile way that Ministers of Finance like Blinglish talk about balancing the country’s economy as careful householders would balance their budget.

        And further. gathering a surplus might mean less spending. Consumerism is one of the main ways that our present government keeps the economy running, giving the appearance of a healthy prosperous one. The credit that individuals take on to spend enables them to buy and it makes the country look as if it is just fine. I seem to remember that a significant number of NZs are insolvent with over 100% debt.

        Some facts:
        In 2003, New Zealand had the second highest household debt level as a proportion of disposable income (after the United Kingdom) of seven comparable Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

        New Zealand and Australia have had the fastest growing debt-income ratios in the OECD, partly because of their low starting levels. New Zealand is unusual, however, in having the lowest net financial wealth and total net wealth amongst the same OECD countries (Goh, 2005).

        If I am wrong anywhere tell me and show the facts and link advising.

    • Roflcopter 11.2

      Andrew Little says not quite making surplus this year has been “one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime”.

      How can it be? The comment was made off the back of the PREFU… is he saying that the people responsible for compiling the state of the books are making shit up?

      • te reo putake 11.2.1

        Nope. He’s saying the Government knew the figures wouldn’t match the likely (and actual) result. The said we’d be in surplus, when they knew we wouldn’t be.

        • Tracey

          No wonder National get in, their supporters can’t view beneath the surface. Is this government actually hypnotists?

          “by John Key 1 year ago in reply to Jeff
          This year, the Government will be in surplus, which will continue for a considerable period, based on the best information supplied by the Treasury. Raising the age of Super, would simply add to that surplus, which is not necessary. Good economic management, has allowed us to give New Zealanders this option” NBR

          May 6 2014

          National Party website

          “Since National came into government, we have been working towards achieving a surplus in the 2014/15 year as well as reducing debt.

          We remain on track to reduce debt to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020.

          Achieving surplus has been made more challenging due to the unusual conditions the New Zealand economy is experiencing. For example, low inflation, including lower petrol prices, is helping New Zealand families to get ahead but makes it more difficult for the Government to balance the books.
          We still believe a surplus is achievable in 2014/15 and we’re keeping a tight control on our spending to help us get there.

          This term we’ll continue to build on our record of reining in spending while supporting families.

          More information:

          Books show surplus for seven months to January”

          • Anne

            No wonder National get in, their supporters can’t view beneath the surface. Is this government actually hypnotists?

            No Tracey, their supporters are just dumb and dumber. There’s plenty of professional research work around proving it… not that we need to read it here at TS. We see examples of the dumbness on a daily basis. 🙄

    • Tracey 11.3

      “But not when something as minor as lying about your number 1 campaign promise/strategy is in his mind “


  11. Stuart Munro 12

    I don’t want home ownership to be an achievable dream – it should be a very ordinary and natural achievement for anyone – a basic building block of the kind of strong communities in which people can prosper.

    • Jones 12.1

      The rush to home ownership and the cost it entails takes away capital from business startup and investment, which is why it should be a natural achievement and not a dream. The fact that it is an aspiration for so many underscores how dire things are now.

  12. Craig H 13


    Complaint about house and rental prices in Auckland… A real problem I see in pieces like that is that they don’t believe government can help, when really, it can. Changing that narrative is key to Labour’s ongoing success, IMO.

    • Colonial Rawshark 13.1

      Exactly, which is why Labour “keeping the powder dry” on framing, policy and economic narratives early in the election cycle is a strategy which is doomed to failure.

  13. Clemgeopin 14

    Listen to Andrew Little describing the liar English and the Parnell Hair Puller Key, and their deception:


  14. Draco T Bastard 15

    How is it that at a time of around 3% growth a year, people still aren’t
    feeling better off?

    Because the growth has been a paper growth fuelled by the private banks creating lots of money and directing it into a housing bubble. There’s been no actual development of the economy.

    But right now, the government insists on picking the winners through their grants programme.

    The US government has been picking winners for decades and winning because of it. Of course, they’re then being shafted by the corporations that use that government funded R&D to get ahead and then offshore the profits so as to avoid paying tax.

    It’s not about picking winners but about funding a hell of a lot of R&D and accepting that some of it won’t pay immediately (someone will find a use for the knowledge eventually). And being a small country we need more than the OECD average as well – lots more. At least 5% of GDP should be going into government funded R&D and probably more.

    As for making sure that those benefits stay here rather than go offshore? Put a licensing agreement on the research. Use of them in NZ is free, use of them offshore comes with a major licensing fee.

    A country where we reward the risk takers, the innovators, the unafraid.

    And that pretty much proves that Labour are still wedded to the neo-liberal BS that caused all the problems that we see around us today.

  15. Cybeny 16

    “Even with low inflation, even with growing participation in the labour
    market, deep down they knew shortly after last year’s Pre-Election
    Economic and Fiscal Update they could not generate a Budget surplus in
    this Budget year.”

    This statement confuses me. Labour was promising surpluses at the election as well. Now Andrew Little is saying that achieving surplus this year was impossible?


    • lprent 16.1

      From a party that has a track record of running 9 surpluses out of 9 in their last term in office – I’d believe it.

      The last time that a National-led government actually had one of their mythic surpluses was when? 1971 maybe? Anyhow, they have a massive credibility gap. They talk surpluses. But they appear to have a problem actually erecting a surplus. When they get close they allow their dickhead supporters to talk them into premature taxcut ejeculations

      Muldoon never had one. Nor Key. They all ran increasing deficits and increasing debts.

      Bolger at least managed to stop the government debt rising. But his government did that mainly by rolling over loans to more favorable rates and selling assets to repay debt. But he didn’t run any budget surpluses that I am aware of.

      Shipley wasn’t there long enough to do much damage.

      The main reason to run surpluses in good times is to pay back debt. But in National’s “rockstar” economy it appears that we don’t need to do that. Instead what we need is a rescaling algorithm so National dickheads like yourself can show that you can get it up.

      See wikipedia

      Happy to help with your basic political education – ignorant bozo…

      • Cybeny 16.1.1

        Ouch! “National Dickhead”? I think that hurts more than “ignorant bozo”! For the record, I would never vote National. As you say, their record on the economy is awful.

        But at the same time, it doesn’t seem like Labour have much credibility either, when before the election saying they would post surpluses, and now after the election to say it is impossible.

        I think we need some new thinking in the Finance portfolio, that we aren’t getting from National or Labour.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Just reversing Nationals tax switch would have done or.

          • Cybeny

            Fair point.

            I suppose Little saying “It is impossible to make a surplus” is stronger than “it is impossible to make a surplus unless National fold on their core policies”.

            I guess the way Little said it had me a bit confused, but looking a bit deeper that makes sense.

            Thanks Draco!

            • Colonial Rawshark

              Helen Clark and Michael Cullen supporters like to repeat the Labour reduced government debt meme 1999-2008.

              What they never say is that private sector and household debt exploded during the term of that Labour Govt.

              Cullen funded his reduction in government debt with monies from the private sector digging itself deeper and deeper into the red.

              Check out this RBNZ graph. Household debt at circa 98% of household income pre 4th Labour Govt. By the last year of Labour debt was at circa 160% of household income.

              Come on all you 4th Labour Govt supporters. Why don’t you promote this as an example of Labour’s good economic management?


              [lprent: Try this one from wikipedia which puts both debt figures (and GDP) into perspective.


              • Sabine

                What was the household debt made out of?

                Really, what? Cars, Boats, Houses, Education etc?

                I don’t have debt, have been paying down my debt that i owed since 2005 when I decided that I wanted to buy a house, and best was to not have any other debt. Now with National and the ongoing speculation that is Auckland, i have given up on that goal altogether, mind I don’t have any debt. 🙂

                But would it not be interesting to see what the household debt was made out of under Labour vs now National.

                I have a hard time believing that private debt has gone down under National, what with houseprices up in the sky, tuition going up, etc etc etc.

                Anyonw who has got some stats that make sense?

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  The majority of that debt was mortgage debt due to Auckland house prices exploding upwards. The private debt introduced a lot of new money into the economy which Cullen then taxed in to reduce the public debt.

                  The correct way of looking at what happened is that Labour 4 did not pay down NZ’s debt; instead it ran a debt swap where allowing the rapid running up of private debt helped pay down public debt.

                  • Sabine

                    I am not an expert on anything really, but i think when we speak of debt we should differentiate debt accrued in form of Studentloans, Mortgages and consumer driven debt.
                    The first two might yield a benefit or even a profit in time. However buying a car on tick is just a waste of money, imho.

                    So yes, i would like to see the debt levels under both National and Labour quantified and specified. Everything else is just muddling the water.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      You may wish to attach a moral or economic value to what debt has paid for what, and whether it was worthwhile or not. That’s not an irrational approach by any means.

                      I am simply saying that on a balance sheet, it looks the same, and the Labour govt simply swapped private debt for public debt.

                      But as I said, the vast bulk of the private debt accrued was property debt, housing and farming. Not debt on cars or flat screen TVs.

              • b waghorn

                Surely personnel debt is a persons personal choice, I chose to live low debt I have relatives who live on the red line and banks must love them but I can’t see how or why a government should have any input into those choices.

                • Macro

                  If your caught in the housing bubble of Auckland you have no option but to increase debt. All well and good saying you would have no debt. For many there was no other option.
                  The other driver of personal debt is of course our Consumption driven economy. Both Labour and National like a consumption driven economy. The more you buy, the more GDP increases, and that is good (in their eyes). But it has major flaws in that;
                  a. it is unsustainable, (We live on a finite Planet) and
                  b. in order to continue the “growth” more “Capital” (ie Money) needs to be created to create extra products that are already optimised. eg
                  c. the problem of b. leads to increasing debt.

  16. Tracey 17

    National’s promise during 2014 campaign from which they garnered their mandate

    juxtaposed with the quietly expunging of it from their site by 2015.


    Yesterday, Kathy Odgers said she was expunging all traces of her website because when a company has finished that’s what you do… so when National expunges one of its promises… is it cos the job was done.

    Lie to get re-elected




    Do what we like


  17. Philip Ferguson 18

    There’s an interesting division of Labour between party leader Andrew Little and party general-secretary Tim Barnett, both members of the liberal professional class.

    Little schmoozes business interests, trying to convince them that Labour will manage NZ Capitalism Ltd better than National.

    At the same time Barnett shows Labour’s fangs to the lower-income workers who aren’t on the electoral roll, threatening that they’ll be economically punished for not being enrolled.



  18. ianmac 19

    By the way. Jim Mora dismissed Andrew’s speech in few words with the great help of Jock Anderson.” “One of the biggest deceptions of a lifetime”. That’s how Andrew Little phrased the government’s failure to deliver a surplus. Is the statement OTT?”
    Course it was over the top they agreed. Not important. No discussion on the body of Andrew’s speech of course.

  19. Realblue 20

    If they didn’t discuss the body of these speech it would be because they were pondering the “biggest deception of a lifetime” gem. A staggering hysterical statement to make. I imagine once the laughter had stopped they didn’t bother with the rest. There would be many other statements that qualify in my lifetime to a far greater degree.

    “Chiropractors are doctors”
    “911 was an inside job”
    “Homeopathy is science”
    “Vaccinations cause autism”
    “CGT is a game changer”

    OTT pretty much.

    • ianmac 20.1

      Well you forgot Watergate Realblue. But Andrew was talking about Government deception of the people in New Zealand. Has to be the biggest deliberate strategy of Key’s lot. Yes?

    • Tracey 20.2

      i see you chose farrars screech to repeat

    • One Anonymous Bloke 20.3

      Hey, you’re absolutely right, if only you can remind me who said cgt is a game changer without being a lying Tory asshole,

  20. Realblue 21

    Agreed Watergate was a shameful chapter. He didn’t say strategy he said deception. Quite a different context which spinning furiously doesn’t change. Vietnam war is another.

  21. peterlepaysan 22

    Hopefully, the final four bullet points of AL’s speech will significantly reduce the gap between the mega rich and the rest of us?

    I only raise this because it was never mentioned.

    Given the audience, I fully appreciate why it was not mentioned.

    Huge disparities in income with most of wealth concentrated in 1% to 5% of the population leads to an imbalance of power only rivalled by mediaeval times.

    Money is power.

    Power corrupts.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Which allows a Wall Street war lord to rule a SW Pacific country from his Summer Palace in Hawaii.

    That war lord owes allegiance to…?

    It is time we reclaimed NZ for ourselves.

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