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Budget commentary

Written By: - Date published: 12:23 pm, May 31st, 2019 - 65 comments
Categories: accountability, class, jacinda ardern, labour, national, Propaganda, quality of life, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: ,

Clearly this week’s commentary on the budget can be divided on a partisan basis.

There was the frankly bizarre.  Like this effort from Maserati driver Mike Hosking.

His last few budget headlines have been:

  • Govt’s wellbeing budget a looming disaster
  • Grant Robertson’s Budget is full of massive fiscal risks
  • What’s in today’s Budget – plenty of waffle and not so much wellbeing
  • The BS ‘wellbeing Budget’ – this Government’s blown it already

No one should be surprised that dishing out large amounts of cash on welfare reform, upgrading rail and mental health support did not attract his support.  In fact the day that Mike is pleased about something the Government does is the day that us lefties should critically review our support.

Radio New Zealand has covered the budget and the events leading up to it extensively but it has this frustrating habit on spending as much time on opposition gocha lines and interviewing people to see what personal benefit they received as on the content of the budget itself.

Some complained.  But there were others who captured the essence perfectly.

Like this effort.

And this column by Bernard Hickey neatly summarised the social media turmoil that erupted this week and compared it to what was acutally important.

He compared what was happening on social media with what was happening in real life.  From the real life he said this:

Year 13 students Lu Faaui, Uili Tumanuvao, Sela Tukia, Francis Nimo and Efi Gaono … talked about what they wanted from the Budget. They had been forced to move out of state houses in Glen Innes (Tamaki Regeneration Company) to South Auckland and their parents were working multiple jobs to pay for private rentals.

They were paying $40 a week to travel across Auckland each day to Tamaki College.

“Just like Sela said, it’s forced us to move out of GI (Glen Innes) and yeah my family just decides to cope with it. It’s made my Dad work even more hours. My mum gets two jobs, my sister gets two jobs. I mean, money is money you know,” said Lu.

His conclusion about their desires was neatly captured in this sentence:

All those teenagers wanted was affordable and convenient housing and transport so they could easily go to school and their parents didn’t have to work so hard.

He then said that this is what the Government should have told those young people and their families:

Here’s what I would have said to those Tamaki College kids.

The Wellbeing Budget included lots more spending on primary mental health care, rail network maintenance and a welcome indexation of benefits to wages, rather than prices. It started to focus on things like child poverty numbers, carbon emissions and suicide rates, but did little to solve their problems with housing and transport in Auckland.

I’d tell them there was very little new spending on housing. KiwiBuild was barely mentioned. The new rail lines in Auckland are still just an aspiration. I’d tell them the Government could borrow enough to start re-engineering their city to be more affordable, liveable and carbon neutral, but wasn’t doing that because Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson made a promise two years ago not to borrow more than 20 percent of national income.

I’d say that’s a bit like their parents earning a joint income of $100,000 a year and having debt of $20,000. And that the bank wanted to lend them the extra $20,000 they needed to build a new home and have affordable and carbon-neutral transport. That would lift their net debt to income ratio to 40 percent. And that the interest cost would be 1.7 percent per year, which would mean the extra interest costs for their parents earning $100,000 a year to afford that house and rail system would be $340 a year.

But that politicians generally and the public were so worried about that extra $20,000 in debt and what the financial markets might say that they weren’t fixing Auckland’s housing and transport crisis. Sorry about that.

And his conclusion about the effect on social media on political discourse was this:

The best example of how this increased metabolic rate of politics has warped the public debate is to point to what has happened in America and Europe, where increasingly polarised politicians shout at each other from their own bubbles of supporters and nothing changes. Meanwhile, other forces keep screwing the scrum of democracy to further their own interests.

The end result is a disengaged public, policy paralysis, a lot of noise and not much light.

I understand how it happened and I’ve been living in it now for a decade. A political firmament driven by social media, sound bites, cheap shots and one-day-wonder stories is not going to solve the problems of South Auckland or Tamaki.

Everyone should take a chill pill, stop jumping to conclusions for a quick political hit and instead think beyond the beltway to the real world and long term concerns of citizens.

Jacinda Ardern clearly realises this.  And currently she is without match in New Zealand politics.  Long may it continue.

65 comments on “Budget commentary ”

  1. Kat 1

    Like the sounds of dregs going down the plug hole so are the cries from National and their poodles in the media.

    The widespread support for this budget will be evident in voter support. Simple really.

    Three terms at least for Jacinda Ardern. Hopefully Winston stays around as well to see the rail revival.

    • Bewildered 1.1

      Not as bad a the whining left in getting their butts royally kicked in Au That was more like when you drop a teaspoon down your sink waste disposal or scratching your fingers across a black board

    • infused 1.2

      there's not, actually. you're only listening in your bubble. there is dissatisfaction from all sides about this budget.

      I think this govt is going to have a massive issue with the economy next year and all this additional spending.

      The world economy is about to hit the breaks I believe.

  2. Bewildered 2

    I think whale Oil contributor got it right

    “The talk all through the budget presentation was about ‘wellbeing’ but really this is a typical socialist budget. It ignores taxpayers and provides extra support to those who do nothing. There is nothing unusual and nothing special about it.

    Notably, there is no wellbeing for teachers or midwives, and no wellbeing for superannuitants either… not even free health funding for seniors, which is a promise that Winston made at the last election too.

    All in all, there is little or nothing in the ‘wellbeing’ budget for most New Zealanders.

    So the Wellbeing Budget is just another slogan. Like ‘9 years of neglect’ or “Let’s Do This’.”

    • Muttonbird 2.1

      There is some wellbeing for teachers: 9.3% over three years. It's just that teachers have decided not to take it at this point.

    • mickysavage 2.2

      So addressing need is a bad thing? There are plenty of wealthy superannuants around. There is a significant spend on mental health and on rail and benefit reform. The effects will trickle around and help us all.

      • bewildered 2.2.1

        1b on rail is a drop in the ocean and simply throwing good money after bad into this never ending sink hole;

        Couple of new shiny jets, capital and infrastructures maintenance yawn

        mental health fair enough, benefit reform ( sell that to hard working, struggling kiwis)

        end of day nothing for productive sector, sugar coat budget with meaningless slogans ( cindy expertise) however it is more of the save and will not do one jot for nz long term position and prosperity More then likely simply stagnate economy or We go backwards with increasing debt as forecasted growth is not manifested

        • Kat 2.2.1.1

          Why don't you push off to Oz then, sure you would be more happy there. The majority of us are happy here. Oh, and while you are in Oz watch out out for all the ‘anti sink hole’ trains they have operating.

          • bewildered 2.2.1.1.1

            You just bath in your feelze good environment until reality hits you between the eyes their Katz

        • infused 2.2.1.2

          spot on.

      • Grumpy 2.2.2

        My God…..Mickey Savage on "trickle down" economics! I need a lie down.

        Hickey's article shows his increasingly leftie disconnect. I doubt the average struggler in South Auckland cares anything about "Carbon Neutral" transport. They are just trying to get on with their lives and, for their, trouble, are just about to be slammed with an increase in fuel tax!

        • Kat 2.2.2.1

          Look again…"trickle around"………that has a more socially beneficial construct.

      • higherstandard 2.2.3

        "The effects will trickle around and help us all."

        Ye Gods Greg quoting Roger Douglas…isn't that one of the horseman of the apocalypse.

      • Grafton Gully 2.2.4

        The spend on mental health might increase the prevalence of mental illness in NZ as people who now suffer in silence are revealed and those who pretend to suffer take advantage. There has been disagreement about the definition of mental health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26038353

        • Sacha 2.2.4.1

          "those who pretend to suffer take advantage"

          Yep, those counselling sessions are primo on the black market.

    • Grumpy 2.3

      To be fair, Labour are struggling to remain relevant to their traditional working class supporters while promoting the various high income voter concerns around Climate Change. The cost of the latter will soon lead to the loss of support from the former – as we have seen in the US and Australia.

    • Sacha 2.4

      "no wellbeing for superannuitants "

      Our universal pension programme should help – and is heading for over half of welfare spending in coming years, without the slightest sniff of reduced eligibility. Don't worry, younger people will cover it.

    • Pat 2.5

      Lol…doncha love it when those supporters of the previous administration suddenly discover their consciences and begin advocating for improved pay and conditions for the very groups they delighted in screwing down during their tenure

    • Of course it is a typical socialist budget. You point this out as if it is a bad thing. Its a great thing. You really are bewildered.

    • Lucy 2.7

      "It ignores taxpayers and provides extra support to those who do nothing. " Having been a high paying tax payer, a job seeker, and a person with a chronic disease I know which I prefer to be. Which is why I always made sure that I paid my full complement of tax because I felt that the rest of NZ would be doing the same if I ever needed support. How wrong I was! When Sir John, Sir Bill, most farmers and top business people can pay less tax than a beneficiary then we have a broken system. Not just that, when we have the top tier feeling like they shouldn't have to pay as "anyone can pull themselves out of poverty, I did" then you have a society that is unsustainable.

  3. adam 3

    Important question mickeysavage, and yes the partisan crap has got worse. I wrote somthing yesterday being critical of all polies,

    The Treasury website hack that wasn’t

    and what happens, some hack comes back with "As if Labour would have if they had been in opposition." missing the point entirely. Big ups to I FEEL LOVE for their reaction.

    Yesterday was also littered with commentarors not handling any criticism from the left about the budget either. The response from those commentators was filthy and pathetic at times, at others just rude and juvenile. Truly partisan hack displays.

    My personal opinion on the budget is it is stupid to talk about change, when you cling desperately to an economic ideology which does not work. As I said before the election, NZLP's commitment to hard right economics, has only one out come – hard right wing outcomes.

    Was the budget better than 9 years of the last shit government, without a doubt. But national set the bar so low, and this economic model is so restricting, I and many others are finding it hard why people love this budget. It is so underwhelming, and anyone with half a brain would have seen that it was coming.

    My final though is why are so many of the partisan hacks from both sides bothering? You are basically arguing over the crumbs from the table, pointless. Either work together, or work for system change – both will make our society better.

    • Rosemary McDonald 3.1

      Well said.

    • bewildered 3.2

      “9 years of shit”

      in substance how is this wellbeing budget much different than national 2014 budget ( random selection ) beyond the slogans One could argues the 2014 budget has greater well-being to middle nz and kiwi families than its 2019 cousin
      NZ herald May 2014

      1.A $372 million surplus in the coming year – the first since 2008 – and forecast to reach $3.5 billion in 2018.

      Bill English has delivered an election year Budget which includes a bigger than forecast surplus, free doctors' visits for 400,000 more children, big cuts to ACC levies and dangles the prospect of tax cuts in front of voters. Finance Minister Mr English said the Government's much vaunted return to surplus would be $372 million, still slender but well ahead of the wafer thin $86 million forecast six months ago thanks to a rosier economic outlook.

      2.Treasury forecasting economic growth to average 2.8 per cent over the next four years, peaking at 4 per cent next year.

      3. Free doctors visits' and prescriptions extended from children under six to those under 13.

      4. Paid parental leave extended from 14 to 18 weeks – and eligibility to be expanded to cover seasonal workers and those who have recently changed jobs.

      5. Parental tax credit raised from $150 a week to $220 – and the payment period extended from first eight weeks of baby's life to ten weeks.

      6. ACC on track for more cuts in levies,

      7. Interest-free loan of $375 million for New Zealand Transport Agency to accelerate Auckland transport projects.

      8. 5 cent duty on cheques abolished.

      9. Import duties on plasterboard, reinforcing steel and nails suspended to cut the cost of building a new home by an estimated $3500.

      10. A further $198 million injection into Kiwirail to make its freight operations commercially viable, taking the cost of bailing out the state company to more than $1 billion.

      • adam 3.2.1

        Really, the freeze on police wages, the cuts to boarder security (fruit-fly ringing any bells for you?) the cuts to health and the overall not keeping abreast of inflation budget of 2014 – yeah I remember it.

        I also remember saying it was crumbs from the table then, which gets back to the main point of mickysavage's great post – partisan crap means we are getting nowhere. But if that your stitch go for it.

  4. veutoviper 4

    mickysavage, I agree that Bernard Hickey's Newsroom article which you linked to in your post was very much on the point. However, did you listen to Morning Report this morning and in particular the segment on the Budget with the panel comprising Bernard Hickey, Morgan Godfery, Fran O'Sullivan and Sue Bradford?

    As discussed in the thread @ 2 on today's Open Mike, I agree with Sanctuary, Macro and others (including Wayne) that it would be nice to get a few fresher people on such panels (and that RNZ National is a bit 'meh' at present); but did you actually hear the ratings each member of that panel gave the Budget? Morgan gave it 6 out of 10, Fran then gave it 7 but Bernard then gave it only 5, with Sue agreeing with that rating.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018697577/budget-2019-where-s-the-money-going-panel-discussion

    I was a little disappointed in those ratings and understand why many people are disappointed that more 'instant' fixes were not included in this round. I also have some disappointments in some areas I would have liked to see more action – eg more support in the areas of disabilities etc.

    OTOH, I also understand the restraints on, and risks of, charging ahead with change at a breakneck rate. (Think Kiwibuild … but I degress.)

    If you did not listen to Nine To Noon on RNZ National this morning, I really recommend the first two interviews which were also on the Budget, the first being with two profs from the Victoria University Institute on Governance and Policy Studies which set the scene for an indepth half hour interview with Grant Robertson himself.

    I commented in more detail on these two interviews @ 9 on today's Open Mike with links to the two interviews.

    https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-31-05-2019/#comment-1623246

    I highly recommend these two interviews as they both gave good insight into the restraints etc on charging forward with full throttle 'transformation', but more importantly, the thinking and changes in approach that took place in drawing up this Budget as a first step towards longer term transformation.

    I also recommend noting the very valid comment made by Macro at 9.1 which I intend replying to shortly. As Macro points out these are first steps only to move away from using GDP as the prime metric for measuring a country's wellbeing etc.

    • Rosemary McDonald 4.1

      I also have some disappointments in some areas I would have liked to see more action – eg more support in the areas of disabilities etc.

      People with disabilities(non ACC), including those with chronic mental health issues have been doing it very, very hard for the past twenty years.

      There are government agencies charged with providing support for these people… be it via Health, HNZ or MSD, yet all of them have been corrupted by successive governments that have been quite content to allow these bureaucracies to ration supports and terrorize eligible citizens.

      Successive governments have allowed these bureaucracies to indulge themselves in endless policy work resulting in yet another 'Strategy' or 'Action Plan'… which sound really really good but in actuality make it even harder to get the support needed. And of course the budget gets even tighter and the rationing increases because the funding is being consumed by the bureaucracy.

      Successive governments have allowed these Ministries to contract out much or all of their work to the private/"charity" sector and have thereby created an insatiable monster that sees those in need of services as potential income rather than human beings eligible and /or entitled to reliable, high quality supports.

      The successful legal challenge to this iniquitous system brought by family carers of non ACC disabled with high/very high and complex care needs resulted in one of the worst responses in New Zealand's legislative history. The current government promised to repeal that legislation…but I believe now that was just another lie.

      Why? Because repealing that piece of legislation and allowing the disabled person to pay whoever they choose to provide the vital supports they have been assessed by the NASCs as needing would have been an easy piece of work, would have increased 'wellbeing' for this particular group enormously and very probably been surprisingly cost effective as using Individualised Funding would be cheaper than the hourly rate charged by the private/"charity" sector. So why not do this? It'd be a great headline, garner much needed goodwill…??

      Because this government is exactly the same as it's predecessors….they simply don't understand the long term effects insecurity has on a person with health and disability needs. When you literally can not rely on the supports or treatments you might have today being available and/or funded tomorrow…life becomes almost untenable. It is a precarious edge- of- the -cliff existence, which if mental illness is not already a feature it will not be far off.

      It will not be this Government that decides to end the iniquitous inequality between those fortunate enough to be under ACC and those 'incurables' under MOH.

      But I'll bet they'll celebrate the EOLC Bill when passes.

      (It is great to see you back veutoviper.)

      • Sacha 4.1.1

        It occurred to me yesterday that this govt are likely to be treading water until Heather Simpson's big health review suggests changes to disability support arrangements.

        Why they can't communicate that is beyond me. Muppets.

        • McFlock 4.1.1.1

          It'd get a bit like "mother of dragons". Seven bloody years of everyone saying "dragon" in hushed tones before we finally saw why everyone thought dragons were the dog's bollocks.

          • Sacha 4.1.1.1.1

            They'd probably wheel out a tuatara and hope we would buy that instead.

    • patricia bremner 4.2

      Dear Veutoviper, welcome back, and thank you for your insightful comments and attachments. I was so pleased to see your contributions.

  5. SPC 6

    The interesting thing is really the allocation of new spending in the years ahead. Because that will determine what the government can afford to do next year and the following term as well.

    For example teachers, their deal is one for 4 years 2017-April 2021. Will government negotiate that on time, or will it delay to put it beyond the 2022-23 year to defer this cost it to new spending allocation beyond that time? A really smart union would negotiate on that point now. Even agree to the government pay offer, on the condition the next pay deal gets negotiated now and comes in asap after 1 April 2021? And have the talks include a wide range of related issues (that could be funded in the 2020 budget or second term budgets).

  6. Jackel 7

    Yes, the usual hyperbole, hysteria, half truths and good old fashioned vitriol from those on the right. You do have to wonder what if anything is going on in their heads. It will take the psychologists a while to cure them of this tory disorder.

  7. Cinny 8
    • A new frontline service for mental health with a $455m programme providing access for 325,000 people by 2023/24
    • Suicide prevention services get a $40m boost
    • Specialist services as part of a $320m package to address family and sexual violence.

    But hey… maybe some people like to think more about ME and less about WE.

    And who are the grown ups?

    What about that little child who is living surrounded by violence. Are their circumstances their fault. Who will help them? That child doesn't want a ghost chips tax cut.

    Young people are so unhappy they are killing themselves in droves. But hey I guess that don't pay any taxes so who cares about them?

    Personally I'm finding some of the media narrative surrounding the release of this budget freakin obscenely selfish and bordering on macabre.

    I must say that twitter commentary on simons twitter is beyond hilarious, 5 star entertainment plus, it's beautiful to read. Well done NZ.

    • Peter 8.1

      I tried to turn over to the next page of that Bridges message to see the stats of how many new jobs were created over 9 years in Whanganui, Northland and the East Coast. All in the spirit of wanting every NZer to get ahead and the best way out of poverty being getting a job.

    • greywarshark 8.2

      That's a great old standard from Simple Simon. Isn't he just begging for a pie in the face? Have to be a cream pie, done in piped shaving cream for style, smoothness and hygiene, anything else probably would be condemned by Health and Safety.

      Another:

      Mary had a little lamb.

    • Wensleydale 8.3

      People at Farmers and KFC are really feeling the love from their employers. I'm sure they're over the moon with how effortless it is to "get ahead" given they all have jobs. You can be in full-time employment and still be in poverty. It's not grinding Third World level poverty where you spend your days beating your undies on a rock to get them clean, or drinking from a well full of bat guano and body parts, but it's not what you'd call "living the dream". Simon would likely know more about the plight of the working poor if he weren't so busy projectile-vomiting pompous drivel onto the national airwaves.

  8. Stuart Munro. 9

    Well I don't see much for me in this budget, but never the less I feel it's a good show. If one like this had been produced under Clark she might've lasted a little longer.

    Many things have deteriorated since then, so there is still plenty left to do. But they have demonstrated an ability to recognize priorities and make changes, which the writhing mass of bumbling corruption that is the Gnats can scarcely imagine.

    Shades of the old Ashleigh Brilliant line: By accepting you as you are I do not altogether abandon hope of you improving.

    • greywarshark 9.1

      That's good Stuart – "the writhing mass of bumbling corruption that is the Gnats…"

      +100 on everything you said.

  9. Mary-Ann de Kort 10

    Hi Mickey

    Thanks for this and many insightful articles . Just one thing though. Can we please have positive things at the start of the articles as many only read part and it would change the discourse of what they read.

    About the budget. I've chosen to think is it as the first budget I've seen for a long time which will change our future. There is so much to be fixed but the Nats left so little. By enabling our kids through better education, addressing mental health, building real to get our country moving, spending on r&d and start up business, planting trees and regional development we are looking to a future for all NZers. Yes, the here and now is important but I firmly believe that the above are only a few of the policies which will lead to better incomes and thriving local communities and economies.

  10. Observer Tokoroa 11

    The Obliging Simon

    Following the Prime Minister and supposedly Speaking to the "WellBeing Budget", Mr Bridges surprised me. He is returning to his childhood.

    He Promised that as soon as he got into Power next Election, he would put Oil on the Table.

    Now not many people eat or drink oil . Fewer and fewer people are wanting that great Carcinogen – Diesel. It is Lethal. As is Petroleum.

    But Simon is stuck in his boy hood, and will not move towards Electric Energy. Electric Energy is faster. It is Cheaper by far. It is safer. But Simon hates it. Why? Because when he talks he screeches and forgets his words. He also forgets that the world is rapidly turning away from Lethal Oil – to heavenly Sun!

    National is way way behind the rest of the World. In every aspect of Life! It does not even believe in building safe, gunge free, Clean Hospitals. Sir John key told him not to build proper Hospitals. So did Billy English.

    Simon also is not going to remove Pollution. Neither is his friend Donald Trump. The whole of National and possibly Kathryn Ryan, see no point in removing Pollution. They like Filth. Because it is Toxin and belongs to our precious Farmers.

    Simon and probably Kathtyn, although I have no certainty on this, are going to go through the Nation establishing which women have what DNA so they can keep an index of their sexual intercourses. National want more money from laid women. I kid you not ! In order to reduce the Cost of Beneficiaries. They will hunt down the men during the cricket season in Australia.

    Amy and Mrs Bennett are full of Admiration for National. In particular they admire Mr Bridges. Hardly anybody else does.

    • Jenny - How to Get there? 11.1

      …..Simon also is not going to remove Pollution. Neither is his friend Donald Trump. The whole of National and possibly Kathryn Ryan, see no point in removing Pollution. They like Filth. Because it is Toxin and belongs to our precious Farmers.

      Observer Tokoroa

      And this is the Party that James Shaw has wasted so much time and political capital trying to get consensus with on the Zero Carbon Act?

      Probably why the Zero Carbon Act contains zero action on climate change.

      • solkta 11.1.1

        And this is the Party that James Shaw has wasted so much time trying to get consensus with on the Zero Carbon Act?

        Ummm, no not really. It was Winston First who was the big stumbling block. Big cause ummm, there vote was needed to pass anything. You really are dim.

  11. Jenny - How to Get there? 12

    The Warbeing Budget

    While health and education are being starved of funds there is no shortage of money for warfare.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/peace-movement-aotearoa/wellbeing-budget-shocking-rise-in-military-spending/2230103127037044/

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  • Farewelling sports administrator and philanthropist Sir Eion Edgar
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