National’s competency problem has just got worse.
Newshub has discovered another alternative budget problem which thankfully for National in numerical terms is not as big as its $4 billion howler. It is quite small, $88 million, but enough to pay the yearly salaries of a thousand or so new teachers.
From Jenna Lynch at Newshub:
National has made the same mistake with its capital allowance, that’s the money put aside to build things like schools and hospitals. Goldsmith took his numbers from May’s Budget, giving himself $18.63 billion from next year until 2027.
But in last week’s Pre-Election Fiscal Update (PREFU) the numbers changed, with only $18.542 billion available over that time, leaving National with another shortfall of $88 million.
Mistakes do happen. But you have to wonder how prepared National has been for this election. Simon Bridges (or is that Brigdes?) said that National would be a policy machine. Stacey Kirk confirmed that the policy machine was whirring into life back in 2019.
Surely the policy machine was working on that most sacred of documents for an opposition, an alternative budget.
Sure there was the PREFU. But what normally happens is that you draft your alternative budget based on the Government’s budget, put all the data into a spreadsheet, and then change the figures according to changes in the PREFU.
I suspect the reason was the impossibly short timeframes combined with the earlier turmoil over National’s leadership change. The budget was released on May 14 and Todd Muller became leader, at least for a while, on May 22.
With PREFU coming out last Wednesday digesting the document and checking all of the figures by Saturday was always going to be a big task. But Collins was gambling that the PREFU figures would be really bad and for reasons previously mentioned National had been distracted. And they needed to get things happening.
The $4 billion mistake has the unfortunate symmetry of being a similar figure to what National had promised in tax cuts. Now it is clear that they are borrowing more to give rich people more money.
The consequence is that National’s reputation as sound managers of the economy is in tatters. And their vote is splintering.
Support for Act is at remarkable levels. And Richard Harman has commented (paywalled) how the New Conservatives are having a very good campaign. If it was not for the frenzied competition for the extreme conservative right vote between them and Advance NZ they could be having a very, very good campaign.
There is a Colmar Brunton poll out tonight. I suspect that it will show a further decline in support for National.
Update: Holy hell Stuff is reporting a further $3.9 billion dollar mistake. I wonder how long Goldsmith will last?