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Key can’t count

Written By: - Date published: 6:37 am, November 4th, 2011 - 113 comments
Categories: debt / deficit, labour, national - Tags:

It’ll be interesting to see the full fiscal details from Labour today. National is planning to borrow too, the question is how much they differ by. Only $2.6b in the first term with both having net debt about $50b. That’s the alternative to selling our profitable assets to pay for capital investment. The Nats’ $17b claim is riddled with basic errors.

Like, they have counted Labour restarting contributions to the Cullen Fund as a cost but forgot that the government still owns that money in the Fund. They’ve only done one side of the equation.

Same with the asset sales. The Nats have charged Labour for having to borrow rather than sell assets. Labour agrees with that. But National hasn’t charged itself with the dividends it loses if it sells those assets.

They’ve charged Labour for its contribution to the CBD Rail Loop but forgotten that money comes from not building the Holiday Highway.

I don’t have the info or skills to dig into any more of their claims but that’s about $8.5b just in those three basic mistakes that even a layman can spot.

No wonder the economy is going to shit under National. They can’t even do basic counting.

Hang about: there’s also operating allowances. National has already put aside $6b for new spending in the next four years. A good part of that is needed for population growth but there’s still billions of headroom for Labour’s policies. And all that means Labour’s borrowing costs are lower than National reckons.

Update: Rob Salmond has pointed out a further $1.5b of errors by National.

So, that’s about $12.5b of National’s $17b claim explained by simple errors by Key. Labour has said it will borrow $3.6b more than National over 4 years.

113 comments on “Key can’t count ”

  1. Rob Salmond 1

    Eddie – I agree with you. Interesting day coming, I think.

    • Good stuff Rob.  This passage from your article bears repeating:

      Yesterday, commentators were saying that Goff’s reputation was on the line with these forthcoming costings. If they didn’t stack up, he would not be credible. But what about National’s credibility with its costings? Isn’t National’s credibility on the line as well? It is making very public estimates about what some policies will cost, too.

  2. Carol 2

    Some of Labour’s details have been released, along with the charge that Key just maade up that $17billion figure:


    Labour’s much-talked about “spreadsheet” strips $13.7 billion off National’s claims about the party’s spending promises and brings down how much Labour will have to borrow if it wins the election to $3.5b.

    There is agreement between the two parties on only four out of the 23 cost lines in the spreadsheet.

    The biggest discrepancy is over the increased value of the national superannuation fund, which National did not count in its analysis of Labour’s programme.
    Labour also refutes the $1b National claims it plans in increases to early childhood education spending, saying it has not announced its policy on that yet and, when it does, it will be paid for within normal spending allowances.

    A third big difference is on the cost of Labour’s research and development tax credit. Labour says the cost of that promise would be more than paid for by putting agriculture into the emissions trading scheme (ETS), whereas National says it would cost $922m. Labour puts the difference down to National over-estimating the cost of its research and development promise, and under-estimating the revenue from the emissions trading scheme because of a carbon price that is set too low.

    Mr Goff yesterday admitted he was beaten by Mr Key on the topic of the economy in Wednesday night’s head-to-head debate. But the allegation of lies again surfaced, with Mr Goff saying the $17b debt figure National had attributed to his spending promises was an “invention”.

    “Key was able to invent a lie, which was wrong, but to invent it without our ability to put on the table our actual figures,” he said.

    • Uturn 2.1

      “Key was able to invent a lie, which was wrong, but to invent it without our ability to put on the table our actual figures,” he said.

      There is no shortage of advice for Phil Goff on how to repel Key’s inventions.

      But what he’s saying here is that Key asked him, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” To which he then scrambled to prove he had, or hadn’t, or didn’t, or wouldn’t. Such requests for figures in an election debate context should be treated for the cheap tricks they are. Goff has done an excellent job of presenting his party’s policy by framing it in terms accessible to anyone. It’s clear that the majority of voters don’t actually care about the exact numbers, not even the media who say they care and ask for figures, care. It’s just the impression that someone has some figures, somewhere and that they relate to something, that’s important.

      As Eddie has shown, Key’s figures are rough at best and often they are mismatched or contradictory depending on the day. Assurance, is the word. No one can fault Goff on not giving assurances, but by letting Key dictate when and how he presents figures, Goff is running the risk of giving away the advantage he grasped so well in the opening days of the campaign.

      Bear this in mind: these media presentations aren’t debates. They are expositions on position. Key isn’t debating, never has. We’ve seen Goff’s strength in listening to Key become a liability. He stops to listen, tries to debate the point honestly and fumbles. Why listen to someone who’s only taking shots? Getting Phil Goff’s election message across, in his calm confident style, is all that matters. That’s what people will remember. Not a spreadsheet of abstract figures, summarised and disjointed, printed three pages in, two days later.

      • Carol 2.1.1

        Yes, but part of Key’s spin is promoting his financial credibility.

        His performance on the night looked to me like that of a conman, blindsiding everyone by rattling off a load of figures, that probably didn’t have that much credibility. As Goff himself says, he could have done a better job of responding immediately – ie to show up Key’s con-act. But it’s important he highlights that ASAP. It’ll take a while for the rest of NZ to wake up to Key’s con act. Chipping away at it will tell eventually. The next time he starts rattling off figures like that, people can ask if Key’s pulling dodgy figures out of the air again.

        Also, Key has given Goff and Labour a platform, a media focused centre stage for the launch of their costings and economic policies. Meanwhile Labour can attack National’s figures, and Goff has launched a counter attack on Key – “show me your jobs”.

        Overall Labour has done a good job of setting the agenda and making it as much about policies as about Key’s image.

        • Uturn

          It’s amazing that anyone still believes Key’s “credibility”. He is a manger of the same system that has bits breaking off from it the world over. But no, they believe he’s a sound capable money man.

          Somehow people have gotten the idea that economic forecasting is an exact science. They come up with the conclusion that all we need do, is “live within our means”. For goodness sake, it’s not 1947 anymore. The fact people are driving Japanese cars, watching flat screen German TV’s, eating artisan Spanish chorizo while NZ lamb is unaffordable and drinking Italian wine at cheaper prices than our taxes allow NZ growers to produce, indicates that our whole system is based on people not living within their own means.

          Yet here they are, calling for exact figures like they’re balancing the household budget. No margin of error required or allowed. If they knew the margin of error, they’d refuse it.

          Not only is economics not an exact science, the world is increasingly financially unstable. It isn’t about the economy, in a dollars and cents sense, and won’t be for a long time now. Bill Clinton’s old campaign slogan is out of date. All that matters is the intent of the party in government: who loses first, who starves first.

          Whoever inherits the problem will do their best with regard to their intent. If Labour bog themselves down in figures using a system that doesn’t work to appease a few people who deny the obvious – people whose intent is opposite to their own – what can anyone do?

        • Gosman

          “It’ll take a while for the rest of NZ to wake up to Key’s con act. Chipping away at it will tell eventually.”

          You mean maybe like after the up coming election? 😉

          • Galeandra

            Gosman, you’ll get yours, probably well past this, into the next election. Neo-liberalism isn’t winning this battle— propaganda is, along with a hefty dose of populist lying. The thing you need to worry about is the regeneration of leftish socially inclined thinking and labour activism. I’m seeing lots of energy developing in this electorate after a long Rogergnome caused drought. Rightist self-centredness as a social philosophy is definitely not resonating with the electorate as issues polls show. You’re going to end up with a deep pink National party in NZ eventually. Enjoy.

            • aerobubble

              Yes. If you win by propaganda is democracy shortcircuited? The whole
              premise is surely informed consent. Basically the MSM try for balance
              when one side just lies, turd bolsoms everywhere, can we have a
              democracy like that? What will desperate debt ridden voters do?

        • mik e

          Labour has had a lot of free media coverage over the subject.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    It doesn’t matter if Key makes things up. the media’s default position is to hang on his every word and grow angry at anyone who questions their hero. The burden of proof is never with Key. If he were to state is was dark outside at lunchtime, the media would repeat his demand the sun provide evidence John Key is wrong.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    The problem is that Labour proposes to be in government in a few weeks yet has only just costed their policies. That is simply not good enough and certainly doesn’t give confidence in financial management. Labour has left themselves open for others to interpret their spending costs for them since they hadn’t done it themselves, so there is no reason to complain.

    So far as contributions to the super fund go, and this mad idea of borrowing to save is concerned. It is incorrect IMO for Labour to include the contributions to the fund on the asset side of the equation. My understanding is that the yield from the fund will be left to accumulate and the fund won’t be touched for decades. Thus, income from the fund won’t be available to fund the interest on the borrowed money. If that is the case, then the borrowing side of the equation needs to be treated as a liability until the income is returned decades in the future. Looking at it that way, National is not that far off the mark with its interpretation.

    Anyway, it is simply crazy to borrow to save, especially in the current environment where volatility is running at between 30 and 40% most of the time and the world markets are on the verge of another crash. If investing in the world markets is such a great idea, then why do the lenders prefer to lend to relatively safe sovereign nations such as NZ rather than going directly into the markets themselves?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      The fact that you are happy to re-write accounting principles to make a political point shows that your opinion is entirely worthless, ts (not that that came as any sort of news to me). How ridiculous to not include government assets on the positive side of the ledger – you’d be happy for your accountant to calculate your net worth like that, wouldn’t you? Every financial position form I’ve ever filled in includes the value of my pension – even though I can’t touch it for years.

    • TS you are running spin lines.

      Labour had fully costed policies a while ago.  They did not release them because they wanted to see the PREFU and measure its effect on their understandings.  The work is very detailed and complex and it took a while to do.  And the date for the release was set a while ago.

      Of course this does not stop you and others yelling that labour has no costings.  But honestly you do not know what you are talking about.  You and others have no comprehension of what is happening within Labour yet stoutly say that X is true even though you do not have the slightest idea.

      How does it feel that you are propagating a lie?

      ANd when the costings come out today will you apologise?

      The Cullen fund has performed extraordinarily well.  Similar schemes have worked for Australia so why shouldn’t we do the same?

      And you do not understand accounting standards.  It is an asset that can be drawn on any time.  And it will defer the cost of superannuation in the future.  Of course it should be taken into account.   

      • tsmithfield 4.2.1

        Micky, I agree with you to a point. However, exiting the fund is not without cost. Should the government wish to draw down on the fund urgently then there would likely be considerable losses on positions that would need to be accounted for. That could run into some billions of dollars. So, it aint as clean and easy as you suggest.

        • mickysavage


          How do you feel about the Government booking the sale proceeds for the power company shares but not properly discounting the dividend income?

          Honest question.  Isn’t that bizarre?  If my accountant did this with my finances I would be quickly looking for a new accountant.

          Winding down the Cullen fund need not cost billions although it was meant to top out at $120b.  OF course there will be a cost.

          • Andrew Scobie

            “booking the sale proceeds for the power company shares but not properly discounting the dividend income”

            any losses of dividend income (and we are only talking about loosing 49% of the dividend income) will be mostly offset by gains in either saved interest on debt that has been paid back, or dividends from newly acquired assets. So in that case i’m sure the books will balance.

            • mickysavage

              But Andrew Key is talking about the fund being ring fenced and being used in areas such as education, ergo no income from it.
              And we are selling assets returning 17.5% to pay off debt with an interest rate of 6%.
              This has been debated so many times.

              • Andrew Scobie

                17.5% a year? if that’s the case then no wonder power prices have gone up so much in the last decade. I would doubt that it would return 17.5% a year, but more than happy to be proved wrong.

                  • It was a combination of dividends and reinvestment in the businesses.  You will note I said return rather than dividend.

                    • insider

                      So is the govt saving through asset stripping them or are you talking about growth in company value through increased assets? It’s not clear what you mean.

                  • mik e

                    Tsm The power co’s and solid energies are returning in excess of 20% this year with record profits
                    And you claim to be a share market investor
                    Just like your master a liar
                    and economically illiterate to go

                • The Voice of Reason

                  One figure I’m sure of is that the sold assets will return precisely 0.0% in the future. It’s madness.

                  • Andrew Scobie

                    they will return 51% of what they return today. so saying they will return 0% is bollocks

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      I said the sold assets not the retained ones. Geddit now?

                    • Andrew Scobie

                      oh i know what you meant … i just didn’t think we were about to sell 100% of anything? or are we?

                    • Depends just where you draw the circle around an ‘asset’. There’s no particular reason why you draw it around the entire SOE (for accounting purposes).

                      The 49% of shares are all being completely sold, so far as I’m aware. Those shares are (each and every one of them) public assets. Each share is being 100% sold.

                      If they weren’t being 100% sold then, presumably, the government wouldn’t be able to put the proceeds onto its books as an asset to balance the need to borrow.

                      The government is selling something. Something you can sell is an asset.

                      If the NZRU sold off Richie McCaw you wouldn’t say they hadn’t sold an asset because they still had other All Blacks. Worse still, in this analogy, Richie McCaw would still be playing for the All Blacks – but under the ownership [and instruction] of, say, the French Rugby Union. 

                      Edit: Now, that would make for an interesting RWC Final, wouldn’t it?

                    • insider

                      Will they get tax on the dividends going to private shareholders that they weren’t getting before?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Will they get tax on the dividends going to private shareholders that they weren’t getting before?

                      I suppose that will depend on if those shares are held in a tax haven or not which most of them probably will be.

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      Cheers, Andrew. I’m of the opinion that it might only be 49% this time, but the rest will go the next time there’s a crisis of any kind (or the rich need another round of taxpayer funded welfare).
                      Insider, it depends on where the shareholders live and the tax arrangements they have. Initially, it’ll be NZ companies hoovering up the shares, but they will quickly be moved offshore. So the tax may end up being paid in Wisconsin, the Cayman Islands or Beijing.

                    • insider

                      I was more meaning are3 the dividends the govt receives now treated differently from the publicly held shares in terms of tax – does the govt currently pay tax to itself? Or will it now have the opportunity to tax those dividends? It probably all washes out in the end and is ‘fiscally neutral’ whatever is done. 😉

                    • mik e

                      The part sold won’t return any thingn you idiot won’t return anything

                    • mik e

                      AS hole in your argument again wheres the $500 million dollars that 49% is returning to the tax payer non of your RWNJS have explained that yet not one 0% of you.

            • mik e

              AS hole in your budget investing in kiwibank and schools leaves ZERO return, the four energy companies are the top performing companies in NZ they have had record returns National have painted themselves into a corner on this one $500milion in returns from 49% down to zero Nationals ZERO return. Your National party is flog selling them at fire sale prices as well. AS you are an economic imbecile Just like monKey and dipstick.

    • Blighty 4.3

      The PREFU only came out 10 days ago. Obviously, calculations of costings and debt tracks etc would need to be updated with that information.

      These guys don’t have Treasury to do that for them. It’s always going to take a few days.

    • The problem is that Labour proposes to be in government in a few weeks yet has only just costed their policies. That is simply not good enough and certainly doesn’t give confidence in financial management.

      TS – you’re forgetting that traditionally it has not been expected that an opposition party provide such costings prior to an election. It may be that Labour is setting a precedent here – either way, you cannot provide reliable costings until the PREFU is out.
      This is just poor on your part. To trumpet a failure by Labour because they didn’t meet some artificial standard that nobody could reach (“Lassie is a bad dog because she can’t play chess”).
      I think you should go back into the archives and show us National’s spreadsheet from the last election.

    • Colonial Viper 4.5

      The problem is that Labour proposes to be in government in a few weeks yet has only just costed their policies.

      Once Labour is in power, Treasury will be providing all the costings for Labour, so don’t you worry about that.

    • mik e 4.6

      what a lot of bullshit tsm it makes less sense to sell income earning assets that are returning $500 million per year for $5to $7 billion dollars where is the $500 million in income going to come from once you have sold your best performing assets!
      Dumb is the only word to describe it

      • Reality Bytes 4.6.1

        Indeed a ~10% return P.A return on an investment is a pretty good deal. A National voter stereotype rental property owner could only hope to do so well with their nest egg property.

        Then there is the significant advantage of owning such assets that provide national strategic enabling capabilities. Things like power generation, and transport are pretty important for all of us. It’s important these are up to a minimum level to help out – whatever economic/social school of thought you subscribe too. At the end of the day these are assets that get things done, they produce energy and move things around that literally drives the economy AND ensures a good quality of life for it’s citizens. These are not things for our fellow citizens to be left short of, if we aspire to be a successful nation.

        The funny thing is, a lot of argument against government ownership revolves around the private industry knows best dogma, leave it to market forces that’s the fairest way etc…
        But why can’t the government’s books (our books) own certain assets, particularly important ones. The government doesn’t have to run the assets, just own them.

        If Key is such a great investor, then surely even his supporters should appreciate that his skills are being squandered if he is not investing for this country. All he’s doing is trying to balance an income and expenses sheet with no thought on how to grow the underlying capital for a more secure future against a rainy day. But hey that perhaps says something about his skillset, he doesn’t cross me as a long term asset investor, more as an oppourtunist looking to make a quick buck if he’s lucky.

        The funny thing is I honestly believe if National win, the best thing for our economy would be to simply give John Key the NZ eftpos card and tell him to go and trade it all on international currency/share market and whatever for profit and he can collect a 5% commission on any profit made. If the guy is any good, this would probably be less harmful for the economy.

        • Colonial Viper

          If Key is such a great investor, then surely even his supporters should appreciate that his skills are being squandered if he is not investing for this country.

          A traitor from within, acting and investing on behalf of the 1%, not the 99%.

          • Reality Bytes

            Just a shame on polling day that so many people forget the job description is: “Good Honest Public Servant” and not “King/Queen/Trader/X-factor-winnah”

    • From the perspective of cashflow, the cash from the super fund doesn’t come back into the accounts for decades and needs to be funded until then

       It is the intention not to call on the Cullen fund for a couple of decades but it can be realized at any time.

      Your analysis is silly, sorry.  Do you actually understand accounting standards?

      Your example is also silly.  Banks lend all the time using deposits as security. 

      • tsmithfield 5.1.1

        See my reply above, Micky.

        • mik e

          Tsm CASHFLOW god your are one dumb idiot thats what the power co’s generate thats why they are more valuable than the fire sale price your idiot borrowing bills enlglish or jinxed key don’t understand .Shot your self in the foot with your own argument

      • Modern Monetary Theory recognises that the old days of where we were told that banks made loans as a percentage of deposits is not what now happens. Banks offer you money at a certain interest rate, once you’re approved the bank goes onto the inter-bank loan market to borrow that money at a lower interest rate than they are charging you.
        It also recognises that governments to do operate the way we like think – which is that it gathers revenue (mostly from taxes) and then spends it accordingly. What actually happens is that government makes spending choices and the money that it spends goes through the economy and comes back to it. We haven’t made that paradigm shift in our government accounts yet.
        In the same way as a bank borrows money for it’s commitments, Labour is proposing that it can do what the average joe can’t. Borrow at an interest rate we can only dream of borrowing for ourselves, put that money into the fund (i.e. is still an asset – admittedly at a little bit of risk) and the fund will over time return to the fund at commercial rates more than the cost of borrowing. However, I don’t know the details of the loan repayment programme which I assume with come out of the general accounts over time.

        The cashflow implication is in servicing the loan which I suspect is not onerous and is what Labour will do instead of its annual contribution to the fund.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2

      No, ts, I am right: your opinion is utterly worthless. The question is not whether the bank will lend on the basis of a long-term investment alone, but whether they will count it on the positive side of the equation when making the decision.
      But by all means make a complete ass of yourself claiming otherwise.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 5.3

      Why does the world end in 2014? Surely we need to look beyond the 3 years when planning government spending?

    • Draco T Bastard 5.4

      If you don’t believe me, try getting a mortgage from your bank on the basis that you have enough to repay the mortgage sitting in a long-term investment account that you can’t touch, but you can’t afford the current repayments out of current cashflow.

      I’m reasonably certain that if that was the case the bank would make it so that you had just one payment to make that was due just after the long term investment paid out. Banks are quite flexible after all.

  5. Dear MSM

    When Labour releases its full costings can you please analyze them and agree that they are comprehensive and well thought through?

    Can you note that Labour borrows $2.6b more over three years but does not have to sell $6b of our assets to do so.  

    Can you also apply the blowtorch to National’s budget and note that Key’s Government:

    1.  Has overseen two recent credit rating downgrades.
    2.  Is responsible for the biggest budget deficit in the country’s history.
    3.  Intends to sell assets to pay for operating costs.
    4.  Has at various times said that the asset sale proceeds will be used to reinvest, to pay down debt or to pay for operating costs.
    5.  Has not taken the income dividend out of the financial forecasts even though it has included the sale proceeds in the same forecasts.
    6.  Has allowed for a billion dollars of savings on operating expenses in the latest budget even though the government does not know where these savings may come from.
    7.  Failed to convince IRD to accept in its entirety its financial forecasts.

    • Anne 6.1

      Hey mickeysavage, why don’t you lift this comment out… change the Dear MSM… and email to appropriate journalists and commentators. It just might jolt one or two into action.

    • Ianupnorth 6.2

      Or place in the comments section of DPF’s weekly propaganda page

    • Salsy 6.3

      As for the 4 bill, Mon-Key hasnt a leg a stand on – He borrows that amount every 4 months currently…

  6. Hilary 7

    Key is becoming so like Muldoon – bullying and encouraging his supporters to join in, and getting ever more nasty to those who challenge. Most media loved him. And we know what Muldoon did to the economy. He also promised universal super to everyone at 60 while destroying the Labour Party’s long term plans to finance it. History is repeating.

    • There is something of the Think Big programme with this government. Borrowing big time to finance big infrastructure projects. Not something that I am opposed to in principle.
      The question is about the wisdom of the projects versus the gains to the economy of doing so.
      I for one would have preferred an extension of the rail network and made it easier and more convenient to link road to rail in a comprehensive national strategy to make us a rail nation – rather than building roads to by-pass Levin or holiday highways for the rich.

      Having lived in Melbourne I have come to appreciate the value of extensive public transport and I see no reason why we can’t also do that for freight.

      • mik e 7.1.1

        WJ It was a right wing government that spent$4to $5 billion on upgrading Melbournes public transport that was cheap for what they got.The Kennett govt did an excellent job.
        Kennett came to NZ 3years ago to tell the National govt the folly of their ways Joyce was to busy sniffing petrol!

  7. Bill 8

    How forceful was Key again, in claiming that if he knew and understood one thing it was numbers? And remember how he said the cabinet had sat and gone through it thoroughly?

    So, I’d say it is Key and his cabinets collective arse on the line if either Labour’s numbers can be shown to pan out, or National’s pronouncement on the numbers shown to be a crock of shit. Far more so than Phil Goff’s, should there be some anomolies or discrepancies remaining on the table.

  8. Carol 9

    When Key was attacking Labour’s figures in the Press Debate, he promoted his own dodgy figures by boasting that figures was something he understands and deals with all the time – ie promoting his own financial/economic credibility based on his finance trader background.

    It would be useful if someone could make a clip of that boast, put it alongside the dodgy figures he rattled off, and got an exact quote of Key’s boast.

  9. Herodotus 10

    Pity poor Phil was left with the appearance of a gormless idiot in their leaders meeting in Chch on Wednesday. It was widly reported in the Press that in the 2nd half of the dedate (That Phil was perceived to be leading) he lost all credibility when John commented on this $17b and there was no ability by Phil to refute these claims-
    This left Phil exposed, were is the support for Phil by the Labour team. Now Labour and Phil are playing catch up trying to justify. Why was the means of these promises not out and costed before the face offs started?
    i.e From attack mode to defending. Labour are failing at the initial contact stage and Christchurch was just another example, and this is in Lab terrority !!!

    • I have watched this particular part of the debate and the way I see it our glorious Prime Minister performed like a flapping seal and continuously overtalked Goff.  I am not surprised that Goff was not able to get the figures out.
      It speaks volumes about NZ politics and the approach of Herodotus that the reality does not matter but the ability to perform like a flapping seal is all important

      • Herodotus 10.1.1

        I am more than aware of the numbers and the difference between the 2 parties . For lab I haven confidence on their projections re cgt income derrivedand from nat the changing reasons for asset sales is it to reduce debt or pay for nice to have election sweetners. Neither party has any idea how to change nz from debt to being net savers.
        How cab a party leave their leader exposed to such allegations and have no come back. The perception has been sown and now lab are facing to justify unless today’s lab response is bloody good and silences the question if debt lab is left as a promise and hope party ( pity nat is as well and the country is blind to that )

        • mickysavage

          The perception has been sown and now lab are facing to justify unless today’s lab response is bloody good and silences the question if debt lab is left as a promise and hope party ( pity nat is as well and the country is blind to that )
          Agree with your last statement.
          The opening of the books was always programmed to happen today.  The PREFU came out less than two weeks ago and it was necessary to recalibrate the figures.
          A question to anyone.  Did National do this last time?  And if not why is Labour being criticised for being “slightly late”?

          • Herodotus

            Life is unfair just have to cope with that.Some of Labs policies get reviewed many of nats are taken as read
            GST off F&V appears to high, as I believe they are counting items such as F&V purchased for resturants and that are to be further processed and the like that will be on charged including GST. And these types of industries will have made GST returns so will currently have a nil effect. From Household survey data the avgerage family in 10 spent $20.30 on F&V = $2.65 GST/week or $140 p.a., and there are not 2.250m households in NZ to balance up with Labs figures of $317m
            Also there is no indictaion as to the capital losses that will be able to be claimed for properties sold, especially as many in the property industry and banking believe that property is still overvalued in NZ, and valuation will be at a pretty high rate.
            http://wdmzpub01.stats.govt.nz/wds/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportName=HES/Household expenditure for group, subgroup and class
            I see that Lab is using the expected GDP growth and the 170k jobs that Nat will create in their model, if ther left is skeptical of the claim how do they intend to achieve this figure? How will GDP growth be achieved, I hope we are not to follow on from previous Lab policies of importing growth thru immigration.
            there is no costings as to $15/hr that will flow thru onto Govt accounts with Hospitals etc staff now having a pay rise and the contractors passing this on.
            Also I take it that Lab will continue Nats Leaky home remedies, also the $1+b reported to remedy schools built and infected !!
            pity the numbers are understated as to is the Chch damage also.
            Document appears Ok pity Phil at least did not have a draft to respond in Wed debate, with “Our policies match up to yours in cost, AND we don’t sell any asssets” now he and Lab are in damage control, and releasing this on Fri may not gett he same exposure as the $17b added debt has with its 2 days to gain traction.

        • Ianupnorth

          When Goff rightly called Key a liar he was berated in the media for using that terminology and talking over the PM; but that’s OK if the PM does the same –  go figure

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 10.2

      What a lot of emotive crap- do you write Mills and Boon novels in your spare time. Do you actually know where key’s figures come from? Or are you just making up the narrative as it goes along?

    • Puddleglum 10.3

      Herodotus, the Press editorial has never been “Lab territory”.

      The basic import of Press Editorials on political and economic matters is “Vote National” and always has been. In fact, most of them could simply be replaced with those words repeated endlessly.

      The last couple of months’ Press editorials have countless examples of this remarkably consistent line. A discourse analysis on them would be very revealing.

      • Herodotus 10.3.1

        Perhaps my lack of knowledge of alliances of media and political parties is lacking, yet it was that Phil won the 1st half but was slammed in the 2nd and there was no retort prepared by labour to such an attack. Also those I was with in chch this week did not go to the debate but all heard the $17b sound bite, hard to change people’s 1st impressions, so today had better be bloody good to silence this discussion, and highlight the nats short commings. I see that the nz herald has taken notice of this. Lab should be setting the discussion not responding

        • insider

          The other issue is that a local parish pump event that most would have not noticed has been turned into the lead national news event for the last two days. And that’s Goff’s fault.

  10. Blue 11

    Key ‘won’ the debate by making up a bunch of lies. He deliberately exaggerated the cost of Labour’s policies, pulling out whatever figure he felt like – 17 billion, 16 billion, 14 billion etc.

    He knows that the media is useless, and would just parrot his line without checking it. And that they wouldn’t bother looking into his numbers, because they’re passive, reactive creatures with no initiative.

    That is sadly the truth about the state of the NZ media. Journos can’t do maths to save their lives and they focus entirely on perception and the ‘game’ of politics, rather than the substance.

    Key knows how to play them, and they fall for it every single time. Just because Key looked like he knew what he was doing, they believed him.

    Phil just hasn’t learned that no one cares about substance anymore. Just make some bullshit up, sell it well, and the media will be eating out of your hand. Works for Key every time.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      It only works for Key because the MSM are Key sycophants.

      • idlegus 11.1.1

        yep , msm asks labour “wheres the money?”
        labour says “heres the figures, all costed etc…”
        then msm goes to joyce “what do you think?”
        joyces says ” they are crap”
        msm goes to key
        key says “yep, rubbish”
        msm then goes “yep, the numbers dont add up”
        thank god for ppl likke gordon campbell

  11. Tom Gould 12

    “I don’t have the info or skills to dig into any more of their claims but that’s about $8.5b just in those three basic mistakes that even a layman can spot.”

    Pity there isn’t a solitary journalist clever enough to run a few basic numbers? However, there are plenty of ‘Andrea Vances’ around writing about Key’s “rock-star treatment” and repeating his lines. Has anyone added up the ‘election expense’ value of all this MSM campaigning for Key?

    • Lanthanide 12.1

      Funny thing about her blog on stuff is that whenever she’s slightly critical of Key or National there’s lots of moaners in the comments section saying it’s “rubbish journalism” and “out of touch” etc.

      • gingercrush 12.1.1

        I find Stuff comments to be rather reactionary to whatever the article is about in a very partisan way. I’m also convinced both National and Labour have engineered false identities somewhere amongst those commenting.

        And Tom Gould you sound like another partisan quack moaning about the MSM treatment of your politics. I don’t know why those on both the right and left scream and cry about how bias the media is. Most of it is in all head.

        • lprent

          I suspect that you are wrong. Neither party really needs to these days. You’re basing that mostly on message/comment similarity?

          Last month we had about 33k unique visitors (down – bloody RWC strikes again) according to analytics. Of those about 80% read more than one page (ie not referred by search engines). If you assume generously and say a third aren’t activists or are activists of a differing persuasions, drop a few thousand who know what they are doing and who fool systems with lack of cookies and no static IP’s. Well then you’re still looking at more than 15k sympathetic people who have read just this site and picked up talking points.

          We’re just one site (admittedly a high volume blog) amongst many amongst a lot of possible channels to pick up info from.

          The number of politically obsessed in NZ may be smallish, but it is still a hell of a lot of people. But you have to remember that you don’t need a lot of people to have access to content to provide a big noise on a few hundred comments on a post.

          There are some astroturfers around. But they’re noticeable because they’re trying to start a meme by making it simple rather than discussing it. They look like trolls because they try to avoid being challenged and won’t engage. I kill them when I see them.

  12. Political Bear 13

    National’s spreadsheet on Labour’s costings doesn’t add in the dividends from not selling down SOE’s but includes “scrapping the Mixed Ownership Model”

    They are inflating the numbers.

  13. Jan 14

    Agree on the comments on the media analysis of National, – the inadequate in full pursuit of the insufferable.

    And don’t you like the marketing tested line flung out about “borrowing from China’s banks” – dog whistle racism to the core constituency which serves both to frighten the natives and occlude what is already happening. The Chinese Remnimbi is becoming a reserve currency for the world.

    Bernard Hickey’s article from May this year http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/53672/opinion-how-john-keys-borrow-and-sell-strategy-pushes-nz-and-favours-votersconsumers-o
    indicates that National’s policies over the last year sold billions more government bonds to China’s banks than was necessary.

  14. tsmithfield 15

    Misleading or not, National has scored a good hit on Goff that will be hard for Labour to repair.

    The next attack from National will take any attention away from Labour’s figures that Goff should have had available during the debate. I expect that attack will be around Labour’s plans to borrow for savings. Given the world economic environment at the moment, that doesn’t seem like a smart idea which I am sure National will have great delight in pointing out.

    Whatever you think of Key, he does know something about the international markets and will have Goff way out of his depth on this.

    • Bunji 15.1

      If he understands international markets so well, why hasn’t he been investing in the Super Fund that made 25% last year and 15% the year before?

      When the market hits the bottom, if you can afford to invest (and at 5.5% interest we can afford to…), you go for it, not hold out for prices to rise. He’s cost us billions, and it’s future generations that will have to pay for it.

      How any young person (and by that I mean under 40) can vote for the intergenerational theft that is National I have no idea.

      • tsmithfield 15.1.1

        Picking the bottom of a market is not that easy to do.

        Bunji, I dabble in the US stock market myself a bit. However, I only work with what I can afford to lose and I would never borrow money for this purpose.

        If you want to mortgage your house to play the markets, then be my guest. What the left fails to realise is it is not just themselves they are putting at risk by borrowing money to play the markets. They are putting the well-being of all NZers at risk. This demands very responsible decision making on how money is invested. Borrowing to play the markets in this environment is equivalent to borrowing to go to the casino.

        It is very stupid policy from Labour and I expect Key is going to make them pay for it.

        • mik e

          tsm the Cullen fund has outperformed even the best managed funds and if your in for the long term it will pay dividends
          labour is not increasing saving until 2014 when the govt books are predicted to be balanced.

      • Alwyn 15.1.2

        Your statement that the super fund made 25% last year, when it would have been invested in the shares of PRIVATE companies, when compared with the the performance of Air New Zealand since the Government bought a majority stake, illustrates why politicians should never be trusted with investing taxpayers money.
        The taxpayer put up 42 cents for each share in Air NZ about 10 years ago. There was a 5-1 consoladation of the shares which puts the purchase price of the current shares up to $2.10. There current value is about $1.05 so we have lost HALF the money we put into them.
        Tell me again why we bought the darn company in the first place. If the then Government had allowed SIA to buy half ownership when they wanted to we could have avoided burning up half a billion dollars.
        The same thing applies to the Railways. The Labour Government paid vastly to much for this because they were buying it for purely political reasons, not because it made any economic sense.
        Keep Polies out of the choice of investments and the public will be much, much better off.

        • Lanthanide

          Now in your alternative reality where SIA bought out 50% of Air New Zealand, can you categorically state that Air NZ would still be offering the same number of routes and seats at the price Air NZ do today?

          If you assume Air NZ is a vital part of NZ’s transportation infrastructure, allowing private business to make more money more efficiently, then investing in Air NZ to keep it running is the sensible choice. The alternative is asset stripping, as we’ve seen with NZ Rail.

          • insider

            Are you saying that the same number of seats and flights is the optimal number? If Alwyn’s numbers are correct, then taxpayers are effectively subsidising ANZ passengers by allowing ANZ to perform more poorly than they should. I’m not sure that’s the best use of tax money.

            • Lanthanide

              Air NZ is run as an SOE, they’ve set their current routes, fares and seats the way they think best works in this marketplace.

              A foreign owner wouldn’t have the same incentive because Air NZ would be 5% of their revenue, if that.

        • Ianupnorth

          Kindly tell us which airlines have shares that have risen in value please? Then compare and contrast to those that have gone bankrupt.

        • Alwyn

          Whoops. I read the wrong number of a spread sheet I keep.
          The Government paid 27 cents per share, or $1.35 after the consolidation.
          Thus the loss is about 23% rather than 50%. It is still a loss though.

        • mik e

          Factual mistakes there alwyn Air new zealand wouln’t exist now and competition on local an international routes would be much lower making our economy less dinmic!
          Kiwi rail would have returned 13% dividend to the government if not for pike river and the Canterbury Quake. as it was it returned 10% well above market average remember their a recession on

          • mik e

            Alwyn Air New Zealand has returned about a billion dollars in profits to the taxpayer investment not bad considering it nearly went bankrupt once Ansett investment and then went bankrupt after 9/11 .Labour Govt saved it mainly because so many high value exporters rely on its freight services that other airlines don’t provide.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.2

      tsmithfield approves of National lying to score hits on Goff and Labour. What a surprise.

  15. Enough is Enough 16

    Goff handed Key the debate and the agenda for the week to Key by being hopelessly unprepared with a credible answer and he has now become a laughing joke for the right.

    He will come up with costings that work, but only after 48 hours of needless negative headlines.

    When you announce policy you have to expect that those opposite you will ask the question ‘where is the money coming from?’ And to be unprepared to answer that obvious question was unacceptable. The PREFU hasn’t got anything in it that is to far out of whack with what we were all expecting so that cannot be held up as an excuse.

    It just makes me angry that the left is giving this election away. We have a poor government and yet Labour cannot get any traction against them. This has been obvious for at least 18 months yet the party faithful stayed with Goff. Shameful.

    The Greens can and should take advantage of this by getting on the front foot and showing their alternative costings. We need a strong left wing leader and sadly Goff is not that person.

    • Campbell Larsen 16.1

      It is surely a question of how one handles the media – the minor hiccup caused by Goff not having a factual soundbite to counter Shonkeys meaningless jibe has been pounced upon by agenda pushers in the MSM and now a concerted effort is being make something of it.
      Those familiar with news cycles will be aware that momentum must be maintained or else the public attention wavers be it positive or negative – of course the MSM may choose to revisit the teleology of the issue but they run the risk of looking like they are partisan.
      There is no doubt, as others have pointed out, a team of National party accountants preparing to try and pick holes in any figures provided. Make no mistake, the figures must be provided but timing is important – why allow the Rats to spin this into something by jumping when they say jump – its a tricky call with so few days till the election but it very rarely pays to allow others to call the shots. If I was the Greens I wouldnt be wading into this at this time at all – the chances of a fair hearing are probably nil.

    • insider 16.2

      If I were the Greens I’d shut up about that kind of detail and keep following the feel good script, and watch as Labour sheds supporters frustrated at the party’s inability to manage but who can’t bring themselves to vote National or UF.

      • felix 16.2.1

        Don’t be ridiculous, nobody’s voting UF.

        • Lanthanide

          One of their candidates won’t even publicly commit to it.

          • The Voice of Reason

            Is he still the candidate? For the last week he seems to be publicly angling for a job as a street cleaner at the Dunedin City Council. Sweep that Octagon clean, Pete! Begone, smelly hippies! One spray and I walk away!

  16. paul 17

    Excuse me – They didn’t forget they owe the money in the Super fund – they just understand that it is not money they have to spend therefore doesn’t afect the amount to be borrowed or taxed.

    I hope Labour is not using that money to fund their programs because that only exists if you sell it.

  17. And the briefing papers are out.  Time for a few people to actually read what is proposed and then understand why it took so long and how much care has been put into this.

    • tsmithfield 18.1

      I can see quite a bit of bullshit in there already without having to look too far.

      For instance, the projected income for reducing tax avoidance. Firstly, the government has already grabbed the low-hanging fruit in this respect. Secondly, new rules create new loopholes, so I very much doubt there will be much to gain in this respect. It looks to me that the projected numbers in this respect are magical ones rather than based on any fact.

      Also, Labour obviously is relying on the economy to grow while at the same time taking money out of the economy for compulsory kiwisaver etc. Thus I don’t think they can depend on the growth projections.

        • Ianupnorth

          Have to disagree; at present nobody is actually moving because they want to, they are generally only moving due to work relocation. The CGT will not further depress an already depressed market.
          Of course there is a far simpler way to collect money, introduce a stamp duty on all house sales over a given figure – get the cream from the top!

          • Herodotus

            One other issue I have not read about (Perhaps Mickey can point in the direction) how is the CGT to be paid? On the transaction or at a later date say like PAYE tax in the following year. From reading Labs cash flow, the money I take it is be collected on transaction, say when the solicator distributes funds. If so them conveyancing costs will increase, and I take it the value will be based initially on rateable value (QV) until actual costs start to become applicable?
            Also how long will a capital loss be able to be carried? And how does an individual “keep” possession of this potential tax offset?
            So when a new house is constructed will we beable to get construction costs + Land costs? There will be no register to capture this, so how would a solicator obtain the figures?
            CGT IMO will not take any effect on the market, there will be no CGT as a result in the initial periods, we have a lack of construction, in both dwellings and land, and according to many a pent up demand for property. And just wait until interest rates start to rise as to how that tempers both price and demand.

        • mik e

          That will make houses affordable for more New Zealanders
          And make tax dodgers pay their fair share of tax [the debt that their party is borrowing as well as the property investors borrowing and writing off as well as losses against other income i know some of these people they send their kids to private schools have regular overseas holidays business trips another write off] while the rest of us pay more than our fair share of taxes they vote national without fail so don’t care about the Govt running up huge debts because they won’t be paying it off.While little old low debt high savings me will pay tax on my dividends and wages while these turkey get all the benefit without any contribution just great!

      • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1.2

        Hypocrisy much? Brand Key’s figures include jobs created in the last 12 months that haven’t actually been created at all.

        Brand Key has also slashed jobs at IRD. I doubt that has helped them uncover more tax avoidance. And let’s face it, Labour has a much better economic record than Brand Key, so their revenue stream will be greater.

      • Draco T Bastard 18.1.3

        I can see quite a bit of bullshit in there already without having to look too far.

        No you can’t, you’re just following your heroes lead and making shit up.

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