Key’s attempts to drum up enthusiasm for this year’s upcoming budget have fallen absolutely flat. Brian Fallow says “Govt boost to R&D not enough to close gap on OECD“. Even John Armstrong can’t get excited:
John Key’s make-or-break Budget
Following National’s heavy defeat in the Northland byelection, the address to a Business New Zealand audience was Key’s strongest pitch yet to regain control of the political agenda.
The speech sought to eradicate any perception that when it comes to fresh thinking and new ideas, his Government is in deficit. Unfortunately for Key, the two Budget-related announcements contained in the speech risked giving every impression that National is running on empty.
National has been running on empty for a long time now. Which is a good thing, since their policies are generally damaging.
The first announcement was an $80 million boost in funding over four years for research and development; the second was the promise of $244 million over four years for building new schools and additional classrooms for existing ones.
In the first case, given New Zealand’s woeful spending on research and development, it is foolhardy to crow about an injection of funds which fails to compensate for earlier cuts.
As for new schools, National is trying to make a virtue out of a necessity. Population pressures drive the building of new schools. Governments have to provide. It is not a matter of choice.
Yup. Furthermore, as usual, the promised research funding actually represents an ongoing cut in real terms. Why doesn’t the media ever pick up on this? Why is it left to Russel Norman?
Updated Govt spending projection on science and R&D, adjusted for inflation. 7.8% cut in 2017/8. pic.twitter.com/b75wgcnE58
— Russel Norman (@RusselNorman) April 14, 2015
Back to Armstrong:
Such cynicism on National’s part will be grist to the mill for the party’s opponents trying to paint National as an administration which is drifting, lacking direction and becoming increasingly arrogant and out of touch. That is not the case (yet). But there are signs in the behaviour of one or two ministers that the rot has set in.
Dear sweet John, it is certainly the case that National is “an administration which is drifting, lacking direction and becoming increasingly arrogant and out of touch” and it has been for a long, long time. Your Emperor has no clothes.