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Key’s surplus excuses

Written By: - Date published: 7:23 am, April 14th, 2015 - 69 comments
Categories: budget 2015, economy, john key - Tags: , ,

The last Labour government delivered 9 budget surpluses. The current National government have delivered 6 deficits so far, and borrowed more than all previous governments – combined.

All this time National have been promising and promising to get back in to “surplus”. Last election it was pretty much their only policy, back to surplus by 2014 / 2015. Now of course we know that they will fail to meet the target this year, and probably next year as well.

And so begins the spin:

Key maintains he can hit “artificial” surplus ahead of pre-Budget speech

Ahead of his first major Budget speech John Key is refusing to rule out the Government hitting a surplus this year, while at the same time dismissing the target as “artificial”.

For several years National has pledged to return the Crown accounts to surplus in 2014/15, although Treasury is currently forecasting a small deficit and last week Finance Minister Bill English said a surplus was “unlikely”.

Key said New Zealand was a $220 billion dollar economy, the Government spent about $70 billion, meaning a deficit of a few hundred million dollars was irrelevant.

“It’s really like trying to land a 747 on a pin head. It’s just not that possible for the Treasury to get that right.”

The target is “artificial”? Yes it is, but it was set and endlessly repeated by Key and the Nats, so tough luck. It’s “like trying to land a 747 on a pin head”? One cartoonist suggests a different analogy:
key-surplus

Depends who’s holding the hammer I guess.

69 comments on “Key’s surplus excuses”

  1. Incognito 1

    Key and English are playing word games as usual. In 2011 English argued for a meaningful surplus:

    “He [English] also made clear that the Government intended to continue the tight grip on public finances after the state coffers returned to a ”meaningful surplus” in 2015/16 as it looked to repay mounting debt and resume payments into the superannuation fund.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/4821122/Govt-to-axe-non-essential-services

    In February this year English argued that a $1-surplus would be just fine:

    “Bill English is so concerned that he will struggle to get the books out of the red this year he declared that a $1 surplus will be ‘meaningful’.”

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1502/S00220/one-dollar-bills-meaningful-surplus.htm

    Obfuscate the general public and distract with flag referendums and other trivial BS.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    I’ll mention that to my bank manager next time they ping me for overdraft fees. “It’s artificial”, I’ll say. “You printed the money anyway”, I’ll argue.

    “Pay the fee”, she’ll reply.

    If only the NZ media were more like my bank manager.

    • tricledrown 2.1

      Fran O’Sullivan criticises Double Dipstick for not paying down debt while the economy is growing saying to tax the wealthy.
      Not even the govts own fanboys agree with their tired excuses.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1

        They’re ideologically impure: the Market decides whether it’s time for a surplus, not their personal responsibility 😈

  3. fisiani 3

    On the day that the government does go into surplus and no one is denying that will happen no one will notice any change in their life. A magical rainbow will not appear in the sky. Trumpets will not sound. So what that it’s delayed for a few more weeks. The economy is still booming. Job adverts are aplenty. Wages are rising. Inflation is low. The drought has broken. Christchurch is being rebuilt. Life is good. Enjoy it.

    • So what that it’s delayed for a few more weeks.

      I realise *you* already know this, fisiani, because you’re a spinner, but for people who are genuinely interested in government accountability, the fact is it matters when a government makes promises it knows it can’t keep in order to stay in power.

      • fisiani 3.1.1

        What percentage of the public are “genuinely interested in government accountability”? Let me guess………perhaps 5% The rest are wondering if the Blues can win again and who loves who on Shortland Street.
        When the election come round in 2017 you can whinge as much as you want that Bill English promised a surplus in 2014-15 but delivered it in 2015-16. So what????
        I can understand posts like this aimed at keeping up the hopes and dreams of the laptop warriors but it’s small beer pettiness.

        • vto 3.1.1.1

          No, the small beer pettiness is wondering if the Blues can win again.

          Unfortunately though pettiness has been raised to a form of high achievement in NZ now so the truly important stuff is relegated to a lower position. Examples;

          John Key
          Mike Hosking and Paul Henry
          fisiani

        • tricledrown 3.1.1.2

          Fisianil So how is blinglish going to deliver a surplus with the massive decline in Dairy profitability + drought.
          The balancing of the budget is not going to happen.
          Now after the Northland bye election National are going to have to spend some money in the regions as Northland has highlighted Nationals neglect of rural New Zealand the productive heartland Nationals traditional support base.
          Who have been taken for granted by National.

        • It’s amazing how you’ve combined the “no one cares” and “keyboard warriors” arguments in one comment. It’s also funny coming from someone who clearly cares very much – enough to regularly comment here, presumably using some kind of keyboard.

      • Heather Grimwood 3.1.2

        to Stephanie Rogers et al …indeed it is tragic that governments can stay in power by making promises they can’t keep. A truly educated citizenship is essential in forestalling this situation and we must ensure that critical thinking is involved in all subjects at all levels.

      • Paul 3.1.3

        What’s the point in debating topics seriously with someone who is just spouting lines of nonsense?

        • I don’t “debate seriously” with fisiani – fisiani isn’t to be taken seriously, they’re a rightwing spinner. But I think it’s important to challenge the rightwing spin for the sake of other people reading the comments who might not be aware of the agenda behind fisiani’s statements.

          • tracey 3.1.3.1.1

            I concur. I see him as a parody of many who choose to believe the spin… He may even be a propagator of the spin itself. I either mock him by assuming he is being a comedian parodying national or challenge him when he puts something which is contradictory.

    • Tracey 3.2

      I wonder why Key and English lie abouti i then, given it doesn’t really matter to anyone? It’s like they deliberately made it matter to people, so they could get re-elected (twice) and now want to convince people it never mattered cos they can’t (and never could) achieve it in the time scale they claimed. Now they rely on people like you to make themselves look like fools dancing on the head of a pin for them.

      • Sacha 3.2.1

        When scum totally get away with lying, they will keep doing it.

        Seems the public do not care any more. Or nobody is telling them clearly and consistently about the lies. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

    • peterh 3.3

      If jobs are aplenty,how do you account for
      unemployment 2014 5.4
      2015 5.7
      In your mind is that up or down

      • Andrew 3.3.1

        Look at the data that makes up the numbers. The participation rate is increasing. I.e. more people are in work, but there are also more people in the workforce. It’s to do with the massive amount of net migration we are seeing at the moment.

        • freedom 3.3.1.1

          Andrew, migration is not the big issue. Not saying it does not contribute to the whole, but a very real lack of proper jobs is a far bigger problem.

          Are you aware the numbers that make up those figures count one hour of paid work a week as employment?

          • Andrew 3.3.1.1.1

            Hi freedom, yea i am well aware of the participation rate stats. Not saying they are perfect, but they are what they are and have been that way for quite some time.

            For the first time ever net migration to New Zealand hit over 47k for the year to October 2014. Much the same will be seen this year. So a net increase of close to 100,000 people over 2 years and yet the unemployment rate is still flat to dropping.

            • freedom 3.3.1.1.1.1

              Looking at the stream of redundancies, feeling the chill winds facing exporters, the harrowing reports of stagnation in construction and other industries and even before including your own presentation of surging waves of net migration, when did you last ask yourself:

              Do I believe on-the-ground unemployment is honestly reflected in the official unemployment figures which sate unemployment is “flat to dropping”?

              • Andrew

                yes

                • freedom

                  Forgive my impertinence, but I don’t believe you Andrew.

                  Of course there is no way for you to prove that you do believe it, or for me to prove that you don’t. Just call it gut instinct, like when you know you shouldn’t drink from an unlabelled bottle covered in bio-hazard stickers.

                  • Andrew

                    As is your right not to believe me. But my answer to the question:

                    “Do I believe on-the-ground unemployment is honestly reflected in the official unemployment figures which sate unemployment is “flat to dropping””

                    Is yes.

                    I would say, and please forgive me if i am wrong, that you are suffering from confirmation bias, whereby you only see and take note of the bad news around you because you truly hate National and everything they stand for.

                    So, your, “stream of redundancies”, “chill winds facing exporters”, “harrowing reports of stagnation in construction”, etc, are a small subsection of reports in an otherwise buoyant economy.

                    • freedom

                      Confirmation bias is certainly a credible diagnosis and I understand how you might come to such a conclusion, but I have a daily objectivity regime which helps thwart exposure to the infection.

                      Leaving aside the ludicrous intent of a survey which counts one hour of work as somehow being an equitable employment circumstance to be factored alongside those who work full time, there are a group who would certainly disagree with your conviction of the rate’s veracity.

                      They are a variable number, made up of parents and teens and graduates and others, all of whom, for one reason or another and for various lengths of time have been removed from MSD support, are not working or in study and are definitely not included in the HLFS.

                      And make no mistake, at any one time, there are thousands.

                    • Andrew

                      We are not too far away from each others points of view. I would certainly like to see much better participation rate stats used. Including a breakdown of those in full time employment, those in part time, 1 – 10, 11 – 20, and 21 – 35 hours per week jobs. And of course those who are not in any paid employment at all.

                      Only then will we be able to target those who are underemployed, and look to better their circumstances.

                      Until these figures are known, i am afraid that they will continue to fall between the cracks.

    • Lanthanide 3.4

      So if Labour had promised they would give out $1,000,000 to everyone on the 1st of July 2015 at the 2014 election, and won the election on that basis, you would now say “So what that it’s delayed for a few more weeks” when Labour announced that actually they’d only be paying people out $1 each on 1st July 2015?

      Or would you say it was typical Labour that they would say anything to get elected and not stick to their promise?

      Because that’s exactly what we’re saying here – National knowingly lied to the public, and it helped them get re-elected.

      They lied because they said there definitely would be a surplus, and anytime anyone suggested it was on a ‘knife-edge’ or unlikely to happen, the Nats roundly attacked them, instead of admitting (as they should have) that yes it was only a projection and there was at least a 50/50 chance the surplus would vanish by the time 1st July 2015 rolled around.

    • Murray Simmonds 3.5

      On the day that fisani stops writing this kind of crap and no one is denying that will happen no one will notice any change in their life. A magical rainbow will not appear in the sky. Trumpets will not sound.

    • Dave Head 3.6

      fisiani I think you are living in dream world, on planet Key. Life maybe good for you but for a lot it’s not. Empathy is not a strong suit I would guess.

  4. les 4

    same old,the average voter couldn’t care less.

  5. Tracey 6

    Someone tried to land a 747 on Key and English? You would think that would make the news!

  6. Colonial Rawshark 7

    The closer any government, Labour or National, get to surplus, the closer we will be to a severe economic downturn with increasing unemployment.

    As for the Labour Government delivering 9 budget surpluses: they did that by allowing the nation as a whole (notably the private sector including farms and households) to take on ever increasing debt which escalated through each of those 9 years.

    None of this is a good thing.

    • Sabine 7.1

      actually, i would like to kindly disagree.

      No one is holding a gun to someones head saying you must take on private debt.

      I know it sounds outlandish, but no we don’t need to leverage our houses, buy bigger and bigger suv’s and more shoes n what nots if we actually don’t have the cash.

      WE are adults, We are informed, and frankly there have been people like me that have preached for years now to start paying back debt (not save…just pay back debt to get out of interest payments), stop incurring new debt (do you really need a new fortress on wheels or would the old one do another years or 10?), use layby instead of the credit card etc etc etc.
      However, we are looked at strangely when we say these things, because frankly if we were to live by my mantra the economy would collapse and a lot of the high flying companies would shut their doors.

      In saying that, i love to have no credit card, no loan, have been a renter since ever, with a small parcel of land somewhere where i will build a tiny house, cause it would be big enough for me in my retirement.

      WE are creating the debt in which the world is drowning, and we are blaming beneficiaries, retirees, and un/under employed for greed and sense of entitlements.

      • Colonial Rawshark 7.1.1

        actually, i would like to kindly disagree.

        No one is holding a gun to someones head saying you must take on private debt.

        What exactly are you disagreeing with? Your personal philosophy on debt works fine for you. And actually I agree with you that we need to move away from a debt based society and a debt based money system. But that has nothing to do with the facts on the ground as I relayed them:

        – A government surplus will force the economy into recession by taking net money out of the economy and will increase unemployment further.

        – The last Labour government’s “surpluses” were paid for by massive levels of private debt growth.

        • Paul 7.1.1.1

          You speak a lot of sense.

        • sabine 7.1.1.2

          well let me refrain what i was trying to say.

          The last Labour governments ‘surplusses’ were paid for by massive levels of private debt that peoply “happily incurred” to buy bigger houses, bigger cars, more shoes n stuff all of which they needed none, and btw. they are still doing it today.

          Massaging the economy with private debt has been disproven now for so many years it ain’t funny anymore, however we can’t seem to wean people of it. And with what, in some instances 20% interest one could not even call it cheap.

          Unless people stop participating in the Credit Madness the wheel is not going to stop.

      • Tracey 7.1.2

        Does anyone offer layby instead of forcing high interest repayment son customers?

        • Sans Cle 7.1.2.1

          I have heard about “rent to own” (private sector) houses, but have no idea how successful they are or how many people are arranging their property affairs in this way.
          Was this mechanism in use for Housing NZ in the past (ability to buy State House you were living in)?

          • tracey 7.1.2.1.1

            When I was a kid I think the Housing Corp offered very low interest loans for buying homes to qualifying people. I think they then moved to rent to own. I also recall the use of Layby when I was a kid, used by my mum and dad, especially ahead of birthdays and christmas. I just haven’t seen it offered recently, with most retailers offering any kind of “loan” looking at financing so they can make money from the customer.

            Farmers used to do layby, and may still do, but my guess is not. They have to hold goods and it is admin and space consuming.

    • tricledrown 7.2

      So with the debt the private sector took on during the 1999 till 2008 was at the same rate of increases since 1974 it caused a downturn Not True Colonial Raw shark .
      When you look at New Zealand’s economic history we have always had high debt.
      But in more recent times its the balance of payments that has been in deficit since the 1970’s that is the problem.

    • Enough is Enough 7.3

      Yeah I am not sure r0b understands what he is talking about when he opens by comparing Labour’s 9 surpluses with National’s record of deficits. That is waaaay too simplistic.

      New Zealand in 2005 is a lot different from New Zealand in 2011 which is a lot different from New Zealand in 2015.

      It is not a simple job of adding our sums up at the end of the year and if we made a surplus then everything the government did was good.

      A deficit is needed to knock off the sharp edges of a recession by borrowing money to make up for the shortfall. The recession was not caused by the government. The deficit was a result of dealing with the fall out of the recession.

      The alternative is running a surplus by making deeper cuts – which I am sure rob would not have been asking for.

    • peterlepaysan 7.4

      Presumably, from your post, no one should be allowed to borrow money without government permission?

    • Dave Head 7.5

      Colonial Rawshark, what debt are you talking about? Michael Cullen never spent more Govt. money than what was collected. The National debt increased from[from memory but I could check] Just under $10b when the Nats took over $80b today. If that had been the other way around what would you say? Don’t bother-it’s rhetorical!

  7. Plan B 8

    I wonder why John Key used such an out of date aircraft for his analogy. Feels a bit out of touch. This sort of thing and his casual sexism make him seem more a more like yesterdays man.

  8. keyman 9

    The reason we have got surplus there is to many left wing bluggers wants welfare all they send there money on is food li,e that’s important

    • freedom 9.1

      Either something got smeared across your screen and you missed what a mess you posted, or the transcript generator’s algorithm has blown up and you should call CT’s IT dept.

    • Dave Head 9.2

      Keyman, a worthwhile contribution from an obvious man of letters [some of which you could have used in your comments].

  9. AUDNZD 10

    Key and English are doing a passable job with the economy.
    On the other hand, consider the possibility of having a newbie like Grant Robertson as Minister of Finance Brrr…

    • Sabine 10.1

      so you must be elated then that dear leader and his side kick blinglish will be ruining the economy for a few more years.

    • NZJester 10.2

      “Key and English are doing a passable job with the economy.”
      If you mean they are bribing the teacher to give them a passing grade, then yes they are doing a passable job.
      In real financial terms however they are failing badly and have been burning up the low debt gift left by the previous Labour government to hide just how bad a job they have been doing.

      • Liberal Realist 10.2.1

        “In real financial terms however they are failing badly and have been burning up the low debt gift left by the previous Labour government to hide just how bad a job they have been doing.”

        That pretty much sums it up! +1

        They haven’t even done a good job of hiding it… it’s just that the majority of sleepy hobbits aren’t yet engaged enough to care and the parliamentary press gallery needs a serious purge.

    • Paul 10.3

      It is impossible to have intelligent conversations when people speak with their blinkers on.

  10. felix 11

    Land a 747 on a pin-head?

    WTFF???

    Does John Key (lbp) know that it doesn’t have to be a surplus of exactly $1????

  11. NZSage 12

    The man just can’t help himself from bullshitting or downright lying.

    If you need more proof, here it is: http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/67740334/prime-minister-john-key-labels-campbell-live-entertainment

    • felix 12.1

      In light of that, here’s John Key saying what he really thinks reliable informative journalism consists of:

      • freedom 12.1.1

        + further in, the PM comments on his commitment to the surplus ( 5:50 )
        with no mention of it being even a little bit artificial

      • les 12.1.2

        just another example of who the most effective opposition orator was by a country mile.Norman will be missed.

    • Tracey 12.2

      Doesnt Key know that no one cares about John Campbell? Makes you wonder why he devoted press conference time to say how unimportant it is to him? Methinks he protested too much.

      • Dave Head 12.2.1

        Well Tracey the trouble with your statement , if I read as you intended-it’s not really clear what you were getting at- is countered by over 100,000 people signing petitions to save Campbell Live, as well as close to 300,000 watching it .
        JC did not protest the public did! But a lot of us don’t see the sunshine you see emanating from Keys ass!

  12. Stuart Munro 13

    I thought it was a bit mean to Bill really – he may behave like a pinhead but there’s plenty of room between his ears to park a DC10 …

  13. Just Me 14

    To John Key. May we NZers request you approach your good friend Peter Goodfellow who has a personal wealth of more than $500million for a generous donation by him towards sorting out the mess you(the National government)has allowed to happen due to financial mis-management on your part??Your blase attitude towards the NZ economy shows how flippant you are.And so such behavioural problems certainly doesn’t ensure a good government lead by one John Key.
    I am so sure you(Key)prefer more so for playing golf with your beloved Obama than NZ or NZers.

  14. Cantabrian 15

    Change the debate – governments are allowed to have deficits whereas private borrowers are not. There is no correlation between the two. The reason surpluses are fashional is due to supply-side economics. The austerity model is flawed and it is up to parties like the SNP to point that out. If you have the power to raise taxes the whole issue of a surplus does not arise – unless you are in the super rich category 1% (Key and Joyce) who want to see the value of their assets go up and will do anything to keep it that way.

  15. Leftie 16

    Labour landed a 747 on a pin head 9 times.

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    6 days ago
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  • Support for resilient rail connection to the West Coast
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  • Supporting stranded seasonal workers to keep working with more flexible options
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  • Relief for temporary migrants, employers and New Zealanders who need work
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    1 week ago
  • Freshwater commissioners and fast-track consenting convenor appointed
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  • Appointment of Judge of the High Court
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  • Govt launches bold primary sector plan to boost economic recovery
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  • Dual place names for Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula features
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  • Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings
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  • $80 million for sport recovery at all levels
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