Liar Joyce’s shifting goal posts and zero budgets

Written By: - Date published: 8:13 am, September 6th, 2017 - 16 comments
Categories: accountability, economy, national, Steven Joyce, useless - Tags: , , , , ,

Steven Joyce accused Labour of a basic accounting error, failing to carry forward extra spending commitments, an $11.7bn “hole”. This is a thoroughly debunked lie.

So now he’s trying, in a series of desperate interviews, to shift the goalposts and say that what he really meant is that Labour hasn’t left enough room – outside health and education – for extra spending. Two supposed “zero budgets” projected. Here for example (transcribed from audio at 1:58):

“What Labour are saying is … outside of education and health zero budgets – that’s what they’re saying – for two years, which is just completely untenable”

Interviewer John Campbell correctly calls him on this “reinvention” of his argument. Joyce is quibbling about room for future growth when he claimed a massive accounting error.

So what about these zero budgets? The Herald’s Brian Fellow gave them the attention they deserved several days before Joyce’s brain fart:

Brian Fallow: National Scrooge v Labour spendthrift? No, not really

It is election season, so National likes to portray Labour as the fiscally profligate tax-and-spend party, while Labour likes to picture National as a tightfisted Scrooge, cruelly underfunding public services at every turn.

But when you compare National’s plans for the next four years – as announced in May’s Budget and carried forward in the pre-election economic and fiscal update (Prefu) last week – with Labour’s alternative Budget updated this week, the differences are pretty marginal in the great scheme of things.

Labour’s fiscal plan commits it to spend $14.5 billion more than the present Government has budgeted over the four years to June 2021. … The bulk of it is in the three big-ticket items in any Budget: $4.7b more for health; $3.8b more for social security and welfare; and $3.7b more for education, including the tertiary education package it announced this week. Because it has a slightly higher debt track, it also has to allow for $600 million more in interest costs over the next four years.

So where is the extra $15.1b to come from? Nearly half of it ($7.4b) comes from a higher revenue track, 85 per cent of which is the result of scrapping the tax threshold adjustments that Finance Minister Steven Joyce announced in May and which are scheduled to kick in on April 1 next year.  … Most of the rest ($7.2b) of the higher committed spending is scooped out of a line item in the Budget called the operating allowance. This is the provision for new spending (or revenue-reducing) initiatives in future Budgets.

That is pretty tight, especially if the wish lists of coalition or support partners have to be accommodated. But it is worth remembering that in the wake of the global financial crisis, we had a couple of zero Budgets, when there was no such allowance: in effect, Bill English told the public sector there would be no new money for them and any new initiatives would have to be funded by “reprioritising” within their existing budgets. [my emph]

Assuming, perhaps generously, that Labour can live with the tighter unallocated operating allowances its fiscal plan includes, its budgeted operating expenditure over the four years to June 2021 would be just $8b, or 2.3 per cent, higher than National plans.

Its revenue would be $7.4b, or 1.6 per cent higher. That does not look like an increase under the weight of which the economy would crumple. …

It’s an excellent piece, well worth reading in full in the context of the current circus.

So yes, the “zero budgets” that desperate Steven Joyce has latched on to as his revised line of attack are nothing to get excited about. There is allowance for extra spending. National had “zero budgets” twice in 2011 and 2012, and National are themselves now working off the same PREFU figures as Labour. Treasury projections being what they are, all the numbers that precise and that far out are highly variable anyway.

In short, exposed liar Joyce is clutching at straws.

16 comments on “Liar Joyce’s shifting goal posts and zero budgets”

  1. Sigh 1

    He’s also wrong. He doesn’t understand the line in Labour’s budget that says unallocated money is the money that later gets allocated to pay rises etc.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    Joyce tells so many lies it would be prudent to break MBIE up into separate ministries in case he has any corrupt little scams going on – besides being a Minister in a National Party government, that is.

  3. red-blooded 3

    Joyce is either incompetent or cynically lying. I wonder how much of his mud will have stuck with people who tune in for debates but not much else, though. His hit was well-timed.

    We all have to get the message out that the hole is in Joyce’s head.

    • NZJester 3.1

      Joyce is either incompetent or cynically lying.

      Maybe you need to remove the either and replace the or with an and in his case?

  4. ianmac 4

    I suppose his staff “found” the “hole”, he declared it a hole and now he is stuck with the lie so like many bullies he perpetrates the error rather than admit a colossal error. He says somewhere that he would rather back his staff than all the economists and experts in NZ. Wow!
    This ploy is huge yet he survives.

    The other day English corrected his Deputy for a nasty slip of the tongue.
    Yet the huge Joyce “Hole” is not corrected and in fact English Prime Minister of NZ, ex Finance Minister supports Joyce. He says so. What sort of leader does that.
    Arrogance or Ignorance?

  5. Darth smith 5

    How someone so incompetent be in charge of finance no wonder the country is a mess

  6. WC1 6

    Joyce’s almost legal as now been replaced by almost right, both of which statements were plainly wrong.

  7. Macro 7

    National Standards Result sheet:

    S Joyce

    Economics level 1 Failed
    Accounting level 1 Failed
    Numeracy level 1 Failed
    Comprehension level 1 Failed
    Truth and honesty : zero

    Steven needs to concentrate more on his own work, and spend less time interfering with others. More effort required.

    • Andre 7.1

      Failed and zero are such judgmental words full of negativity. ISTR with National Standards the approved euphemism is “yet to achieve”.

  8. ianmac 8

    Thinking on after reading tsmithfields comments, I now believe that the ploy has been very risky but it may work. Joyce has garnered a huge response which allows him to pick away at details of the Labour Budget. They are listening when he warns that the Labour Budget will increase mortgage pressures. In a week the people will just remember that there was something dodgy about Labour’s figures but hell, my mortgage payments are going to go up!

    “The door-in-the-face (DITF) technique is a compliance method commonly studied in social psychology.[1][2] The persuader attempts to convince the respondent to comply by making a large request that the respondent will most likely turn down, much like a metaphorical slamming of a door in the persuader’s face. The respondent is then more likely to agree to a second, more reasonable request, than if that same request is made in isolation….”

  9. tracey 9

    Nothing on Prime news.

    Auckland Uni nearly out of the top 200. Due to teaching and research. Another area Mr Joyce was in charge.

  10. Tuấn Nguyễn 10

    Why are you still subscribing to that toxic neo-liberal myth about having to balance government spending with tax revenue Brian Fallow?

  11. Incognito 11

    When Joyce’s imaginary hole meets the more than real vacuous emptiness of National’s vision for New Zealand it will explode into a huge ball of nothingness that will light up our skies with bright flashes of empty rhetoric, known as Joyce’s Cloud, and emit background radiation that will prove future generations the occurrence of The Big Bang of 2017 that Sir John promised us when he muttered something about being “on the cusp of something special” and “a brighter future for all New Zealanders”. The guy was a true visionary and deserves to be nominated for a science award or something.

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