Show us the money John

Written By: - Date published: 1:32 pm, September 4th, 2014 - 76 comments
Categories: Economy, election 2014, john key, slippery - Tags:

You have to admire John Key’s audacity. He has presided over a government which has never run a budget surplus and who has accumulated considerable debt.  Yet he is hinting that tax cuts are in the pipeline.

In 2007 net Crown debt had been paid off. A small debt was accumulated as Labour adjusted for the Global Financial Crisis. From 2008 New Zealand’s net government debt has increased from less than $6 billion to $37 billion.  This is not normally the actions of a sound prudent manager although I accept that circumstances have been unusual.

As part of its re election strategy National is painting itself as a sound economic manager.  Ongoing deficits would make people question Key’s and National’s supposed strength in economic management.  This is why the projected budget surplus is so important.  There has to be light at the end of the tunnel.

But I have this very strong feeling that the surplus is built on foundations of straw.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  Firstly the finances surrounding the Christchurch rebuild spend are decidedly dodgy.  And secondly the decrease in milk prices this year will blow a rather large hole in the tax take.

I commented on the rebuild costs earlier.  Immediately post budget various people concluded that some fancy accounting in relation to the rebuild had shaved expenses.

Keith Ng’s analysis suggests that there has been a total reduction in the spend on the Christchurch rebuild of $524 million.  At a time when the rebuild is getting under way this is extraordinary.  David Parker’s estimate is that the reduction is $567 million and this is from the Crown’s half share of local infrastructure rebuild.

No wonder Gerry Brownlee was so grumpy with the recent Kordamentha report commissioned by Christchurch City which suggested that costs of the rebuild had been underestimated by $500 million dollars.  Even before it was released he was trying to undermine it’s validity.

Then this morning Stuff reported that EQC will run out of money early next year.  There is a Crown guarantee so that claimants will be covered but it appears that the crown will one way or another have to allocate some money.  According to the EQC the fund could be almost $2 billion in debt by June 2016 if no action is taken.  The interest cost of borrowing this amount would be in the vicinity of $120 million a year.  Added to the difference in opinion on the cost of the rebuild this could cause a significant change to the country’s finances.

There was also this recent story by John Campbell on TV3 (h/t Not a PS Staffer).  This year’s Prefu does not include EQC’s up to date figures because the EQC failed to deliver a statement of performance expectations for the coming year.  The statement should have been published before the end of June and would have outline EQC’s projected financial position in relation to earthquake claims.   Questions concerning the delay need to be answered.

The second bombshell is the continued reduction in the international sale price for milk.  On Morning Report this morning it was estimated that the falling price could suck $5 billion out of the economy this year as compared to last year.  This would have a significant adverse effect on the tax and GST take.  The Prefu expects milk prices to stabilise in 2015, but if the cause of the drop in price is increased production of milk in Europe and elsewhere this expectation may be overly optimistic.

So the risks to the surplus look pretty big and the surplus itself is looking very shaky.  To propose a tax cut in these circumstances is reckless in the extreme.

And you have to wonder when National’s announcement is going to be made.  It was going to be on September 1 but was deferred understandably because of the Ashburton killing.  But National is now talking about releasing the information next week.  The information is obviously available now.  Why isn’t the information being released now?  Is it because National wants as little time as possible for the opposition to be able to dig into the figures?

We are in the extraordinary position where the oppositions’ publicly released policies and costings (both Labour and the Greens) are comprehensive yet the Government is not doing the same.  We do not know what they are planning to do next term.  We have no ideas what sort of budget they are actually intending to run.

Sound economic managers?  More like snake oil salesmen.

76 comments on “Show us the money John”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    I suspect that after the election there is going to be a different lay of the land to what has currently been talked up by National regarding the economy. “Rock Star” will infact be “Death Star’. Should Labour the Greens and whoever get into Government they will of coarse be blaimed. The NZ economy has the very real look of a Hospital pass in the making.

    • Chris 1.1

      Much the same as the one that was received by National in 2008

      • Tracey 1.1.1

        Nats got a big surplus and debt under 18bn… Nats have a debt of 85BN and growing and a surplus made possible by pretending chchch will come in 500mn less than forecast.

        Global Financial Crisis began december 2007, and yet first thing nats did was a tax cut for the high income earners

        • barry

          The GFC might have made banking difficult, but the recession that followed was entirely the government’s making.

          For the whole of their 6 years in power they have terms of trade that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. If the income from that had been spread around better we could have had zero unemployment and government surpluses every year.

          The next government will have a huge debt to pay off and plummeting export receipts. It truly will be a lot harder.

      • irascible 1.1.2

        Chris get off Planet Key before you become a troll in the same mould as Slater and his sleaze fascinated cronies.
        The Key led National-ACT govt inherited surpluses and a well managed economy that was able to withstand the hits caused by the financial melt down created by the money speculators and asset stripopers so beloved of Key.

  2. Tracey 2

    Around 15 September or 16 September to try to neutralise ocverage of KDC?

    Next debate

    Current debt is $86bn and rising, that’s $zzzz per household, and you are pretending there will be tax cuts? C’mon John Show us the money or tell us the truth.”

    • Once Was Tim 2.1

      Show us the money John, show us your fundamentals!

      (ew – please don’t)

    • disturbed 2.2

      “Tell the truth John”

      Truth is & has never been in Key’s genes.

      He is merely a con artist, as all hedge fund currency traders are.

      We have been duped by trickery friends and need to wake the sleeping giant in the block of voters who cant decide who to vote for.

      • alwyn 2.2.1

        “all hedge fund currency traders are.”
        Anyone who can put those words together, as if it is an occupation, obviously doesn’t have the faintest idea about what a hedge fund is or what currency traders did. I say “did” as it is pretty much a non-existent occupation these days.

        • disturbed

          Alwyn says, (Hedge fund currency traders) “is pretty much a non-existent occupation these days.”

          Simply so wrong there. Who are you kidding? I give just one example of a dozen sites.


          Now there is an easy turn key way for successful traders to set up their own Spot Forex Fund where:

          •You are the Fund Manager;

          • alwyn

            I did NOT talk about “Hedge fund currency traders” as being an occupation. My point is that are two quite different things and anyone who runs the words together doesn’t understand either of them. It is currency trading that is pretty well dead as with the almost zero interest rates in many countries there is little demand to trade.
            Hedge funds are also fading as with their fee structures compared to the market returns people have learnt that you are better of using a low fee index fund. However they are not the same thing as currency trading

            I haven’t bothered to look at the site you offer a link to, and I hope you don’t go near it. However, without looking at it myself I would ask you the following things.
            Does it offer you large profits without significant work?
            Does it offer access to markets that it claims “the professionals” use and that aren’t normally available to the general public?
            Does it say you can make money regardless of whether the market goes up or down?
            Does it say that anyone can do it, without training or experience?
            Is any mention of risk way down the end in the small print?
            They are all signs of something that is intended to appeal to the gullible, and as a means of taking YOUR money.

  3. Hanswurst 3

    One does wonder whether the Nat’s choice of now as the time to start whinging and niggling about details of Labour’s Capital Gains Tax policy is so that criticism of their Moday tax announcement just looks like more background noise about tax policy, meaning that the only apparently distinctive aspect is the announcement itself.

    • Tracey 3.1

      Liar in chief is scaremongering by saying CGT will make grieving worse for children. I guess it could if children value money more than their parents.

      The house, like everything else the parents own, goes through probate, taking weeks or months. Children decide to sell the house. They receive a sale price of 450k.

      Mum and dad paid, say, 250k. So, the cgt tax will be appkied to 200k, and the kids get all the rest.

      The aussies do it, the brits do it.

  4. hoom 4

    The Herald ‘pork-o-meter’ has Nat new spending promisses at $2.3B already

    Thats on top of how many times over have they already spent the ‘Future Investment Fund’?
    Seriously, has anyone kept track on that?

  5. Tracey 5

    colliers are claiming their ad supplement in the press was not done with the election in mind. SO if its not political, how did JOHN KEY know about an Ad in tge for next week or the week after?


    • hoom 5.1

      In the middle of all this Dirty Politics its a very public airing of the Tricky, Dirty, Hollow Man.

      It really was extremely weird & even as a leftie I was more cringing at the oddity of it than angry/’ah ha’ about what it reveals about him.

    • Hanswurst 5.2

      It doesn’t matter whether it was done with the election in mind. It is political now that Key has framed it on national broadcast as being in support of his gavernment’s handling of the Christchurch rebuild. If The Press publishes it now, it’s promoting the National Party. The Press, and the media in general, should be livid at John Key for overtly politicising the editorial decisions of a major paper.

      • Tracey 5.2.1

        agree, and that he was told in advance by the company. Why would you tell the PM you were advertising some stuff for sale in CHCHCH ? You might tell his office but if anyone it would be Brownlee, even then, it’s political.

  6. paul scott 6

    Greg, I don’t know why we had to borrow so much money, and be $NZ40,000 in debt for each family group. Some of it is Christchurch. I can say with reason that the Christchurch rebuild will take a generation. That was the way it was in San Francisco. The costs are astronomical.
    I always thought that this disaster should have been Nationalised [ haha so to write ] but it is important that New Zealand stays relatively confident, no matter who is Government.
    CGT. I am in the T3 zone , that means loss of capital , can I claim ? .. I refer people again to the Kiwiblog site, over this complicated, expensive CGT, and death taxes, not a s troll, but for fact finding. This business will increase the trust numbers not decrease. There are actually no tax advantages in Trusts.You people seem to be writing business while running away from this election loser. CGT is a disaster for Labour, and I mean this factually not as gloat. It makes the black emails look white. You guys are in trouble.

    • indiana 6.1

      Don’t forget CGT is Labour’s cleverly hidden Death Tax as well…but I am sure an expert panel will ease our concerns.

      • Tracey 6.1.1

        If you are dead why are you worried? If you are not dead use your money before you die and let your kids earn their own way. Afterall making a great living is going to be easy for them, cos of National, right!? Bright Future

        Pretty sure it is still a primary family home if the children live in it after the foljs die.

        Google australia, they have managed it and only a few years ago, the liar i chief wanted us to be just like them.

        • indiana

          In Aus their CGT has not eased house prices nor has it prevented property speculators…but boy you should see their tax avoidance schemes.

          This policy is purely a highly complicated tax grab – even after you are dead! It’s not even targeted at the rich…even the poor will be the victims of unintended consequences.

          The only way to ease my worrying is not to bother working hard to buy a home that will eventually have a portion of its value ripped away from from my family after I die.

          • Anne

            Lies more lies and indiana.

            • indiana

              Is it a lie to say that Labour’s CGT policy is a Death Duty by stealth? If so why?

              • McFlock

                1: Yes.

                2: Because it would also require every other tax to also be a “death duty by stealth”, for example GST charged on a coffin. Which therefore removes any meaning from the term “death duty”, because the term as you use it applies to every single tax. However, fucktards like you hope that people who hear you call CGT a “death duty by stealth” don’t put more thought into your words than you did when you parroted the talking points emailed to you this morning. You hope casual readers assume that when you talk about “death duty” you literally mean a tax only payable from one’s estate after death, rather than the meaningless spectre to which you’ve reduced the language of Shakespeare. In other words, you tied unrelated phrases together in a banal and eventually futile hope to mislead.

                In summary: it is a lie. You pointless excuse for a human being.

                • Tracey

                  You can see why they do it, the twisting and lying.

                  Isnt it funny on the day the liar in chief begins his ” but how will they grieve” meme we have our right wingers in here peddling the message.

                  Four days ago none of them mentioned cgt…

                  Probably just a coincidence…

                • indiana


                • weka

                  Good to see you on form McFlock.

              • Tracey

                Where is next weeks promised tax coming from? Education? Health? Doc?

          • greywarbler

            @ Indiana
            You poor thing. Not a skerrick left. Not a bawbee after that auld mean nasty tax gouging party rips your heart and lungs out too. It is so unfair to everyone and won’t even mend the thatch over your head. Great melodrama. Wrap the scarf round your head, and sing piteously ‘My tiny hand is frozen’ … cough…cough….

          • Tracey

            If you are dead what do you care?

            If your home is sold 450k, and you paid 250k for it. Your estate wil be taxed 15% on the 200k

            Your estate and children will receive 450k – 30k. That is 420k.

            Considered getting your children to earn their own way in this brighter future mr key once promised?

            Good try with the sensationalist scare mongering indiana. Paul has been setting the scene since the debate…

            Perhaps focus more on the increasing 85bn debt mr key has foistered on your children. Thats $40k per household. Quel horreur

          • Tracey

            Pretty sure house prices in auckland have raced along under the brighter future

      • Tracey 6.1.2

        The Liar in chief is scaremongering by saying CGT will make grieving worse for children. I guess it could if children value money more than their parents.

        The house, like everything else the parents own, goes through probate, taking weeks or months. Children decide to sell the house. They receive a sale price of 450k.

        Mum and dad paid, say, 250k. So, the cgt tax will be appkied to 200k, and the kids get all the rest.

        The aussies do it, the brits do it.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.3

        The RWNJ have received their lines from Crosby/Textor.

      • Rodel 6.1.4

        Indiana- ‘Death Tax? Death Tax?….Hey you been listening to imbecile Sarah Palin ..surely not reading her retard book- or may be you have read Frank Luntz’s book ? Either way I feel sorry for you. They’re about the human elementary -beginner level.(5-6 year old).

  7. vto 7

    John doesn’t actually know what money is… or rather, what money represents.

    does he.




  8. Blue 8

    Brian Fallow has a good article in the Herald:

    The National Party’s pitch for a third term boils down to the slogan: Don’t mess with success.

    As it is five years now since the recession ended, it is fair to judge their economic stewardship by the current state of the indicators.

    A lot of them are heading south.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    National to cut $3.8 billion from health, education and environment spending

    The analysis, prepared by Ganesh Nana of independent economic consultancy BERL, shows that National is stripping funding, in real terms, to the health, education and environment sectors to the tune of at least $3.837 billion over the next three years.

    National’s expected and long touted surplus comes from cutting essential services.

  10. paul scott 11

    Tracey 6.1.1 4 September 2014 at 3:54 pm
    If you are dead why are you worried? If you are not dead use your money before you die and let your kids earn their own way. Afterall making a great living is going to be easy for them, cos of National, right!? Bright Future
    Pretty sure it is still a primary family home if the children live in it after the foljs die.
    Google australia, they have managed it and only a few years ago, the liar i chief wanted us to be just like them.

    Tracey, this is not a good. please do go over to the various places [ KB if you feel brave ] where the implications of CGT are being worked out. Your people are turning off voters in the thousands. Your people have moved too early, maybe next election. But for now IMP and CGT spell collapse of the left centre vote. Read Indiana above if you will. See Conservative NZ and NZF votes today . We are not in love with John key, but CGT is too early, a major political blunder, and IMP well ask the people at your supermarket. .
    Oh right of course we want a German criminal proxy in the house, not.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      The only things being worked out over KB are how to lie ans spin. Nothing else.

    • Tracey 11.2

      Oh god.

      I dont vote Labour.

      Try and answer my questions

      Happy to have Nats propped up by the criminals from ACT.

    • Tracey 11.3

      Who is “we” paul?

      “your people”??

      Have a lie down dude

      David farrar last week joined in the idea that nz on air funded kill the pm. He didnt check, with a simple phone call. His tax payers union cried to the media. It was wrong.

      Next. Where is the tax cut coming from next week (the topic of the thread)?

      • weka 11.3.1

        What I find so interesting is that the right think they have any credibility to talk about anything as long as Slatergate continues and they refuse to admit how bad it is. We’re not talking about the odd scandal here, we’re talking about multiple threads and scandals, with new material coming out almost every day.

        Suggesting that KB is a place to go on the day when Farrar’s Taxpayers Union mate Jordan Williams has been nationally exposed for the misogynistic, manipulative, greedy, nasty little shit that he is? hahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa….

        • Tracey

          If you want to work out the intent of some of these posts, check out what they choose to answer and what they choose to ignore.

          The Right is feeling buoyed again, feeling like they have got away with it, the CGT things i straight out of Hollow Men and Dirty Politics. Their disdain for fellow kiwis is frightening.

          Smirking for New Zealand indeed

  11. Dont worry. Be happy 12

    The CGT on inherited family home would not be the difference between the amount the parents paid and the sale price after their death.

    Rather, the property having passed to new owners, with no tax at all, would be sold at some point by the “children”.

    The amount taxed would be the increase if any, in value between when the “children” became the owners and when they chose to sell.

    So. Not that hard to work out. And no biggie surely….

    • Tracey 12.1

      You miss the point. Chris, paul and indiana and barry arent here to spread fact.

      None of them know where the money from the tax cut is coming from…

  12. paul scott 14

    Dont worry. Be happy 12 4 September 2014 at 5:31 pm
    The CGT on inherited family home would not be the difference between the amount the parents paid and the sale price after their death.
    Rather, the property having passed to new owners, with no tax at all, would be sold at some point by the “children”.
    The amount taxed would be the increase if any, in value between when the “children” became the owners and when they chose to sell.
    So. Not that hard to work out. And no biggie surely

    paul scott says :
    yes be happy and do worry , what is the value of the home at transition to the children. we can not believe QV or rateable values, everything is travelling so fast, you have dropped policy CGT and Trust papers so many places , I can pick them up in a Thai village .. You have lost the election. New Zealanders will not have a strange party comprised of Nazi and Socialist at the periphery . Everyone knows that Winston is centre right . Also Craig. our votes are centre right votes are overwhelming.

  13. feijoa 15

    They DO know where the tax cut is coming from
    Its coming from CUTS to health education etc

    Has anyone asked John (or his office ) directly about cuts to these portfolios??

  14. Dont worry. Be happy 16

    @Paul Scott…you obviously can’t read so perhaps you should stop writing…..

  15. Wayne 17

    Just to be picky, but surpluses started around 1997, and continued through to the GFC.

    I imagine the tax cuts will largely be about lifting the thresholds of the bottom two tax rates to offset the fiscal drag effects of the last 5 years.

    Over this time wages have gone up by around 10%, or so but the tax thresholds have not changed. That means more of the average and middle persons income is in the higher tax bands relevant to that person. That means they pay more of their income as a percentage of their total income than 5 years ago. Changing the tax thresholds will restore the percentage of their income taken in tax back to where it was 5 years ago.

    Seems pretty fair to me. And there is enough money in the surplus over the next there years to do this.

    Some countries (Canada) automatically adjust the thresholds annually to take account of CPI changes.

  16. Agree nats are not on good fiscal footing and doubt that under their leadership we’ll get any significant surpluses in the near future.

    About EQC’s budget…

    To my knowledge there is no creative accounting on the ChCh rebuild cost drop, and if I heard of any, I would be first escalating the issue internally, and if that didn’t solve the issue, I would be whistleblowing. To my knowledge the factor behind cost estimates dropping is mostly that there was a lot of cautious accounting around unknown unknowns, timeframes, and contingencies. EQC has reached a point where it can release most of those cautions and say “we’re pretty sure on what the whole rebuild will cost now, within a much smaller margin.” That’s why the cost has gone down significantly- basically stripping out most of the risk factors now that the rebuild is almost done.

    As for the Natural Disaster Fund being depleted- yep, that’s absolutely true, it’s why EQC levies were increased, and projections indicate we will spend the entire fund and a bit more on the rebuild. That’s why programs like CHRP were instituted in the first place- the EQC has a duty to taxpayers to control costs while still delivering a full repair on all covered damage. EQC still has reinsurance payments and a crown guarantee that will replenish the fund, so there’s no risk of people not being paid out, and it will continue to pay out as settlement entitlements are calculated and as repairs are done, regardless of the fiscal position that puts the government in. The only room for delayed settlement is those people in the Canterbury Home Repair Programme who elect to be repaired in 2015 due to personal schedule constraints. Everyone else will be settled as soon as we can. To my knowledge our maximum projected outlay is included in the budget.

    I can’t comment on what’s going on with missing the reporting deadline, but as far as I’m aware there is no “missing money” beyond the projected dip into the taxpayer guarantee. As an even bigger dip than this was already budgeted, delaying EQC’s reporting is unlikely to be a financial strategy by the government, and more likely just one of those mistakes that unfortunately happen in government from time to time.

    I can however clarify that there is definitely no attempt to delay claims in order to take in enough on levies that we don’t need to deplete the natural disaster fund. If anything, EQC is erring on the side of advantaging customers in order to settle their claims on an acceptable timescale, because given more than a third of the organisation lives in Christchurch, (and many of us that don’t have strong ties) it takes that obligation seriously. We have taken several measures, including waiving all but one excess deduction on unapportioned <$15k claims, any partial cash settlements to customers give them the maximum allowed contractor rates rather than waiting on a customer quote, and assuming unapportioned damage relates to a maximum of three events regardless of the number of claims lodged, to speed up customer settlement and ensure customers can repair and move on with minimum financial disadvantage. I know EQC settlements seem too slow to Canterbrians and accept that EQC can do better, but there is literally no incentive in the organisation to shortchange or slow down customer claims, we are evaluated on processing speed and quality (ie. accuracy) of decisions only, and settling larger amounts or more claims is exactly what all levels of management are driving at.

  17. Nic the NZer 19

    The thread of this discussion is a disaster for the progressive movement. With unemployment at 5.6% tax cuts are of course affordable. The balanced budgets mantra is a neo-liberal policy hook and boy oh boy is the left hooked. So captured the labour party has abandoned any pretense of getting full employment and is demanding continued probably more severe austerity than National. National debt is and remains a non-issue.

    • dv 19.1

      Current debt clock NZ

      NZ$ 86,539,395,548

      The interest on that pa is about


      I am glad that 85 billion is a non issue, as well as 1.7 billion interest payments

  18. disturbed 20

    Awesome, thanks for this dv.
    Current debt clock NZ
    NZ$ 86,539,395,548

    Damn where is Pockish rude when we need a response to where is the “rock star” economy now as dairy forecast now also shows our $5 billion dollar hit coming next, maybe he went to bed as he lives abroad must be early hours of the morning.

    Treasury figures.
    2006-7 Crown Debt 6% of GDP.
    2013 Crown debt 26% of GDP.

    What a sinking canoe.
    Show these criminals to the door before we all sink.

    • Nic the NZer 20.1

      Allegations of a sinking canoe not withstanding. Please explain all the ways that that figure is effecting you. Pay particular attention to differences in the effects between 2006 and 2013.

      I suggest the main difference between 2006 and 2013 is that the economy is depressed. Unemployment is up, income is down and pay rises are harder to come by. All these things will be exacerbated by a government running a budget surplus.

    • dv 20.2

      I have pointed the debt out to PR several times.
      No response.

  19. philj 21

    What is going to happen to the people of Christchurch when the money ( Government and Insurance) runs out?

  20. disturbed 22

    When Labour left office the Crown debt was around 6.3% to GDP and since your mob have hiked their spending on Highways and company tax cuts we have seen the debt rise 400 per cent.

    You want to ask : “How is that affecting you” Get a real life.

    Not worth discussing with a closed mind thanks.

    • Nic the NZer 22.1

      Funny that you incorrectly believe I support National (very wrong on that count).

      If there are no tangible effects of govt debt on users of the economy then that appears to indicate that its a non issue. Maybe it would be better to focus on the things actually affecting the users of the economy (unemployment, stagnant wages, depressed spending). These will all be made worse by a govt running a surplus.

  21. Phate 23

    Key has already shown us the money all 86 billion of it.

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  • Young Pacific people can access earning and learning opportunities in Hawke’s Bay, Otago and South...
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  • Protecting wellbeing – ACC HQSC Trauma Forum
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    6 days ago
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  • NZ economy in good shape
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    2 weeks ago
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