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The Minister of Finance’s Mini-Budget

Written By: - Date published: 8:59 am, December 14th, 2017 - 87 comments
Categories: grant robertson, labour, Politics - Tags:

Today is a great test for our Labour-led government.

It’s the release of a mini-budget set well in advance of the main budget set for May 2018.

This advanced timing sets the government into a much faster pace of delivery than otherwise.

You will all have your own priorities, but the government’s ones have been well forecast is in the 100-day agreement.

Though you may be familiar with most of them, here they are again and how they are tracking.

The House will be sitting under urgency to crack on with them.

Some highlights from the coalition deal itself to remind us.

This government has all the following winds it could hope for: bulging surplus, strong economy, no major international crises, and a list designed to be do-able.

Let’s see how fast they can bank these first set of promises, so that they can then set themselves even more challenging policy goals.

87 comments on “The Minister of Finance’s Mini-Budget”

  1. mauī 1

    Things are developing much quicker than I thought they would with this Labour government. Ban on foreign home owners, min. rental standards, first year fees free for students – major stuff on housing and education all inside 50 days of Government!

    Here’s a comparison with what National did in it’s first 100 days in 2008, there’s a strong focus on crime and employment:

    • dv 1.1

      Thats good to have Maui

    • red-blooded 1.2

      Hey we’re not even half way through the first 100 days of this government. There’s some really good stuff happening, and groundwork being laid for other good developments. Great to see Chris Hipkins announcing the review of NCEA, for example.

      And any financial holes seem to be taking the form of unbudgetted-for spending commitments made by the last government but not appearing in the PREFU because they hadn’t actually set aside the money. No wonder outside experts couldn’t see that hole, Messers Joyce and English!

      • cleangreen 1.2.1

        100% RB.

        yes labour coalition is just less than eight weeks into the 100 days so we were very happy to see them moving so quickly now, even though national’s ‘dirty politics’ npolicy of throwing over 6000 questions at the incominng government in an attempt to slow them down, failed to work for national in their attempt to slow labour coalition down but instead made them “energised ” to complete their 100 day pledge good for them they need our praise for this.

        national need a big greasy stick, and be tarred and ridiculed for their continual “dirty politics”

    • alwyn 1.3

      “major stuff on housing”
      What have they done on housing?
      They even seem to have abandoned the non-resident ownership principle for anyone from Australia or Singapore and don’t seem to have a plan for any other country either.

      • mauī 1.3.1

        Major stuff on housing like the two policies I mentioned.

        It obviously excludes Australians and Singaporeans due to existing agreements with those countries. Are they supposed to have renegotiated complex agreements with those countries inside 50 days too? Meanwhile they’ve got a housing a crisis to sort.

        • alwyn

          I don’t really think that “min rental standards”, is a major advance.
          The also haven’t banned ANY foreign buyers of houses yet.
          They are still just talking about it.

          • marty mars

            rwnj doesn’t like labour cos yawn.

          • tracey

            Your question was

            ” What have they done on housing? ”

            You were told and didnt like the answer.

            Gosh still drafting the legislation after 2 months. The bastards.

            Remember in GFC when the answer to job losses was a job summit which wasnt held til 2018. You must have been apoplectic about the slowness of it all.

    • + 1 yep all going well so far

  2. tracey 2

    How many “experts” will be interviewed for news bulletins versus English and Joyces reckons?

    • alwyn 2.1

      They might put some of the bank economists on the TV programs.
      They seemed to be almost unanimous that Labour would have to borrow much more than they had claimed.
      What would they know of course. They are merely professionals at the subject.
      Stick to listening to Morning Report. Nothing will be said there.

      • Johan 2.1.1

        “They seemed to be almost unanimous that Labour would have to borrow much more than they had claimed.”
        A definite sign that National had been underfunding gov’t departments under its watch?

      • What would they know of course. They are merely professionals at the subject.

        Good question. These are the same people who caused the GFC while telling us that everything was hunky-dory.

        So, chances are, probably nothing worth knowing.

        • cleangreen

          Oh Draco we also heard national lying at the same time as they ‘grossly underfunded’ our ‘essential services’ while at the same time then they were saying “we have a rockstar economy” – bloody lairs all!!!!!

      • SpaceMonkey 2.1.3

        What would they know? They’re debt pimps… of course they’re going to talk about borrowing. Debt is the only game they know.

      • Macro 2.1.4

        “bank economists” lol
        know nothing idiots who talk ideology and live in a bubble completely devoid of reality.
        Definition of experts – x is the unknown quantity, and a spurt is a drip under pressure.

      • peterh 2.1.5

        Well who cares if they borrow more, just stick it on the end of the $80.000.000 the last bunch of wankers borrowed ,HELLO for what tax cuts

      • tracey 2.1.6

        Looks like Farrar is first off the rank for Tracy Watkins… at least she finally remembers Key and English ran 2 zero budgets which Joyce and English suddenly became scornful of during the election.

        “Compared with some recent budgets – like the infamous zero budgets under John Key and Bill English – that might seem like money to burn. “

      • tracey 2.1.7

        Riiiight after the holes National left were revealled. You angry about Nationals incompetence or deceit on that alwyn or reserving it all for the new Govt?

  3. cleangreen 3

    Yes thanks for the ‘refresher.’

    We have reminded government about the new importance of getting started on regional rail restoration after national party wrecking machine went in 9 yrs ago and ruined our rail system pushing most freight onto our roads which have now become so dangerous that every bloody day someone dies on them as did this morning again when there was a truck and car fatal collision in Otago again we have many cases of proof that freight cannot all be carried on our single lane narrow hilly winding roads so we say to the Labour coalition bring back rail soon and save lives on our roads please now ‘lets do this’.

    Public COMMUNITY letter;
    14th December 2017.

    TO; Ministers,

    At the ‘One Planet Climate Change Summit’ this week in Paris 12-15th December 2017.

    NZ is cited as investors in our ‘Superfund’ among big investors pressuring climate polluters.

    NZ Government must now use Rail freight as it will greatly reduce our use and dependence on fossil fuels that cause climate change, and will save our cost of paying for “carbon credits” also.

    1. Environment
    ‘Arctic climate ‘report card’ reveals ‘rapid and dramatic changes’ to the polar environment.’
    The latest warnings on this link above must be taken seriously now as time is short for saving our planet.

    Please respond to our request for rail freight transport coverage, as government is close to shutting down for two months shortly please

    • alwyn 3.1

      I suppose you will tell us that railways are totally safe.
      No-one ever gets killed there.

      For your information there were a total of 65 deaths on New Zealand roads in 2016 for accidents involving a truck, (latest available).
      There were 111 in 1970 when rail was at its peak.
      Not really one a day is it?

      • cleangreen 3.1.1

        We are not buying your national party bullshit any more Alwyn,

        Todays outburst shows you have clearly now shown that you hate rail.

        You seem to want trucks to take all freight on our roads, by the way you are attempting to run down all of the rail value, so come clean now and say it isn’t so now.

        Read the facts in the newly found rail report that labour found that national ordered and then when they read how important rail is hid it 18 months ago.


        “Rail also means heavy vehicles such as trucks are on the roads for 11 million fewer hours each year – the equivalent of 30,000 trucks driving for an hour every day.

        “Using rail cuts New Zealand’s carbon emissions by 488,000 tonnes a year. That is the equivalent of taking 87,000 cars off the road, saving millions of dollars. Rail freight has 66% fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight which is useful for New Zealand reaching its ambitious climate change targets.

        “New Zealand has a road toll issue with deaths on the road rising markedly since 2013. Taking trucks and cars off the road makes for a safer New Zealand with EY estimating that because we have a rail network, there are 271 fewer fatalities and injuries on the roads.

        • alwyn

          “shown that you hate rail”.

          You really sound tired and emotional.
          I don’t “hate” trucks. As I have explained to you at length on previous occasions I approve of train travel where it makes economic sense.
          To repeat what I have told you before, since you don’t seemed to have read, or remembered it previously..
          Freight transport makes sense on the following routes. Auckland/Hamilton/Tauranga triangle. Main Trunk from Auckland to Wellington.
          Christchurch West Coast link. Possibly Picton/Christchurch line unless all the freight is really Auckland/Christchurch in which case use coastal shipping.
          The only passenger transport that makes any sense is the Wellington urban transport lines from Wellington to Waikanae and Wellington to Upper Hutt.

          Nothing else. I particular not the Napier Gisborne route that wouldn’t load a train a week and would require millions per year to maintain the line in unstable country.

          Trains made a lot of sense in New Zealand prior to about 1960. There is very little need for them now.

          • alwyn

            Bloody typo’s.
            Repeat 50 times. It shouldn’t be ‘I don’t “hate” trucks’
            Should say ‘I don’t “hate” trains’.
            Why do I always see these things after the 10 minutes is up?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Why do I always see these things after the 10 minutes is up?

              Sometimes it takes me that long to spot mine. I put it down to inattention. Coincidentally, “inattention” could be used as an excuse for your entire political philosophy 😛

            • dv

              You really sound tired and emotional Alwyn.

      • McFlock 3.1.2

        How many of those were the fault of the train?

        Probably zero. How many people do trains hit a year? What, a tenth or a hundreth of the number killed by trucks?

        Although your link definitely indicates that truck-related injuries are daily, anyway.

        • cleangreen

          Yes Mcflock,

          Rail is shown as safer for passengers and others than trucks are.

          When a truck hits someone no-one lives through it, and theere are 200 000 truck trips around the country every year while rail would be less than 7% of that figure.

          If one train carries 50 to 60 truck loads of freight that means only one vehicle is used on rail compared to 50 or 60 truck movements.

          Using a rail line is choosing to travel on another track to where trucks, cars and other vehicles travel.

          So it is a no brainer here; – Rail freight is safer than truck freight on roads for other vehicle users and pedestrians.

        • alwyn

          Quick Google search gives the following.

          Deaths at level crossings were 53 between 2000 and 2016. Average of about 3 per year.
          Deaths of people trespassing on the tracks. 204 between 1994 and 2012. Average of about 11/year.
          That is around 14/year which is a great deal more than the Hundredth you talk about.

          Why don’t you do a little research before you start sounding off with made up numbers? You just look silly at the moment with your rubbish claims.

          • Patricia

            Alwyn – do you expect trains to give way to all vehicles at level crossings ? And stop when trespassers thinking they are immortal wander across tracks ?

            Travel to smaller towns and see the poor condition the roads are in – unable to accommodate the huge trucks that now speed around the country.

            • alwyn

              Do I expect trains to give way?
              Of course not. The can’t stop the way a car, or a truck for that matter, can.
              I understand it takes about 1.5 kilometres to stop one.
              It isn’t surprising that so many people get killed at level crossings is it?
              The train can’t stop and can’t swerve to avoid you.

              What I was pointing out of course is not that the train should stop. I was pointing out that, in spite of some people her saying that trains are much safer than trucks it simply isn’t true.
              I’m afraid that “cleangreen” is simply living in his own little world where trains are like the little red engine of children’s books.
              Safe and friendly as all heck.

              I’m not surprised that ‘cleangreen’ and ‘McFlock’ have retired for the night.
              They can’t answer my arguments because my statements are true and theirs aren’t.

          • gsays

            Gotta say alwyn, in respect to rubbish claims, spouting off and looking silly, that would describe your contribution to the discussion.

            • alwyn

              I suggest you look at my reply to McFlock’s comment just below.
              Trucks are safer than trains you see.
              Now why don’t you just give up. You are simply making yourself look really, really dumb.

          • McFlock

            Right, so that’s 14 vs 65, and those 14 are almost exclusively the fault of carelessness or suicidal intent on the part of the people who died.

            Whereas those 65 include people who were simply cycling to work and died through no fault of their own. Do you include them in your calculations of “economic sense”?

            • alwyn

              I suggest you look at these numbers.
              They give the amount of freight carried by road and by rail.
              The number of ton-km carried on the road by trucks and trailers is, in a typical recent year about 5,3 times the number carried by rail.
              The deaths are about 4.6 times as many.
              On that basis the number of deaths in accidents involving trucks is LESS than the number of deaths in those involving trains when looked at as deaths per ton-km of freight.
              Thus trucks are SAFER than trains aren’t they?

              Any more foolish statements from you on the subject?
              Most people killed in accidents on the road are caused by carelessness, apart that is from people who grossly overindulge in alcohol and then drive.
              That is why I hope we get AVs promptly and cut down on all deaths involving road vehicles.

              • McFlock

                Keep polishing that trucking turd in glitter – the trains don’t cause the accidents. The drivers and pedestrians do. And in many cases the pedestrians have to deliberately go out of their way to have the collision (whether the collision was intended or not).

                Unlike trucks.

                BTW, when comparing freight levels you might want to read the wee notes about data quality. But I suppose you’d only do that when you don’t think the data supports your assumptions.

                • alwyn

                  ” the trains don’t cause the accidents”.
                  Wow, what a genius you are.
                  I suppose you would also tell us that the trucks don’t cause the accidents either?
                  And, as you are probably a member of the NRA you will tell us that the firearms don’t kill people either..

                  As for the freight levels. I presume you actually have some evidence, other than your fevered imagination, that backs up your own claims?
                  No? Why am I not surprised?

                  • cleangreen

                    Alwyn is either a truck driver or is part of the road freight industry we think Mc Flock.

                    Alwyn; – be a hero for a change and read this and learn the truth “for all our sakes”.


                    The Roads of National Significance are built to the highest safety standards. But Sam Warburton, a research fellow with think tank the New Zealand Initiative and a former Ministry of Transport analyst, says they are “relatively lightly travelled compared to the cost incurred in constructing them”. With the road toll rising steadily since 2013, he says, some of the billions spent on these highways may have been better invested in targeted local improvements and risky black spots. He cites Ministry of Transport advice to this effect, which noted road safety improvements with high benefit-cost ratios were going unfunded.
                    At the same time as the funding hurdle was lowered for big highway projects, the Land Transport Management Act – the sector’s guiding legislation – was amended in 2013 to remove the explicit requirement for sustainability to be considered.
                    Rail advocates say these changes have effectively served as a subsidy for the trucking industry and added to the difficulties KiwiRail faces in competing for freight business even in the context of rising concern about climate change and an increasing awareness of the potential role of rail in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
                    Whereas the rail network carries 16% of freight (by tonne-kilometres), it generates only 0.2% of national emissions. In a 2016 report, the Royal Society of New Zealand noted that a tonne of freight moved by diesel-powered rail produces a third of the emissions the same tonnage going by truck would yield. It identified shifting more freight from road to rail or coastal shipping as a major opportunity for carbon dioxide reduction.

                    • alwyn

                      “Alwyn is either a truck driver or is part of the road freight industry we think “.
                      Neither actually, although I don’t suppose you will remember that any more than you remember previous occasions I have said it.
                      Do you suffer from repeated memory loss or do you simply ignore anything I say?
                      I have never had anything to do with the trucking industry.
                      I have also never had any licence except for a motor cycle in addition to one for a private car.
                      So stop speculating. You are no better at it than you are at economics.

                  • McFlock

                    Oh, trucks might cause some of the accidents. But trains can’t swerve across lanes, and always have right of way. So any collision between any person or vehicle cannot be the fault of the train driver, with pretty much the sole exception of ignoring signal lights and hitting another train.

                    But then you’ve never been riding a motorbike when the driver of a double trailer truck decides they decides want to change lanes, I guess.

                    • alwyn

                      I’ve never ridden a motorbike since one of my relatives was killed on one. A long, long, long time ago.
                      I gave up being a member of the “Break a leg instead of a fender” fraternity as our American cousins describe it.
                      I just kept the licence to ride one for nostalgic reasons.

                    • McFlock

                      Well, [insert vehicle here]. They can all be squashed by a heavy truck, through no fault of their own.

                      Whereas the only way to be hit by a train is to be on the tracks when you shouldn’t.

  4. Ad 4

    88,000 New Zealand children out of poverty by 2021:

    “Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021.*

    “Our priorities are different from the previous Government. We are targeting spending at the early years to invest at the time in life where the evidence shows it makes a difference.

    “Boosts to Working for Families, the introduction of Best Start and the Winter Energy Payment, reinstating the Independent Earner Tax Credit and continuing with the recent Accommodation Supplement changes will greatly help struggling families to access the basics which all New Zealanders should have.


    • This is looking good. I like the increase in working for families – that will help. The focus on a clear target for the number of children lifted from poverty is also welcome – no matter how much we may quibble about the actual numbers or definitions. It is setting clear intentions – now the delivery of all this is next.

  5. Ad 5

    Changes occurring from July 1st 2018:


    “As part of improvements to Working for Families, the Family Tax Credit rates will be simplified to a single eldest child rate and a single subsequent child rate – with substantial increases,” says Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni.

    “The eldest child rate will increase to $5,878. At present it is $5,303 if the eldest child is aged 16-18, and $4,822 if the eldest child is aged 0-15.

    “The Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Child’s Benefit and Foster Care Allowance will also be increased by $20.31 a week. This means they receive the same increase as those getting the eldest child Family Tax Credit for children aged 0-15.

    “While Working for Families payments currently reduce once a family earns over $36,350 a year before tax, from 1 July 2018 a family can earn up to $42,700 before the payment begins to abate,” says Carmel Sepuloni.

    “The Government is also introducing a Best Start payment of $3,120 per child ($60 a week) for the first year, providing extra help to the parents of the estimated 65,000 newborns each year. For low- and middle-income earners, that support will continue until their child turns three,” says Tracey Martin.

    The changes will come into effect on 1 July 2018.

    “These are affordable because we have rejected National’s tax cuts, which would give $440 million a year to the top 10 per cent of income earners while children and their families missed out,” says Carmel Sepuloni.

  6. Kay 6

    Ok, this “Winter energy payment” for all people on core benefits sounds promising. I will believe it only when it happens, but $450 would remove the fear of turning on the heater over the worst of winter which can only be a good thing.

    Given Lab/NZ1 have no desire to increase benefit rates I suppose it’s better than nothing, but the cynic in me sees this as a “look at us we DO care about beneficiaries” gesture. Like hell they do. Now wait for the bashers to have a field day over this one, and completely ignore the bit about nearly all of the extra payments going to pensioners (but that’s ok, they’re DESERVING of heat….)

    • tracey 6.1

      Maybe it should go to people’s nominated energy company?

      • SPC 6.1.1

        Does not work well with people changing power companies based on better deals from time to time. Or those buying wood for their wood burner etc.

        • tracey

          Understood. Was kind of pre empting the “but how do we know they will spend it on power” brigade… who ignore that people wantvto be warm but for the financial means to get warm.

          • SPC

            If one looks at it as a temporary increase in income for when their (energy) costs are at their highest, it makes a lot of sense.

          • Kay

            Tracey, that’s the crowd I’m waiting for, so about to go on a media blackout for a while. Not up for supplementary bashing at the moment. But to throw them a bit of raw meat- maybe I’ll be really naughty and use some of it towards getting some desperately needed new glasses, or something luxurious like that….

      • Rosemary McDonald 6.1.2

        “Maybe it should go to people’s nominated energy company?”

        Or firewood supplier?

  7. millsy 7

    I hope the winter fuel payment is delivered by an agency other than WINZ.

    • Ad 7.1

      Straight from IRD would be better

      • millsy 7.1.1

        I would set up a new agency.

        • Ad

          In the 7 months to July 2018? Winter’s coming.

          IRD already has all their accounts.

          • tracey

            Does IRD have all the accounts of those not paying their child financial obligations? How well do they administer that?

            • Ad


              They are undergoing a full rebuild of their computer architecture and operations at the moment.

              I hear that this particular task is not going to be an issue.

              • tracey

                Good cos it has been since I first became involved in it in 1988. Low priority from all govts since then as opposed to hounding beneficiaries which in tge same time has developed into a national sport. Even half tgat fervour on deducting payments from tge wages would go a long way.

  8. SPC 8

    I have always preferred a funding mechanism for the Super Fund that did not require a budget surplus (or borrowing) to finance. Thus was constant and affordable.

    One option was/is to surtax the wages of older workers.

    That said, the government pays $4B pa (and rising) in super payments to those over 65 still working. Stop that and there is the $2.7B for the super fund contributions right there.

  9. McFlock 9

    Cautiously optimistic. I also hadn’t picked up that the govt has ruled out a ppp for the dunedin hospital rebuild, which is another big step.

    • cleangreen 9.1

      Good work labour coalition, 100%

      But the opposition National party is hoping mad that there windfall tax cut has gone up in smoke; oh gosh; – sorry didims.!!!!

    • tracey 9.2

      Especially as organising a PPP there seemed to be taking the last govt over 9 years…

  10. Bill 11

    Us undeserving don’t even get mentioned in the part of this mini-budget that might actually have an effect on us

    From Labour’s Fact Sheet.

    Superannuitants and students will also benefit. Approximately 710,000 superannuitants will benefit from the introduction of the Winter Energy Payment (WEP) in 2018. Approximately 41,000 students are expected to benefit from increases in the Accommodation Benefit.

    Says it all really.

    • tracey 11.1

      Those who have been taxed and those who will soon be taxed matter most Bill… for re election.

      • Bill 11.1.1

        And more on the undeserving poor front. (supposed increase to Accommodation Supplement)


        If you’re getting Temporary Additional Support, in most cases it will decrease if your Accommodation Supplement payments increase. The calculator doesn’t show the impact on Temporary Additional Support payments.

        Paper. Shuffling. Bastards.

        • red-blooded

          A quick look at the WINZ website suggests that Temporary Additional support has a lot of caveats around it – it seems to be a bit of a judgement call as to who might get it. If that’s the case, then surely an increase in the Accommodation Supplement (which is paid for as long as you need it and without so many hoops to jump through) is a good thing?

          • Bill

            More or less everyone I know claiming welfare entitlements receives some level of TAS.

            If you want to throw in the idea it’s kind of okay, because those not receiving TAS gain, then you have to also acknowledge that it’s the poorest of the poor –
            those struggling the most of all – who are gaining nothing at all.

            • red-blooded

              Have another look at what I actually said, Bill, rather than knocking down straw men.

              • Bill

                Seems you’re not aware that rent is a component of TAS.

                Giving with one hand (increased rent allowance) and taking away with the other (decreased TAS eligibility)

                Engage brain red-blooded. It’s just a renaming of labels with zero financial change (unless the person on TAS is already over the TAS limit).

      • Bill 11.1.2

        Last I looked, welfare entitlements were taxed tracey. Jist sayin’.

  11. Grey Area 12

    Meanwhile on Planet Key – the lead story on the Royal National Herald online edition is a car park in Auckland selling for $265,000. Trevett’s piece on the famillies package is currently item 20.

    They really are taking the proverbial.

  12. NZJester 13

    When the previous National Government came into power they could do all the spending on their promises thanks to the previous Labour Government who paid off our debts. The first thing they immediately did was borrow money to pay for a tax cut for the rich. Later on to help fund their tax cuts for the rich they did a tax swap of GST for PAYE putting a lot of the tax burden on the poor and working class as well as slowly under-funding essential services by failing to keep their budgets up to date with inflation.
    This Labour Govenment has inherited a country with all the essential services well under funded and a mountain of debt. They are having to do what they can with band aid solutions due to lack of money to try and fix the big problems left behind by National.
    Labour should seriously look at swapping the PAYE and GST taxes back around putting more buying power back in the average wage earners pocket.
    It would increase the tax intake while giving the average poor and working class people more buying power to put food on their table, cloths on their backs and some money to help keep their homes warm in the winter.

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