NZ First ‘promises’ top $10b

I think that everyone knows that promises and bottom lines from Winston Peters should be taken with a grain of Epsom salts.

But Peters seems to believe that NZ First can lead the next government, he has suggested they could even top National which means they would get a lot of say in which policies are implemented.

Gareth Morgan has highlighted the spending promises of Peters and appears to be going head to head with Peters. The Opportunities Party and NZ First are competing for floating votes and are targeting those who may vote against the status quo.

Stuff: Gareth Morgan positions himself as alternative to Winston Peters

Gareth Morgan is keen to position himself as an anti-Winston Peters “peacemaker”, shoring up a Government on either side of the political divide without introducing the instability of NZ First.

The firebrand economist and newbie politician released a press release attacking Peters on Monday, along with a costing of his “pork barrel promises”.

Morgan contends Peters’ policies – including the writeoff of student debt, removal of GST from food, and free GP visits for pensioners – would cost $10b every year, with no indication of where that money would come from, other than a vague promise to reduce tax evasion.

Grandiose and expensive promises didn’t matter when NZ First were a 5-10% party. If they become, as looks likely, a 10-20% party then the cost of their policies becomes more pertinent. And if they get into the 20-40% zone then it becomes critical.

So it’s important that the possible cost of NZ First policy promises is examined. The media should be doing this but Morgan has done it for them.

TOP: The post-truth World of Winstonomics

It is not unusual for politicians to make promises they can’t keep. In an attempt to restore some integrity and transparency into politics, The Opportunities Party (TOP) has undertaken means to fully cost all our policies and show where the money is coming from.

Not all parties are this robust however. One party in particular, is writing cheques they can’t cash and therefore making promises they can’t possibly deliver. That party is NZ First and their leader is Winston Peters.

We have filtered through the long list of ‘policy’ supplied by New Zealand First on their websiteand pulled out everything we could find that resembled a concrete and significant election commitment.

Winston’s supporters are rightly looking for a change from the ‘do nothing’ Establishment parties that have led us to a society with rising inequality, forgotten regions and unaffordable housing. However, Winston owes those supporters a set of promises he can actually deliver on –  that is not the case with his current offering.

While some of the policies from NZ First have costings, the majority do not.

We took it upon ourselves to do some analysis and so far the tab has run up to around $10 billion per yearwith the promise of more to come.

By far , the biggest cost on his campaign check book  is his promise to give a universal student allowance and write off student debt for those who stay in New Zealand for the same period of their study…And what about the $4.6 billion price tag? Where is that money going to come from?

Winston has also promised to ‘remove GST off food’ as well as rates. Let’s put aside the fact tinkering with our GST system is fraught with issues, and there are much more efficient ways to make housing and food more affordable. The real problem here is the estimated $3.6 billion price tag.

His plan to return GST from tourism to the regions hits the chord that he has been playing for years, sounding the death of our regions. With minimal detail given, it’s hard to know what this really means let alone estimate the cost; it isn’t clear what money he would give back, to whom, and what that money would be used for. However, if this included both international and domestic tourism, the bill could run up to around $3 billion.

The list of promises goes on with three free GP visits for pensioners a year (there are 600,000 pensioners and at $60 extra per visit, that is $108 million), 1,800 more police ($324 million based on Labour’s calculation of 1000 police), free health checks for year 9 students ($10 million, based on the cost of the B4 school check).

The total bill for these promises alone comes to a $10 billion bill per annum. 

That sort of money cannot just be pulled out of thin air as Winston would have us all believe, and certainly, can’t be paid for by nebulous promises to ‘reduce tax evasion.’

This bill does not even include several of his more nebulous or one-off promises such as:

  • Recarpeting government buildings with wool (costed by the Taxpayers Union at $60-90m)
  • To allocate adequate resources into alternatives to 1080 which he will ban (Dave Hansford on Newsroom put the cost of this at $150m just for half of one national park)
  • He also wants to buy back the shares in SOEs that have been sold, which he will somehow do at the same price they were sold for.
  • In fact, NZ First wants to bring our banks back into New Zealand ownership as well.
  • NZ First also plans to ban inshore fishing and compensate the fishers for their losses; a plan that if it includes paua, lobster and snapper, would cost at least $1.3b.

His commitment to railways of national importance, including a rail line to Marsden Point, will apparently be funded by “revenue generated by railway service charges” and a “combination of Land Transport Fund funding and crown grants.”

And of course Winston’s biggest bribe is a long-term one; his promise to keep the age of eligibility for Superannuation at 65. NZ super alone by 2060 will be soaking up 8c in every dollar we earn, and as a result of this and rising health spending, government debt will have ballooned to twice national income.

All in all, New Zealand First is much in the tradition of Muldoonism – it promises heaps but is more than a little short of funding detail.

Is Winston likely to explain how all his promises would be paid for?

What about TOP’s policy costs?

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has undertaken means to fully cost all our policies and show where the money is coming from.

Leave a comment


  1. Corky

     /  August 2, 2017

    ”Winston has also promised to ‘remove GST off food’ as well as rates.”

    I didn’t know that. That policy would be a real winner. For many people, owning a home isn’t a joy. Its a relentless struggle to pay the rates. However, all that would happen under such a policy would be councils hiking the rates back to pre policy levels.

    • sorethumb

       /  August 2, 2017

      In some ways people will see these as pushes not promises?

  2. sorethumb

     /  August 2, 2017

    My head says TOPs is by far the best. I was thinking the other day about colonoscopy’s – nurses could perform them and I recalled it was Gareth Morgan’s Health Check book where I read that. His brutal taxes will have swings and roundabouts.

  3. Tipene

     /  August 2, 2017

    Gareth Morgan v Winston Peters:

    Someone’s bringing a pen knife to a gunfight, aren’t they?

    • sorethumb

       /  August 2, 2017

      I think that the West is at the cusp of a new age when we discover our roots (as immigrants pour in). Johnathon Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind highlights the strengths and weaknesses of conservatives and liberals. Conservatives are better at judging human nature than liberals and I think that is where Gareth Morgan falls down. For example he sees the TOW as a finite problem requiring solution X. It isn’t it is just a line – a tug of war for resources.

  4. Blazer

     /  August 2, 2017

    Winston has the right idea. Spend up large. Why worry about repayment in a world awash with unpayable debt. ..already! Live now. ..Later. delicious.

    • Corky

       /  August 2, 2017

      I resent having to agree with you, Blazer. But you are right. If it’s good enough for America, it’s good enough for us.

      • Gezza

         /  August 2, 2017

        Don’t listen to him Corks. He’s got nothin. He’s probably a hobo with a cellphone!

  5. PDB

     /  August 2, 2017

    Bribe-O-Meter week 3: All minor parties added, NZ First spending in excess of $22.5b.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  August 2, 2017

      Yep, Off the chart:

      • PDB

         /  August 2, 2017

        That’s a hell of a lot of corporate fraud to rein in to pay for it as NZL First suggest they will do…………Winston also forgets the fact that the cost of chasing corporate fraud is a huge outlay as well and not always recovered.

  1. NZ First ‘promises’ top $10b — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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