A reasonable first budget for Labour

As Minister of Finance Grant Robertson was fortunate to inherit a healthy economy and a growing surplus to play with.

From what I’ve seen (I was busy yesterday and only caught bits of the budget details) it was a generally prudent and predictable budget. Big dollops of dosh had already been committed in last year’s ‘mini budget’, so this was more of an incremental addition.

Health and education  got reasonable increases, but nothing dramatic – National claim some increases are no more than they increased in their last budget. That isn’t a bad thing.

The budget has been described as ‘the first step in a plan for transformation’ – it is really only a beginning in most respects. Much will depend how the economy goes over the next couple of years and how the results of the many working groups and advisory committees pan out. There seems nothing revolutionary about the Government at this stage.

I’d like to see a bold reform of the whole tax and benefit system, and with healthy books it is a good time to do something, but it is probably too seen for the Government to get to grips with major changes – and the IRD computer system in particular couldn’t cope anyway until it is replaced.

Labour have been criticised for reneging on some of their promises – fair comments but no big deal.

While money has been spread around there is still a big miss – middle New Zealand, ordinary working people who don’t have dependant children. They have had their tax cuts whipped away from them and as far as I have seen will get little direct benefit.

Overall it seems to be an ok first budget. The degree of transformation won’t become apparent until next year’s budget, and the election year budget after that.

Media and some politicians try to make dramatics out of budgets but in the main they should be predictable and boring, so this one has been a success.

10 Comments

  1. David

     /  May 18, 2018

    Pretty good budget from Robertson, could have almost have been delivered by English, who knows he might turn out a sensible finance minister.
    Aside from the daft tertiary education bribe and the dopey winter fuel payments to millionaire pensioners the only area of concern from my perspective is the NZ First largesse, Robertson made them look awful and wasteful yesterday (NZ First) with his cautious first outing.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  May 18, 2018

      It would be nice if the middle and lower income people with no children weren’t being treated as chequebooks for people far better off than we are.

  2. Gezza

     /  May 18, 2018

    Just going to get myself some coffee & toast, & sit back to await the inevitable “profligate loony lefties 😡” spittle-flecked rant from 🗣 Sir Alan …

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  May 18, 2018

      Sounds like you burnt your toast, Sir Gerald. Best not to breathe on it in that mood.

      Basically a keep cruising budget while they wait for 73 working committees to report back.

  3. Blazer

     /  May 18, 2018

    As far as National and its acolytes go, this budget renders them a ‘howling at the moon’ opposition.Great strategic budget by the Coalition and lays the foundation for some more progressive reforms…hopefully.

    • PDB

       /  May 18, 2018

      You answer yourself there Blazer;

      *Now – Country doing well with National-lite in charge – plenty of money for nice-to-haves
      *Later – More progressive reforms – not much money for nice-to-haves.

      Large tax rises is all Labour have to give workers down the line once the money runs out.

      • Blazer

         /  May 18, 2018

        good to see you like this prudent budget…the best is yet to come.Must admit Robertson has been sure footed and has shown he has what it takes as Finance minister.Answered all questions put to him in an assuring,confident and very competent manner.

        • PDB

           /  May 18, 2018

          Could have almost been the 10th National budget which you would have moaned about.

  4. Corky

     /  May 18, 2018

    So Housing New Zealand is borrowing two point something billion as a separate entity from the crown. How does that work, Grant? Oh, maybe because it wont show up on the books?
    I’m surprised today how many people and groups you’d assume are Lefties, whom are criticising this budget.

    Maybe Grant is saving the goodies for his pre-election spend-up?