Grant Robertson on Newshub Nation

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson was interviewed on Newshub Nation yesterday.

First, the sideshow.

imon Shepherd: It’s the highlight of the political year, for the government and one man in particular, the Finance Minister. I asked Finance Minister Grant Roberson if he was disappointed that the unauthorised early release of budget details overshadowed his first wellbeing budget. 
Robertson: I don’t think that it did. The reaction that we’re getting from New Zealanders to the budget is that they’re really pleased that we’re focused on a big, long-term issue like mental health. I don’t think New Zealanders are focused on the political games in Wellington.
But there were so many of them. There was the leak of the documentation, the allegations of a hack — you sort of seemingly linking the National Party to that, and then it wasn’t a hack. It was shambolic.
Look, I’ve expressed my disappointment in the fact that the Treasury system could be infiltrated this way and also that the Treasury didn’t do more to find out what had happened before they referred it to the police. The reality is that that’s now in the hands of the State Services Commissioner, who is doing an inquiry, and we’ll await the outcomes of that.
Well, how do you think you handled it all?
Look, I invite you to put yourself in my shoes. On Tuesday night the Chief Executive of the Treasury arrived in my office and said about an hour ago I have referred to the police 2000, of what he called, hacks into the system. I said to him, ‘Do you know how that’s happened?’ He said, ‘No, I don’t.’ I said, ‘Do you know if any other areas of the Treasury system have been compromised?’ He said, ‘No, I don’t.’ So at that point, I’m going to take that matter pretty seriously. That’s what we did. Obviously more information has now come to light. That’s what the inquiry will cover.
Do you think you acted too quickly? Do you think you should’ve waited and got some more information before you put out that press release just then, which seemed to indicate that National was linked to the allegations of a hack?
Like I say, I think most people in my shoes, having received the information I did, would react and say, ‘Well, we need to make sure, regardless of how the National Party might’ve got the information, that they were aware of what the Treasury had advised me. We all now know that the situation is somewhat different. The inquiry will look into how that happened.

Then the meat of the topic.

You named it the Wellbeing Budget, but mental health aside, what is actually transformational about it?
I think the work that we’re doing in domestic and sexual violence is absolutely transformational. We’re talking there about breaking a cycle that has bedeviled New Zealand for many years. $320 million going into that. We’re going to transform the lives of people who are on benefits by indexing that to the average wage. That’s going to lift their incomes consistently.
Okay. Well, let’s talk about that. Obviously the Welfare Expert Advisory Group said 12-47 per cent boost to benefits is needed, something like $5 billion. You didn’t go near that. You’ve done $300 million. Why not?
Well, because we’re doing this in phases. And we’ve actually done three things —we’ve done, not only the indexation of benefits, but we’ve also lifted the abatement rate — the rate at which your income drops if you’re working while you’re on a benefit. And we’ve got rid of the sanction that was on mothers who didn’t identify the fathers of their children. That’s stage one. We absolutely acknowledge that there’s further work to do in this area.
Do you think that you missed a chance to be transformational by not implementing a capital gains tax?
Well, as you well know, I would’ve like to have implemented a capital gains tax. That, of course, would not have come into force until after the election. That was always the plan, but the realities of coalition government are we didn’t have the numbers for that.
What about a greater focus on business? If you lift them and provide incentives for business, that changes the whole economy, doesn’t it? So why didn’t you do that?
Well, we are. There’s a great deal of focus on supporting business. One of the things I’m really excited about in this budget is the $300 million fund for venture investment in those businesses that have got past the start-up phase and are looking to grow to be international companies, and Peter Beck from Rocket Lab has raised this issue with us and said, ‘Too many of these companies head offshore because there isn’t investment here.’ The government’s now got $300 million of skin in the game.
But I would say to you, that this country is made up — the backbone — is small to medium enterprises, and the businesses you’re talking about there are start-ups that want to go internationally. You’re not addressing the small to medium enterprises.
Well, I’d argue we are. The biggest issue raised with me by business is skilled staff, infrastructure, making sure we get those trade agreements going so people can export. They are the issues we are working on.
Could you have been more transformational if you’d relaxed your debt rules earlier? Is there a chance you could look back at this and say, ‘I wish I hadn’t played it so safe’?
It’s always about a balance. We have to make sure that we do keep our debt under control. We’re a small country. We’re susceptible to significant economic shocks and natural disasters. We are actually borrowing more money in this Budget. The economy is growing as well. That means the percentage of GDP stays steady, but we are borrowing to invest in those areas like infrastructure, building up KiwiRail, building more schools and hospitals. But it is all about a balance, and I think we’ve got it right.
Well, what about the balance — you’ve just mentioned shocks like natural disasters or international shocks. You are actually borrowing more. You are running down the projected surpluses. Are you leaving us vulnerable to something like that?
No, I don’t believe so. I mean, we still have a surplus of $1.3 billion here. We still have debt at a relatively low level. We are creating that balance, but we made a decision in this Budget to spend more than we had originally allocated, and that’s because the need was there. The need was there in infrastructure, but the need was also there in services like mental health. We always said, Simon, is that a sustainable surplus would be one where we’d met the needs that were there, so therefore this Budget that surplus is a bit lower, but it still exists.
Are you meeting the health needs though? Because National’s Amy Adams points out that policies for midwives, no free health checks for seniors, reduced GP fees — those kinds of things are not addressed in this particular budget. And in fact, figures from the Child Poverty Action Group show that spending on public health is forecast to be the lowest in a decade by 2023.
Well, what we’ve done is prioritise mental health, and we’ve been completely upfront about that from day one. We have a mental health crisis in New Zealand. It’s been ignored, but there’s still significant resources going into the rest of our health system, around $2.9 billion into supporting DHBs, more money for ambulances. There are other areas, within our coalition agreement, within our confidence-and-supply agreement that we’ll look to address in next year’s Budget, but we made mental health a priority.
Such as?
Well, you’ll have to wait till next year.
What about teachers, though? They’re crying out for some more love from the government, and they’ve just announced more disruptive action. So why couldn’t you address that in this Budget?
We believe we’ve got a fair offer on the table, the $1.2 billion offer. The Budget also addresses some of the non-pay-related issues that teachers have been raising. Six hundred learning support coordinators for what we used to call special ed. 2480 more teachers—
And yet they’re still unhappy?
Well, that’s the reality of the world. What I hope is happening, and I’m pretty sure it is happening right now, is that the Ministry of Education and the unions are sitting down together to say, ‘Look, how can we resolve this?’ We want it resolved. We understand the frustration of teachers after 10 years of not getting supported. Let’s take these first steps together now.
What is there in this Budget for middle New Zealanders? Sort of, those low to middle income families. There doesn’t seem to be anything.
Well, I’d give you one example. We’re removing school donations for decile one to seven schools.
But in the hip pocket there’s nothing like tax bracket creep or anything like that.
Well, look, we’ve made a commitment not to change tax rates in this term of government because we believe that we need the resources that are there to meet the needs that are there.
Well, let’s talk about housing. There is nothing actually, really, apart from the Housing First — the transitional housing — there’s nothing else for housing in this Budget. You’ve got KiwiBuild, which has stalled at the moment because it’s not delivering.
We put $2 billion in last year’s Budget for KiwiBuild for the life of the programme—
And it’s not delivering.
And as you know, there is a housing reset coming forward, and actually in the Budget documents we state that we’ve put some money aside to help manage that housing reset.
How much?
You’ll see the details of that when the reset’s released.
What about the policies that you agreed with the Greens, like a shared equity scheme to get more people to be able to afford to buy into our houses. What happened to that?
As I say, you’ll have to wait for the housing reset that Minister Twyford’s going to announce, but clearly we’ve got a large-scale building programme for housing that’s not just about KiwiBuild. It’s about state housing, transitional housing. Mr Twyford’s now going to come back with that reset, and you’ll be able to see—
But there’s 11,000 people on the state housing list, and there’s nothing extra in this Budget for them.
Well, we made a significant investment in the building of 6000 state houses in the last Budget. We’ve got an integrated programme with transitional housing and affordable housing. Phil Twyford’s going to announce a housing reset. We’ve set some money aside to support that.
What would you say to business-owners, teachers and say, middle income, low-income earners — some of those feel left out by Budget 2019. What would you say to them? What hope will you offer them for next year?
Look, I’ve always said that the three budgets of this term are a trilogy. Last year we did the foundation-building of making sure we got spending back into those core areas. This year we’ve targeted areas like mental health that all of those people will benefit from. We’ve got a third Budget to come as well.
So is that going to be the blockbuster for these people?
No, I see them all as part of an attempt to start turning around a decade of neglect in a lot of important areas in New Zealand. Two-thirds of the way through, I think we’re making good progress.

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36 Comments

  1. Gerrit

     /  2nd June 2019

    Is “look” the new buzz word for the CoL?

    Hipkins uses it a lot, Robertson as well, even Peters starts an answers with “Look”.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  2nd June 2019

      Yes, ‘look’ has taken over from ‘absolutely.’

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  2nd June 2019

        Itsnt both of them far better than “ackshully” and “end of the day”

        and the biggy of them all for Key ? on average 32 x per speech

        “New Ziland”
        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/64631412/

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  2nd June 2019

          Last time I looked John Key wasn’t in politics. However, he must have been a great PM. What he said is still burnt into your skull.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  2nd June 2019

            Tsk tsk …forgotten him already. Comparisons are OK dear chap.
            We only have to remember John Key referring back to Helen Clark right up till 2016.
            The story says Key used Labour as a common word too , he would have meant ‘Helen Clark and Labour’

            Im sure Muldoon was mentioned for years after losing office , but for nationals stooges he didnt exist …ever.

            Didnt Farrar recently dig up something Tracy Martin ‘once’ said – from 2013 !

            No need to be like Pol Pot Corky ,and have a year zero from Sept 2017.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  2nd June 2019

              ”Tsk tsk …forgotten him already. Comparisons are OK dear chap.”

              Apparently not, old boy…otherwise you wouldn’t have mentioned him.
              When I see world ”ackshully” I know I’m dealing with a hate-filled Lefty.
              Usually a troll to boot, too.

              ”No need to be like Pol Pot Corky ,and have a year zero from Sept 2017.”

              It’s always a year zero for Libertarians..not matter who’s in power. So you are wishing me nothing new.

            • Duker

               /  2nd June 2019

              Im surprised you dont take your ‘Libertarian junk philosophy’ to modern Cambodia , where you would be away from interfering governments and every thing from a 10 yr old to a government minister can be bought!
              Looking down your nose at the poor comes free
              Bon voyage

            • Corky

               /  2nd June 2019

              I’m surprised you can’t take a hint. I’ve given your trolling a fair hearing.

              Bon voyage…for good.

      • Blazer

         /  2nd June 2019

        the word I most often hear is…’so…..’

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  2nd June 2019

          Yes, especially from females on tv or radio, for some reason. They seem to answer nearly every question by beginning with “So…what’s happening here is … etc”.

          They’ve picked it up from somewhere overseas – either US or UK I think.

          They all now also do the American “double is”s. “So…the thing is…is that blah blah”.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  2nd June 2019

          So has been around in that way for a long time. It’s not as obvious or intrusive as ‘look’, which can sound aggressive.

          Thank goodness JA has stopped saying ‘absolutely” in every sentence. That was really annoying as one waited for her to say it.

          So, look, at this moment in time, we need to think outside the square …

          Reply
    • Ray

       /  2nd June 2019

      Does this present Government do anything but spin and kick it down the road with yet another “Inquiry”
      Look I can’t possibly comment ( though that didn’t stop me smearing earlier) because it there is an “Inquiry”.
      Point 1, Since when has an Inquiry meant no one can comment.
      Point 2 Is this another fizzer of a Budget a bit like the last one “Foundations for the Future” and Kiwibuild, hardly any foundations poured, let alone built on.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  2nd June 2019

        what achievements by the last administration made you proud to be a National supporter Ray?

        please spare me the GFC and Chch quakes.

        Reply
        • Ray

           /  2nd June 2019

          I know you refuse to be educated on the last 9 years Blaze because it would upset your World view/bias but first real rise in benefits in 35 years should count for something.
          Having seen the present Governments headless chicken impersonation when the Budget leaked, just imagine an earthquake or a GFC… Royal Commission times ten?

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  2nd June 2019

            what a surprise…what a threadbare cupboard …that’s all you could find..c’mon Ray,you know the Nats are never initiators of progressive change.

            Reply
          • Duker

             /  2nd June 2019

            real rise in benefits ?
            The DPB was in 73 – who did that ?
            Increased funding for Early Childhood , who did that in 2005?
            So the raised one small part in 2014 after cutting all of them back in 1991
            “”By doing this, we are reversing a decades-long policy that has meant those on benefits have fallen further and further behind. In 1991 the National government significantly cut benefits, including scrapping the Universal Family Benefit,” -Sepuloni

            Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  2nd June 2019

        Do you think that benefits should be the same as the average wage and that people should be paid to have more and more children ?

        Wasn’t it National who began the tax credit thing that means that families pay no tax at all (unlike those of us who are not supposed to mind subsidising people on incomes many times the size of our own) ?

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  2nd June 2019

      Robertson (above):
      “I think the work that we’re doing in domestic and sexual violence is absolutely transformational.”

      “We absolutely acknowledge that there’s further work to do in this area.”

      “Absolutely” is not dead yet among the Labour crew. I think it’s still a particular favourite of Jacinda’s.

      Reply
  2. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  2nd June 2019

    Well, look here, it’s as you well know, these are rhetorical devices politicians use to suggest they have command of their portfolios, you see.
    4 looks; 12 wells; and a sprinkling of: as I say, as you know, as you well know.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  2nd June 2019

      ‘As you know’ is often used to not make it seem as if the speaker thinks that the hearer doesn’t know; university lecturers do it. ‘As you know, Dickens was born before Queen Victoria.. ‘

      ‘As you well know’ can be ‘You are being tiresome’.

      Reply
  3. Corky

     /  2nd June 2019

    Nationals got a problem here. If Labour starts hammering home a message of New Zealand coming first…making New Zealand great again..what will be Nationals war cry? The chickens have yet to roost on Labours fiscal policies… and probably won’t before the next election. So, unless Simon takes elocution lessons and a magicians course on how to pull wonders out of a black hat, things are looking decidedly grim for the Tories.

    In the meantime I look forward to Jacinda’s cabinet reshuffle. Will Phil go into free fall?

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  2nd June 2019

      Did anything happen to Kick Smith as Minister of Housing , when his pet project the SHAs produced 54,000 ‘consents from the Councils’ but only about 2000 houses over 8 years.

      I had been working in areas related to development for housing back in 2011, and well remember that nay sayer Duncan Garner saying there was no way would councils do anything like 20,000 consents. I thought it was a big ask , but they exceeded the targets, but nothing happened to progress most of the consents as it was just aother part of the housing speculation bubble that happened under National.
      Yes previous governments had let speculation go on, then the reserve bank would wind up interest rates after about 2 years but it wasnt the massive boom with very low interest rates over such a long time that has made the immediate past ‘mother of all booms’

      Reply
  4. Duker

     /  2nd June 2019

    back to the hacking.. Because they did it 2000 times using the Treasurys own search bar at the top of their home page ( no it wasnt google search as Farrar claimed – he of course was Don Brashs email administrator when Brashs email were released. No evidence even of any ‘breach’ there like there was with treasury. Don didnt know how to use a computer so all his emails were printed off for him and werent then shredded afterwards)

    see the seach bar here at Treasurys own website
    https://treasury.govt.nz/

    type in ‘hack’ and up comes search results with the surrounding words to the use of the phrase. This was the extra information national used .

    The Police arent going to investigate but its one of those things because of the sustained use would be hacking ( no it doesnt always mean you have to crack a password but usually thats done by 100s of tries as well – for simple passwords).
    Im a sure a court case with a judges ruling could establish as case law as a breach under the crimes act where information was used to benefit national.

    The Banks anonymous donations comes to mind, the Police said there wasnt a case, but one did eventuate and the judges decision changed the law what political parties , mostly National had thought about ‘anonymous’. If you knew the donor it wasnt anonymous. previously if they just ‘wanted to be anonymous to the public’ that was enough.
    Now the National Mps wash almost all their donations through the Party so that donors are hidden and the only donor in Mps register is listed as ‘NZ national Party’. Clearly it is money raised by the MP, as Im sure a party wide donation isnt going to end up for a sitting Mp – thats saved for winning seats off labour

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  2nd June 2019

      Drivel. It was obtained neither dishonestly nor by deception as per the Crimes Act you already quoted and got shot down on.

      Neither was it a long-standing error as you previously and wrongly claimed. Time you stopped claiming expertise and knowledge you so obviously lack.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  2nd June 2019

        yes Treasury has used the same format for presenting the budget online for many years . I know as have used – legally.
        National used last years search items to look for this year . Would have known that because the method has been in use since around 2015 or so.

        The Crimes Act talks about ‘accessing a computer system’. nothing about passwords .

        Thats how the extra lie about google search comes about- it wasnt as I pointed out, it was via Treasurys search bar using its own search engine, they dont want to acknowledge accessing Treasurys computer system at all.
        Bridges as a prosecutor knows that any admissions at all can be damaging.
        Hes was was last heard claiming journalists privilege about sources ! WTF.

        Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years who intentionally accesses, directly or indirectly, any computer system without authorisation, knowing that he or she is not authorised to access that computer system, or being reckless as to whether or not he or she is authorised to access that computer system.

        directly or indirectly. They knew the budget is confidential when they accessed Treasurys computers.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  2nd June 2019

          Fantasy. The public facing search facility grants authorisation to access the system through it. It was always obvious it was an internal search function not Google when they said it was a local index. The format is completely irrelevant to the security blunder. It simply made searching for important content in the documents simpler once the data had been erroneously loaded into the public index by their IT incompetence.

          I’m guessing they cloned the live system forgetting that their clone ran a service that updated the live index which they should have deactivated. And then didn’t bother to run some test queries to make sure that the new data was secure. Just incompetent.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  2nd June 2019

            Directly or indirectly-
            Then how come Bridges wont admit any part of what his staff did ? The volume and timing of any admission would satisfy the ‘intent’ part of the law too.

            Snowden would love your interpretation under US law , as of course he was allowed access

            A titbit from Snowden
            “revealed that the NSA was paying U.S. private tech companies for clandestine access to their communications networks.
            “The National Security Agency is paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to U.S. companies for clandestine access to their communications networks, filtering vast traffic flows for foreign targets in a process that also sweeps in large volumes of American telephone calls, e-mails and instant messages.

            The bulk of the spending, detailed in a multi-volume intelligence budget obtained by The Washington Post, goes to participants in a Corporate Partner Access Project for major U.S. telecommunications providers.”
            We we told the blurb that they only acess on court orders

            Reply
          • Duker

             /  2nd June 2019

            So trying a 100-1000 passwords to access any system , and it gets you in, isnt a hack as its ‘public facing acess’

            I get around the Heralds paywall, because as you know , they send ALL the premium page to you but use the web page source data to hide it apart from the first paragraph.
            That isnt hacking as they sent all data to my computer hardrive and I have a ‘feature’ on my browser that blocks the ‘premium curtain’ from covering 95% of the story.

            Reply
    • Pink David

       /  2nd June 2019

      Does the Labour Party pay you for this, or do you just do it for free?

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  2nd June 2019

        You think everything revolves around money dont you.

        Reply
        • admiralvonspee

           /  2nd June 2019

          Money is not the sole form of payment, old fruit…bol.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  2nd June 2019

            hoist the jolly roger…there’s buggery on the high seas..rear admiral…RE is the in vogue payoff these days.

            Reply
            • admiralvonspee

               /  2nd June 2019

              No need to go all Folau on the heathens, old sock.

  5. david in aus

     /  2nd June 2019

    Grant Robertson, “Well, as you well know, I would’ve like to have implemented a capital gains tax. That, of course, would not have come into force until after the election. That was always the plan, but the realities of coalition government are we didn’t have the numbers for that.”

    I have to give him points for honesty, but not much for political acumen.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  2nd June 2019

      “not much for political acumen.”

      Unlike a certain partys 2009 Tax Working Group which recommended a rise in GST but Key
      at election denied there was going to be arise in GST …..nekk minit
      PM defensive after video reveals GST flip-flop
      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10625326
      Details from the video
      But in a 2008 press conference, Mr Key said raising taxes would not happen under a National Government.
      “National is not going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes, not raise taxes.”

      Apparently in the newspeak ‘Not going to be raining GST doesnt mean that at all. The media back then let him get away with an ‘increase is a decrease’ newspeak

      Reply
  6. Duker

     /  2nd June 2019

    PG, how come when Simon Bridges was on ‘Newshub Nation’ we dont get a transcript just some scraps from Titter
    https://yournz.org/2019/03/09/newshub-nation-simon-bridges-on-cgt-and-other-tax-questions/

    Reply

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