National embarrassed by $4 billion mistake

I’m sure National will have checked their fiscal policy numbers carefully, but not carefully enough. Grant Robertson pointed out they made a mistake – apparently National didn’t notice that the Government had changed a Super repayment amount,

This was very embarrassing for National, and for finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith, pretty much stuffing up the the day of their official campaign launch. And it stuffs National’s attempts to portray themselves as better managers of the books.

Richard Harman at Politik: Surging into National’s space

National’s campaign launch yesterday was overshadowed by its Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith having to admit before the broadcast that the figures on which he had based the affordability of his $4 billion tax cut were wrong.

The error yesterday centred on what is supposed to be the heart of its campaign; $4 billion in tax cuts to boost the post-Covod recovery.

National’s tax cuts were to be financed by stopping contributions to NZ Super Fund, but the party had used figures from the May Budget to support their affordability and failed to recognise that Robertson had reduced the estimated contributions to the fund in the PREFU published last Wednesday.

The error might have been avoided had National taken up the long-standing Opposition “perk” of having a Treasury official embedded in the Leader’s office. But the former Leader, Simon Bridges, refused to accept a Treasury official being part of his team.

Ultimately it was an error which while massively embarrassing is unlikely to impact National in any structural sense. The party has never looked like winning the election, so all that it may do is knock a few more points off its ultimate share of the vote.

We will never know what effect it ends up having on the election result, but it makes a difficult campaign harder for Judith Collins and National.

Harman went on to evaluate the fight for votes on the right, claiming the new Conservatives were “on a roll” (the lack of polls makes this hard to confirm), but it’s well known how hard this election already was for National.

The worry now for National must be that if NZ First fails to make it back to Parliament; if the Billy Te Kiha – Jami-Lee Ross Advance Party gets some support and if the New Conservatives continue their surge, then the foundations are there for a populist right-wing party.

What seems possible is that the centre-right space in New Zealand politics, which only a year ago National was beginning to believe it could have to itself is now becoming more contested by ACT and by the populists.

That is one of the potential implications of a lacklustre showing by National at the polls on October 17. And after the events yesterday, that lacklustre showing looks even more possible.

It’s quite possible ‘lacklustre’ may end up being a National disaster.

This sort of coverage doesn’t help: National’s disastrous day:

But there is one optimist:

No post on it at Kiwiblog yet.

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76 Comments

  1. David

     /  21st September 2020

    Ardern is as as cunning as ever and using the Covid to maximum effect, release the National mistake just prior to the Covid announcement when people are taking notice of the news then delay the Covid numbers so the media can sit around and write about Nationals error for an hour or so with maximum audience.
    You have to admire the master of the dark arts.

    Reply
    • They did well to spot the mistake too. Playing National at their own game.

      Reply
      • David

         /  21st September 2020

        Treasury found it.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  21st September 2020

          “release the National mistake just prior to the Covid announcement ”
          What utter nonsense, too silly for words.
          National released their policy Friday and Robertson sent his email to media Saturday about the mistake because he wanted to rain on Collins Campaign launch on Saturday evening.
          At first Goldsmith tried to blame labour for a sneaky change to the Cullen fund payments, when he didnt understand how the yearly amount is calculated.

          I have a feeling Goldsmith has outsourced his proposed tax costings, some time before the Prefu changed everything. More like a Joyce – “come up with some tax cuts and make it snappy”

          Reply
    • I notice no one has gone back and compared Labour’s pre-election budget of 2017 and how it worked out.
      I believe the 9 billion hole turned into a much large hole to a factor of 12!

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  21st September 2020

        Wonder why Steven Joyce hasn’t!
        He has the time….hope he didn’t teach you to count…..old fruit.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  21st September 2020

        Thats because it wasnt. Joyce could prove he was right and made it up.
        Labour had the pre election numbers ( like National should have but didnt) and their budget BASED ON THOSE NUMBERS was correct, as was shown by the economy and budgets until covid struck

        The real crazy thing is the Cullen is worth about $45 mill now , but only $10 mill or so was put into it
        National thinks its saving money because he wont put anymore money in($10 bill or so over next 10 years)…how crazy is that

        One party is saving money for a rainy day , another party wants to fritter it away on tax cuts for the wealthy, which we know delays recovery like it did for the tax cuts of 2012.

        Reply
  2. duperez

     /  21st September 2020

    If you can get to the high standard of the “master of the dark arts” by the simple deed of what happened I presume that the number of doctorates in the same has skyrocketed.

    Nothing unusual, simply routine, hardly even knocking on the door to get into class.

    (I’m not sure how many days/hours/
    /minutes beforehand the Labour people got the papers containing the error and went through them.)

    On finding it of course we should have expected them to let things lie or called Goldsmith, “Paul, old chap, do you realise there’s a bit of a mistake you might want to fix…?” I’m sure he would have had that approach if the boot was on the other foot. And his leader? Or Steven Joyce. 🤔

    Reply
    • David

       /  21st September 2020

      I expected her to do what she did, I was admiring the politics of it, it was well played. There is no criticizing it although she probably shouldn’t use Covid for her political ends again but she knew the media wouldn’t fuss on that given the red meat she had.

      Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st September 2020

    Not very clear what the mistake was or if it even matters. Nats used May Budget figures. The Govt changed some last week. So what?

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  21st September 2020

      Nothing changed. I would bet not one voting intention changed.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  21st September 2020

        Unless someone can explain what exactly the mistake was and why it matters I am going to file it with the daily “Trump Said Something Bad” noise.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st September 2020

          Apropos of the latter, a cold shower of reality for the Lefty media today. Data analysis shows Trump on track to win again. How can that be when everyone knows how bad he is after all the media stories telling us so?
          https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12366438

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  21st September 2020

            Not so . The swing states are ahead for Biden compared to the same stage in 2016.
            Its only a data scientist who doesnt look at polls
            “Professor Bela Stantic is the founder and director of Griffith University’s Big Data and Smart Analytics Lab, where he analyses social media data and sentiment to predict voters’ behaviour.”
            You just want to ignore this
            “At the moment, the polls show Trump trailing his opponent, Joe Biden, by an average of 6.2 per cent at the national level. They’re a bit closer in the key battleground states, where Biden leads by 3.9 per cent.

            I predict Trump will be able to spend even more time on the golf course , if that was even possible

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st September 2020

              I didn’t ignore that sentence. You ignored all the others.

            • Duker

               /  21st September 2020

              The US national polls were correct ( Hilary won the popular vote by a reasonable margin)
              What the national polls in the last week couldnt predict a narrow win by Trump in a few states. Neither can this dude with his social media,…how does he even get hold of that much data without breaching social media terms
              This time they are looking at more states one by one. Biden leads in the states that matter

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st September 2020

              Rubbish. Last time they also polled all the states. You Lefties are just setting yourselves up for a rerun of 2016.

              I guess it’s only fair that being wrong about everything else should mean being also wrong about predicting victory. Again.

        • Fight4nz

           /  21st September 2020

          What happened? Easy, a $4bn accounting error by National.
          Why does it matter? Even easier, National hold themselves up as the gold standard in economic management. Much the same way the Greens $12m school donation had the likes of JJH fizzing.
          The error itself probably doesn’t impact on Cullen Fund operation where it’s occurred but the knock on effect on claims that Tax cuts are affordable but now mean extra borrowing, and the fast track out of deficits are seriously undermined.
          At least for those who use evidence to base their decisions on. Tip for you I have it on good authority the Lefty moralising outbin is a good place for anything not fitting your agenda.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  21st September 2020

            Don’t just say accounting error. Exactly

            Reply
          • Fight4nz

             /  21st September 2020

            I don’t know more of that detail than what others have posted here. But what I am suggesting is it is unlikely to be important in and of itself. It’s the ramifications for other parts of their budget and the case they have been making for their approach and capability which it jeopardises.
            Another interesting point is this government has long been criticised for not being up to the job. Now we see some admiration based on the theory that Goldsmith was deliberately tripped up, ie for a dirty trick. No wonder it is National MO.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st September 2020

              Who knows if it was deliberate and if so, by whom. But as far as I can see it is utterly trivial and meaningless from the account Duker gave. Why doesn’t the media say so instead of pretending it is highly significant?

              These things aren’t:
              https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2020/09/labours_term_of_failure.html

            • Fight4nz

               /  21st September 2020

              Makes for pretty horrific reading. Ignoring my scepticism of DPF as a source, my thoughts would be that Covid is forcing the agenda that was expected from a Labour/NZP government with migration gone and a need to focus on local skills and productivity especially while tourism isn’t possible. The promise of a move away from an economy driven by immigration and property inflation and a willingness to sacrifice any public service no matter how basic to provide the “surplus “ mirage. A good many of the fails look after themselves if they just got on with that job.
              Of course several aren’t failures because the time limit hasn’t been reached.
              The student no fees thing isn’t a failure due to enrolment numbers it’s a questionable move in the first place.
              Kiwibuild poorly designed scheme to park an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
              I can’t help wondering if Gareth had stuck around he might be hoovering up alot of disenchanted votes right now.

    • Corky

       /  21st September 2020

      It’s no big deal. National will just have to take their lumps and move on. Chances are Labour will make some mistake before the election. National will be able to capitalise on that.

      The main thing National needs do is continue to make a clear demarcation between their policies and Labours. They need to bang home the message so even the village idiot knows what National is about. That way voters will be able to compare notes into probably Labour’s second term.

      Reply
      • Kimbo

         /  21st September 2020

        But yeah, given the eye-watering amounts both major parties are rightly saying they will borrow to address to Covid economic downturn, sadly $4bn is comparative chump change!

        Reply
    • Labour got the headline they wanted and will throw it as a talking point in National’s face right up until Election Day. Likely a prepared trap that National should have avoided if they had done their homework and which detracts from their purported point if difference…competence.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  21st September 2020

        Prepared trap?
        Goldsmith didnt understand how superannuation fund payments are made, ( they vary as the economy changes) likely he didnt do the analysis at all, hes a PR person and author.

        Its just more of the chain of incompetence from the Bridges… Muller was a shambles ( where the work was done by bossy women not Muller , no wonder he was overwelmed) and now continued under Collins…hasnt she faced up to some previous shambles in the party

        Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  21st September 2020

          You do know I was describing National’s performance in the matter…incompetent? And it was likely a prepared trap in that Robertson, as is prerogative, had recently updated the figures allocated to the Cullen Fund, and would have checked carefully in anticipation of Goldsmith dropping the ball. Which he did…

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  21st September 2020

            The changes to the funding are updated twice a year according to Treasurys model
            Robertson has nothing to do with it!

            This is the Treasury’s model that is used to calculate the government’s capital contribution to the New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) Fund.
            This model, which is in MS Excel workbook format, calculates the contribution rate for pre-funding New Zealand Superannuation (NZS). The model was updated at the time of the release of the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2019 (BEFU 2019).
            Since the last release with the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update 2018 (HYEFU) the model’s data inputs have been updated. Specifically, the model uses the latest five-year forecasts of the NZS Fund’s earnings and tax payments and longer-term projections of nominal GDP, the nominal Government 10-year bond rate and total net (after-tax) NZS expenditure.

            https://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/model/new-zealand-superannuation-fund-contribution-rate-model-befu-2019

            See how much nonsense your claims are , its been like that since at least last year and is changed regulary based different esitmates
            Im pretty sure Goldsmith couldnt do an excel spreadsheet to save his life

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st September 2020

              I can see how much nonsense any claim the error matters is. A forecast that keeps changing for an essentially voluntary payment is just fairy dust.

            • Duker

               /  21st September 2020

              You may think that , but the Country now has a $45 bill fund that only had $15 bill of taxpayers money since it started in 2003
              plus its NZs biggest taxpayer by far

              of course if Goldsmith cant even read the treasury reports or understand the details , may he should go back to writing vanity biographies of people who pay him first.

        • Corky

           /  21st September 2020

          Easy on, Cowboy. You have a habit of throwing the kitchen sink at everything. Yes, it was incompetence on many levels.. and maybe a sucker punch for suckers if we believe Kimbo. I’m sure Goldsmith will never make the same mistake again.

          Reply
          • Kimbo

             /  21st September 2020

            No, was replying to Duker who objected to my statement Goldsmith fell for a trap.

            Reply
          • Kimbo

             /  21st September 2020

            And yeah, he’ll never make the same mistake again, but then as there is unlikely to be a National Party Minister of Finance for at least three, maybe six more years, Goldsmith May never get the chance to redeem himself. As with life and rugby, in politics you’ve got to take the chances when they come. But you miss them if you drop the ball.

            Reply
          • Corky

             /  21st September 2020

            According to Three News, Goldsmith has made another fiscal miscalculation.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  22nd September 2020

              He should just ‘blame it all on a junior staffer’
              Private consultants or small people in Collins leaders office have done the heavy lifting on this Goldsmith is just the mouthpiece.

              Did Bridges some time ago refuse to have a treasury officials seconded to help with ‘the details’.

              But Judith as is her style doubles down
              National Party leader Judith Collins was confident on Monday that there were no other errors in the fiscal plan and that her finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith had double-checked.

              “National has made the same mistake with its capital allowance, that’s the money put aside to build things like schools and hospitals. Goldsmith took his numbers from May’s Budget, giving himself $18.63 billion from next year until 2027.

              But in last week’s Pre-Election Fiscal Update (PREFU) the numbers changed, with only $18.542 billion available over that time, leaving National with another shortfall of $88 million.

              The numbers are smaller but are amplified by the claim of Double Checking is even more hollow.

              The good news is the DOOR will catch the on the a*#e on the way out. The average voter doesnt trust pollies anyway but the ‘opinion leaders’ notice these things , except for the big noise lap dog on ZB

  4. John J Harrison

     /  21st September 2020

    Pete, true, very embarrassing.
    But what a breath of fresh air – they immediately took ownership of their mistake , not try and pass the buck as Ardern continually does.
    Hopefully lesson learned.
    At the end of the day it makes a massive 1% difference to the GDP number, so no biggie.

    Reply
    • lurcher1948

       /  21st September 2020

      National,the party full of financial experience,a great tui ad

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  21st September 2020

        Lurcher, well how do you explain the Labour ministers approving $13 million for a Green school when porn addict Jones turned them down for a mere million ?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  21st September 2020

          Whatsup….the right wing commentators are all growing furry,with bushy tails…these days!

          Reply
        • lurcher1948

           /  21st September 2020

          I’m struggling to link a $4 billion mistake by National to pornagraphy and a green school,straws are being clutched here

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  21st September 2020

            Yes . The problem was the Green policy was against expensive private schools.
            National has always found money for expensive private schools even while state schools leak
            The $1 mill was for PGF funding, the approval was a different Covid Recovery for proposals that have plans ready for consent.

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  21st September 2020

            Well, can you just explain for me what the mistake was and why it matters? No one else has.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  21st September 2020

              It was only a ‘mistake’ for the Greens as it was against party policy.

              Not that ignoring party policy has ever been a problem for National, remember the goal of having Wiatangi Tribunal finish up its cases by 2016.
              Or the $30 mill for Media works was against its free enterprise policy, not that that mattered when Comalco came begging

              You probably forgotten but Key promised tax cuts at 2008 election which were passed before Xmas and then cancelled before they started.
              Something about cutting taxes to boost recovery didnt add up then and will repeat again this time…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st September 2020

              I wasn’t asking Lurch about the Greens.

        • $12,000, 000, John, they were not greedy 😀

          Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st September 2020

      ‘But what a breath of fresh air –’…ha haaa….expect more fresh air from this team that just attracts …talent!

      Hopeless.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  22nd September 2020

      That ‘fresh air’ just turned quite stale as Collins,twisted and turned,ducked and dived and tried to ameliorate the clusterfuck that is Nationals financial …competence.

      Zoologist Joyce=fail…and now Historian ,Epsom side candidate Goldsmith=fail.

      Reply
  5. This is funny. David Farrar has chosen to post about the big issues regarding harry Potter today: The book burners are back

    I suggested that maybe Paul Goldsmith may want to burn his fiscal books and star again, but got pinged for trolling: At Kiwiblog!

    And other comments referring to the fiscal hole have disappeared altogether. They seem a tad touchy about it there.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  21st September 2020

      Its like the ‘Green School mistake’ for Greens , not a big deal in the scheme of things but something that will come back time and time again to beat National around the head over their ‘ Strong competent team’ slogan
      And Collins was a Tax lawyer too boot , she should know about these details especially about her long time in parliament.

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  21st September 2020

        Duker, wrong !
        It wasn’t a Greens mistake.
        The Green school funding was a “ mistake “ made by Labour “ intellectuals.”

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  21st September 2020

          Mistake is only because its against Green party policy …not against labour policy.
          It was a so called shovel ready construction project otherwise
          Coalition partners can be a fly in the ointment, ask Key about abolishing the maori seats or the Kermadec Ocean sanctuary , both nixed by the maori party …who said dont go there if you know whats good for you.

          Reply
          • John J Harrison

             /  21st September 2020

            Duker, massive fail !
            Labour approved it – end of .

            Reply
            • Fight4nz

               /  21st September 2020

              You know where Duker said this will just keep coming up to beat them around the head despite the relative unimportance? Well this is you proving his point.
              AW, also the answer to your earlier question about why the media making a mountain out of a clerical error. Some just eat it up.

    • Kimbo

       /  21st September 2020

      Yeah, nah.

      Three problems.

      1. The first item of the day of Kiwiblog before General Debate is usually something of wider, not immediate interest.

      2. You were trolling as it was off topic.

      3. Like you, DPF has editorial control over what topics her chooses to throw out there for discussion. Whether he is “fair” is one thing (and I think he is, within the clearly advertised editorial stance that he takes, and interests he discloses). But he has no moral or editorial obligation to be “balanced”. His readers are adults who can work out his angles, agendas and purposes for themselves.

      Reply
      • 1. The first post on Saturday was Greens ignore evidence in calls for rent controls and DPF commented “Of their many awful ideas, this is one of the worst” and “”just another reason not to vote Greens”, which looks very politics and election related to me.

        2. I know I was stirring, or fomenting happy mischief is the term DPF has used.

        3. I think he now has moderators who seem a lot more politically motivated in their moderation. I haven’t seen DPF ever moderate something that is merely off-topic, and I’ve seen a huge amount of off-topic comments at KB. I made no comment about fairness or balance.

        Today the KB posts are:
        The book burners are back (about Harry Potter)
        General debate
        Federalist Society on Justice Ginsburg
        Life of a journalist in China
        Labour’s term of failure

        Of course he can post about whatever he likes, but I find it interesting that since promoting National’s fiscal plan on Friday – National promises tax cuts for 16 months to help families through Covid recovery – he has not posted anything on the biggest controversy about the plan which was widely discussed in other political circles yesterday and today.

        Also curious that he hasn’t posted anything about National’s odd campaign launch.

        Reply
        • Maggy Wassilieff

           /  21st September 2020

          There was a lot of trouble with Kiwiblog loading today.

          One of my posts disappeared into the ether…so I’ll run it here.

          Why couldn’t Treasury supply a clean, up-to-date version of the PREFU
          to Paul Goldsmith?

          Judith Collins told Morning Report that the Secretary of Treasury contacted Goldsmith to warn him that the printed/published version was not accurate….that’s why Goldsmith went and used the May version.

          https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018764886
          (from about 2:40min)

          Labour had not announced that in the meantime (since May) they would be undercutting the Superfund by $4B.

          Reply
          • Kimbo

             /  21st September 2020

            Explaining is losing. Labour got their headline and talking point with which they will throttle Goldsmith and National for the next month. Politics is a tough game, seldom “fair” and no place for the careless and naive. Avoiding the land mines is one of the few tests the public has to measure a politician’s competence.

            Reply
          • Duker

             /  21st September 2020

            “Labour had not announced that in the meantime (since May) they would be undercutting the Superfund by $4B.
            It was in the PREFU
            The thing the Treasury secretary was on about was the changed election date meant the numbers werent ‘audited’ from what was prepared a month back.
            The Super Fund number wasnt one of them that was a problem, more like revenue etc

            No need to announce it when the amount is changed to to economic conditions twice a year….. Goldsmith doesnt do his own analysis , hes just a PR person at heart

            Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  21st September 2020

          Yes, David Farrar has moderated for going off topic. Like your example today, here is a particularly egregious example:

          https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2017/01/happy_60th_birthday_scott_base.html

          Although I do confess to trying to raise the topic of Todd Barclay before the last election when in Kiwiblog it was a case of “The Sound of Silence”! 😳😂

          Reply
          • Maggy Wassilieff

             /  21st September 2020

            I wasn’t moderated off..
            None of my posts have ever required moderation.

            The problem was technical… see the first posts now on KB, General Debate…
            A number of folks couldn’t get the site to load on their computers.

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  21st September 2020

              Sorry, to be clear, my statement, “like your example today” was directed at the moderation Pete George’s post on Kiwiblog received.

            • Duker

               /  21st September 2020

              pro tip : Just take a small quote of the statement you are objecting to in your first line so we all can see the reference

      • Griff.

         /  21st September 2020

        Farrar has an agenda that is not always transparent and uses his selective moderation to create plausible denial he can hide behind.
        That is why I no longer comment there after discussing it with him in an email exchange.
        He can have his cohort of gibbering nutbars to himself .
        History will not be kind no matter how much he tries to hide his true agenda.
        Oh and someone on this thread has told demonstrable lies about why I do not comment on Kiwi blog any more. That person is a graphic example of what I am talking about.
        When you enable loonytunes you are forever tarnished by their insanity.

        Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  21st September 2020

          Not me. The historic KB link I posted concerned the always-obnoxious Uber-Tribal Catholic bigot Nukuleka.

          And while Farrar definitely has an agenda (not that that is a crime, indeed good luck to him) it is always transparent imho. Including when criticising anti sugar, fat, salt, tobacco and booze academics and activists.

          Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  21st September 2020

          …irrespective of the fact that both you and I gave Nukuleka a thoroughly deserved kicking at the time on that KB thread. 😳😂

          Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st September 2020

    Labour not embarrassed by its own laughable and comprehensive incompetence:
    https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2020/09/labours_term_of_failure.html

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  21st September 2020

      And the billions wasted over the incompetence of the Christchurch rebuild …least of all the shoddy contractor for the Christchurch hospital…and the Justice Precinct.
      let alone the money was on creating ‘The Frame’ to buy out Christchurch landlords in CBD
      Then there was the M Bovis shambles handed over to a new government after 2017
      The Census shambles which was prepared for 3 years before 2018

      Farrars desperate attempt to protect his prime revenue source

      Reply
    • Fight4nz

       /  21st September 2020

      Straight in the Righty noise bin

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  21st September 2020

        The Left blunders actions while blaming the Right’s words. But actions speak louder than words.

        Reply

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