More mistakes in National’s economic plan could be inconsequential

There are claimed to be more problems with Nationals numbers in their economic plan.

Last week: National Party admits $4 billion hole in their promised spending

The National Party officially launched its election campaign today, but it was hindered by a $4 billion hole in its flagship economic policy.

The party’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith was forced to concede his numbers did not add up after Labour revealed the significant gap in its costings.

“This is an irritating mistake. We missed it, and our external checker missed it as well, and that’s a mistake that we made,” he says.

Now the party will instead borrow the missing billions, which Goldsmith argues is still far less than what Labour is borrowing.

National Party leader Judith Collins told media after the launch it was inconsequential in the scheme of things.

Two days ago National’s fiscal hole appears to double to $8 billion as Paul Goldsmith denies double count mistake

The hole in National’s alternative budget may have blown out by another $3.9b after the party appears to have double-counted part of its transport programme.

The error has come about after National twice counted $3.9 billion left over from the New Zealand Upgrade package, an infrastructure plan announced by the Government in late January.

In fact, the left over money was put into Treasury’s multi-year capital allowance back in May. In National’s costings, the party had counted the two sums of money separately, when, in fact, the NZ Upgrade programme money now only exists in the capital allowances.

Today the story continues – National says fiscal plan stacks up after Labour insists there’s another mistake

National’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith remains defiant the party’s economic plan stacks up – but has had to make another correction after using out of date figures.

Goldsmith says National’s “estimate is that would lead to about half of the people who are getting in the first year getting it in the second year”. The party is looking at a threshold of about $90,000 for an annual household income, he says, but that would be “clarified at the appropriate time”.

A second $88 million error, by using Budget figures for the 10-year ‘Existing Capital Allowance’ instead of the pre-election update, has now been corrected in National’s online plan.

Labour says there is a second $4bn error as National has double counted transport funding.

“Paul Goldsmith is floundering”, Labour’s Grant Robertson says.

“He’s trying to change his plan quietly in the background so he doesn’t have to own up to his leader for another mistake.”

Labour says National has allocated $3.9bn of transport funding under the NZ Upgrade Programme, but that money no longer exists in that programme as it was transferred by the government at the start of this year into a more general capital fund.

It says National has also counted and allocated that money in its general capital fund – so has double counted.

Goldsmith says he doesn’t “accept that at all”.

Whether Goldsmith is right or not this time is of little importance compared to the ongoing exposure of National’s less than competence economic plan.

Collins is probably right. In the scheme of things it is likely to be inconsequential as National look almost certain to not get a chance to implement their economic plan, especially if mistakes keep being highlighted.

National’s bad year continues. They have done a bad job of rebuilding the party after losing power in 2017. Covid hasn’t helped, but multiple leadership changes, disunity, an exodus of experience and an inability to put together a competent economic plan makes most of their problems self inflicted.