Labour targeting social and infrastructure deficits, not financial

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says that a Labour government would target infrastructure deficits and social deficits’ and revise the Government targets on lowering financial deficits.

NZ Herald: Debt targets to be revised under Labour-led Government says Robertson

National increased the debt as a result of the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes from 5.4 per cent of gdp in 2008 to 24.3 per cent now. The deficit peaked at a record $18.3 billion in 2011.

The current target of reducing net debt to 20 per cent of gdp by 2020 will be replaced by getting it down to 10 to 15 per cent by 2025, Joyce recently announced.

But Robertson says that Labour will have a different priority and will revise that.

If Labour’s Grant Robertson is the next Finance Minister he will ditch the new ambitious net debt target set by Steven Joyce as part of the 2017 Budget or the current target.

“We believe there are infrastructure deficits and social deficits that are going to need some investment before we can get to the 20 per cent target,” Robertson said.

“We will review and revise those targets once we are in Government and we’ll see where we get,” said Robertson.

“The last time Labour was in office we got debt down close to zero so of course we are in favour of reducing debt.”

He said the numbers Joyce had “plucked out” for the 2025 target was where Treasury’s longer term forecasts were going anyway.

Greens are on the same page as Labour. This was been written into the Labour-Green fiscal responsibility code.

The wild card is Winston Peters.

Meanwhile New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the Government will present a surplus on Thursday only because it has underfunded many public services including in health, education, police, conversation and housing.

“The Government will have to explain how there is a surplus after addressing all the reasonable demands that need money spent on them,” he said.

“If this Thursday’s Budget does not do that, then claims of a surplus will be without credibility, plausibility or integrity.”

What that means in practice, and whether Peters will come out of coalition negotiations with credibility, plausibility or integrity, won’t be known until late September at the earliest.


Herald fundraising for Labour

Today’s Herald editorial makes an important point – Labour coffers of concern to all donors.

The Labour Party’s financial deficit problems should be of concern to all New Zealanders. It is not necessary to be aligned with National or Labour to recognise that a healthy democracy needs two parties capable of providing sound government.

I agree strongly with that.

The problem with Labour is that they have to find a way of earning financial support.

Labour’s fundraising difficulties, revealed in its latest annual financial report, are not a surprise. Ever since the party’s former president, Mike Williams, stepped down there have been murmurs that his successors did not have the same persuasive touch with business donors.

But corporate leaders should not need much persuasion.

Why not? If they think a Labour led Government woukld be a backward step I can imagine they would need a lot of persuading.

There is a long tradition of large companies in this country donating fairly equitably to both major parties for exactly the reason already stated.

I don’t know how accurate that claim is.

Labour has a pragmatic leader in Andrew Little, who is going out of his way to win the confidence of business and focus the party on the nature of work and economic security in the future. The Greens, too, have a new co-leader with corporate experience and a businesslike outlook on issues. No mad-hatter party is around anymore.

Not exactly. Some people still see the Greens as a bit of a mad-hatter party.

I think that many more people see the Greens as a good voice to have in Parliament, especially on environmental issues, but have serious concerns about too much Green influence in Government, especially on financial and social issues.

And that’s a big part of Labour’s problem now they dabble around the 30% mark – they need not only Greens but also NZ First to form a Government at current support levels.

So voters fear the Green lean and worry about the Peters effect, especially as he seems to not want the Greens in a position of power and he looks down in inexperienced leaders like James Shaw – and Andrew Little.

The country will go to the next election with sensible alternatives on offer, to re-elect National for a fourth term or decide it’s time for a change.

We don’t know how sensible the change option would look yet (nor the same-old option).

Labour may have to hang in for a longer haul and it needs help. It deserves a fair deal from those doing well in an economy that took two parties to put right.

To earn ‘a fair deal’ from business donors they need to look like the will give businesses a fair deal if Labour run the next Government.

Otherwise Labour wil have to rely on the unions to give some financial help in return for the influence they get in the party and in choosing Labour’s leader.

Green financial n…n…nou…nous…nah

The four Greens who have put themselves forward to replace Russel Norman as co-leader have a bit of homework to do if they want to get up to speed financially.

They were interviewed on The Nation this morning and 3 News reports  Green candidates fumble financial questioning.

Three of the four candidates for the Green Party leadership have failed to answer general knowledge financial questions.

Co-leader Russel Norman, renowned for giving the environmentally-focused party financial credibility, is resigning his leadership.

Green Party MPs James Shaw, Gareth Hughes and Kevin Hague, as well as party co-convenor Vernon Tava, have thrown their hats in the ring.

And financial hats are not their strength.

Mr Hughes thought the inflation rate was around two percent. It’s 0.8.

Mr Hague thought economic growth in the last year was 0.25 percent. It’s 2.9.

Mr Tava thought the Official Cash Rate was 7.8 percent. It’s 3.5.

“That’s the sort of data I could just look up on my phone right now,” Mr Tava said in his defence.

It’s very hard to be on top of all things in politics but these are fairly basic financial questions.

Perhaps whichever of them becomes co-leader will hand over financial responsibility to Metiria Turei.