Greens, NZ First back budget tax plan

Labour has voted against the budget tax plan, but their supposed partner Greens along with NZ First have backed it.

Stuff: Labour and Greens split over Budget tax cuts despite joint ‘fiscal responsibility’ deal

The Budget tax cut plan has split the Opposition, with Labour voting against the changes and the Greens and NZ First voting in favour.

From April 2018, the moves, which lift the bottom two tax thresholds, will give $10.70 a week to those earning more than $22,000, and $20.38 to those on more than $52,000 a year.

But the simultaneous axing of a $10 a week credit for low earners with no dependents means some will only be better off by only $1 a week – leading Labour leader Andrew Little to dub it the “dollar Bill Budget”.

Speaking after a Grant Thornton post-Budget breakfast in Wellington, he said the Greens, who were voting in favour of the tax threshold changes, were an independent party and could do what they wanted.

Of course they can – but if they do the opposite to Labour on a budget vote their joint approach to campaigning and ‘fiscal responsibility’ it looks a bit awry.

He said not too much should be read into the fact the two parties were voting in opposite ways on the tax package.

“They’ve made their political judgment on the basis of this Budget at this time. But both our parties have pretty clear agreement about the level of discipline required in fiscal management if we have the privilege of forming a government.”

Labour took a different view on whether the package was well targeted and well prioritised.

“If we have the privilege of forming government there is a level of jointness in our platforms – and we make those decisions more jointly and in a more connected way than we do when we are two parties in opposition, albeit working closely together,” he said.

“You can vote different ways and that (BRRs) document retains its integrity.”

Yeah, right.

Burt the Greens are for and against the changes.

Marama Davidson: Small change that is sorely needed

The big headline of the Government’s Budget yesterday was its Family Incomes Package – a range of measures including changes to income tax thresholds and the Family Tax Credit.

Overall the Budget is a huge disappointment and a missed opportunity to make real progress on pressing social and environmental issues. We want more support for those who need it most, and we want that sooner than National.  To make that a reality, we need to change the Government.

But right now, we are debating National’s family package in Parliament. The Green Party is supporting these changes, not because they’re perfect – far from it – but because we want families to get more support and we strongly believe it is not our role to deny those families that.

With these changes, the Government has turned on the tap that has been long denied to communities for some desperately needed relief. But it’s only a tiny drop. For our lowest income families, these changes are a trickle, and in the words of the Child Poverty Action Group, what is actually needed is a tide.

Five dollars extra is pittance for people on lower incomes, but things are so tough that sadly $5 makes a meaningful difference for too many people’s lives. We should not be proud of that. Some families have become so used to scraping a meal together on so little, that five extra dollars is actually a big deal.

That’s why we are not going to stand in the way of families getting more money where it is sorely needed.

But we are introducing two changes to this Bill to try to make it fairer. The first brings the start date forward, so that the increase to the Family Tax Credit would start on the 1st of July, rather than waiting until 1st April 2018. Making children who are cold, hungry and sick wait another year for relief is negligent.

The second change increases the income threshold which the tax credit is abated from $35,000 to $50,000 and lowers the abatement rate from 25cents to 5 cents.

Lowering the abatement rate will means family that are earning under $50,000 will get to keep much more of this money.

There’s no doubt that it’s a cynical election year budget designed to keep National in Government rather than solve the huge challenges this country faces.

We urgently need to invest more money in housing, education, health and mental health and the environment. In order to make that a reality we need to change the Government – nothing we say will convince National to make those bold choices.

But right now we live among communities where we hear, on a daily basis, the stories of heartbreak that are harming families and children.

While we won’t stand in the way of the tax cuts for the lowest incomes, the Greens will keep working for the real changes that are needed to ensure all everyone has what they need to live; good lives, warm secure healthy homes, enough healthy kai and enough to pay the bills.

That is the leadership that our people want and deserve.

2016 party donations

Stuff has details of party donations for 2016: National tops donations with almost $2m given to the party in 2016

The total donations disclosed for 2016 were:

  • National: $1,943,324
  • Greens: $860,746
  • Labour: $563,915
  • Conservatives: $139,450
  • ACT: $108,730
  • NZ First: $54,946
  • Maori Party: $42,237
  • United Future: Nil
  • Mana: Nil

National and Greens are doing well, Labour is still lagging badly. Labour are doing more to try to get small donations after building contact lists, but that didn’t show up much in last year’s totals.

How does this compare to donations in 2013, the year before the last election?

  • National: $1,037,537
  • Greens: $386,711
  • Labour: $486,506
  • Conservatives: $197,570
  • ACT: $138,840
  • NZ First: $3,050
  • Maori Party: $74,409
  • United Future: Nil
  • Mana: 28,374

So National and Greens are well ahead, while Labour is up a bit but their fundraising last term was woeful. They have a lot of work to do this year.

Labour-Green-NZ First: Maori mix

David Farrar details the ethnic mix in Labour’s likely demographics, if Labour ends up with 35 MPs, four more than they have now (at the current average polling level of 29%).

Ethnicity

  • European 49% (69%)
  • Maori 31% (13%)
  • Pasifika 14% (6%)
  • Asian 6% (12%)

A huge over-representation of Maori and Pasifika in their caucus and under-representation of Europeans and Asians (compared to population).

Greens have also been promoting their Maori-ness, and last week Greens launch nationwide Māori Caucus tour:

The Green Party’s Māori Caucus is excited to be launching a national outreach tour to engage with Māori communities, kicking off in Northland today.

“We take our role as a voice for Māori very seriously. We’re getting out and listening to Māori communities who have borne the brunt of National’s nine years of failures in housing, water quality, and the economy,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“The Greens are a modern and principled choice for Māori voters; we have a consistent track record of supporting Māori aspirations and Te Tiriti justice in Parliament, and we will have the influence to deliver at the heart of the next progressive government.

“A third of the Green MPs are Māori, our strongest Māori caucus ever. Over the last two elections our party vote in the Māori electorates more than tripled and in 2017 we are going to stand the most Māori candidates in our history.

If the Greens get a similar mix in their next caucus then both they and Greens will have about one third Maori MPs, two and a half times the population proportion.

That’s there choice, and they need to target demographics where they think they can get votes, but this is disproportionate representation, which is a bit ironic given both parties say they want gender and ethnic balance. Perhaps they are aiming for 50/50 Maori as well as female.

But on current polling Labour+Greens won’t be able to form a coalition on their own – and if they are competing for the same Maori vote they may struggle to increase their combined tally.

Andrew Little has indicated that he is unlikely to ask the Maori Party to join them in coalition – more competition for a small proportion of the overall vote.

So the other obvious option is to talk Winston Peters into joining them in coalition.

The three most  prominent NZ First MPs are likely to be Peters, deputy Ron Mark and ex-Labour MP Shane Jones – all Maori.

This would stack a Labour-Green-NZ First coalition with Maori representation.

Labour have historically not given their Maori MPs a lot of say, they have tended to take their votes but not deliver on representing Maori interests very well.

But with Greens promoting their Maori caucus and NZ First top heavy with Maori this could be forced to change.

Sure there’s a diverse range of views on Maori issues, Metiria Turei, Willie Jackson and Winston Peters are hardly in synch, but a Labour-Green-NZ First coalition would over-represent Maori.

Some may see this as a positive thing, but time will tell whether the 87% of voters who aren’t Maori will agree with the imbalance.

Opposition responses on Pike River

Labour: Why has Pike footage been hidden for so long?

Why has Pike footage been hidden for so long?

New footage of workers servicing a robot in the Pike River drift appears to show that going into the drift doesn’t pose the danger the Government and Solid Energy claimed, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“The Government must immediately release all Pike footage and images, and explain why it has kept the public and the families in the dark for so long.

“This new footage casts doubt over the Government’s reasons for blocking a manned re-entry of the drift.

“The sight of men moving confidently inside the drift with only breathing masks on suggests this isn’t the excessively dangerous situation National and Solid Energy portray it as. National claims sending people into the drift would unduly risk their lives. Yet, here is film of two men calmly working in the drift, taking their time to make an ad hoc water cover for a robot.

“The robot footage shows the drift is in good shape, with even the pipes largely undamaged by the explosions. There’s nothing in the footage to support National’s claim the drift could collapse.

“The fact that the robot overheats and emits smoke yet no explosion is triggered makes a lie of Nick Smith’s claim that the 98% methane atmosphere in the drift is highly flammable. In fact, as the scientifically literate Nick Smith surely knows, methane cannot explode in a nearly pure methane atmosphere with little oxygen.

“It is disturbing that such important footage, which undercuts the Government’s reasons for stopping a re-entry into Pike, has been kept from the public eye for so long.

 “Why haven’t the families or the public seen this footage before now? For years, the families have been calling for all footage and pictures taken inside Pike River since the explosion to be released. Yet, the Government still hasn’t released that material, and we have to rely on leaks to find out the truth.

“We know, from written questions, that the Government holds 24,000 images and 265GB of footage related to Pike River. The inevitable question, now, is: what other important material is the Government keeping hidden? The families and the public deserve to be able to see it all,” says Andrew Little.

Greens: Smith and National must answer to the Pike River families

Nick Smith and National must answer to the Pike River families

Newly released footage from inside Pike River raises extremely serious questions about the Government’s assertion that it’s not safe to renter the mine, and about what other evidence may have been withheld.

“It simply beggars belief that the Police Commissioner or the Minister never saw this footage”, said Denise Roche, Green Party Spokesperson for Workplace Relations and Safety.

“Especially as Nick Smith has confirmed he knew about this video – and that he never bothered to watch it. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about him,” said Denise Roche.

“The Pike River Families and all New Zealanders deserve to see not just this film, but all evidence that may have been withheld.

“Nick Smith says the Government will consider this footage but quite clearly the only reason he is doing this is because he has been embarrassed. He needs to commit to reviewing not just this video, but all evidence, and to releasing that so the public can make their own judgment.”

“And that has to include evidence from the experts the Pike River families have been working with to create a plan for safe entry and exploration of the mines’ drift.”

NZ First: Huge Cover-up Over Pike River Mine Re-Entry

There is no doubt that there has been a huge cover up by authorities after the Pike River explosion that killed 29 men, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Newshub has revealed tonight that video footage exists of a robot and two searchers in the Pike River tunnel months after the fatal explosion. That video footage has been kept secret and never been shown to the families of the victims.

“According to Newshub, it belongs to the police and has been seen by Solid Energy and was ‘used by Solid Energy as part of its extensive investigation into whether the mine was safe to enter’.

“However, this information was apparently not shown to the Pike River Royal Commission of Inquiry nor presented by Solid Energy when they appeared before a parliamentary select committee.

“All along the police and the government have maintained it was not safe for anyone to enter the tunnel.

“This evidence proves otherwise.

“Who the searchers were has never been revealed but the government has allowed a massive cover-up to take place and all those responsible for that should be brought to account.

“The fact is this evidence proves that it is safe for a search party to go in,” says Mr Peters.

The political young guns

Audrey Young refers to the ‘relatively young’ Bill English and Steven Joyce as ‘extended seniority’ so doesn’t consider then as part of the young club of politicians – English was named in the National ‘young guns’ late last century.

She doesn’t refer to Andrew Little at all in The rise of National’s young guns an added advantage for the Government.

Instead she names the young guns of the Opposition (all Labour):

It was Labour’s biggest advantage. That advantage has been reduced, if not neutralised, and National, first under John Key and now Bill English, has accomplished a rejuvenation that Helen Clark found difficult in Government.

The Greens are making a feature of their young recruits this election.

Labour has finally managed it in Opposition with

  • Grant Robertson (46)
  • Jacinda Ardern (36)
  • Phil Twyford (54)
  • Chris Hipkins (38)

as their new young hopes.

And currently for the Government and possibly the next Opposition:

  • Amy Adams (42)
  • Simon Bridges (40)
  • Nikki Kaye (37)
  • Jonathan Coleman (50)

This is the future of Government and Opposition beyond the current leadership of National and Labour. Whoever loses out of English and Little are unlikely to continue for long.

NZ First’s younger guns seem to be suppressed and kept out of sight by the old cannon, and Shane Jones (if confirmed) is a re-bore.

The Greens who most likely to figure if they get into Government are:

  • Metiria Turei (47)
  • James Shaw (43)
  • Julie Anne Genter (37)

 

Greens launch electricity policy

The Greens launched their electricity policy today. Most of it is wordy and not easy to get a quick understanding of it.

The Empowering New Zealand comprehensive plan for the electricity sector includes:

  • $112 million for winter warm-up payments to help low-income households cover their power bills
  • setting a goal for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 (in average hydrological conditions)
  • an investigation into the electricity wholesale market
  • encouraging lines companies to work together and embrace new technology to bring down costs
  • modernising industry rules to encourage competition, transparency and use of data.

“Our plan will see more than half a million Kiwi households pay less to heat their homes every winter,” Green Party energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

“Setting a goal for 100 percent renewable electricity generation is bold, achievable, and the right thing to do for our planet.

“New Zealand can help lead the global clean energy revolution, creating jobs and exporting our clean energy expertise to the world, but we need Government leadership to make it happen.

“We have consulted the electricity industry to design a future-focused system and I’m confident the plan we announced today is ready to be acted on by the next government,” Mr Hughes said.

Of course it is subject to the Greens becoming a part of the next Government and getting Labour and perhaps the Maori Party or NZ First to agree to this policy.

A key feature is a handout to families with a joint income of less than $50,000 p.a. of varying amounts depending on where they live. You have to dig in to their documentation to find the nitty gritty:

GreenPowerHandout

These seems to be an odd way to help out poorer families, with a substantial administration overhead.

Why is the West Coast payment so low? Is power that cheap on the Coast? Or do they use a lot of coal and not so much electricity?

It’s not clear exactly how it would work but it appears to be a cash handout able to be used for anything, it just happens to be calculated on average power price increases for the winter. Which makes the power aspect more marketing than anything, and more complicated than it needs to be.

I don’t think this will be a ‘priority policy’ in Green campaigning. There’s a lot of other details that will sound fine to some but most won’t care if the understand.

Read it all if you like:

Minister praises Green MP on climate change efforts

In Parliament this week Minister for Climate Change Paula Bennett praised Green MP Dr Kennedy Graham – “Can I acknowledge the member for his tireless effort to have cross-party work”. This related to GLOBE-NZ, a cross-party group of members of Parliament that Graham chairs.

On Thursday this exchange between Bennett and Graham was more positive and more convivial than the usual questions.


Climate Change Issues, Minister—Response to Vivid Report

6. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Which of the four scenarios in the March 2017 Vivid report—”Off Track”, “Innovative”, “Resourceful”, or “Net Zero 2050″—is the Government considering using as the basis for its own climate planning?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Climate Change Issues): The Vivid report is a welcome addition to the debate and it outlines, as the member says, a number of scenarios that New Zealand could follow to reduce emissions. I believe there is more work to be done on the basis of that report, and I think it is a really good start, but we would have to do more work to decide which track we would go down, or whether there might be others.

Dr Kennedy Graham: Does the Minister agree with the fourth conclusion in the report—that if substantial afforestation is combined with extensive technological innovation, it could be possible to achieve domestic net zero emissions by 2050?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I do not have a crystal ball. So it is hard for me to say—[Interruption] So it is difficult for me to say what will be happening in 2050 and what those technological advances could be, but I have to say that I am hopeful.

Dr Kennedy Graham: What steps will she consider taking from here to strengthen the relationship between GLOBE New Zealand and the executive in light of recommendation No. 5 of the report?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I am very supportive of the work that GLOBE New Zealand has done. Can I acknowledge the member for his tireless effort to have cross-party work.

Hon Members: Hear, hear!

Hon PAULA BENNETT: —yeah, he does deserve that—and that the National Party, through the work that Scott Simpson is leading for us on this side, has got a number of members and is committed to it. I, as Minister, am interested in an ongoing involvement.

Dr Kennedy Graham: If GLOBE New Zealand were to commission a follow-up study to explore in more depth the “net zero 2050” scenario, would the Government be prepared to seriously consider such an analysis?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I would not be prepared to commit to that right now, but I certainly do not want to rule it out completely, either. We would have to see the terms of what that might be.


Bennett, the deputy Prime Minister, actually spoke at the launch of the Vivid report last month, which Graham posted about:


Vivid’s Report Will Help Parliament Debate the Climate

On Tuesday evening, I hosted the launch in the Beehive Theatrette of a report which could prove to be a game-changer in the long and somewhat agonised saga that is New Zealand’s policy debate on climate.

Present for the launch were the Speaker of the House, the Deputy Prime Minister (who spoke), former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and OCED Environment Director, Hon Simon Upton, among 140 others. Public launches are also being hosted by the Mayor of Christchurch and the Auckland Council.

The report, Net Zero in New Zealand: Scenarios to achieve domestic emissions neutrality in the second half of the century, was produced by Vivid Economics, a London-based consultancy that has internationally-recognised expertise on the subject.

The report was commissioned by GLOBE-NZ, with funding support from foundations, individuals, companies, embassies and individual MPs.

The report identifies four scenarios for achieving emissions neutrality.  One, ‘Off-Track NZ’, would see neutrality achieved well into the 22nd century. As such, it would not meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement which calls for global net emissions to be zero before 2100 in order to limit temperature increase to below 2ᴼC.

Two scenarios, ‘Resourceful NZ’ and ‘Innovative NZ’, meet the requirement of neutrality not long after 2050, through innovative technology resulting in considerable reductions in energy emissions, far-reaching forestry programmes and significant change in land-use patterns.

A fourth scenario, ‘Net Zero 2050’, is envisaged though not explored in analytical detail.  The report states that this scenario is possible, albeit far-reaching and ambitious.

The report is a very good one, as our Executive Committee has said, in an Op-Ed for the NZ Herald on Wednesday. It has been welcomed across the spectrum.

Put simply, this is groundbreaking. The main significance of the Vivid project is that it was conceived and commissioned, and is now owned, by a cross-party group of MPs.  GLOBE-NZ, established in October 2015, now has a membership of 35 MPs drawn from all seven political parties in Parliament.  It is developing a cross-party dialogue on climate policy, receiving briefings from international and local experts.

The breakthrough here is that the group now owns a shared report on emissions reductions that it can debate with greater clarity than ever before.  Parliament has in fact decided to hold a debate in April, focused specifically on the report.  That, too, is unprecedented.

See:

 

 

The Spinoff – Turei and Shaw

An interesting interview of Green leader Metiria Turei and James Shaw at The Spinoff by Toby Manhire –  The art of the deal: The Spinoff meets the Green leaders

A follow up post looks at key aspects of it – Greens ready to govern with Winston Peters despite his ‘racist views’ – Metiria Turei

That headline raises some of the key questions of this year’s election – can Labour form a coalition with both Greens and NZ First? And what would that end up looking like in the way of priority policies?

With less than six months to a general election, the leaders of the Green Party have insisted they are ready to deal not just with their memorandum-of-understanding partners the Labour Party, but also Winston Peters’ NZ First Party, if that’s what it takes to make it to government.

In an interview for the Spinoff alongside co-leader James Shaw, part of a special series of wide-ranging election-year conversations with party leaders, Metiria Turei said the Greens and NZ First were slowly moving towards friendlier relations, and that his “racist views” were no deal-breaker.

“Oh, I really like him,” Turei told the Spinoff.

“He’s annoying as hell and all those things. But he’s given me really good political advice in the past. And you’ve just got to admire his tenacity, actually. I admire his tenacity, his staying put. For a Māori man in New Zealand politics, he’s been there for a really long time, and I don’t agree with him on lots of stuff, I’ve had huge arguments with him in public about his more racist views … but those are his views and that’s our political disagreement.”

There are some interesting views and impressions in the interview. Both Shaw and Turei come across as determined to get into Government – sort of – but don’t exude confidence that it will happen.

And can Greens shape up as a Government partner and deal with other countries? Russel Norman made a name for himself protesting at a Chinese visit to New Zealand.

While the Greens were ready to compromise in joining a government, said Turei, that did not extend to opening arms to a hypothetical visit by Donald Trump.

“We would not welcome him,” said Turei.

“What we would do in response to his visit I just can’t say, but we certainly would not welcome him, and his misogyny and his racism.”

In coalition relations you have to be able to deal with people who’s perceived behaviour runs contrary to your principles – like Winston Peters.

An interesting question that may not be answered before the election – which countries and leaders would a Green (and Labour and maybe NZ First) government not welcome to New Zealand or not actively engage with on trade and international relationships?

Labour-Green ‘budget rules’

Labour and Greens, headed by Jamews Shaw and Grant Robertson, have launched a joint attempt to present themselves as economically responsible.

Liam Dann at NZH has Big Read: Can these politicians be trusted with the economy?

They aren’t revealing tax policy detail or spending plans, so what exactly have Labour and the Green Party cooked up with the Budget Responsibility Rules they’re signing up to today?

The parties have formally committed to staying in surplus, paying down debt and keeping core crown spending at about 30 per cent of GDP.

“It’s an important signal,” says Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson.

“We understand that voters in September are looking for parties that are responsible with the finances but will also address the big issues around housing and health and education.”

The rules aren’t specific on policy – for example, the statement on tax is pragmatic and vague enough to allow the Greens to keep campaigning on a carbon tax.

But they do represent a statement of intent, one which is politically notable for the way it has been handled, in tandem by the respective party machines.

The message is clear, simple and directed at business and the financially comfortable middle classes who have been stubbornly loyal to National for the past nine years: vote for us and we promise won’t ruin the economy.

As the headline suggests, it is a big and detailed read.

Not addressed is an obvious difference between Labour and the Greens – Andrew Little has made it clear Labour won’t increase tax (but with some caveats) while Greens have a big shopping list.

Greens announced through Facebook:

We’ve created new budget rules with the New Zealand Labour Party to help us build a sustainable and stable future for everyone.

This links to:

Budget Responsibility Rules

The Budget Responsibility Rules will allow us to govern responsibly.

Economic sustainability goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability. Both are about living within our means and leaving the world better than we found it.

Our Budget Responsibility Rules show that the Green Party and the Labour Party will manage the economy responsibly while making the changes people know are needed, like lifting kids out of poverty, cleaning up our rivers, solving the housing crisis, and tackling climate change.

  • Deliver sustainable surpluses
  • Reduce debt
  • Prioritise long-term investments
  • Be careful with expenditure
  • Build a fairer tax system

We will judge the success of our policies by improvements in the living standards of New Zealanders, improvements in key environmental indicators, and improvements in the economy.

We will establish a body independent of Ministers of the Crown who will be responsible for determining if these rules are being met. The body will also have oversight of government economic and fiscal forecasts, shall provide an independent assessment of government forecasts to the public, and will cost policies of opposition parties.

For New Zealanders to have enduring quality of life, prosperity, and security, governments need to manage revenue and spending decisions carefully. Good fiscal management is a core part of what it means to be a good government.

The Budget Responsibility Rules enable us to govern responsibly and transparently with Labour, while we invest in our priorities.

Read the full Budget Responsibility Rules here.

 

 

Labour’s commitments “can be funded out of existing tax revenue”

Labour leader Andrew Little says that any Labour policies can be funded out of existing and forecast revenues and tax rates won’t be changed.

In an interview on The Nation Little made commitments of sorts on not raising taxes:

We are not planning on any tax changes for the 2017 election. We will finely calibrate what we do once we see what the Government does in its foreshadowed tax changes, which we assume will be in this year’s budget, but who knows?

They are not planning any tax changes now but who knows what they might plan after the budget?

So we are focused and we are talking to New Zealanders about and I will make commitments to New Zealanders about the problems that are here and now. And the commitments that we’re making – all of them – can be funded out of existing tax revenue. That’s what we’re focused on. That’s we’re campaigning on.

So we will have to wait and see how Labour proposes to finance it’s policies. They have already talked about:

  • Resuming contributions to the Super fund and leaving the increase in costs of Super as they are.
  • Funding more police.
  • More health funding.
  • More education funding.
  • Increase social housing and state housing
  • Kiwibuild will build 100,000 new houses over 10 years (eventually self funding)
  • Labour said it would bring in three years of free post-school education over a person’s lifetime costing $1.2 billion a year by 2025 (the first year funded from money earmarked by the government for tax cuts).

So if National announce tax cuts or threshold adjustments Labour would overturn them or use them to fund policies?

Also:

Lisa Owens: Another thing is the Children’s Commissioner. He wants the Government to commit to a target of lowering the number of children in severe hardship by 10% over a period of 12 months. Will you commit right now to meeting that target?

Andrew Little: Ye—Two things we’re going to do. We will have a child poverty measure that we’re going to commit to, and I’ve already said every budget we will report on how we’re going against that measure, and we are absolutely determined to reduce child poverty in the way that the Children’s Commissioner is talking about.

…Yeah, because I think his figure is roughly 150,000-odd, and lowering that by 10% – I mean, yeah, if we can’t do that and we’re not prepared to commit to that – and I say we are – then, you know, we’ve got something seriously wrong going on.

That hasn’t been costed yet.

And it has to be remembered that Labour will need at least NZ First or Greens (or both) to form the next Government. They will want some of their own policies in the mix. Policies that are likely to cost extra money.

Any policy costings by Labour are pointless on their own. The cost of a change of Government needs to include likely NZ First and Green policy costs on top of Labour’s own.

It’s even possible that Labour will put forward a “no tax increase” policy but then ditch that in post-election negotiations with NZ First and Greens.

Financial credibility is likely to be a major election issue. Little will have to have some good answers to the inevitable questions of affordability of policies of a Labour led coalition that Labour may only have half the voting power in.