Robertson u-turn on public debt

From a comment from High Flying Duck:

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!…oh no, as you were. All good.

“Out of nowhere, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has made a significant U-turn, reversing what seemed to be a core Labour position.

After years of criticising National for a significant growth in Crown debt to more than $60 billion over the last decade, Robertson now seems to think the state of public debt is the best thing about the New Zealand economy.

As sharemarket turmoil in the United States spread around the world, Robertson said in an interview that he had real confidence in New Zealand’s economic fundamentals.

“Essentially the low level of public debt is a really important part of it.”

This from a man who said that under National debt had “skyrocketed”. Barely two months ago he told Parliament he “will not be lectured” by his predecessor Steven Joyce about debt levels.

“If there is anyone in this House who needs to take responsibility for debt levels, it’s that member,” Robertson said of Joyce, which presumably now means he is in awe of his arch-rival.

As comical as it is for Robertson to now say public debt is low, it was a curious thing to name as a key economic fundamental.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has repeatedly mocked National on its record of public debt, but now says debt levels are one of New Zealand’s key economic strengths.”

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/101238392/grant-robertsons-uturn-on-public-debt-hints-at-deeper-concerns-about-debt

Grant Robertson on The Nation

New Minister of Finance Grant Robertson was interviewed on The Nation this morning. From @TheNationNZ:

“We understand the importance of fiscal responsibility, but that can’t be an end in itself.”

He says he’s absolutely confident the Labour-NZF govt can meet its budget responsibility rules.

The Govt will be an active one – will partner with the regions, rather than meddling.

Robertson says the govt wants to invest in the long term – it’s not just about the numbers on the sheet but living standard.

He says the regional development fund is an opportunity to correct under-investment in areas like Northland. It will be a “rigorous” process based on the best projects.

Robertson says there’s a lot more work to do to understand where Auckland’s port would be best placed.

He says Labour was heading in the same direction on the min wage as NZF – $20 by 2020 was NZF policy.

The Tax Working Group will be appointed before the end of the year.

He will always make sure the most vulnerable in society are protected.

As Sports Minister, he says he’s looking forward to a conversation with about pay equity.

Interview: Grant Robertson

There wasn’t much of substance in that going by the summary.

Newshub: Finance Minister Grant Robertson won’t cut ‘core’ spending if economy tanks

New Finance Minister Grant Robertson is backing up Jacinda Ardern’s view the economy has been a “blatant failure” when it comes to helping New Zealand’s most vulnerable.

Mr Robertson told The Nation on Saturday the “days of a hands-off, laissez-faire Government hoping for the best for New Zealand are over”.

“What Jacinda Ardern has said is if you’ve got the world’s worst homelessness, then the form of capitalism that we’ve seen in New Zealand isn’t working for those people – and I would agree with that,” he said.

“That’s the foundation principle of the Labour Party… we believe in the fact there is an obligation on Government to help ensure fairness, to make sure everybody gets a chance to achieve their potential.”

To fix it, he says Labour will lead an “active” Government “that partners in the regions with local government, with business, with iwi”. But he appears to want to avoid the ‘nanny state’ accusations that plagued Labour’s last administration under Helen Clark.

“That’s a different thing entirely from meddling and telling people what to do. We actually want to listen.”

“I came into politics to make sure that we provided better opportunities for New Zealanders, that we protected our most vulnerable. There are certain areas of spending that we must do to be a decent society, to care for other people. I would never compromise on that.”

He praised the National-led Government for continuing to spend during the global financial crisis.

“They made sure those core areas of spending carried on – that’s what responsible Governments do.”

Mr Robertson is confident Mr Peters’ “dark days” won’t happen.

“I don’t think we’re going to need to have that conversation.”

Winston Peters can’t be too concerned about the prospects for our economy either, given that his focus is overseas as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he has negotiated $1b per year finding for Regional Development.

It’s very early days for Robertson – he has been Minister of Finance for two days – so we will have to wait and see how well he manages New Zealand’s finances. His past experience is largely irrelevant. He has time preparing for the role in Opposition, now he has the opportunity to pout into practice what he and Labour think will will work.

The budget drip feed

The actual 2017 budget will be presented to Parliament on Thursday next week, but the Government has been drip feeding spending announcements over the last couple of weeks.

The days of massive giveth and taketh pronouncements on budge night are so last century. The state of the ‘books’ are fairly well known these days, and announcements of most of the smaller spending decisions are done in advance, presumably to try to maximise publicity leading up to an election.

There will be a few ‘surprises’ or speculations confirmed.The Government will want some good news to come out of their ninth budget, albeit now with a new Minister of Finance, Steven Joyce.

There will be interest in whether tax rates are tweaked slightly or not. Opposition parties will say there should be no cuts but they aren’t big enough.

Budget 2017

 On Thursday 25 May, Finance Minister Steven Joyce will deliver the National-led Government’s ninth Budget.Budget 2017 will invest in the infrastructure and public services needed for a growing country while…

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