Q+A: Steven Joyce and National’s campaign

Q+A this morning: “Our political editor Corin Dann talks to the National Party campaign manager Steven Joyce about how National will respond to Labour’s rise in the polls.”

On Ohariu – Joyce says they have been doing numbers there too and it’s closer but he said Dunne has it all ahead of him. he gives a big plug for Dunne due to his contribution to stability in government.

He makes the point that voting choices tend to be made quite late in key electorates involving large amounts of tactical voting.

Joyce downplays the strength of Winston peters and New Zealand First.

He concedes that National are about 3% shy of where they want to be, confirming recent public polls that have National in the mid forties.

On the Jacinda effect? No more worried than in any election. Elections are won and lost on small margins, ‘it’s slightly different’, he says similar to 2005 (in which NZ First called the coalition shots).

Tax is likely to be a key election issue

There have been major distractions in politics over the last two weeks, with the fall of Andrew Little followed by the euphoric rise of Jacinda Ardern, plus the self destruction of the Greens which included the end of two MPs and the effective end of Metiria Turei’s political career.

Amongst that earlier this week there were two polls that showed a shrink in support for the greens and NZ First, and the likely return of a head to head battle between National and Labour.

And in a debate on The Nation yesterday between Steven Joyce and Grant Robertson the battle lines were drawn.

Robertson: So, under Labour’s package, every family earning $62,000 or less will be better off than under National’s package. What I don’t want is for Steven and me to get a $1000 tax cut when we’ve got families living in cars and garages, when we’ve got a health system that’s not coping. What we’re saying is we’ll get the money to the families in need, but we’ll get the money that Steven wants to give to us as tax cuts – to wealthy people like us – we’ll get that money, and we’ll make sure it’s invested in public services that have been run down.

Joyce: Well, it’s not actually about me – or about Grant, actually. It’s about those people who are on the median wage who are currently facing a 30-cent-in-the-dollar tax rate, and we have to change that. And the only way we change that is shifting the thresholds. Now, Grant’s allergic to actually reducing taxes and allergic to adjusting thresholds. He’s about increasing taxes.

Labour have pushed the anti-tax cut for rich people since National’s tax cut package was announced in the budget in May.

But it doesn’t just reduce tax or ‘rich people’, it reduces tax for all workers who pay PAYE:

Increases the $14,000 income tax threshold to $22,000, and the $48,000 threshold to $52,000. This provides a tax reduction of $11 a week to people earning $22,000 or more rising to $20 per week for anyone earning $52,000 or more.


That’s $1,000 less tax per year for everyone earning over $52,000 (affecting ‘rich people’ of course but also the majority in wage earners).

Of all the polices announced this one directly affects me the most. Labour would scrap it, and that has to be a significant factor in deciding who to vote for.

More on possible tax changes;

Lisa Owen: Capital gains tax — are you ruling it out in the first term absolutely, if you’re in in the first term?

Robertson: We’ve got a tax working group. I can’t pre-empt what they’re going to come back and decide.

Lisa Owen: So you can’t rule it out? Could come in the first term?

Robertson: I can’t pre-empt what that group says, but here’s the important point — right now today we have something called the bright-line test that the National Party brought in. It says that if you sell a house that’s not your family home within two years, you’ll pay tax on it. Steven has a form of capital gains tax.

Lisa Owen: I’ll give you the chance to talk about your policy, Mr Robertson. So a capital gains tax is still on the table? You’re not taking it off?

Robertson: What we’re going to the election with is a commitment that if you sell a property that is not your family home within five years, you’ll be taxed for that.

Robertson clearly avoiding stating a position on a Capital Gains tax, something he has favoured in the past but Little took off the table. It appears to be under consideration again.

Joyce: I think there’s a problem there for the Labour Party, because they’re dodgy on tax. They’re refusing to say about the capital gains, they’ve mentioned a water tax last week, but they won’t tell us how much it is, and then, of course, they’ve got a regional fuel tax they won’t talk about where it goes beyond Auckland.

Expect National to hammer the uncertainty over what additional taxes a Labour government could implement.

Labour are trying to avoid details by deferring to a future tax working group (on CGT) and an ‘expert panel’ (on water taxes).

Lisa Owen: So top tax rate — can you rule out lining yourselves up with the Greens and having 40 cents over 150 grand? Are you going to go for that?

Robertson: No, I don’t think we will be going for that, but what we will do…

Lisa Owen: …but you are not ruling out raising that tax rate.

Robertson: I’m not ruling it in; I’m not ruling it out.

On a water tax:

Lisa Owen: What about your water levy? What’s that going to be?

Robertson: The water levy? Look, what we’ve said there is for every thousand litres of water that’s used in irrigation, perhaps one or two cents.

Lisa Owen: One or two cents. There you go, Mr Joyce. That’s not going to make a huge difference, is it?

Joyce: This is the problem is that he’s not telling.

Robertson: One or two cents, Steven. How big a difference?

Joyce: Well, hang on. Don’t ask me; ask the farmers, because I’ve seen some figures that even at those levels, you’re talking about 50,000 a year per farm. So I think it’s beholden on the Labour Party to actually come a bit more clean on their tax stuff, because they’re being very dodgy.

Robertson: We’ve been completely upfront.

Joyce: You haven’t, actually. So you’ve got a water tax that you won’t tell anybody—

On the Panel discussion on The Nation:

Patrick Gower: I actually think that Grant Robertson probably got in a few more jabs in…however in terms of actual overall damage I think some of the talk about tax there that Steven Joyce, in terms of long term damage beyond the debate, in terms of that capital gains tax is back on the table.

The capital games tax is back baby. Labour were going to go to the next election with that, but that could come in next term.

Lisa Owen: Jane, are they doing themselves a disservice by not putting numbers on stuff now.

Jane Clifton: Absolutely. They’re their own worst enemy. This week alone with the water tax issue, because finally we’ve got a figure for irrigators and wineries and so on of one to two cents, although David Parker said three.

…but yeah, just get your ducks in a row, announce them all, don’t leave room for speculation about $18 cabbages and $70 on a bottle of wine…

The Newshub video cut Gower off at the end, but he pointed out a significant power shift in Labour. When Andrew little took over the leadership in 2014 he put a number of Labour policies on ice, including the CGT.

But with Little dropping to the ranks and Ardern taking over the leadership Gower said that this meant also a significant rise in influence of Robertson – he and Ardern have been close allies for a long time. We are already seeing glimpses of what that may change in Labours tax policies.

Gower followed up on Twitter:

So expect tax to be a prominent issue in the election.

It may have a significant effect on the outcome of the election. Labour will need to be much better prepared for the inevitable attacks from National.

Ardern will need to be well prepared for the leaders’ debates with Bill English. She will likely have a ready response to a ‘show me the money’ type line (Key used that to devastating effect against Phil Goff in 2011), but she is likely to get challenged over and over if she remains vague of what taxes a Labour government may impose or increase.

And tax could also have a significant impact on the outcome of coalition negotiations. Both Labour and National will have to try and find enough partners to support their tax (and spending) plans.

Personally a water tax or a CGT or a fuel tax in Auckland won’t affect me.

But I will be seriously taking into account whether National’s income tax cuts might be reversed or not when I decide who I will vote for.

The Nation: Joyce v Robertson on Finance

The election campaign is getting serious – there will be a debate between the Minister of Finance Steven Joyce and Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson on The Nation this morning.

This could define National’s approach to combating the resurgence of Labour, and also give us an indication of how well Robertson grasps economic issues.

A key difference on tax.

Robertson says Labour wants to target those who need help the most and it is wrong to give tax cuts to high earners.

Joyce says that Labour’s policy will give ‘baby bonuses’ of $3,000 to high earners and won’t give anything to middle income earners.

I don’t think either argued their tax policies clearly enough, but this is likely to be a big election issue.

There’s a lot of debate about whether the Government is cutting expenditure on health and education, something Labour have pushed for a while, but Joyce claims otherwise. A lot of numbers quoted.

Tax and spending policies can’t be finalised yet.

Until that comes out the amount of money available can’t be finalised. Robertson won’t commit to not raising income tax rates.

Scoop has the transcript: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1708/S00249/the-nation-economy-debate.htm

What now for National?

Bill English and National have been left in the dust over the last few weeks, apart from some remnant negative coverage of the Todd Barclay issue.

There has been scant positive coverage of English or National.

Last week the may have thought they could keep their heads down, put out a minimum of new policies, campaign on their record and let the opposition make all the mistakes.

Metiria Turei and the Greens have made a major mistake, but Labour has ditched the poorly performing Andrew little and is resurgent under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership.

Since Tuesday Ardern and Labour have taken over most of the positive coverage, and have had a lot of it.

National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce has mumbled a bit but Bill English has been virtually anonymous.

In the meantime Ardern and Labour continue to build momentum.

English has a real challenge competing with Ardern for attention. He has experience and competence on his side, and the economy is doing well.

But English has to overcome looking old, stale and male. So does National as a whole. There is no sign of them dealing with this yet.

National are at real risk of being overwhelmed by a wave freshness, relative youth and positivity. Doing as close to as little as possible is a poor option.

What now for English and National? I have no idea, there is no sign of a plan.

Another Winston conspiracy accusation

Winston Peters seems to be trying to wrest attention off Metiria Turei. Today in Parliament he accused the Government of working on secret plans to sell Transpower, much to the mirth of the Government bench. Minister of Finance Steven Joyce did not appear to be greatly concerned about this revelation.

6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements; if so, how?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): Yes; by standing and speaking into this microphone.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, right now, standing and speaking into the microphone, can he confirm that he said on 18 November, 2013, regarding asset sales: “We will be transparent.”; so why has he not told New Zealanders that the Government is moving to sell Transpower?

Mr SPEAKER: There are two supplementary questions there. The Hon Steven Joyce can address one or either.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, by speaking into the microphone and stating to the member: it isn’t.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question—the right honourable Winston Peters. [Interruption] Order!

Hon Member: Sounds like Cook Strait ferries again!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That will not scrape the bottom.

Mr SPEAKER: Can I have less interjection from my immediate right.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I know whose bottom could be struck shortly; about three axe handles wide.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We will just have the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can he confirm the contents of a requested presentation by UBS AG, a Swiss investment bank giant, which details options to sell our national grid, worth billions of dollars—this document, marked confidential.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, maybe the member has requested it but, certainly, I have not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How has this Government been transparent, when there is clearly a detailed business case requested from UBS AG outlining options on the potential sale of Transpower’s national grid, with no advice to the New Zealand taxpayer owners whatsoever?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I invite the member to table his document. All I can say is that it has not been requested by, or provided to, me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that former National Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall was appointed to Transpower’s board in May 2016, and then rapidly elevated within 4 months to the board’s chairmanship, in September, against Treasury’s advice, all to expedite this sale?


Rt Hon Winston Peters: Do the Ministers, who are in the ownership role for the New Zealand taxpayer, not acknowledge that his colleagues have been planning the sale of further State assets, which is why the Government, ignoring Treasury’s advice, appointed their old mate Tony Ryall to the board so that he can facilitate the entire sale operation outlined in this document?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, but I do note that the member, once upon a time, used to be the MP for the seat next to Tony Ryall, so possibly he is on this conspiracy. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I need to be able to hear the supplementary question. Supplementary question—the right honourable Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: They won’t be laughing out there, mate. When, in late 2013, there was a referendum held by the New Zealand people on power company sales showing a massive opposition to it, why is he again in this document going behind the people’s backs before the election?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Sadly for the member, we are not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table this confidential document that I have referred to in my questions, which some enlightened New Zealander made sure I got. Thank you very much.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table this particular confidential document. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is not.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.


NZ First, Labour fizzle in Parliament

Parliament returned from a recess yesterday. Metiria Turei kept herself in the headlines – see Turei versus Tolley on benefit fraud – but Labour and NZ First failed to fire in Question Time.

Winston Peters began by trying to rake over the Barclay issue.

1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements on the Todd Barclay matter; if so, how?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why did he feel the need to interfere in an employment dispute between another MP and a staffer?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no responsibility for that matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, on the Barclay issue, was he in constant communication with Glenys Dickson over a long period of time?

Mr SPEAKER: Again, in so far as there may be prime ministerial responsibility, the right honourable Prime Minister.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no comment to make on that, but I am surprised that after the member’s tour of the regions 8 weeks out from an election, this is the biggest issue that he has found.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Talking of the most important issues, why does he keep changing his story on the Barclay matter?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have not.

That was a waste of time and opportunity.

Next up was Andrew Little, targeting one of National’s biggest vulnerabilities, housing.

2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence that his housing and social Ministers have homelessness under control, given the number of grants for emergency housing has almost hit 30,000 in nine months, when only 1,400 were expected for the whole year?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes, Ministers are doing a good job. The 30,000 grants apply to around 8,000 actual people, because a number of them get successive grants. Over the past year the Ministers have overseen the first ever direct Government investment in emergency housing, amounting to more than $300 million and supplying up to 8,000 places for transitional housing.

The member cannot have it both ways—on the one hand, criticising the Government for not doing enough and, on the other hand, criticising the Government for spending too much money.

Andrew Little: Does he stand by his statement yesterday that “I don’t know why people are complaining” about him spending $140,000 a day putting homeless families in motels. Does he not understand that he caused this crisis by selling and knocking down thousands of State houses and not replacing them?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is simply wrong in his assertion about State housing. There are more State houses than ever, and I am pleased to say that the Government has taken a large number of initiatives, including the Housing Infrastructure Fund designed to ensure that tens of thousands more houses are built.

Andrew Little: When a study from Yale says New Zealand has the worst homelessness problem in the developed world, is he going to admit—without ducking and diving all over the show—that after 9 years his Government has failed in its basic duty to put a roof over people’s heads?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: If there is any failure in basic duty, it is the basic duty of the Opposition to be a good critic of the Government, which it has certainly failed in. Even Yale University itself says that the absence of an internationally agreed definition of homelessness hampers meaningful comparisons. In other words, the comparison is meaningless.

Andrew Little: Does he feel any responsibility for the children doing their homework by torchlight in cars, for the families sleeping in freezing garages, or for the homeless people dying on park benches?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: That is why the Government has gone to all the trouble of investing $300 million in emergency housing for the first time ever and setting out on a number of major initiatives to ensure that tens of thousands of new houses are built both by the Government and by the private market.

Andrew Little: Given that overseas speculators are driving up housing costs, will he ban those speculators from buying our homes; if not, why is he protecting overseas speculators rather than the homeless in New Zealand?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is time that the Opposition stopped blaming New Zealanders with Chinese-sounding names for what goes on in the housing market. In case the member has not noticed, house prices in Auckland are flat to falling.

Andrew Little: Can he explain why, when we have the worst homelessness problem in the developed world, his latest move as Prime Minister is a $400 million tax cut to the richest 10 percent? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think we do have the worst Labour Party in the developed world—I do not think there is any doubt about that.

It went on a bit but Little achieved little to nothing.

Grant Robertson had a go at Steven Joyce.

5. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance: Why is it a higher priority for him to cut taxes for members of Parliament than it is to invest more money than is in Budget 2017 into health, housing, or education, or to immediately restart contributions to the New Zealand Super Fund?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): It is not. Budget 2017 invests $7 billion over 4 years into sustaining and expanding public services for a growing country. At the same time, it invests massively in new infrastructure. It also, at the same time, brings debt down as a percentage of GDP and, at the same time, presents a Family Incomes Package that particularly targets low and middle income earners. That is the benefit of having a strong and growing economy as a result of this Government’s strong economic plan.

Grant Robertson: Why is it his priority that the top 10 percent of earners get $400 million a year in tax cuts when our health system, housing system, and education system are so overstretched?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The member is literally wrong, and he can keep running the same talking points but it is interesting that obviously the public of New Zealand is not believing them, and that is because the Government is putting an extra $3.9 billion in the health sector this year, taking the budget to something like $16.8 billion a year in health. Interestingly, I have seen reports of other parties’ proposals for health expenditure, and the Labour Party is proposing to spend less—less—next year, in its campaign, than the Government is actually spending in additional health expenditure this year.

Then Chris Hipkins tried attacking on Barclay.

10. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all of the statements that he has made, or have been made on his behalf, in this House regarding the Todd Barclay case?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes.

Chris Hipkins: When he stated in his answer to oral question No. 2 in the House on 20 June that “I would expect any Minister who became aware of possible breaches of the law to bring it to the attention of the authorities.”, was he aware of any allegations regarding breaches of the law by Todd Barclay that he had not brought to the attention of the police?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have made extensive comment on those matters already.

Chris Hipkins: Does he agree that it is “slippery deceit” and a “disgrace” for a Prime Minister not to tell the police everything they know about a matter under investigation, and that to avoid and refuse to tell the truth is a lie; if so, given those are his words, has he told the police everything he knows about the Todd Barclay matter?

Mr SPEAKER: In so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility—the right honourable Prime Minister.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have commented extensively on that.

Chris Hipkins: Did he use a Ministerial Services – funded phone when he discussed Todd Barclay with Glenys Dickson, and was that conversation recorded by Todd Barclay?

Mr SPEAKER: Again, in so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility—the right honourable Prime Minister.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no responsibility for that matter.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is responsible for whether he used a Ministerial Services – funded phone for that conversation.

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has given his answer to the question that was raised; the question has been addressed.

Chris Hipkins: Does he agree with the statement “This behaviour from someone in such high office is unacceptable … No wonder they are denying health cuts, pretending there is no crisis in education, and acting like we have no law and order problem. It is not leadership to cover up and hope it all goes away.”; if so, given he was the one who made that statement, why will he not live up to his own words and fully and honestly answer questions about his role in the Todd Barclay saga?

Mr SPEAKER: There are two supplementary questions there; the Prime Minister can address one or the other.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The matter has been covered extensively by a 10-month police investigation.

Why NZ First tried to take over the Barclay embers when it was predictable that English would avoid giving any more on it is hard to understand, it was a futile use of Question Time.

And Little and Robertson did virtually nothing to hold the Government to account, instead giving the Ministers opportunities for free shots at Labour.

Turei ruled the return to Parliament, with the rest also rans.

Budget delivered, especially for working families

Steven Joyce has delivered his first budget. It will get dissected and analysed by media, and criticised by opposition parties, but it is likely to be a budget designed to tempt voters in election year.

Surplus: Treasury forecasts a $1.6bn surplus in 2017, climbing to $7.2bn in 2021.

Family Incomes Package

The Government’s $2 billion per year Family Incomes Package will make changes to tax thresholds, Working for Families and the Accommodation Supplement to help Kiwi families get ahead.

Income tax: The $14,000 tax threshold is raised to $22,000 and the $48,000 threshold to $52,000. The government estimates this will mean $11 a week more for people in the lower threshold and up to $20 a week more for those in the higher band.

Family incomes: Working for Families tax credit rates for children under 16 go up. The eldest child credit is a maximum $101.98 a week and $91.25 for every subsequent child. But the point where tax credits start reducing kick in at a lower income level ($35,000 compared to $36,500 previously).

Independent earner tax credit: The credit for people earning from $24,000 to $48,000 and not receiving a benefit, superannuation or Working for Families is scrapped. It was worth up to $10 a week.

From 1 April 2018, the Package:

  • Increases the $14,000 income tax threshold to $22,000, and the $48,000 tax threshold to $52,000.
  • Discontinues the Independent Earner Tax Credit.
  • Increases the Family Tax Credit rates for young children to the level of those for children aged 16 to 18.
  • Increases the Accommodation Supplement maximum amounts to reflect 2016 rents and makes some changes to Accommodation Supplement areas.
  • Increases weekly Accommodation Benefit payments by up to $20 for eligible Student Allowance recipients.

Housing costs: The accommodation supplement goes up by an average $36 per week. More areas are eligible for the higher payments; for example, people living in tourist hotspots such as Queenstown, Wanaka and Tauranga, and in all Auckland suburbs, will join central Aucklanders in getting the top payments.

Family Incomes Package Fact Sheets – More information about the $2 billion Family Incomes Package.

Family Incomes Calculator –  How does the Family Incomes Package affect me?

Investing in a Growing Economy

A $935 million package through the Business Growth Agenda to keep building a sustainable growing economy.

  • $372.8 million for the second round of the Government’s Innovative New Zealand programme. It includes:
  • $203 million for Science and Innovation
  • $31.1 million for Economic Development
  • $132.1 million for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
  • $30.5 million to upgrade and modernise the fisheries management system.
  • $18.4 million to further strengthen the biosecurity system and protect our borders.
  • $4 million to progress New Zealand’s climate change work programme to meet Paris Agreement 2030 emissions targets.
  • $8.7 million for initiatives to support pay equity dispute resolution and Holidays Act compliance.


Public Services for a Growing Country

A $5.4 billion Operating and $1.4 billion Capital package to deliver better public services for a growing country.

The Government is allocating $7 billion in Budget 2017 to sustain and expand public services, including:

  • $3.9 billion in New Zealand’s Health Sector, including $1.76 billion in direct new money for District Health Boards, $1.54 billion for care and support workers plus increased investments in disability support services, ambulance services, pharmaceuticals, mental health services, elective surgery and primary health care.
  • $1.1 billion in New Zealand’s Education Sector, including $767 million for funding roll growth and demand, a $61 million increase in operational grant funding for schools, and $35 million in targeted additional funding for early childhood centres.
  • $1.2 billion for law and order, including for a 10 per cent increase in police staff numbers and funding to meet increased demand for justice, courts and corrections services, plus new initiatives in burglary prevention, reducing youth reoffending, and supporting at-risk prisoners.
  • $803 million for other social services, including $184.7 million for social housing services, $64.4 million for supporting people into employment, and $424.4 million for the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki.

Budget 2017 includes $321 million in funding for fourteen cross-agency Social Investment initiatives that are designed to tackle long term social issues for vulnerable New Zealanders.

Mental health: $224m over four years for mental health services including for a fund to trial new addiction and mental health treatment approaches, $11.6m to help Corrections manage prisoners at risk of self harm.

Health: $3.9bn for health services bringing the total budget to $16.77bn in 2017/2018.

Social Investment

Budget 2017 continues this approach with a $321 million Social Investment Package.

Infrastructure for a Growing Economy

A $4 billion package of new capital investment to help build the public infrastructure needed to support growth.

The Government is allocating $4 billion in new capital infrastructure spend in Budget 2017 to build the necessary infrastructure for a growing economy, including:

  • $812 million for the reinstatement of State Highway One north and south of Kaikōura.
  • $450 million for rail infrastructure and rolling stock for KiwiRail’s rail freight business, $436 million for the first stage of Auckland’s City Rail Link, and $98.4 million for upgrades to Wellington’s commuter rail network.
  • $392.4 million for six new schools, two school expansions, 11 special education satellite units, and 305 additional classrooms nationwide.
  • $150 million in additional capital towards the new building programme for hospitals around New Zealand.
  • $576 million for the Defence Force for new equipment and the commencement of the upgrading of the Defence Estate.
  • $763.3 million for new prison capacity around New Zealand.
  • $100 million to expand the Government’s programme to release Crown land for housing development around the country.
  • $63 million for investing in new water storage infrastructure in regional New Zealand.



Budget day

The national Government’s ninth and Steven Joyce’s first budget will be delivered this afternoon.

Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Finance

The Minister of Finance will deliver the Budget Speech – the Statement introducing the Appropriation (2017/18 Estimates) Bill in the House of Representatives – at approximately 2pm on Budget Day, Thursday, 25 May 2017.

Release of Budget Material

Budget material will be released here at 2pm on Budget Day.

My prediction – the Government will claim it is a ‘just right’ Goldilocks budget, while opposition parties will claim it is a three bears budget – too hot, too cold, too lumpy and too smooth.

See The budget drip feed

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.


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…

Recent spending and budget announcements:

NZ to provide $1.3m for Fiji climate conference

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett and Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee have today announced that New Zealand will provide $1.3 million to support Fiji’s presidency of the United Nations Climate…

$6.7 million Redevelopment for Kaikorai Primary School

Kaikorai Primary School in Dunedin is set to benefit from a $6.7 million redevelopment as part of the Government’s commitment to modernise school infrastructure…

Step closer for new school for Syrian children

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the signing of a letter of commitment between New Zealand and Turkey which will see $1.3 million provided for a new school…

Multi-million dollar safety upgrade for Lyttelton Tunnel

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today announced work is set to begin on a multi-million dollar fire deluge system that will improve safety and reduce the risk of lengthy closures…

Govt $333m Urban Cycleways Programme achieves halfway point

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today marked the halfway point for the Government’s $333 million Urban Cycleways Programme (UCP) with the completion of a section on the Little River Link cycleway.

Budget 2017: Irrigation investment to better manage fresh water

Additional grant funding of $26.7 million over the next three years plus a capital boost of $63 million towards irrigation investments in Budget 2017 will deliver economic and environmental benefits…

Taranaki walk to support economic development

A $3.4 million investment into the Taranaki Crossing is part of the Government’s plan to boost growth in Taranaki, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.

Key transport project for Taranaki launched

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today officially launched the Awakino Gorge to Mount Messenger Programme in Mokau.The $135 million programme, part of the Government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme, is aimed at…

Budget 2017: $5.2m to fund more teachers in priority subjects

Education Minister Nikki Kaye has announced that Budget 2017 will commit $5.2 million of operating funding over the next four years to expand the innovative teacher training programme, Teach First…

Govt to build 34,000 new houses for Auckland

The Government today has announced a Crown land and building programme that will see tens of thousands of new houses built in Auckland over the next decade. Social Housing Minister…

Budget 2017: $21m to Battle for our Birds

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says DOC will fight this year’s beech forest mast year increase in rat and stoat numbers with a $21.3 million war chest from Budget 2017 for…

NZ provides further $5m in humanitarian aid

New Zealand will provide a further $5 million in relief assistance to pressing humanitarian crises across Africa and the Middle East, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.

Budget 2017: Double crewing for road ambulance

Budget 2017 invests an additional $59.2 million over four years to ensure all road ambulance call outs are double crewed, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne and..

Budget 2017: $303.9m for New Zealand Screen grants

Budget 2017 will see $303.9 million allocated to support the continuation of the New Zealand screen industry production grants, both globally and domestically, say Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges…

Budget 2017: $76m for DOC tourism infrastructure

The Government will invest $76 million through Budget 2017 on new and upgraded tourism infrastructure for the Department of Conservation as part of a $178 million tourism infrastructure package, Conservation…

Budget 2017: $178m package for tourism infrastructure

Tourism Minister Paula Bennett has today announced a new $102 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund which has been launched alongside $76 million in new funding for our most important tourism asset,…

Budget 2017: $74.6m to further grow business R&D

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has today announced an additional $74.6 million in funding through the Innovative New Zealand programme in Budget 2017 to meet the growing demand for…