National was wrong on Labour's fiscals; But it was always going to come because it allows English and Joyce to talk up their main campaign attack on Labour: Tax. We all need to get over it, Alex Tarrant says

By Alex Tarrant

“If Grant Robertson did something like this, there’d be calls for him to resign.” A senior Labour Party staffer hit me up in Parliament Tuesday lunchtime. “Is anyone going to call Steven Joyce out on this?” Well, actually, I've just returned from questioning Bill English on that exact subject.

Hopefully it’s clear now that National’s claim of Labour underestimating spending by $11.7 billion – by way of numbers in its own fiscal plan – was not correct. But it made for some bloody good headlines, reinforced perceptions and gave National a base for its main attack line this election – tax (which also happened to be its main attack line from previous elections).

As Grant Robertson said on Monday, it boils down to a matter of semantics. For the neutral, it was perhaps unfortunate that what Labour termed its ‘operating allowance’ on page 14 of its fiscals (not written up by Treasury) isn’t the same as what the Treasury describes as government's 'operating allowance' in the government financials.

‘Spare cash each year after extra spending commitments’ would have been a more appropriate description from Labour. Grant Robertson fronted up to media on Monday to accept and explain exactly that.

Labour’s fiscal plan details spending the party is looking to allocate above and beyond what is already booked in Treasury’s Pre-election fiscal update (Prefu) projections over the next five years. Planned extra health spending is included in a line called ‘health’. Planned extra education spending is booked in a line called ‘education’.

You can listen to Brian Fallow explain this on Radio NZ here. Also, a rather surprisingly good review of the situation is here at satire website, The Civillian, under the headline, Nation deeply divided over whether to put expected operating spending in categorised expenses row or operation allowances row.

National’s move was expected – no matter what

National were expected at some point this campaign to attack Labour on fiscal management. You could have bet the house on it (if you owned one). This is the backbone for National’s number one attack line on Labour: Watch out for a bunch of dirty new taxes if they’re elected.

By putting the focus on Labour’s spending plans, and planting doubt into peoples’ minds that Labour might have to spend more than it’s promising, National argues that Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson will need to scramble to raise extra tax revenue after the election.

They’re aided by the fact that Labour has promised to set up (yet another) Tax Working Group (TWG) after the election to review the ‘fairness’ of New Zealand’s taxation system. Because Ardern has maintained the right to act right away on whatever the working group says, National is able to argue (and fair enough – so would I if in their position) that Labour might whack a great bunch of new taxes on everybody.

(I personally think if Labour weren’t going to run on a more detailed tax policy this election, then Ardern should have stuck to Andrew Little’s pledge to take TWG recommendations to the electorate in 2020 – it would have kept the tax scaremongers back from the gate.)

So, now we see National combining the two lines: That, not only do Ardern and Robertson merely want new taxes, but in fact they will need new or higher taxes to pay for their cost over-runs.

Let’s just be clear. Those cost over-runs don’t exist. And, at no point have Ardern or Robertson said the Tax Working Group is being set up to raise extra revenue. In fact, they’re been very careful to say this is about fairness across the tax system rather than looking for ways to raise revenue above and beyond what government already brings in – Ardern’s comment that Labour doesn’t need to raise the top tax rate being case in point.

Let’s get over this

The media, politicians and commentators pay way too much attention to the minutiae of ‘spending plans’. Yes, it makes for great headlines. Yes, it makes us look like we’re scrutinising everything extremely carefully so the government doesn’t go bankrupt.

It has been a central theme particularly since the 2008 pre-election update, with echoes back to 1990 when Jim Bolger and Ruth Richardson were called in on Day 1 to be told the BNZ was collapsing.

Bill English and Steven Joyce are delighting in highlighting that Labour were forced to ‘shift’ a date on their website from 1 April to 1 July, effectively pushing back $250 million worth of spending by a quarter.

“It raises the question of trust, and whether they know their own numbers or not,” English said with glee on Tuesday morning – watch his comments in the video above.

Labour’s owned up to that the date for when their families package would come into play was labelled wrong. Let’s get over that now. It’s three months between two different press releases.

By the way, $250 million is 0.3% of the $94 billion of Core Crown Expenses. Keep that number in mind whenever some politician talks in millions of dollars. Government is actually pretty big, in the scheme of things.

That National can generate headlines haggling over 0.3% of government spending indicates just how precious we have become. Yes, it sounds like a lot of money talking in a couple of hundreds of millions. But it is a fart within the standard deviation of expected tax revenue ($86 billion) and government spending plans. Let’s get over it.

If the National Party’s argument is that Labour needs to be more transparent on whether $250 million will be allocated from April 1 or July 1, then Labour’s response should be given many times the amount of coverage: It is calling on National to be more transparent on $10 billion of unallocated spending sitting around for the next five years, with no indications about what it might be spent on.

It’s a fair call from Labour. And National has every right not to say. If you want transparency on what money will actually be spent on, then Labour is out in front. Ardern and Robertson have highlighted a desire to put it into health and education. Whether you think this is right or wrong in terms of priorities is another matter.

Another way of coming at it is this: Try and imagine if Labour was sitting around not telling people what it expects to do post-election. We’d be accusing them of not having any policies. We’d be accusing them of not having any vision. We’d be accusing them of not having a plan. We'd be saying, 'hey the Budget is in surplus, so why not increase spending on public services?'

If all this is taken on board, then all it leaves National with for criticising Labour on is, ‘ok, well even if that’s all true, then this leaves you with very little room for new spending outside of health and education.’ (See English’s comments in video above.)

That basically boils down to this: ‘Once you’ve spent money on the things you want to spend money on, then how will you find extra money for extra spending on other things?’ This is a bog-standard election campaign criticism of any party’s policy/spending plans.

Yes, it is a fair question to ask. Of all National’s criticisms of Labour’s spending plans it is the only one worth asking - and could also be used for the 'aha, new taxes!' attack line. It was asked to Grant Robertson on Monday, and he didn’t shy away from the fact that some things might be a bit tight, but that there were options available through reprioritisation of spending (ie. not new or higher taxes).

Because of the media’s perceived role of itself being the Public Finance Act reincarnated and getting excited by every few millions of dollars one way or the other, Labour has set out five Budget Responsibility Rules. They include government spending not rising above 30% of GDP in any one year, and repaying government debt to back below 20% of GDP within five years’ time.

Of course, this will limit the level of government spending under a Labour-led government. Of course, this will mean that if the initial focus is health and education, then all else being equal, there will have to be less of a focus on other spending areas.

But all else might not be equal. If Labour leads a government after September 23, they will be allowed to make decisions on existing government spending programmes - you can't bind a future government on spending plans. Just like the current government from time to time decides to reallocate spending from one area to prioritise another (particularly during the GFC).

Robertson uses the example of not spending money on new prisons. Defence spending has also been earmarked. Spending can be reprioritised. This is not new. Every new government does this. Governments that Bill English and Steven Joyce have been in, have done this.

Of Joyce’s $11.7 billion, the $9.4 billion operating allowance hole doesn’t exist. Let’s be nice to him and put it down to a misunderstanding, and let’s slap Labour with a wet bus ticket for not calling one line in their fiscals ‘spare cash for extra policies, potentially for coalition negotiations’. To the remaining $2.3 billion worth of criticisms, Labour has responded, saying these are based on estimates from government agencies.

This won’t stop National from banging on about it. This is because their main attack line – tax – rests on people buying into it. This is politics. This is the closest election campaign in a long time. So, we shouldn’t be surprised.

But my goodness, let’s get over this.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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115 Comments

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Easy to say - For 9 years National have been "skimming" off the bottom of the deck and dealing to the nouveau aristocracy - one example is the $450 million Canterbury Irrigation slush fund - It's a sly tax - how many registered dairy farms are there in Canterbury? - it's like a $1 million non-recourse xmas gift to each one - nothing major, nothing sudden, no tax required - oops forgot the un-announced GST increase

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Nats irrigation schemes are criminal.

The capital gain accrued overnight by farmers involved in this are much more than a million each when you look at the improved value of their land yet they squeal like pigs when they are asked to pay a pittance for the water.

Nats looking after their mates yet again.

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For 9 Years National has been on denial mode, now in Lie and manipulation to win election.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Abraham Lincoln

National bluff is out and arrogance has to be humbled.

After their bluff strongly Support Change of Government.

Media too is biased at times so may be need to look at all extreme to get idea and to form your own opinion : https://thestandard.org.nz/

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So...the question is really, was it a deliberate lie? I.e. did they know they were wrong but pull it out anyway?

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Pathological liar.

How could voter trust them. Now even if they come up with a truth, voters will take it with a pinch of.....

As the election progresses, National will get more and more desperate and will keep on exposing themselves more and more.

It is time for them to go and go, they will.

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Well, if it was just a lingering doubt in Joyce's mind he could have phoned Robertson and cleared the matter up.

As for Bill, the Barclay affair showed he couldn't lie straight in bed.

Live by the overblown claim, die by the overblown claim. And kill any fiscal credibility you had with it.

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I don't think there should be any rush to move past this one. Once Joyce has worn out his current shovel, let's give him a new one to keep digging with.

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That's right - National don't do the up-front in-your-face tax

They do the sly tax and deal off the bottom-of-the-deck

Jacinda needs to stop being so nice, ok the pricks got to her on the day of the 2nd debate at the last minute. Do the same. Hang on no don't stoop to there levels. They're just desperate because they done stuff all for 9 years and now try matching labours great ideas. O tax tax tax, boring

That video of bill English is enough to make me sick. Back track, that's definitely lost them the election now. They thought yesterday I bet that was a great trick and easy to get out off. 11 billion against 1 billion of but but but, I need a shower

Not at all unlike their earlier dogwhistle/unwhistle two-step on the 'dealing to gangs' announcement.

National is 100 % on the money on this. Taxinda is not telling the whole truth on her tax programme. There is a huge hole in her budget and she is going to try and fill it with more and more taxes (she is just saying that it would not happen in the first term).........that is of course if enough people don't see through her smokescreen and they actually vote for her ...like turkeys voting for Christmas.

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"I have my National talking points and I'm repeating them as fast as I can!"

Yep Taxinda taxinda, holes in budget, show me the money. Rinse repeat.

Why are you scared of a tax that probably should have been implemented in the first place?

What do you mean "probably should of been implemented in the first place"?
Taxing is not a right it is actually a priviledge! Taxation was also meant to be voluntary!

https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/05-09-2017/the-11-7-billion-dollar-que...
I wonder how many times I will have to post this?

That you Steven?

One thing we've certainly learned is that Steven is a dab hand at stuffing up the numbers. So now we know...

Show me where??? Easy to talk about holes in budgets but you need to explain where and how, not repeat some discredited line of Joyce's.

Keep(negative)positive,

You clearly suffer from confirmation bias-that is you ignore any evidence that contradicts your existing beliefs. Not one economist has backed Joyce's accusation of a massive hole in Labour's figures and Joyce has admitted that he has not asked for independent confirmation.
He has therefore either been badly advised,or is lying. I rather think it's the latter.

Struggling to find anything about Steve - "maths was never my strong pt" - Joyces cock up being reported in the Herald. Has anyone seen anything?

One thing the rag has highlighted was the fact that Labour, yes Labour under HC, made the decision on the Waterview tunnel which the Nats last night tried to con kiwis was part of their grand projects.

Next thing the Nats will lay claim to Kiwisaver and the NZ fund.

Yeah labour were intending to have waterview finished about 5 years ago. Then national came in and completely changed it and stalled it. To be fair I think they did it cheaper but probably with a reasonable opportunity cost. Joyce then said it was national that actually built it. I didn't know politicians built roads, I thought they just funded them.

They also like to claim their public transport projects like the electric trains that they stalled and the CRL that they were by far the last party to support (excluding ACT of course)

So will Labour tax city dwellers for all this pollution?

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/opinion/96350175/data-shows-hum...

Only those who live outside of Ponsonby..

You're already taxed for it, and money is already spent trying to alleviate it.

Rates money goes directly into councils ongoing efforts to track down and reduce sources of pollution (via wastewater and sewer cross-contamination). It's a difficult job that never finishes.

So I guess if that article is correct then the rivers near Auckland would be wastelands and the rivers near farms in the South Island would be pristine?

JJ - I think we need to follow commentary from NZ scientists rather than someone who has so much skin in the game.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/agribusiness/68504638/Scientist-...

https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.niwa....

I agree with your last sentence, and I think the majority of NZers do too.
Watching the USA Elections , I don't recall one $$ amount been mentioned, yet people got the drift of what each side was proposing. It is time for vision and change , not crossing the t's and dotting the I's.
Howecer I do think there is a need for the electoral commission to check all figures form all parties , and gov an independant anyalysis for those that want it .

NZ finally has its own Trump. According to The Wall Street Journal.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/96519787/wall-street-journal-c...

Odd... Reducing numbers to more of a normal or typical level now has the right trying to equate Arden to Trump. Does that make Bill English New Zealand's version of Angela Merkel extending an open invitation to millions?

All seems a bit silly, really.

BE said on the debate he wants NZ population to over 5 milion by 2020 thats another 200k in three years,
its pretty clear which party wants to keep every door to the place open

BE said on the debate he wants NZ population to over 5 milion by 2020 thats another 200k in three years,
its pretty clear which party wants to keep every door to the place open

Well if Labour get in Ardern won't have a problem as the exit doors will be jammed with people trying to leave.

Interesting.
Why?

MB - Not sure about the validity there but if they said we have our own Nixon I would agree.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/06/famous-liars/

Mind you he had an exceptional mentor..

https://thestandard.org.nz/still-an-honest-man/

Why is lying part of the Nats DNA.?

Any possibility of getting some substantive election reporting that isn't filed under Opinion?

This opinion screed is more than a little bit biased. I have been coming to Interest.co.nz for good reporting. Maybe I need to look somewhere else to find something closer to objective reporting.

Isn't Alex right wing? Do you think he was a bit lenient on national in this opinion piece?

Alex has abandoned all his attempts to disguise that he is simply a cheerleader for the left. This is how we should see him - no more , no less.

Rubbish....

Since facts dont suit you, I suggest whaleoil is what you should read.....

Yankiwi- I'm a centre rightist on economic matters but don't consider this article to be particularly biased.

An exception is Alex's uncritical acceptance of Robertson's 'explanations' for using a unique (some would say misleading) description of operating allowances, without examining his motives for presenting the data this way.

Another is his apparent preference that 'tax scaremongers' be kept back from the gate'. Nasty people those mongerers. Next thing they will be asking awkward questions.

Don't care who was right or wrong, they are both a joke anyway.

What I do find interesting is why everyone seems so keen to get an Economist to review the accounts. Surely you would want an accountant for that.

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Some more info:

Dr Ganesh Nana, BERL Executive Director, says:
The numbers make sense and the "alleged hole is a fiction arising from a disagreement over definitions".
Verdict: There is no hole

ANZ Chief Economist Cameron Bagrie
“There's no hole. But they don"t have a lot of money to play with in the 2019 and 2020 budgets. They"ve basically computed up front to what they are going to do for three years. That"s fine but the wheels of government still need to turn and be funded."
Verdict: There is no hole

Bernard Hickey, Newsroom Pro economics journalist
"There is no hole in Labour's fiscal plan. It's just a political argument about cost inflation and spending priorities."
Verdict: There is no hole

Former NZIER economist Shamubeel Eaqub:
"There isn't an $11.7b hole from what I can see."
Verdict: There is no hole

Keith Ng, Public Address/Spinoff economics and data journalist:
"There is no missing money. The money is accounted for. I suspect there"s some shenanigans around why Labour did it this way (to make the health/education/etc lines look bigger, basically), but it"s literally a question of whether you put the numbers on row 239 or row 228 in the spreadsheet."
Verdict: There is no hole

Sam Warburton, Research Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative:
"National appears to have looked at one line (the "operating allowance") in Labour"s budget without looking at the other 16 lines in the Budget. If they had, they would have seen extra money has been allocated to those lines such as Health, Education, Social Welfare and Housing.

“It looks like National's mistake came from only looking at the operating allowance and expecting to see a greater amount of flexibility for future expenditure, e.g. inflation. Labour has effectively said "we"ll book in some of that future expenditure now". Whether providing that certainty to Health and Education now is best or keeping things more flexible in case of unknown future demand or events is best is a judgement call. But there is no $12 billion hole.”
Verdict: There is no $11.7b hole

Mac McKenna, Taxpayers Union economist,
says the lobby group has found National is partially correct.
Verdict: There is a hole, just might not be $11.7b

Dr Vernon Small, Fairfax Political Reporter
"What we have here is a small unallocated spending pot and poor word choice by Labour and a huge over-reach for a political hit by National".
Verdict: There is no hole

Brian Fallow, Economic Columnist, NZ Herald
"In terms of the argument, Robertson is right, and Joyce is wrong. [...]The money isn’t missing", he said on RNZ.
Verdict: There is no hole

Meanwhile, Stephen Joyce doubling down on what economists are describing as fiction. However, looks suspiciously like the same kind of dishonest tactic he's used in previous elections.

But where is the detail on Bill English's new poverty targets. Have they forgotten to cost them? [Article]

Well Ok so there isnt or there isnt a big hole.

However I find it interesting that the dominant argument is over if there is a hole or not and not if its reasonable to spend this money or not.

Next that there is a considerable % of people and companies who pay little tax and by taxing them at the rate teh rest of us pay we could raise a lot of money and a) reduce the unfair burden on some and/or fund public services better.

For me this discussion is has the wrong focus and is just so immature, pity we cant seem to get beyond this to what really matters.

It is because the high income earners and well off people pay little or no tax that most others who are on PAYE only have to pay the lion's share at 33% . Most of these high income people invest in multiple investment housing, because it is the most tax effective investment around.
A capital gains tax on property and close down the many tax write offs would be one way to alleviate this imbalance.
National politicians would not go near changing the present policy due mainly to self interest.
NB. I am a high income earner and know what happens.

There is no hole, and chances are there is no money.

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Nationals major own goals so far:

PB claiming gang members have no human rights
Nats dirty politics on WP
BE claiming the only thing he would march on would be the right to be PM
BE claiming the Waterview tunnel as part of their projects. HCs govt made the decision to build.
SJ claiming there is a $10bn hole in Labours budgeting.

Lot of lying and dirty politics going on here.

There is not a hole but there certainly are some aholes in this election.

Incompetent and he was their Finance Minister -

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11917685

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11917623

You missed

"dear leader" claiming mission accomplished

(1) Christchurch Rebuild
(2) Only 2 out of 12 key cornerstone projects are completed in Christchurch so far
(3) Of 250 Auckland's SHA's, National don't know how many houses have been built
(4) He changed the e-coli tape-measure on river pollution from 260 ppm to 540 ppm
(5) No-Crisis Auckland Housing "opportunities" are a sign of success

Steven Joyce continues this morning to claim Labour has an $11.7B fiscal hole in their budget. He knows this is incorrect as does Bill English.

Labour's figures are based on PREFU, adjusted for their spending priorities and independently calculated by a reputable economics firm. If Labour has a $11.7B hole then so does National. But of course neither party does and all the experts from both parties know that.

So why is Joyce continuing with this nasty game? Because it wastes media time and he knows that most voters are not experts -so will just see politicians bickering which is bad for both parties. Essentially it means Steven Joyce as the National party's campaign manager has decided that National cannot win by being positive, with a fair discussion and comparison of policies etc and has decided to throw crap at the fan -hoping more will stick to Labour than National.

Steven Joyce really is an odious man and if Bill English doesn't reign him in, then it doesn't say much about Bill's leadership abilities either.

It's just more of the same playbook - like Trump, they simply deny facts. It has been a hallmark of their administration over the whole 9 years;

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ec/f7/64/ecf76498faea601f8dedd86f535389dd.jpg

Makes you think.

Lol

Can also add

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/338766/principals-rubbish-nationa...

It seems that national campaign is base on lies

There is, but it seems the NZ voter is happy to continue with allowing those paying little or no tax to continue to do so.

So National's plan seems to be to try to scare the swing voter away from Labour but at the same time after 9 years of doing little try and look like they will finally do something if only the swing voters give them one more chance.

There is a hole if your planning on getting tax from sources that are currently not paying any. I suspect there is a "Vision" of getting tax from those currently not paying any. Sorry but there is too much "Vision" in the Labour plans and when they get in for a couple of years and discover a big shortfall, then what ? Oh right that bunch of tax experts in 18 months are going to come up with recommendations.....like me paying more tax.

Where were all these top economists when the GFC arrived,oh thats right they were reading their tea leafs.

You would think surely National could find someone to agree with their claims though... Just one expert somewhere... if there was any validity in their claims...

But the fact is that there was enough material for an entire book written about the National parties underhanded smear campaigns last election. That nothing has changed is borne out by the fact that three different ministers offices had been briefed by staff about Winston Peter's private superannuation issues - obviously the entire administration is trained to seek out damaging info about the competition and ignore any privacy rules or basic ethics along the way.

This is an obvious smear by a desperate administration with no bounds in reality. The old trick of keep lying and it should hurt your opponent more than you. Maybe slightly change the lie every couple of days slightly so it makes a little more sense than before. People will think nobody could keep defending that position if there wasn't some truth to what they were saying.

Goodness...witness Stephen Joyce lying through his teeth on the morning breakfast show.

Disgusting person.

Our politics is devolving into blatant propaganda and falsehood, with no regard for truth.

Liar liar --he failed uni economics and he is right and economists with PHDs are wrong.

Foolish man. John Key would never have let Joyce appear on tv this morning.

He gets airplay. So if he can lie through his teeth and win I guess he decides it's worth it, and bully to the effects on integrity in New Zealand society and politics.

he cant even get his lie straight, he got caught out quoting someone wrong this morning.
i would not trust him looking after my cheque book, could not pass economics so ended up changing courses

He must have a hide thicker than a rhino's did the same on the AM show. If I wasn't over his sheer arrogance long ago, I sure as hell am now

Something is thicker

Was Steven Joyce wrong?

I can't see one single accountant in the list of 'experts' Labour provided. What would an economist and journalist know about accounting?

Why doesn't PWC independently audit it, then we will know for sure.

Yes, he was wrong.

It's so simple you don't need to be an accountant to understand it.

I would say even a zoologist shouldn't have any trouble with it.

Note when Joyce was interviewed and journalists asked him about further audits of his numbers he moved the conversation on pretty quickly.

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So that's the problem - when the experts point out Stephen Joyce is wrong the next stage is to undermine the experts and request second opinions. In the process the lie continues to do its job and get airplay, also taking airplay away from other issues.

Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.

A backtrack down the track has no effect.

Trumpism and "alternative facts" at their finest.

What would an Accountant know about marco economics and government accounting.

This list who have plainly said Joyce was wrong are people who live and breath this stuff (like Economists), but some backyard accountant who just reprints some figures they have dragged off Xero.

Had a bit of respect for Joyce prior to this but this has dented that and hits as desperate politics.

could have the New Zealand Property Investors' Federation check his numbers, im sure with the creative accounting they do to justify returns they could back him up

Sorry Money Man but someone needs to inform you that economists don't do an accountants job.
Nobody not even the government gets economists to do the books!!!

Why did Labour present their spend programme in a different format to ususal best practice? And no journalist appears to have asked that question.......seems to me there was a deliberate attempt at hiding information from the public who have the right to know!

So your argument is now the style over the substance then? Sounds a bit desperate, having been rebutted your argument is but the powerpoint presentation wasn't pretty enough?

There are standard procedures in accouting for a reason.
Who the heck would ask an economist to do what is essentially an accountants role to make comment on Labours budgets?
If people can't put the right costs and expenses in the correct columns then they are doing this for a reason. Either they don't know what the hell they are doing and if that is the case then they are not up to the job or they are trying to manipulate the data.

Hiding information from the public - isn't that Nationals favourite? Can we have some more info about the Todd Barclay scandal please and the hundreds of texts that were sent?

Why the interest in Todd Barclay? It is being investigate by the police isn't it?

Would of thought there were far more important issues to occupy your mind....like whether North Korea starts war.

Most accountants only know how to advise wealthy people how to avoid paying tax regardless of the ethics.

Hasn't our government debt exploded the last 9 years under National......from like $30bn to more than $80bn? ......meaning that every year they've blown the budget by almost the amount that they are accusing Labour of? How can you do that? Accuse someone of something that you're guilty of yourself? Wouldn't that make Mr Joyce and the National party a team of hyprocrites?

http://www.interest.co.nz/Charts/Government/government-debt

Glad to see Steven Joyce has been found out re his lack of an academic record that relates to becoming a Finance Minister. The guy is not fit for the job and has been found out. Do we really want a disc jockey running the countries books?

Thank god that Jacinda once worked in a fish and chip shop.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. National are about to find out people don't like being lied to.

National have the arrogance of a party that's been in power too long. They think they can spin everything and say what they like and we'll all just eat it up, because hey, the economy is doing so well.

We all know the only reason the economy looks so good is a combination of unsustainable immigration, and close on 10 years of record low interest rates. Come on National, any monkey could have sat in the driver's seat the last few terms and claimed it was all due to them.

Beautifully stated, your last paragraph nails it.

I do wonder if you will have those same thoughts after 3 years of Labour......you might find yourself taxed to your knees begging for mercy!

We have also done well by buying and selling houses to each other at a higher and higher price and not pay tax on them.

Lets face the truth ...... Labour has cocked up its figures and cannot explain them by flip flopping all over the place .

The truth is there is a funding gap of a few Billion ( or many Billion ) in Labour's figures .

And they still have the audacity to expect us to trust them with the cheque book ? .

In his attempts to confuse the electorate over the spending proposals , and how he is going to pay for it , Robertson has ended up getting himself hopelessly confused .

Then they sneakily go onto their website and change it.

Can we trust anything on the Labour website now ?

Jacinda simply skirts any questions about taxes , saying she will form a Tax Working Group .

Well she needs to be more specific about the tax issue , which we all know is the key feature of any Labour Government .

Who is going to be in the Tax Working Group ?

I strongly suspect that rabid little Communist Ganesh Nana will be right in there, bleating away at how they can soak the so called "rich " to pay for all manner of lofty lefty ideals

He will recommend they tax people into poverty , and when the money runs out they hand the mess to National

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I love your comments - They are always so good for my self esteem.
I just bookmark them and every time I'm feeling stupid I just have a read and it reminds me that things could be worse.

Be careful - you can't fix stupidity

Blah blah blah blah blah. Boaty the stooge.

Haven't seen you for a few days Boaty, how was the "learning to spreadsheet" course you and Stevo went on?

Did you ask Stevo about how he's paying for all of his stuff? Haven't seen National's fiscal plan. Guess that will be released after the final day of "learning to spreadsheet"?

You know if you vote Labour (and I'm assuming here your children got a good dose of their mother's genes and go easy on the avocado), your children might actually be able to buy a house in the next few years. Just remember that as you tick National on the 23rd. You are the problem.

@ Zombie , I am giving my party vote to Act , finally decided

Fair enough Boatman. I think that makes sense if your philosophy is lower taxation, lower spend, smaller Government.

I think whatever side of the political debate we come from we should be engaging in a discussion based in facts. I am really not a fan of scaremongering or mistruths from any side.

Boatman,

Why does that not surprise me. This one man band that preaches self-sufficiency,exists ONLY because National gives them a constituency. Without that,they would disappear because very few voters want a bar of their policies.Given your posts,I would have thought that they might not be far enough to the Right for you.
It must really piss you off that many more will vote Green-and I will be one of them.

Boater - you diggin' a deeper hole for yourself?
Let's see your curriculum vitae, setting out your qualifications that enable you to make that statement - 6 qualified economists say the opposite. Yet here you are faithfully, dutifully, predictably, right on time, contradicting them, still toeing the party line

You gotta be careful when the top-troll from the nats boiler-room rings you up and tells you what to say

How much were paid for this one?

@2otherguys maybe you should read what the economists ACTUALLY said ...........and that was after Labour changed or amended the policy to start the re-distribution a whole quarter later .

They have acknowledged that even the hastily revised Labour policy document is not credible , there is only ONE economist sticking to Labour like poo to a blanket

That one economists is the closest thing to a full -on Marxist we have in new Zealand , and he is the one we should be most worried about landing up on the TAX WORKING GROUP

And lets just clear something up he is a FABIAN SOCIALIST and has long been a member of the Fabian Society where he contributes to papers and articles .

This is an organisation that wants communism by stealth rather than revolution

The Fabian Society believes that common peoples misery is caused by Capitalism and they advocate the Nationalization of industry .

A Labour administration right now would be our worst possible nightmare if this is where they are planning to take us

You can't get through to boatman, he will shill for National until the end regardless of how useless they've been. Just view him as a right-wing parody. Anyway, it's pretty sad National have had 9 years in power and they can't even campaign on merit or achievements (presumably because there's so few).

Are you denying the tactics Plutocracy? When the majority of the public services are being run by the left wing then they can undermine any government........
http://www.sunray22b.net/fabian_socialism.htm

I'm predicting a landslide victory for National.

I've just seen on Stuff that 3.18m kiwis have enrolled to vote, almost 90% of the adult population, 2.4m voted last election - I wonder which way the new enrollees will vote?

The voting percentage is maximum when their is a Vote for Change.

It is compulsory to enrol on the electoral register
https://www.govt.nz/browse/engaging-with-government/enrol-and-vote-in-an...
A fine of $100 can be imposed if you are eligible but fail to enrol

And details on the terrifying amount of people that have been penalized for not enrolling is here -https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/national/politics/96355008/The-electio...

Looks like it's made a staggering amount of difference.....

Won't be National...expect a Lab/Green landslide.

What commentators forget is that in NZ people vote another party mainly to get rid of the incumbent party if it is unpopular.
They don't necessarily vote for a party they want.

This is what will happen in these elections.

Joyce got carried away by using the word 'hole' but any enterprise putting forward a budget to the bank in suppport of a loan would quickly be shown the door if they had 'omitted' to include enough contingency for future increases in operating costs. Joyce makes a valid point on this that Robertson has not satisfactorily answered.

Joyce has jumped the shark. Like an ageing Fonzi it is no longer believable that National can 'do it'.

There is no way that Labour made a $8.7bn accounting error in their budget like he claims. There is no one credible who believes that Labour's budget is wrong by $8.6bn. Maybe at one time when Key was the leader the public suspended their disbelief and believed such outrageous statements. But I don't see that working for Joyce and English.

It will be interesting to see how the media responds to Steven spreading fake news. Do they let Joyce keep repeating it? Do they start laughing at him? Do they cut him off?

Can read below :

https://thestandard.org.nz/joyce-and-english-now-laughing-stock/

Unfortunately in NZ , may be in other places also media is not unbiased and depending upon their vested interest promote news BUT with internet and social media things have changed and now any fake news or bluff is highlighted and misfires as in the case of National.

Trust deficit lowest of National at this moment and more they do such stunts more they are exposing themselves though their die hard disciples for vested interest will be blinded by their fake and lie for vested interest but not surprised as that is what National represent now.

thats my problem with joyce anf BE is the outragous lies.
if joyce had said i think their fiqures are wrong and they will need to raise taxes to cover the shortfall he probably would have been on the money.
if asked how much he could have said on my projections a substantial amount, again nto a false statement

but to just come out and say look guys i found 11.3 billion missing what a bulls up when you have so many lined up to say you got your fiqures wrong

this looks like a total shambles and panic stations from national
not going to vote either party

Joyce's spreadsheet is 'pretty accurate' the way that ripped-off Eminem song was 'pretty legal'.

When can we make it a national tradition to fling dildos at him whenever he tells a lie?

We'd run out of dildos.

LOL, well I guess get a 3d printer....

lets face it new zealanders you are going to be a sweden, a finland, a social caring society of big government... its that simple.. vision? its not the governments job to take visionary risk or is the market not allowed to do this for the government... bigger spending for health and education? Its nice , its good, but it not visionary unless visionary is good social care and maybe civilization is these things... and you thought i was just monetary policy,,, its up to you new zealand... you decide what you want but dont be surprised if you taxes go up and you at 15% GST now so its taxing your family holiday bach next...

What is the difference between National's and Labour's spending amounts in percentage terms for the next term of government? If you cannot answer that then please stop talking like it is a huge difference.

Would you not rather have more taxes on capital gains and less on wages? It would incentivise working, and dis-incentivise speculation. Making society more about productivity and less about renting houses to each other. What is not to like?

Both TV news were terrible for @NZNationalParty's @stevenljoyce tonight. Even @nzinitiative says it was a schoolboy accounting error.

— Matthew Hooton (@MatthewHootonNZ) September 5, 2017

Wow, would've have expected Matthew Hooton to be so blunt about Stephen Joyce's mistakes.

Labour is behaving like Donald Trump in the run up to the US election , making promises and undertakings of all sorts, which can never be delivered on, with all the will in the world .

And Labour voters are behaving like idiots swallowing this garbage , and they will soon be horribly disappointed if Labour succeeds in forming the next Government

Their biggest mistake is to undertake to "eliminate poverty " which we know has existed since the Bible was written as it is referred to in the Bible , and no one has ever been able to to do this since then .......... the poor are with us everywhere.

This Labour euphoria has come from among other things , promises of almost free houses for everyone, massive windfalls and handouts deluxe, free tertiary education , free money for this , that and the next thing .

Government Money is never for Nothing , it either has to be earned by a taxpayer , or it has to be borrowed.

Somehow Labour will magically provide my 3 Auckland based children with their own home ( for less than the cost of a section , take note )

How does any level headed person believe this nonsense ?

Its like Donald Trump saying he will build a wall on the border with Mexico and someone else will pay for it

Labour is going to build houses for everyone who wants one ............. and guess what , they want us to believe that somehow , someone else will pay for it .

If you believe that , then you are a fool of the first order

Included in this largesse for the poor is more money for heating ( Yeah Right !) to keep people on welfare snug and warm , while a whole lot of my family members are up at 4.00 am milking cows in the cold on the South Island.

Labour will have us believe they can do all of this without increasing taxes , they are lying .......... plain and simple

Its BS of the first order .

Some Labour -supporting commentators above are suggesting that National are liars ............. its clear they could not detect a lie if it jumped up and bit them on the arse

Thanks for the War and Peace.

If nothing else works a total pig headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see you through.

Apologies to General Melchett.

Fully agree Boatman.

My sympathies lie with everyone in the farming communities across the country.
The Labour led Lange government abused the farmers in the 1980's and now they are going to do it all over again.

People who support Labour think they are owed something by everyone else. Whereas National supporters think they owe it to themselves and make opportunity.

You put so much effort into sounding crazy. I somewhat admire it.

For the record, I don't support either party.

"Labour is behaving like Donald Trump in the run up to the US election , making promises and undertakings of all sorts, which can never be delivered on, with all the will in the world ."

Really?
Lets put this into perspective in a simple manner for you. Because, let's face it, you need it.
National
- blatantly lied about the Labour fiscal policy.
- continually insulting of the Labour party.
- promising to fix everything they have neglected over the past 9 years.
- lead by someone audacious enough to state that he would march for his right to be Prime Minister.
- Make policy up on the fly (RE; poverty policy on the debate this week)
- want to lower taxes
- ignore professional advice
- vague policy
Labour
- Raising taxes, based on the advice of a transparent working group (not the first in the last 15 years - Bill vetoed the last one).
- Jacinda hasn't said one bad word about her opposition's personalities.
- Promising to fix everything National have neglected over the past 9 years.
- vague policy
- (You guys can help with more)

So, how the hell is the Labour party like Donald Trump. Other than the fact that have started to reignite the political atmosphere?

"Their biggest mistake is to undertake to "eliminate poverty " which we know has existed since the Bible was written as it is referred to in the Bible , and no one has ever been able to to do this since then .......... the poor are with us everywhere."

What's wrong with having a policy goal?
Even if unrealistic, it's a lot better than having your party leader get flustered on national television during a debate and committing to a completely arbitrary number to address the same issue.

Nymad are you suggesting that only Labour have a policy goal on poverty?
National have always had one too and that is get businesses up and going so they can give people jobs, or generate sufficient taxes for the government to work with!

What's Labour offering? Looks like it is the birdy to farming and business cos they're going to Justspenda anyway......this is not a disciplined approach.

I think you'll find the reference to Trump is Justpenda's attitude towards immigration.....and that is her again just giving the birdie to farming and business.....Labour doesn't care if farming or business can't get suitable employees they are so bloody vindictive to expect what is actually a minority group of people in NZ to have the burdon of the system on their shouilders!

If Labour had got off their arses and backed the changes to the RMA I would hold a very different opinion of them. Every large Council in NZ is full of left wing supporters who have continually undermined the government.

The biggest job in the country is up for grabs - what has Jacinda actually done? Would you let her run your business?
Not all professional advice is right or correct I ignore professional advice all the time. Not every piece of professional advice is accurate or the right thing to be doing. Professional advice is not some gold standard.