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Grant Robertson puts $14b of $20b Covid-19 fund aside should this be needed in the future, but leaves himself $2.4b to allocate in the next three weeks

Grant Robertson puts $14b of $20b Covid-19 fund aside should this be needed in the future, but leaves himself $2.4b to allocate in the next three weeks
Grant Robertson. Getty Images.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is putting away $14 billion of the $20 billion allocated in the May Budget towards yet-to-be-determined Covid-related expenditure.

He’s done so to keep some powder dry should more money be needed to cover the costs of a second wave of Covid-19 infection for example.

However, Robertson has also left himself $2.4 billion to dish out before the House rises in three weeks’ time.

He denied he was giving himself a decent chunk of money to spend on pre-election bribes, saying the funding would be used for “core public services” - “ongoing health border and economic response measures”.

Robertson ruled out spending the $2.4 billion on further extending the wage subsidy, helicopter cash payments, or expanding the Busines Finance Guarantee Scheme or Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme.

To date, the COVID Response and Recovery Fund has been used for the likes of the COVID Income Relief Payment ($570 million), an extension to the wage subsidy ($700 million), and the health response, including extra PPE ($300 million).

Altogether, Robertson allocated $62 billion towards the Covid-19 response at the Budget. This is equivalent to about 20% of gross domestic product (GDP).

He said Treasury had resumed doing Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIA) for regulatory proposals responding directly to Covid-19.

Cabinet on March 23 gave Treasury a free pass until August 31 in the interests of not using scarce resources to do a task that wasn't designed to be done at pace in an emergency. This meant Cabinet gave itself the power to implement multi-billion-dollar policies without being scrutinised by government departments.

Coming back to the COVID Response and Recovery Fund, Robertson said: “As we look around the world, it is clear that this global pandemic is continuing to grow. In the face of this, and on-going uncertainty, now is the time to be cautious and keep our powder dry.

“Keeping debt under control, and supporting jobs and businesses are both important. We are committed to getting the balance right, to give New Zealand options.

“We are doing everything we can to keep COVID-19 at our border – nobody wants a second wave. The responsible course of action is to make sure we are prepared for the worst – to give confidence to New Zealanders that we will be able to continue to act swiftly and decisively in our ongoing fight against this virus.

“The Fund is not there to be used for any old project in the never-never. It is to provide support and stimulus to recover and rebuild from Covid-19.”

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i.e. if the election isn't looking like a done deal we will use some more to make sure we look great and win.

We simply have to get rid of this hopelessly shambolic Government in 9 weeks time .

There is no depth in this administration at all, it all BS and bluster , and the the left hand does not know what the other extreme left hand is doing

Peters is a loose cannon

Shaw and his passenger are ...........I can think of no other word than losers , they are so far removed from environmental issues its a joke , the only thing they have offered so far is some lunatic idea of a capital - destroying wealth tax

And Cindy may be a very sweet kind young lady, but a smiley PM who does not know that an excise duty and a levy are a tax and who has appeared on some magazine covers, does not have the qualities required to make a good PM .


Or we get the other choice of being in bed with the CCP. Friggen unreal the crap we get to choose between. It's like a Trump / Hillary election.

Shaw seems OK - it is the rest of his party that's a worry.

The govt is not hopelessly shambolic - for example its public relations is pretty good - especially if you think Ms Ardern is sweet and kind and smiley.

I'd describe our govt is the best of a very poor bunch. I hate to admit it but they may even get my vote.

Their PR is excellent, actually the best performing part of the government. COVID PR was a masterclass, entwining the PM with the soothing messages, (at least until things went south - when she disappeared). Kudos.

This has allowed the PM to continue to carefully manicure her public and international persona without having to get her hands dirty, or to be fair, getting any hard questions asked by a subservient media, while protected by hoards of social media acolytes who pile on anyone with the temerity to disagree with Jacinda's pronouncements.

If the ministers could lift their game to match the PR spin team, this would be a very good government. I can only hope that the new candidates Labour will bring in learn quickly, and enhance the current very shallow gene pool of Labour ministers.

And still, despite National being in disarray, they retain a depth of experience from the last GFC and Government which, on balance, I'd prefer to the Labour/Greens government that I view as almost inevitable

They probably get back in, but then the redundancies are really going kick in with wage subsidy gone. A number of business are treading water, I do not have a lot of confidence anything material $ wise will hit the private sector. Then wait for the cries of help and where are all the jobs, and we can't survive, from those exact same people who just voted labour back in. Like I said I hope people have taken the time during the WS to sort out a 12-24 month home budget plan.

And National are a shining light in the darkness. Ha

Yeah, not sure that the phrase "out of the frying pan, into the fire" was ever intended as advice of what to do.


A very smart choice. Despite what we are doing around quarantining, there WILL be an outbreak. It's not a case of if, but when (false negative day 12 test, someone slipping out of quarantine again, a yachtie arriving with it on their boots who sneaks in etc). At which point it's likely to be regional lockdowns again at least.

Very likely. As long as it’s not 24/7 in the house I’d be happy to lock down in my suburb for a month or so.

Panic stations Labour needs more airtime , National is hogging all airtime
What I really want know is where are policy's to pay down debt?
All party's have not released detail policy


Doubt they'd be worried about National getting airtime when it's constant MPs quitting and "mistakes" being made.


Indeed. Indecent images to a school girl? Definitely headlines national wanted to keep top.

Interesting how the story got leaked as "school girl" but then quietly morphed to 19 year old adult university student. I'm not defending the MP, he deserves a hard kick up the backside on his way out the door, but there is no excuse for poor journalism and rumour mongering either.

Now multiple teenagers. The morphing excuses ("that wasn't me, it was my friend on my phone...unless you liked it") are now at risk too.

No excuse for the initial attempt to pin the whole thing on mental health as a smokescreen.


Forgive my pedanticism, but the plural of policy and party is policies and parties.

Repeat after me: governments do OT pay debts, they roll them over, for donkeys years.

A cynic would say 'cold feet" , and I suspect it was Treasury advice , but I would have done the same

you have to laugh , I have looked back to 2009 and it was Labour going on about running a budget surplus and criticising Key at every turn


Pretty sure they were running surpluses up until covid hit...the same can’t be said for key and English. Would you rather the alternative? Austerity the likes of which ACT are suggesting? Yeah that worked really well during the late 1920’s...

Bill English handed the country over with a massive surplus after 9 years of rebuilding after the GFC .................and WHOOF its gone , like magic in 9 weeks .

What has this useless COL Government done for us ?

Not one single election promise has been kept , not a single one !

Led us into penury .

And made an utter shambles of everything


“Rebuilding”??? Is that some type of extreme euphemism for massive underfunding of key services for 9 years? National are corrupt to the core. They had an opportunity recently to remove the rot from their foundations but chose to continue with the status quo.

Rebuilding: /riːˈbɪld/ verb

"Putting into the state of needing serious refurbishment and restoration."

They promised that Auckland could have a regional fuel tax and that all other councils in the country could not, and then Jacinda went further and ruled it out as long as she was prime Minister.

The promised a winter energy payment. They promised to reverse the tax cuts and put in the best start package. They promised 1st year University fees free.

They have achieved many of their promises and you look incredibly silly for claiming they haven't when they very obviously have.

Wow, so they took more money off us and then spent it unwisely. It reinforces everything I hate about lefties. Get your effing hand out of my pockets and work for your own money. Taking tax off me to offer my children a year of fee free uni is a ridiculous example.

It's not a "ridiculous example". It's simply an example of them keeping their promises, which Boatman in no uncertain terms said they had not kept any of them.

The nature of the promise they kept is irrelevant for rebutting his ridiculous claim.

Even the ACT party policies do nothing about redistribution to property speculators and subsidising company wages. Nor do they do anything about the 50% of social welfare that flows regardless of need as a universal basic income to folk over a certain age.

Bunch of socialists, the lot, happy to transfer money from hard working folk to their favourite recipients. Doing nothing to encourage and reward productive enterprise instead of perpetuating a rentier economy. None more so than the supposed "Taxpayers Union".

Philosophical consistency nowhere to be found, not even in their votaries who make a pretense of abhorring socialist redistribution.

What would you have Boaty? Let COVID in? You sound like a blind ideologue with an atrophied brain. National offered us nothing outside of what Labour did rather than keeping the borders open to let the Chinese in. Their first great pre-election promise is money for Auckland transport corridors and crumbs for the other major centres, but nothing for the regions. There is no forward thinking or innovation on offer. No one anywhere in the world had prior experience to go into COVID with any accurate foresight. Labour didn't follow the mob, as National made it clear they would have. Now it is clear what the difference between those two approaches are; NZ is now one of a very, very small number of countries in the world who are to all extents, COVID free. The risk though remains high. Your alternative outcomes are evident in Australia, US, Brasil, the UK and many others. No thanks!

It is true Labour have not yet delivered on how they will make Grant Robertson's 'reset' of the economy a reality. I fear that they too, and their advisors are too rooted in the past economic models and cannot see their way to new innovation such as MMT that provide a pathway and opportunity to a true 'reset'. But it is equally clear that National aren't doing this as well. Make no mistake, if Labour cannot deliver, then they will be gone and National will get it's turn, but so far, to date, Labour have been an outstanding success for what they have had to deal with.

Done for "us" er, depends how much money you have mate. Labour is not elected for the top third of population

Surplus including borrowing to create the surplus... Have a Claytons.

Just in time for the 6 o'clock news in an attempt to push Judith off the headlines


That would be "Another National MP Leaves" headline?

You may not like Judith, but National Party members and supporters do, it seems. They didn't know what to make of either Bridges or Muller, but the members don't get to choose the leader, the MPs do, on the basis that "they know the candidates best". Which is a variant on the universal elite cry of "we know best", meaning best for them not for you. Or put another way, "Ask not what we can do for you, ask what you can do for us".

The parties choose their leader, electorate candidates and list MPs, and we get to vote for which electorate candidate and party we want. Seems to me like a fair enough power split.
Or are you saying that National party members should get to vote on which leader they want?

Each party has its own method. For Labour the membership get a vote weighted at 40% of the whole which is how Cunliffe won, except on the run up to the election which was how it was handed over to Jacinda.

The greens leaders are entirely decided by the membership.

I think for all parties the electorate candidates are decided by the local party office, with varying degrees of influence by head office. The greens again let their members have final say over their list.

I'm sure the lefties in the UK Labour Party loved Corbyn too. That went well for them too huh.

Corbyn was a disaster

Not a fan of Corbyn, but also that was not strictly true that UK Labour did all that. A sudden influx of new extreme-left party members suddenly joined Labour UK and influenced the vote for Corbyn. Seems more like a set up that blew back badly as the electorate soundly rejected their position.

Judith said get on off the bus if you cant hack, tonight we will see Tova making a mountain out of molehill
We borrow all this money to save for rainy day fund? that's like saying I will ten dollars and pay interest on it when the money is not needed yet .
Or it could be for some more working groups AFTER THE ELECTION


Anyone who can make sense of that comment let me know.

Sorry, i limit myself to one beer on a school night, that'll require at least ten to make sense of.

Oh thank god its not just me

Thank you Pankers , why did they borrow all the money if they do not intend to use it , and just lumber us with the interest on it ?

And yes of course if Labour wins , we can expect hundreds of "working Groups " to help the incapable Labour Government to make decisions it cannot make due to utter incompetence and devoid of the right skills .

Like having a former Health Minister who was not even a proper Doctor

or a Finance Minister whose only experience in Finance was that he was treasurer of the SRC at Uni .

Or Megan Bangas - Woods who thinks we should go back to the 18th century and use firewood for heating

Or that other bigger xxxxxx , Twyford , that delusional idiot who had no idea of the logistics involved in building 100,000 affordable houses for young aspirant home-buyers .

Needles to say not a virtually no Kiwibuild houses have been erected in 3 years , instead we had a Kiwibuild "reset " or 'recalibrate" , which is a euphemism for " we were delusional and conned the young voters with promises of cheap houses , we cocked the whole thing up spectacularly and did not have a clue what we were doing even suggesting such a grandiose scheme way beyond our reach or scope "

Bingo, knew we could count on Boatman to decipher that drivel

And National's previous finance minister Stephen Joyce has a zoology degree. Seems appropriate for National.

And Paul Goldsmith has an MA in History and has written biographies...yep - completely ready to take on the Finance Portfolio in the middle of the largest economic crisis since the great depression. His best ideas so far have been to open the border for foreign students...

Talk about cherry picking your data boatman.

Quoted from his Nat party bio:

"Before entering Parliament, Paul created his own business as a historian and biographer focusing on New Zealand’s history and economic development. He has published 10 books, his last were biographies of Alan Gibbs (Serious Fun) and Sir William Gallagher (Legend). Between 2007 and 2010 he served as an Auckland City Councillor.

The money hasn't been borrowed yet.

Lol, why would Jacinda want to get it the way of "National MP sent indecent image to schoolgirl" which is the headline on Stuff and Nzherald at the moment.

Oh, for a National MP who is not actively trying to screw the younger generations.

The story has been updated quite a bit just FYI.

No helicopter money or wage subsidy extensions pre-election.

Treasury has resumed doing Regulatory Impact Assessments. 

They never stopped doing RIAs for policies not relating to Covid-19.

Its good that they are not extending business lifelines - the US has ended up with a serious Zombie Company issue after years of that kind of pointless splurging.

Well basically its like this. We are covid free so no extensions of the wage subsidy. Should be all good right ? No excuses now things are back to normal. Sounds logical to me but are we actually back to normal?

The new normal, not the old one.

No covid, yes, but the borders are still closed, which will hurt many.

Yes we are back to normal, Bunnings laying off staff and closing some stores. same as TV laying off the Petrie Dish..and others, same as Warehouse, Air New Zealand, and lots working from their Free Hold Home, Mortgages all paid with Savers money, no need to Save anymore for a deposit, Aussie Banks have got our back. It is all free....spending, free enterprise, free Water, Free Gas, Free Meridian Energy, Free to vote for whoever we like, in September, if only we knew their new names........Nationally we is spot on, no sweat, we is all fine, apart from the Floods of course, the Billions in debt, we is Saving for such a rainy..........Day....Bailing out...No sweat.

And our Mates in China flooded with free water, Free Hong Kong, Free Uhingers, Masked to save their eyesight and moved onto a Free Trainset to God Knows Where...ably protected by Armed Police to keep them safe from Harm. Oh and 9 Banks Nationalised to save the Savers there from Harm, as they wanted a little Yaun after Lockdown....but could not sleep at night.....for much. Whatever next...Savers.

And I thought the comment earlier from pankers was unintelligible gibberish!!

We simply have to get rid of this hopeless Coalition of Losers in 9 weeks time , they have been by far the worst Government I have ever had to live under in my entire life , the WORST

I think someone needs to take their meds

Worst Govt was the Lange puppet-face-for Douglas one.

No mandate and the country never recovered. Although, at lease we know better now

Can’t agree. I never voted for Labour but Rogernomics allowed me to use my skills and become financially comfortable. Life sucked in the Muldoon years.

Yeah, I think the idea is to judge a government on how well they did for the country as a whole, not just you personally.

Duh, they broke up the cabals and allowed those with talents to prosper. This current government is just dumbing the country down. Comrade Jacinda is throwing cash to all with no responsibility. I didn’t get up at 5am this morning to fund fellow citizens’ lazy lifestyle.

That's a nice thought, this is the worst government as you have ever lived under. They haven't really changed that much, but did help to make us one of very few countries to (so far) escape a nasty pandemic. You should really count your blessings.

I heard today that almost 24% of National MP's will have resigned this term. Doubtful they could hold a coalition together of winners or losers, if they cant hold their own party together.

Boatman's just a histrionic drama queen worthy of a few laughs and then moving on.

Does give you a glimpse into the dim world of a tribal and ignorant National voter though.

Pot kettle black. The fact that so many of the tribal left infest a financial site is a constant source of amusement.

Look at who starts most of the political threads in the comments? Right wingers saying preposterous claims, practically begging for rebuttal. For example Boatman today about Labour not fulfilling any election promises. Comments like that just suck normal readers (the tribal left as you say) into having to comment to bring some sense into things.

The term 'infest' is a bit nasty don't you think? Is this what you get up at 5am every day to do?

What do you mean? Do people on the left have no interest (ha) or stake in financial matters?

I consider myself pretty far to the left but very much enjoy this site.

I would love to hear how one can define what “new normal” means. If anyone knows anybody who works within the global travel community, or has family or close connections offshore, then things are far from normal. Let’s reflect on the “new normal” in 6 months time and see where we are at.

I love 3 things about our political system


I can say pretty much things the way I see them without being sent to a re-education camp , most of it causes or elicits outrage from the left , mostly because the truth hurts.

In your case it'd simply be an education camp.