Labour's Grant Robertson lists 4 areas he thinks should be the focus of the Budget, says the Government is 'tinkering and sitting on the sidelines'

Labour's Grant Robertson lists 4 areas he thinks should be the focus of the Budget, says the Government is 'tinkering and sitting on the sidelines'

John Key should show in Thursday's Budget that he's the Prime Minister of New Zealand, not just the Prime Minister of Parnell, Labour's finance spokesman Grant Robertson says.

In a pre-Budget speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce, Robertson said Key ought to also be the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, because too many New Zealanders feel they are missing out.

“John Key’s Parnell locals are doing well but the people of Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North need a Prime Minister who backs them just as much as his own neighbours. Auckland needs to be supported as our only truly competitive city but if we fail to invest in the regions we won’t have the sustainable, balanced economy we need," Robertson said.

He said  what New Zealanders should be seeing in the Budget is a plan to diversify the economy, support and grow exports, grow the regions, build affordable housing and invest wisely in education, research and development and infrastructure.

Robertson listed four areas that should be the focus of the Budget effort.

"Firstly, showing how the New Zealand economy will diversify and develop to ensure we are not so reliant on global commodity prices...Secondly the Budget should show a real commitment to invest in our regions...The third area that this Budget should focus on is taking the steps to make housing affordable for all New Zealanders...Finally, the Budget should be investing in our future wealth and well-being through education and training to prepare for a new economy," said Robertson.

"We should be doing better as a country than we are. We remain a country blessed with wonderful natural resources, and talented and driven people. New Zealand businesses and workers work harder than most equivalents around the world. The opportunity is there for New Zealand to build an economy, and, in turn a society that offers the quality of life to all its citizens that is the envy of the world. But it will not happen with a government as we currently have tinkering and sitting on the sidelines," Robertson said.

He said the OECD had last year highlighted that the increase in income inequality in New Zealand over two decades from the 1980s, had reduced New Zealand's economic growth rate by more than 10%.

"Addressing inequality is fundamental to our future well-being as a society, said Robertson.

"Treasury tell us that there will be 3% growth this year. This is good news compared to countries struggling to find much growth at all, or going backwards. Yet many New Zealanders are not feeling it. When we had growth of 3% under Labour in 2006 there was a surplus of $7 billion and a jobless rate of just 3.7%. But this time around when we have 3% growth, we can‟t generate a Budget surplus, the number of unemployed is on the rise again to 146,000 people, and in the last quarter wage growth was a pitiful 0.3 of 1%."

"It‟s understandable people are asking what's the point of growth if it does not deliver a dividend to our people? I believe that this was the lesson behind the recent by-election in Northland. While John Key and Steven Joyce were busy telling people in Northland they have never had it so good, the reality of their lives was very different. It‟s hard to believe that thousands of jobs have been created when you are facing an unemployment rate a tick under 10%," Robertson said.

 The reality, he added, is that the re-build of Canterbury is now "propping up" the economy, with economists estimating it to be almost a third of GDP growth.

"Great while you can get it. But the reality is the re-build peaks this year and next year stops being part of the growth story," said Robertson.

"You know the median income for a family in Parnell is double that of a family in Pine Hill. The number of people unemployed in Pine Hill is double that of people in Parnell. Goodness even the houses in Parnell are making a killing, with the median house price in Parnell $500,000 more than in Pine Hill. The people of Pine Hill or Putararu or Palmerston North need a Prime Minister and a government who back them just as much as those in his own neighbourhood." 

“John Key wants a legacy. It must be one that stretches beyond the streets of Parnell,” said Robertson.

Here's Robertson's full speech.

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PM of Parnell - what about adding Mayor of Shanghai to his honorary titles? He seems to be more inclined to assisting Asians than kiwis. Perhaps its all the pigtails they grow.

It'll be interesting to see how Robertson goes in the Finance role. He speaks well, but whether he can give NZ's business leader confidence in his abilities is yet to be determined.

PM of Parnell is a nice tag and it works for me. National's efforts to brand Labour leader as Angry Andy show how you have to take one line and keep repeating it to cut through in today's media. Depressing.

My own fave is my Dad's often used line - "He know's the price of everything and the value of nothing". Stick that with "PM of Parnell" and it just about sums Key up.

"..a government as we currently have tinkering and sitting on the sidelines." Sadly, a lot of ignorant people with no historical knowledge go along with this brain-dead thinking. Centuries of history show that government ends up being the centre of the problem. Most govt types believe that they know best and that the people are simply there to be fleeced and dictated to. Government doesn't produce anything and yet is around 30% of GDP and people want them to control an even greater share of the economy. Tell me of one country where government controls 30-40%+ of GDP and it is a success. However, people believe that government is the solution! People also say that capitalism is the problem. What I would like someone to explain to me is this: if someone on the DPB can earn more than most blue collar workers in NZ then isn't this socialism on steroids? It's funny how the Emperor's clothes are alive and well and we live in a complete delusion. Andrew Little meets with Thomas Pikketty recently and states that he produced one of the "defining pieces of work at this end of the 21st century on inequality." Seriously? This is the guy who is calling for wealth taxes, taxes on savings, etc. Anyone with a brain knows that these policies are a sure-fire way to destroy an economy. So, this looks like our bleak future....ever increasing government, more taxes, more government "tinkering"/social engineering and less freedom and personal accountability and responsibility. Sheep to the slaughter once again...and it'll of course be someone else's fault.

On this logic ,Sweden is a complete basket case then?

Sweden is not a complete basket case but it's getting there. Their central bank has an interest rate of -0.25%, destroying savers, pensioners and other capital creators. They are also looking at money printing. If you call that a success then you would have made Marx and Stalin truly proud...two true communists who would revel in how stupid we've become.

Ludwig, shall I assume you disagree then? They are many ways to run a country, branding left, right or otherwise and completely ignoring alternatives without looking at them with an open mind is foolish though.
My view is the current capitalism lite is not working so that means we need something else. Don't forget, the current economic way is the reason why the world is in a mess right now.

The current system is not capitalism it is Socialism and that is why we are in a mess right now and the reason we have been in a mess for a long time!!

Yes, socialism for the banks, the corporates, the favored few. AKA crony capitalism. Get real.

Socialism in Government hence the heavy taxation.

Debt serfs for the banking machine churned out by our school and higher education system.

Industrial slavers keeping the proles working the machines for cheap because they have no other option.

Foreign money hiding where it can find a soft political climate. Speaking of soft politicals; just heard a rumour the the jonkey wants to change the flag because the UN keep sitting him under an Aussi flag

Spot on!

'PM of Parnell'
That has the potential to last longer than the much vaunted 'Rock Star Economy'
or the 2014-15 budget surplus.
Go Grant!


I'm a national man but thought "PM of Parnell" was a classic line! He certainly acts like it and fed up with his inaction on house prices.

When you have the CEO of Barfoots offering up more pragmatic action and more sympathy to the public than the leader of our country it really says something.

More believers in the "we're the govt and we're here to help you" mantra. Note this: when investors, pension funds and others finally realise that most western govts are either insolvent or heading that way, what do you think that will do to the global govt bond market (which is 10x bigger than global stock markets)? Let me tell you... Interest rates will rise and central banks won't be able to influence this. Then, when we end up with residential housing tanking, what will you expect? Perhaps other taxpayers should bail you out and make sure your home value is "fair"?

I like the way your thinking. My take is there is a massive bond bubble, that's why interest rates are so low (eg lowest ever in Germany and Britain, going back a thousand years). I think when the central planners (ie central bankers) are seen to have no clothes then interest rates on government bonds will rise dramatically. They may not be able to control the interest rates on longer term bonds but I think they will be able to control interest rates overnight. They will not be able to control what you can actually buy with their virtual commodity currency units though.

Better things for Grant to work on.
1. New Zealand citizens owning New Zealand assets. Up
2. Immigration to a rate that benefits New Zealand. Down
3. Rates of Home ownership. Up.
4. Power of big cartels to quash small business and innovation. Down.