Labour hits back at National; Grant Robertson stands by and explains fiscals after Steven Joyce launches attack claiming there is a $11.7 bln 'hole' in Labour's numbers - updated

Labour hits back at National; Grant Robertson stands by and explains fiscals after Steven Joyce launches attack claiming there is a $11.7 bln 'hole' in Labour's numbers - updated

By Alex Tarrant and David Hargreaves

The gloves have well and truly come off, and National has launched a broadside on Labour's economic policies, claiming to have found a $11.7 billion "hole" in Labour's fiscal numbers.

In response, Labour launched a scathing attack on National Party finance spokesman Steven Joyce over what it said was a misunderstanding of its spending plans. "I regard this as a desperate, cynical attempt by Steven Joyce to create a diversion," finance spokesman Grant Robertson said.

Joyce on Monday claimed Labour’s numbers were out of step by about $11 billion – mostly due to a failure by Labour to accumulate extra operating spending commitments for each year.

But Grant Robertson said Joyce had misunderstood Labour’s fiscal document and that Labour was being more transparent than National by actually including out-years’ spending commitments under specific spending 'Vote' tranches like health and education, rather than just leaving it aside in the operating allowance over the next five years.

Confused? It’s a matter of semantics, Robertson told media Monday afternoon in Parliament buildings.

You can see here on page 14 of Labour’s fiscals, right at the bottom of the page, entries for ‘operating allowance’ of $913 million in 2017/18, then $835m in 2018/19, $879m in 2019/20, $1.472bn in 2020/21 and $3.429bn in 2021/22.

Joyce claimed Labour should be adding each previous years’ spending to future years, as operating allowances should be cumulative – for example an extra $100m spent in 2018/19 on a policy would be expected to also cost at least the same the next year, he argued.

Joyce published what National believes Labour’s table should have shown. Beginning with $913m in 2017/18, then adding 2018/19’s $835m to give required operating allowance of $1,748 in that year, and so on. He produced a table claiming this meant Labour had incorrectly classified budget allowances to the tune of $9.4 billion.

With other criticisms on multinational tax and paid parental leave, Joyce claimed Labour were out by $11.7 billion on what they had indicated in its most recent fiscal plan, released after the pre-election fiscal update last week.

But Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson quickly hit back. Rather than “hiding” operating spending in the allowance, Labour had placed it under specific items “above the line” like in health and education – the extra spending was effectively accumulating within each 'Vote' line, rather than the operating allowance line.

That line on operating allowance referred to cash left over every year after all spending commitments, Robertson said. Asked why Labour had chosen to present its fiscals this way, Robertson said it was to indicate what extra unallocated cash there would be above existing commitments in each of the next five years individually.

Asked whether this was to indicate to potential coalition partners how much might be available for coalition negotiations, he said every government had to set aside funds for a rainy day.

Meanwhile, in response to criticism from Joyce that Labour had banked on multinational tax revenue that was already caught by the pre-election update, Robertson said Labour was relying on calculations in Budget 2017 that for a every extra dollar spent by IRD on tax avoidance, they would gain $7 in extra revenue. Labour had therefore calculated an extra $30 million spent on catching avoidance would net an extra $200m or so.

Robertson also maintained that Labour's paid parental leave policy was already costed in the party's 'families package'. Joyce had claimed this wasn't the case, with National adding on an extra $850 million over the next five years for the plan. Not so, said Robertson - it's already in there, apparently.

See the table below released by Joyce which National used to back its argument that operating allowances needed to be cumulative.

Labour expecting efficiencies

Robertson said Labour's fiscals for every year included the total amount expected to be spent on each area each year, at the least. Spending projections for 'next year' were adjusted to take into account inflation and population growth - effectively indicating where operating allowances earmarked in Prefu would go.

For example, Labour was expecting to spend an additional $1.535 billion on health in 2018/19, and $2.361 billion in 2019/20 - the latter being a combination of the year before and extra expected spending (Labour's 'above the line' accumultion as opposed to National's 'below the line' operating allowance accumulation, Robertson said.)

He called on Joyce to do the same - saying National was hiding expected spending committments in its operating allowance line, meaning there was no transparency on how much funding would be put towards key public services like health and education over the next five years above already announced policies. Robertson used the opportunity to talk up the need for an independent reviewer of government spending plans.

Joyce had earlier attacked Labour for indicating nothing would be left in the tank to deal with public service wage increases, or keeping policy commitments funded longer than the initial year (his operating allowance attack).

Robertson said much of that attack was blunted by Labour's 'above the line' spending accumulation, but did say that Labour was expecting departmental efficiencies, and that Labour would look at reprioritising certain spending commitments as a way of freeing up extra capital. For example, Labour has pledged to not open any new prisions, so spending earmarked for that currently will go somewhere else, he said.

Watch Joyce in the video below:

This is the statement from National's Finance spokesperson Steven Joyce:

The Labour Party has an $11.7 billion hole in its fiscal plan that blows its debt out and breaks its own budget responsibility pledge, National’s Finance spokesperson Steven Joyce says.

"These are significant errors that raise questions about Labour's whole spending approach and their fiscal competence," Mr Joyce says. "Their spending numbers were already high and this makes them a lot worse.

“Labour’s recipe would lead to more debt, higher interest rates and a slower economy – not to mention the host of extra and unexplained taxes they would impose on households and businesses.

“All of this would cost jobs and eat into family budgets.”

The five errors are as follows, over four years:

·         Failing to roll out their operating allowances for each year into subsequent years ($9.4 billion).

·         Failing to allow for any increase in paid parental leave in their Family Incomes package despite saying they have included it ($567 million).

·         Counting additional BEPs multinational tax revenue when Treasury has already counted it in the PREFU update ($902 million).

·         Only including costs of their Family Package from 1 July 2018 when they said it would begin on 1 April 2018 ($289 million).

·         Further finance costs associated with extra borrowing ($580 million).

“The biggest error is their failure to continue each year’s operating allowances for additional expenditure into subsequent years. When operating expenditure is added, for example an increase in wages for police, that expenditure continues into following years. Labour’s operating allowances don’t allow for that.

"Once corrected, Labour’s spending plans result in net debt increasing by nearly $20 billion from current levels of $60.6 billion to $79.3 billion over four years.

"Labour was already increasing debt by $7 billion from current levels by their own admission, but this takes it to nearly $20 billion. This would be an irresponsible level of debt increase at this stage of the economic cycle. New Zealand should be reducing debt now, not increasing it, so we are ready for the next rainy day.

"They also would break their fiscal responsibility rules as net debt would not fall below 23.5 per cent of GDP by the end of the forecast period, in fact it would be higher than it is now, and get nowhere near their own plan to reduce debt to 20 per cent of GDP by 2022.

“That level of spending and increased debt can only lead to one thing – higher interest rates for Kiwi mortgage holders.

"Labour’s true spending plans as revealed in this analysis confirms that behind the leadership change we are dealing with the same old irresponsible tax, borrow and spend Labour Party.

“Labour needs to withdraw its fiscal plan and re-work its proposals.”  

Below is a table released by Joyce which Labour says is incorrect:

Below is a press release from Robertson:

Labour’s Fiscal Plan is robust, the numbers are correct and we stand by them despite the desperate and disingenuous digging from an out-the-door Finance Minister, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“Steven Joyce has embarrassed himself. This is a desperate, cynical stunt to create a diversion. Our plan has been approved by BERL and they continue to stand by this plan. We stand by this plan. These numbers are robust and I refute Joyce’s allegations.

“Our operating expenses are above the line and are clearly stated. For health and education, which represent the lion’s share within any year’s operating allowance, there is around $6.7b for health, and around $1.8b for education, both clearly stated in our Fiscal Plan.

“This is a desperate act from a flailing Finance Minister. He knows that we have accounted for our expenditure in health and education going out into future years, He’s being disingenuous and trying to mislead the New Zealand public. I’m sure they’ll see through it.

“We have quite clearly put in the spending requirements to meet the promises we have made. Our fiscal plan adds up. We are absolutely clear that we have the money to meet the commitments that we’ve made.

“I challenge Mr Joyce. Is he going to fund health and education for the cost pressures of inflation and demographic changes? He needs to be up front with New Zealanders, because that’s what we’ve done.

“Labour’s Fiscal Plan details funding for housing, health, education, transport, police and other priorities, while running surpluses and paying down debt. We can afford to do this because we have put those priorities ahead of National’s plan for tax cuts that deliver $400m a year to the top 10 per cent.

“National has serious questions to answer about their own fiscals – they haven’t allowed $8.5b for cost pressures in health and education. They haven’t funded their GP policy properly. They haven’t said where the money for their $11b of capital spending will come from.

“We’ve been transparent, which is something that the National Party has never been. We’ve produced a detailed fiscal plan, they’ve produced a double-sided piece of A4 that lists their campaign promises,” says Grant Robertson.

Response to Steven Joyce’s claims:

Failing to roll out their operating allowances for each year into subsequent years ($9.4b)

· National have made a simple mistake – Labour has put the money that National hides within the operating allowance in the accounts. Doing it this way is more transparent as New Zealanders can see how much more money will be going into the system.

· National on the other hand has not done this, In 2018/19 National will have to provide $650m for inflation in health and education alone. Once you take this from their operating allowance they have less available than Labour.

Failing to allow for any increase in Paid Parental Leave in their family incomes package despite saying they have included it ($567m)

· The money for this is incorporated within the Families Package Line within the Fiscal Plan. This has always been Labour’s position – and we have led the debate on PPL for the past three years.

· The costing is based upon the MBIE advice to Ministers that was provided to the Select Committee that examined Sue Moroney’s original Bill.

Counting additional BEPS multinational tax revenue when Treasury has already counted it in the PREFU update ($902m)

· Page 202 of Vote Revenue shows that for every dollar spent on investigations $7 of discrepancies are found. This has been a consistent message from IRD in select committees and in their publications. We are going to provide them with $30m of additional revenue for investigation activities so that they properly assess multinationals’ taxation statements.

Only including costs of their Family Package from 1 July 2018 when they said it would begin on 1st April 2018 ($289m)

· Both versions of the Fiscal Plan have been clear that the Families Package will commence on the 1st July 2018. We will need to pass legislation to make this happen and to undo the $400m tax cut for the top 10 per cent of earners.

· The website of the Labour Party did have a statement saying under the Families Package when it was first announced that it would be 1 April. But in terms of the numbers in the fiscal plan they have not changed at all, it has always been 1 July 2018.

Further finance costs associated with extra borrowing ($580m)

· This is an erroneous figure. If indeed we were missing $11b in spending then we would need to find that finance cost. However, as is clear from P.14 of the Fiscal Plan we have accounted for the additional finance costs that our fully costed programme would deliver (see line “additional finance costs”).

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Do people realise that it's the working, tax-paying people that will be worse off with the tax happy Labour ?


As opposed to what? The paradise of housing ponzi prosperity under National?

I'll wait for the peer review of Steve Joyce's critique.

The difference between National and Labour is you know exactly what you'll get more of under National. If you want three more years of the same then tick blue.


Will be interesting to see if it is any better than Judith Collins' $18 bottles of water fearmongering.

Let's not forget this is the same crowd who vetoed Labour's Parental Leave bill for reasons of affordability because Bill was working off the wrong figures...Not to mention Stephen Joyce's commercial nous saw Skycity get the better of the government and the NZ taxpayer in the convention centre negotiations.

Remember Keating destroyed John Howard by exposing a great big hole in his fiscal figuring. Seems National think if it worked for him it might then work for them. Only problem of course, Keating was right, dead right in fact. Not a good place to be, on the wrong side of Keating, when he was right. So Joyce is no Keating, but is he right?


The only tool that national has if they want to win is FEAR PSYCHOLOGY.

CGT : Most are in favor of it as long as it does not include one family home.
WATER TAX : People who are making money by filling water and exporting should be taxed and for farmers too, can have a symbolic tax to avoid wastage. Most are in favour of it.
FOREIGN TOURIST LEVY : Whenever I travel abroad - have to pay and it does not alter my travel plan. Infact when I recently went to Europe, had to pay bed Tax per person per day and that did not put me off .
PETROL TAX : Every government has done it in one form or the other only labour is more transparent before the election.

Think and Vote.

Why does the national not talk about Housing, Homelessness, Health treatment, Education, water pollution............................................

Any government has to be judged by past performance specially when in power for 9 years and not what they are promising now (In the face of defeat) and all opposition as not being in power will have to be judged by what they are planing to do in future.

National past record has been very good BUR for rich, speculators, overseas buyers.......


Not to mention that Tax-Bill English and National have introduced an average of six new taxes over each of their last three terms, despite their promises not to. [Source]

And, regarding their scaremongering over a foreign tourist levy, John Key had this to say about such levies:

John Key says levy 'won't make a blind bit of difference' to tourist numbers.

"We have to spend more money on biosecurity issues, and those biosecurity issues can be devastating," he said.

"Either the taxpayer pays for it, or the user pays for it. Given half of it's gonna be paid by foreigners coming to New Zealand, I would have thought that'd be an appropriate place to put that."

So National do not have the best record of honesty and consistency on tax.

I don't think it is National using the Fear Psychology in fact I'd say it is Labour.
Labour have had 9 years in opposition and have done nothing other than keep a seat warm in parliament and pick up their salary cheques.

FYI the opposition doesn't get to make the laws. That's kind of the nature of government by majority...

I guess we either pay for it now, or pay for it later. Unless the housing crisis is fixed, the gap between haves and have nots will continue to grow, as it has over the last 9 years.

No , most Labour cheerleaders Don't and are dazzled, impressed , and misguided by Smiles and "take our word for it " stuff that might or not hold any water !!

"take our word for it"
Isn't that straight out of the National Party playbook?

Yeah, I think Eco Bird is projecting.

This time Jacinda Government !

Only about half of working kiwis pay any net tax.

do you have any stats for that statement? I have heard that said by politicians which I take with a grain of salt but have not seen any facts to back it up.
I bet the statement is not based on overall taxs that we pay , i.e GST , acc levys , petrol tax

I guess it refers to direct taxes. But may not include things like rates, which can be hidden in rent.

One statistic is; "12 per cent of families paid some 77 per cent of net tax" and comes from the 2014 budget.

Specific claims include:

"households earning more than $150,000 a year forecast to pay 74 per cent of net income tax in 2014/15, compared with 58 per cent in 2008/09"

"higher income households are paying a larger share of income tax than they were in 2008"

"these 15 per cent of households (My Note: earning more than $150,000) are expected to pay 74 per cent of the net income tax"

"By contrast, households earning under $60,000 a year – which is just under half of all households – are expected to pay 9 per cent of income tax"

The original data source is Treasury figures.


Yvil - I think the point that is continually missed on here by the right wing commenters is that plenty of working, tax-paying people think they would be better of paying a bit more tax in order to have a working health system and more support available for other New Zealanders who need it. Despite representations as such, society is not always seen by everyone as a me vs everyone else scenario.


Indeed, well said.

I am quite happy to pay more tax for the overall benefit of all New Zealanders. The problem is that neither National nor Labour will be able to spend it to provide an overall benefit. They will both royally screw it up with pussyfooting around while adding more layers of admin to suck up the tax and show "jobs stats growing!" headlines. Vote for Change, vote both useless herds of pigs out and let someone else have a go.

If they were that self aware regarding paying more tax why don't they just pay more. The IRD has a published bank account number for those so concerned that they are not paying enough to contribute more freely.

It is more of an "I want to make others pay more" than an "I want to pay more"


It is the whole point of government - you contribute collectively and benefit collectively for things that are more efficient and effective to organise that way. Saying people can just write a check is as dumb as saying you people that want govt to cut costs should stop using services and claiming superannuation. It's a sad fact that those who are for smaller govt and lower taxes are always some of the best at maximising their entitlements.

Am happy to stop claiming super ( I'm in my 20s...). I am not opposed to road taxes, fuel levies, etc. I am more than willing to pay say $20,000 per year in taxes which I believe to be more than most kiwis. The problem is that people always want more!
Maximising your entitlement is a way to minimise your forced contribution. If the tax system were fair (fixed number of dollars) or only slightly unfair (fixed net %) then I'd be less inclined to seek fairness through complex tax structures...

My wife and I paid roughly seven times your suggested contribution in income tax last year, we were more than happy to pay it and found it fair. I thought it was us lefties who wanted everyone else to pay for everything? Nice to see we're subsidizing people who don't want to pay their fair share.

What do you define as fair? Near as I can tell we collect roughly 30,000,000,000 per year in income taxes. Divided by 4.5million kiwis that makes 6,700 per person. I paid substantially more than $20,000 in taxes, but am using it as a benchmark for what I believe is fair (ie. circa 3x as much as each kiwi's share of taxes). Why not let everyone pay what they deem fair then? (Fairness clearly varies from person to person) Why mandate that 2% of tax payers pay 25% of net income tax?

And indeed, why foist so much of it upon workers and require very little contribution from those whose land appreciates massively in value by the presence of those workers around them? It may indeed be fairer to split the tax load more equitably across people, reflecting how they are benefiting from the society around them.

That would put your taxable income between $400,000 and $500,000 (based on 6.5x - 7.5x the 20,000 tax aluded to above). Based on stats NZ income distributions there aren't very many people in NZ with income in that range.


Nah, you're thinking of property investors'attitude to workers :-p

But that aside, that's a load of rubbish. I don't receive benefits (beyond socialised services such as roading, healthcare etc.) and I'm happy to pay a bit more to address the issues we have. Don't assume everyone is only as willing to contribute to NZ society as you are.

Well, I expect because the large personal effects on me of not being able to pay down my mortgage would far outweigh the completely negligible impact of a few extra dollars or hundreds of dollars a week as a part of multi billions of dollars of spending.

Whereas in the democracy we have we get a chance to vote and decide how we all do things, in a way that can actually make a difference.

Ps - your strawman arguments are ridiculous, why don't left leaning people give all their money to the government is about as reasonable an argument as why don't greenies go live in the forest, or why don't libertarians refuse to use government funded and built roads.

Yes, armin-1. Whether it's the slow starvation of public healthcare, industrialised education policies, the wholesale trashing of our environment and freshwater, an idea of transport beyond roads, attention to sustainability, or integrity and decency in public life, we need some vision, some leadership, beyond the one-eyed twentieth-century focus on 'growth',

People are confused about where the money goes. They think it goes to dole bludgers when in fact it goes to things they want like Police, Roads, Health Services, Education, Defense, Superannuation. If you want to opt out of all that then fine, but I have yet to meet the person who is genuinely prepared to self-fund all those services.

I did ask the other day of a commenter making such generalisations, approximately how many do we have who are bludgers...but no answer was forthcoming. Looks like basic, garden-variety demonisation of beneficiaries without sound evidence to back it up.

Sure, there are some who behave poorly and are "bludgers", just as there are some who use LLCs to bludge off investors and suppliers, and some who use Trusts to bludge off the taxpayer by hiding their assets and wealth. But it's as crazy to brand all who receive benefits as bludgers as it is to brand all who use Trusts the same.

Some 12% of of families in NZ pay some 77% of net tax, (2014 ratio).

Do think those 12% have any right to know if their hard earned money is being well spent?

Yeah, if that is so, and if the other 88% were earning enough to be able to pay their share of taxes (you probably forgot the proportion of their earnings that go into GST but we can let you away with that, for now) you would not be able to take such a self satisfied, sanctimonious attitude toward it all. So be thankful, for that at least.

Very big of you to "let me get away" with the facts. Very big of you.

I guess we'll put you in the 'thanks for the dough and stuff-off with your questions about accountablility" camp.

There is more than 2 camps.

More money doesn't transfer through to efficiency and effectiveness though armin-t!

Given nearly half the population have private surgical insurance and some 70 odd percent use traditional/complimentary types of treatments, and given ACC pays for all accidents including medical misadventure I do not envisage that there are plenty of working, tax paying people wanting to pay more as you suggest. And for many people the concept of being required to pay more in taxes is pushing them to a brink.........

Are you suggesting that we do away with people's rights and just go with what a collective agrees upon? We shoildn't TAX because a majority want tax......we are meant to tax to pay for parliament who's sole job is to uphold the 1688 Bill of Rights which provisions people with freedom and is called choice.......not mob rule!

What are you smoking? Where is this rule written about what the governments sole job is?

I hope you are leading by example and refusing to drive on our socialist roads, or use power made from our communist dams.

Most of our power producers aren't government owned. Road user charges and petrol taxes more than pay for our roads as far as I am aware.

Call me Keynesian but I believe that if you spent an extra 1% of GDP on health services it would probably pay for itself through the increase in aggregate demand and therefore tax collected.

It's more likely to result in a higher tax take that the $10b hole in National's budget for building roads to lightly populated regions.

Using this logic if we could increase total government expenditure by 300%, "it would probably pay for itself through the increase in aggregate demand and therefore tax collected."


No, that is completely different logic. If you understood economics in the slightest you would understand that difference between the two points. Fiscal policy isn't a perpetual motion machine at inifinity but at the margins you may under certain conditions get a return greater than the spend.

Given the value of a health intervention - reduced pain, ability to work and contribute to society, avoided future costs - it makes sense that investing in an outcome might have a return greater than 0. It's funny that we can say building a road is an investment while fixing someone's hip or they can walk or their eyes so they can see is just expenditure. Plus, nurses and doctors all spend money in the economy and pay tax. As I said, Keynesian.

"Fiscal policy isn't a perpetual motion machine"

My point exactly.

But fair enough. In a perfect world, in a narrow range of near perfect circumstances, for a very short period of time, with all other variables remaining constant, there might be a possibility where the smallest change might work like a perpetual motion machine this one time.

As for fiscal errors I'm still thinking about how much money we missed out on when we didn't invest in their superfund for the last nine years.


yes par for the course for this government, no investment for the future and kick as many cans down the road as you can

Certainly all the money that would have been paid as interest on the loan we would have had to take out to make this so-called investment. Missed out on that for sure.

ahh shortsighted comment, the amount earned and the tax paid to the government would have covered the interest payments no problem.
lets let ideology get in the way of financial prudence, like don braid says we have had a couple bean counters in charge with no vision

"Don't worry, the tax will cover the interest .."

Oh well, run up the credit card then, it's not like we need the money for anything else.

When the accounting is done and the accusation comes that all the tax money is going to overseas bankers instead of the poor I guess we'll chalk it up to unintended consequences.

Wait a minute - who is thinking short term?

Interestingly enough, it did end up having quite the opportunity cost. Cost to borrow was very low (because of QE) while returns ended up being very high. The fund would have come out exceedingly well.

Of course, you can understand them not taking the's just a shame to miss out on that growth in the fund.

Nice Rick, lever the low cost of money into a share market boom. Nice work if you can get it.

Come to think of it, if you could print that money it would work even better.

But overall I feel you are in speculation land now and am not very convinced that's the area for governments to be playing with tax payer dollars.

Always easy in hindsight of course.

Yes, that's why I said it's understandable that during the GFC they stopped contributions rather than borrowing yet more - because debt got pretty damn high - to keep them going. In retrospect it's a big loss, but's still a risk.

Though the old adage is that a crash is the time to buy, normally you're not doing that with a country's money.

The difference has been measured and it was very significant. I believe in the billions that we missed out on.

It may have been a bit speculative so you could possibly argue the other way. One thing nobody in their right mind could argue for however is selling power companies selling renewable power sources... That was never going to be a good idea long term...


More scaremongering from the desperate. The trust has gone, nothing the Nats can come up with now that will stop the pendulum. The ears have been shut, the minds made up. The crowd is euphoric and want them gone. Death twitches are what we are witnessing.

Yes minds are being made up however it an't over yet regardless how much you wish it was.

While yes it isnt over til the polls close on election day, Labour have gone from being un-electable a month ago to a neck and neck race today. Also HC was voted out after 3 terms despite the economy having done well over her watch because ppl wanted change. On the other hand, the kindest thing one can say about National's 3 terms was at least they didnt seriously screw it up, hardly a winning claim to justify a 4th term....

I think they have screwed it up royally.

Rampant immigration, house prices in Auckland averaging 1 mill, ques in Hospitals, Traffic Infrastructure issues, Rorts on our education system, people living in garages, increased Homelessness

As Bill says it is a generational issue. Before National got in there was no generational issues, now......

So Rastus, you are now on record as stating Joyce's opinions are simply 'scaremongering'. That's a big call. I'd like to see his assertions tested before deciding.

You clearly don't like him and that's fine but when it comes to number crunching he has a strong pedigree. If he is right, this is a very serious blunder by Labour and will reinforce the perception they lack depth on economic management.

Nationals (slim) lead suggest the euphoric crowd that 'wants them gone' may not be a big as your hyperbolic language indicates. Middle NZ is financially conservative. Any hint of reckless economic adventurism indeed makes them twitchy but perhaps not in the way you desire !

He may or may not be correct. But he is using scaremongering tactics. He is also talking to deaf ears.

To date a very large number of the voting public have been reluctant to be seen as outside the mainstream 'thought', when all around them the great leader Key and his rock star was worshiped. That has has changed...its now fashionable to ridicule the rock stars.

There is nothing a govt can do when this happens. Logic, facts, wisdom no longer make a difference..after 9 years the ears have shut off. Its going to be landslide..just how big is the question.

I wouldn't just yet write off voters as paying no regard to 'logic, facts and wisdom' . You underestimate the smarts of the average Kiwi.

Then why would they ever vote National in again?

"a landslide", that is a bold statement.....not so sure, yet. I'd settle for a 2 or 3 seat Labour majority.......

I agree, if he is right Labour should be ridiculed for it.
What I don't agree is that it is damaging to the Labour Party.
No amount of visits to Freezing works is going to save the National Party.

I firmly believe that they cannot beat Jacinda at this point.

Facts do not matter - because Labour is PROGRESSIVE.

Strong economic pedigree? Have you seen his economics paper grades from uni? He passed three papers from the eleven he sat....

JBWere, BERL, who's next to be wrong cause National are always right?


Yeah I was going to saw Brownlee attacked them for their critique of the projects in Canterbury and look how well those worked out.


Fiscally responsible National Govt? Not sure.
What about the Sovereign debt under National , what is the past record of surpluses and sovereign debt under Labor and National ? What about selling of public assets that generate ongoing income and increase in value over time ? What about contributing to Super for future?
Housing people in motels that costs hundreds of millions , is that Corporate welfare ?
Perception is stronger than reality sometimes and especially so for those who lack critical thinking?
Find your answers!

That is an un-fair comparison, Labour had 9 years of plenty, National 9 years of the GFC, the biggest downturn since the 1930s Great Depression and NZ got though it mostly intact. "motels" etc , yes I agree huge crosses on thier report card they should have and could have done better on.

Comparing sovereign debt and financial positions of previous Labour administrations and the Nats and attempting to draw conclusions, is advancing a false equivalency. The world massively changed in the intervening period.

What about sovereignty full stop. If we keep selling everything out to the highest bidder who will ultimately be an overseas wallet, most if not all avoiding operating their global income/tax-ability from within NZ, NZ will be permanently changed for ever. Perhaps we (local tax payer) should just copy the model, and leave our kids and old people here, but work overseas in a low/nil tax environment overseas. Tax avoidance at its finest for sure.

Govt has done an appalling job of looking after the averageman living and tax paying man in NZ. Complete sell out to foreign and domestic speculation. Just shamefull.

Will Taxinda and co be any better. Lets remember it was raising the tax rates on those actually paying tax under the last Labour govt was the roots of the pervasive LAQC/Look Thru self correction/avoidance tax model.

If you believe commenters on, "What does it matter who owns the land? We can legislate over it however we want."

Forgetting of course that we couldn't even keep two terrorists in jail in the face of trade threats from the French. If/when we sell our most productive assets into the hands of foreign public-private companies, we will have precious little power to legislate in ways they find undesirable.

Can people really be so naive as to think "spending is always better" without thinking where the money comes from ? You bet, just look at all the broke households

User pays hurts more than taxes. If you got all your tax money back and had to buy all your services you'd be worse off.

Can you prove such a blanket suggestion?

Does that apply to everyone, always, no qualifiers you might be missing perhaps?

How about you provide one instance where it doesn't work?

I would expect pharmac gets better meds prices than you could get privately.

Global coverage private medical insurance from a world recognised provider costs less than my ACC contribution. ( never mind that a portion of my taxes also go toward public healthcare )

I would expect your private insurance is propped up by the public system. IE your private insurance assumes you will be using the free systems and subsidies before they start paying for anything.. If you want to see how real private health insurance works, go visit the USA, just don't expect to live as long.

The US has a complicated public healthcare system that sinks too much public money into healthcare. Singapore is a better example of a system that relies on insurance with minimal public healthcare spend (about half what we spend per capita).

The reason I selected Global healthcare insurance for people living in a country of which they are not a citizen is to avoid the issue you have listed above. My test was to use a Malaysian living in Australia to generate the quote.

Private investigators are more effective at locating criminals (such as those who stole the old copper spouting from a property) than the police and cost less than the portion of my tax that goes towards law and order.

Really? By my calculations everyone pays about $400 a year each for the police service. Not sure what private detective you used, but their hourly rate must be very reasonable.

A country where justice is only for who can afford it is not one I would like to live in.

Based on PAYE revenue of 30 billion and justice spend of 1.8 billion ( 6% of income tax is allocated to justice (law & order). By my calculations that means I paid closer to $2,500 for a justice system that generally fails to catch and/or deter criminals. I wouldn't even mind this cost if the police actually caught criminals instead of just issuing speeding tickets and barely catching any real criminals.

Your point however was that the government service was cheaper / provides better value per dollar spent.

Justice doesn't just comprise spending on the police, but also the courts and corrections, both of which would be required even if law enforcement was privatized.

Travel costs less per journey in my private vehiecal than the per trip subsidy paid for public transport ( excluding the actual fare paid by users )

yes but without any public transport the time taken to travel would be twice as long at the least

Private pension schemes that pay roughly the same amount as NZ super cost less that the portion of my tax that goes to welfare in NZ. The list goes on...

We pay about $2500 each a year for superannuation in NZ. You would need to show me what your private pension scheme is costing, and what you get back from it to be able to make a comparison. Otherwise you are just ranting...

Based on welfare costing over 30% of our national budget I would contend that your figure which may be accurate for the median kiwi ( who incidentally pays almost no net tax anyway ) would need to be about 4x higher (at least) to cover the kiwis who actually pay decent amounts of net tax.

We need a party independent fact checking body , run by the electoral commission. Or perhaps treasury.

Follow @nzfactcheck on Twitter... Oh no that was just an underhanded attempt by National to discredit Labour...

'Hole in Labour's numbers' says who - National......Does one trust them anymore

If you believe them, I have a $100k bottle of wine for you...

Looks like Labour have been using the Boris Johnson Economic Modelling tool.
Politicians need to made accountable for the figures that they put forward to the public...just as a public company has to.

One rule for them and one for everyone else.

Looks like someone having to explain to Stephen Joyce how to read finances. Wish someone had explained such things before they put him in charge of negotiating with Sky City.

All that matters is grabbing the headline on the 6pm news. The backtrack will be minor news.
But times are changing, technology means we have the response right here. Will the networks balance it out?

I am sure you are right solardb, this has become such an ugly election.

Updated - Labour's hit back. 

This all seems a little tedious. The reality is Labour have left themselves open to being attacked by not announcing their tax policies up front. This particular attack by Joyce is of no moment but Labour are taking a risk by leaving everything to a tax working group.

On a more concerning note. Labours policies haven't really changed under Adern; yet the masses think she is the second coming of Chirst, well third, Key being the second. I'm a filthy Green supporter so on balance would prefer Labour to win but not with this seeming mindless personality crap that is driving public sentiment.

Just remember everyone, we act like if our team doesn't win it will be the end of the world but nothing really changes whoever wins.

Jacindarella will wave her magic wand and all will be well.

Besides, anyone can see that Labour didn't get a jump in the polls because of policies. Why risk it now?

Labour is desperate to get in by all means possible ( even if that required pushing things after the election) where they will gain people's sympathy for giving them a chance to prove what they promised ... if they fail to deliver, there will always more borrowing, more taxes, and more Promises .. all in the name of "Investing in the country's future" something that people will pay through their nose for years until they reach the mirage and just find same old,same old Sand !!.....
That is an evitable and logical conclusion of any sane person following undeclared taxes and vague policies..left to discussions and working groups .... which is BS!!

Nevertheless, They first have to convince WP to join them in this fiasco .... in a 3some with the Greens...Right ??

National would need Maori Party, Act and NZ First.. 4some more to your liking? And National and Nz First hate each other.. I mean National's government leaked Winston's private pension details.. Hardly the making of a stable government.

Eco Bird,

Calm down,the sky will not fall in if labour get in. Like every government,a lot of the stuff they promise now,will be amended/deferred,abandoned.
The country somehow survived the last Labour government and why should we not boot this lot out. They have had long enough and apart from getting the debt/GDP ratio down-which I have supported-they have failed monumentally on housing,the environment,immigration and productivity.

tax will fill the hole. end of story. labour wins!

With each day that passes, I can't get that song Desperado out of my mind.

Crisis, what crisis?

At my nephew's rugby match the other day, one oafish spectator was screaming at the top of his lungs to the referee that my nephew's team was off-side which was true. However, I didn't hear a word when his team was off-side. While slightly annoying I expect that at a rugby match. What I hate is that we people are doing the same for politics. I think we should be on the side of truth; that's different that claiming the truth is on our side. If I criticise Labour's plan that doesn't mean I am supporting National's or any other party. Labour's numbers don't look like that add - they have promised a lot and this has to come from somewhere. However, that doesn't mean I think National is doing a great job; there is actually no connection between the two. Both can be absolutely bad. Thankfully we live in a multi-party democracy and I can vote elsewhere.

Agreed, but very little Biased people do really understand that !!

I voted National last two elections, definitely not voting National this election.

I think there are a lot of National voters looking to change their vote.

Yes that may be true. But I voted Labour last 6 elections and won't vote for them this year. National got 47% last election and the last poll out on Sunday put them around 43.5% so down a little. Labour got 25% last election but that some poll put them on 40% so up a lot. That's the problem with anecdotes - both our changes don't really reflect overall trends.

Well said.

The reality is that the so called have nots will vote Labour and Greens.
People who are prepared to get off their butts and try to improve their lives will vote National and NZF.
The truth is that if you have not been successful under National then you certainly won't under Labour or Greens.
I would bet my last dollar that NZ will be far worse under a lefty government as they are not in power to produce productivity but to supposedly be begooders and support people who are not capable of looking after themselves, and expect everyone else to do it for them.
End of storey.

Some of us want a fairer society even if that means personally paying more to achieve this. That may mean different things to different people, but I do like that TOP policies are logically consistent.

Unfortunately Simon this is not an election being fought on policy grounds.

Maybe it's the side effect of too much reality TV, who knows why it is. And they wonder over here why Trump go in.

Well , it is an election fought on emotions and feelings and that actually sucks to say the least ....

and, Trump ended up swimming in the SWAMP he wanted to drain ...

Not sure how rampant immigration of low wage "fruit pickers and truckies" , that Bill says we need is increasing productivity.

Seems to me its anti productivity.

But hey name call people who actually want us to increase productivity and create a better environment for NZ as people who dont get off there butts. That seems like a great way to sell the benefits of National and those people who vote for them.

When National took over from Labour, NZ was in a better place then it is now (Im not voting Labour), now as quoted from Bill we have generational problems. Who created these generational problems if National were in government for 9 years. NZ is fundamentally changing, and its been National who has been in charge.

LOL ... it seems that Joyce was right and GR has mucked up again bigtime ... not for making a mistake , but to cover it up and taking everyone for a fool
that is the real ugly Labour team !!
someone on NZtalk from Taxpayer ass. said they have checked it out and that 11.7B hole is there , the Nats were right ...oooppps !!

have a look who the taxpayers union are they are national people, I would take them backing SJ with a grain of salt

I would rather have someone independent go over both sets of fiqures, my guess it would be somewhere around the middle national over blowing the hole and labour not checking they have allocated enough funds

BERL have backed labours fiqures, again i take that with a grain of salt

Why is that? They Don't look like a bunch of ex-labour unionists to me...


Your best post , ever. Keep it up.

Short and to the point. Just for you, luv.

What qualifications does Steven Joyce have that make him finance minister material? Anyone ever looked into that?

A Zoology degree.
This could be useful from a Survival of the Fittest point of view

I found it hilarious when Ardern said that Bernard Hickey and Brian Fallow had checked Labour’s numbers and confirmed that they were correct.

What on earth would 2 journalists know about accounting?

Labour’s numbers MUST be wrong then, goodness me just when I thought there was no stopping Labour from winning I have now witnessed an inept opposition not capable of governing sensibly. A disappointment.

Jacinda Ardern just isn’t ready to become prime minister.

Conveniently forgotten Ganesh Nana have you?

Why would you trust folk with a history of basic maths errors ( over multiple economists and economic journalists?

Purely for reasons of ideology? As in, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”.

On the other hand, where is the detail on Bill's child poverty policy? Surely, he should have all the details worked out, right?

The biggest problem for National is voters don't trust them, after Barclay etc . This just made it worst .
If they were more believable , it would be a problem for Labour, wether the numbers were right or wrong.

Without smiley wavey the poo sticks..