National releases supposed government spending commitments ahead of Thursday's Budget; Says it's also been leaked the Govt's legislation programme; Finance Minister concedes some figures released are correct; Treasury investigates

National releases supposed government spending commitments ahead of Thursday's Budget; Says it's also been leaked the Govt's legislation programme; Finance Minister concedes some figures released are correct; Treasury investigates
Simon Bridges.

The National Party has staggered the release of documents revealing what it claims to be a sneak peek of Budget 2019, ahead of its Thursday release.

It on Tuesday morning sent out a 22-page document, supposedly detailing how the Government will spend money in 18 of the 40 areas it will allocate funding to in 2019/20.

Then at lunchtime it sent out another 2-page document covering a 19th area, or "Vote", and later in the afternoon a document covering a 20th area. 

In a media release accompanying the third document, National Leader Simon Bridges said the Government would shortly introduce a Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill to Parliament as a category two piece of legislation, meaning it must be passed in 2019. He said he knew this because National had been leaked the Government's 2019 Legislation Programme.

Leader of the House Chris Hipkins responded: “This claim is based on inaccurate assumptions. It is probably from an indicative document created for planning purposes at the start of the year that is in wide circulation.”

Finance Minister Grant Robertson earlier in the day conceded that some of the numbers in the first document (the only one released at the time) were correct. He wouldn’t say what portion of the release was accurate.

Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said his agency was conducting its "own review of these reports and the information that has been published".

Bridges claimed spending commitments showed it was a “Winston Peters Budget” not a “Wellbeing Budget”.

“What we see is that the Government has money for tanks, but not for teachers; it has got money for trees, not teeth. And what all of that shows is that this Budget may be many things, but it ain’t a wellbeing budget,” he said.

A leak or slip-up?

Bridges wouldn’t confirm how he got supposed Budget funding allocation figures – through a leak or due to a slip up by someone in government.

He said he only received the information yesterday, but was confident in the validity of the figures.

Robertson said: “I want to be absolutely clear that this material has not been leaked from the Beehive because the kinds of numbers that are in here are not aggregated in a way that’s been received in the Beehive."

However Bridges said National had presented the figures in a different format to that it had received them.

“I have confidence in my colleagues in the Beehive,” Robertson said.

Asked by media whether he had confidence in Treasury, he said: “I do, and this is something we’ll now investigate to see if that confidence is maintained.”

Pressed on whether this statement implied his suspicion lay with Treasury, Robertson said: “I have absolutely no idea. I have confidence in the Treasury."

Asked by National Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams in the House whether he would offer his resignation over the matter, as former Finance Minister Roger Douglas did in 1986 when there was a budget leak from his office, Robertson shot back: “In my life I have made it my ambition not to follow what Roger Douglas does.”

Release not the full picture  

The big-ticket areas National released supposed funding pledges on included health, defence and foreign affairs. It didn't include figures on areas like housing and education.

Robertson raised this point: “The major new spending initiatives that the Government is putting forward as part of our Wellbeing Budget are not listed in the material that you see here.”

Looking at some of the details, Bridges said: “The Government will announce a total of $1.3 billion for the purchase of assets in Vote Defence Force in 2019/2020, up from $641 million last year. This has nothing to do with the Government’s wellbeing priorities. It shows the Prime Minister has yet again had to throw her principles out the window to buy off Winston.

“Vote Forestry has doubled. There will be an extra $139 million, for a total of $277 million in the first year. Again, this doesn’t fit in with the Government’s five budget priorities of wellbeing.”

Robertson urged people not to read in to National’s releases, but rather wait and see what’s revealed in the full Budget.

Makhlouf said: "As far as the Treasury is concerned, the release of Budget 2019 will proceed as planned this Thursday."

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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10
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Labour and green are really good at fabricating fancy dreamy catchy words to coat up their non-sense ideas for confusing and then enticing their gullible voters.

Like you mean "Rockstar Economy"

Why are all the headings in the doc called "Vote - Corrections" "Vote - Forestry" etc? What does the Vote keyword mean in regards to a budget doc?

It is my understanding that it is called that because Cabinet votes on the amount to spend. Therefore, this is the amount that Cabinet has voted on the matter.

I hope nobody here is responsible for this sinister & cowardly act.......

TTP

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Who cares? Just a vanilla budget like National would do anyway. You could even say a right wing budget, so why are National complaining?

Probably shouldn't have hyped it beyond all belief then.

They haven't, and also this isn't the budget.

They've marketed it as a "well-being"budget, talked at length about it being a step away from a GDP-centric process and they're talking about it a lot because they don't want to talk about Kiwibuild. Or do you not count this as hype, merely a "recalibration"?

How is that hype? What do you want them to say instead, nothing?

Depends how determined you are to look the other way while Labour chalks up yet another undelivered promise?

You realise this isn't the actual budget, right?

Seems like you've fallen for Bridges' PR hook, line and sinker.

Yes, I do realise it's not the actual 'budget' itself. Don't get hurt falling over yourself to deflect things away from Labour.

Well at least saying nothing wouldn't be a lie.

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Because Labour continue to overpromise and under-deliver.

Any government is highly constrained in their spending, political reality is they probably only have discretion over 5-10 billion of the 80billion they spend, and Coalition have unfortunately already blown their play money on low-quality efforts in their first year (embassies, kiwibuild, student fee bribe, NZ first mega-pork fund, Giga-trees). Cupboard is bare, particularly with lowered growth they have ushered in.

Spending more on Defence is one of the few things I would actually support from this Government. Given the amounts we spend on Defence compared to Education or Health I don't think it's a "tanks" vs "teachers" debate (and we aren't buying tanks).

are they not replacing the planes, (its not for tanks) which are used for a wide range of tasks including rescue of many people floating around in the sea, as well as border watching

I think the C130s Hercules need replacing (about 20-30 years ago actually) so I assume it is for that.

The Government has already selected to the P8 Poseidon from Boeing, a maritime patrol and search aircraft, to replace the P3 Orion, and the C130s need replacement. C130Js would give the biggest bang for buck, but in line with recent silly decisions (the P8 is not one of them) they may go for the Airbus A400M airlifter.

Why would the A400M not be suitable?

What's the bet this was NZF holding a gun to their head for Ron Mark's portfolio.

Winston says everything National has released is wrong.
Robertson admits some of it is correct.

It cant be both.

Coalition of the Left or Confusion of the Lost?

“Doesn’t really matter to me.” Thus sung Queen. What’s the fuss. Soon enough what is to be announced will be announced. And then it is history. All this carryon is Secret Squirrel stuff, meaningless.

Simon has form for being overly concerned about information released early, that would be released in just a few days time.

Since when has Winston ever been a reliable source?

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What does National hope to achieve by doing this? The budget will be out on Thursday. Everyone will see for themselves. Are they hoping to spark outrage early? Show that they could get data and release it?

This is the kind of 'politics' which is a waste of time and I don't think it earns you any points with voters.

They just want to get more airtime about the government being unorganised / leaking and overly beholden to Peters. The thing is, anyone who actually cares about politics and isn't already a National voter will just shrug and say "so", and people who aren't interested in politics won't care about this and forget it once the budget is announced anyway.

IMO they would have been better off *not* releasing the document and just cherry-picking their own figures, because it makes it much harder for the government to rebut. Now Robertson can just say "well it looks like it's old data, and it's incomplete anyway".

They want to disrupt the often uncritical media PR blitz that accompanies Budget announcements by seeding questions and criticisms before the announcements are made. Government has an large army of PR flunkies and associates that massively outnumber opposition resources so they have to make use of any advantage they can find. Opposition's job is not to make life easy for government, but rather to challenge the choices and actions they take and to thoroughly test their 'fitness' in the marketplace of ideas - and thereby hopefully improve them.

Another car to chase and bark at.

The media were quite happy to run with Bridges' expenses when they were leaked; I'd say it's fair game.

I concur with head down bum up, Simon Bridges is not acting professionally but grabbing at straws to make headlines.I don't believe this will reflect well on him should the facts he is spouting are incorrect and more importantly it reflects upon his lack of morals knowingly taking illegal information to use for his own benefit! as well as attempts to undermine the Labour government.

A 22-page document? Dumb.

Aren't National breaking the law , or at least the agreement to not release budget details . What if there were details that could be fianically benfical to them, amongst others.?

well... actually its prudent for National to disclose what material non-public information they are in possession of in case it is financially beneficial to them.

Perhaps the more appropriate thing to do was to say to Robertson.. "Mate, we have been leaked some of the details... it might be prudent to make a public announcement in case its been leaked wider". But that's politics

Actually the hook headline is incorrect.

'Roberson confirms stolen documents' is what it should read. The jike here is that we need to be heading in a new direction. We were unsustainable, and we need to become sustainable.

Labour are beginning to get it, National are missing the more able neolibs these days, as just sound weak. No direction, no spark, no conviction. And they have a problem, as exemplified by the European elections - there is a polarising of those who see the need for radical alteration of our societal agreement, and those who want to continue 'winning'. Centre-anything becomes questionable from here on

Own goal: Grant Robertson's quip about Roger Douglas will likely lead the news item at 6 on this. :-).

Who watches the 6pm news anymore?

Yep, the 2am news is far more informative...

The story has been updated again just FYI. This is proving to be an evolving situation...

Seems it was treasury website incompetence - info was left out in the open on a public-facing website:
https://twitter.com/norightturnnz
How very embarrassing. Robinson going to walk back his hacking accusations now?

So if you leave your keys in your car , its ok for someone to steal it . Its National that needs to answer questions. If not legal , then moral .

As far as we know there's no law broken, and there is a strong public good case to be made for releasing this info, only people put out are team coalition's PR/spinners who are now managing fallout from their screw-up and associated dissembling instead of a PR blitz on their 'wellbeing' budget. That's their problem and no one else's. It could just as easily found it's way into a journalists hands in which case you wouldn't be complaining - they deal in such leaks all the time - with pretty clear case law about legality of doing so. Or worse it could have been exploited by an inside trader without our knowledge.

“The Treasury has referred the matter to the Police on the advice of the National Cyber Security Centre.". Seems they are questioning wether it is legal or not. Strong public good case, to release info that will be legally released in 2 days anyway.????,

Not a sensible analogy. Information isn't a physical object. Coalition still has it, they are not left out of hand for others having it. It is merely an embarrassment and inconvenience to their political agenda - which is not to the public's benefit anyway (otherwise why would they need to manage the message?).