HDPA: Grant Robertson needs to do better on infrastructure

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 2 Dec 2019, 3:25PM

HDPA: Grant Robertson needs to do better on infrastructure

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 2 Dec 2019, 3:25PM

Please tell me Grant Robertson’s going to do better than this school spending announcement. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for schools. We all know how badly they need cash to fix up some fairly shabby buildings. 

But this is not fiscal stimulus - certainly not to the level we need.

For months now, the Reserve Bank and economic commentators have been begging the government to start spending more cash to lift a flagging economy. 

This school spend is supposed to look like it addresses those calls. It’s supposed to look like a big spend up… but it’s not. $400 million is not a big spend up, not in the context of a $300 billion economy. What kind of impact are we expecting from a spend that’s not even 0.2% of the economy?

And as for this spin that this spend is good for tradies, you try booking a tradie at the moment. These guys are run off their feet, they’re not crying out for government work.

The people who are crying out for government work are the companies and the workers building major government projects. They’re seeing the major projects dry up because the Greens hate roads, so they’re thinking of packing up and going to Australia. Those are the people we need to keep in jobs

I hope Grant Robertson’s got something better lined up for next week. He’s opening the books for the half yearly fiscal update Wednesday week and his already hinted he’s going to be announcing some big spending then. 

If it’s going to come anywhere near making a difference to the economy, it’s going to have to meet some criteria.

It needs to be billions – $5 billion, $10 billion – a spend that’s big enough to to actually have an impact on the economy.  

It needs to build infrastructure, not just patch up and paint existing infrastructure. Roads, rail, whatever it takes to get this country uncongested and moving more productively.

It needs to keep our big construction labour force in this country.

And it needs to happen now. This is such a cynical move, to hold off big spending until just before election year and take the risk of increased congestion and a departing workforce. Just get on with it, we need it.

Whatever Grant Robertson announces next Wednesday, I hope it’s more than this.

 

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