Mike's Minute: Let's hope there's more detail to come on the Budget

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 15 May 2020, 9:48AM

Mike's Minute: Let's hope there's more detail to come on the Budget

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 15 May 2020, 9:48AM

Ultimately it's not what really counts, but presentation is important. Anyone who's ever seen Bill Birch or Sir Bill English deliver a budget knows that. 

So Grant Robertson is one of Labour's best weapons, if for no other reason than he sounds passionate, delivers the detail well, and is backed up, whether you agree with him politically or not, with a good understanding of what hems dealing with.

You can't overtly criticise the budget, because so much of the money announced isn't actually allocated. They are spending only a chunk out of a total of $50 billion, a lot of it is yet to be assigned. At the end of it, it'll be a total $63 billion.

And that was the the part, the gobsmackingly large numbers involved. In the simplest of terms, this is a gargantuan mess, this is a hole the likes of which have never seen, and one we may never get out of, if you're goal is to return to where we started.

19 percent of debt to GDP is where we began. It'll be 53 percent in three years time. Actually debt started at $58 billion, it'll end at $200 billion. There isn't a surplus until 2028, and remember even if we hit that, that’s an annual surplus. That’s not paying down debt.

Deficit this year 9.6 percent of GDP, next year 10 percent. It's phenomenal money piled on top of phenomenal money. And I take no solace from Robertson's great weakness which is to find other people worse than us and pretend, as a result, we have nothing to worry about.

If there is light it's in the jobless numbers. 9.8 percent unemployment by year's end is bad, but not as bad as it could have been. Low double digits is what they thought, 9.8 percent is psychologically comfortably below that. And if we actually achieve it, it'll be a happy day.

But that’s the main thing here isn't it? Who the hell knows? As Robertson said forecasting is an art, and it's never been more of an art than it is now.

They made all the right noises. The wage subsidy extension will be welcome. But the big question, then what?

The focus on jobs, training, and apprenticeships is good, but how real? Do people really retrain? Labour has always been an issue, mixing the job gaps with people who want to fill them has never seemingly worked.

Their promise to build 8000 houses. Their track record on housing precedes yesterday's document.

So most of what got announced didn’t come with the detail needed to really be able to see whether this is the start of a rebuild, the start of an election campaign, or a spend and hope exercise.